• Three Friends: William Henry Furness (1802-1896), Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) and Samuel Bradford (1803-1885)

“We were babies and boys together” wrote William Henry Furness of his lifelong friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson. It began in nursery school and continued through Boston Latin and on to Harvard College and then through life. Sharing their friendship from a class one year behind was Samuel Bradford who through a stroke of luck followed William Henry Furness to Philadelphia where he was offered a position in the Little Schuylkill Navigation, Railway and Coal Company. This led to the joint position as the Secretary and Treasurer of the Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road, which Bradford held until 1856 when he chose to continue only as Treasurer. He held that position until 1884, spanning all of the years when Frank Furness was architect for the railroad. Bradford was a manager for the Pennsylvania Institute for the Deaf and Dumb and a trustee of the First Unitarian Church. This photograph was taken at the time of William Henry Furness’ retirement after fifty years as the minister of that church.
© George E. Thomas