About The Group
Research of early WSM Grand Ole Opry performers continues to surface new people and the challenge to give the performers an identity. Author Charles K. Wolfe included an appendix to his book, A Good Natured Riot, of the Opry Roster from 1925 to 1940. However, the roster would sometimes miss someone as research into the WSM radio logs published in the Nashville Banner and The Tennessean shows.
The White City Quartet appeared on the WSM Grand Ole Opry at 10:30pm on Saturday night March 13, 1926. It appears this was their only appearance on the Opry. An article in the Clarksville newspaper reported that the quartet has appeared over WSM on possibly March 1, 1926. According to Ed Bradley they had made a 'clean sweep' during that broadcast and had been invited to return for an appearance on March 13, 1926. According to Mr. Bradley, he was quoted as stating that listeners, "...went wild over that stuff and they want us back again."
Research indicates this was an African American quartet led by Ed Bradley. Other members were found to be Owen Stoner, John Stacker and Bowlen Walker.
The Nashville Banner's March 7 WSM news column reported that on March 13, the White City Quartet would do a program of spirituals under the leadership of Ed Bradley. Dr. Humphrey Bate and his "...possum huntin' Tennessee fiddlers would follow them. Prior to their program, the Wagner Sisters of Lynchburg, Tennessee would sing and play and accompany themselves on their ukeleles.
The Quartet was in the news in Clarksville in early 1926. The buzz centered around an invitation from Mrs. Martin Rowland Brown of WSM to appear on a broadcast. Ed Bradley indicated they would accept the invitation in a week or so. The article mentioned the type of songs that radio listeners would hear. They would do 'religious numbers, old fashioned southern melodies and quaint selections.' Some of the songs they might sing would be "I Want To Be A Christian in My Heart," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and "I'm Rolling Down Jordan."
The group was originally scheduled to appear on February 25, but due to circumstances, their appearance was delayed until Monday night at 9:00pm March 1, 1926. They were scheduled to sing for an hour.
The March 7, 1926 Sunday editions of the Nashville Banner and The Tennessean both touted the appearance of the quartet on Saturday, March 13 for a half-hour program of spirituals.
Mr. Bradley was the operator of a fish restaurant in addition to being the leader of the quartet. Mr. Bradley turned surrended himself to Sheriff Oscar Johnson on the Monday evening, April 19, 1926. He was to be arraigned the following Monday for the murder of his wife, Annie, that occurred on Saturday night, April 17. Mr. Bradley had "declared" he had not tried to evade the law officers and was waiting for due course. He had aroused the Sheriff that evening by knocking on the jail door. Mr. Bradley identified himself and the reason for his appearance. He had a pocket knife and about $5.00 on himself when he surrendered himself and was put in a cell. He was held without bail on a charge of first degree murder.
The news report stated he had shot his wife three times in the back as a result of a dispute concerning family matters. The shooting was alleged to have occurred on the sidewalk in front of the Harry Bell lunch room on Franklin Street. After she had been shot, she stumbled into the Bell lunch room where she died a few minutes later. The news account said that Bradley's friends had claimed that the husband and wife had frequently quarreled and she had threatened Bradley's life.
His preliminary hearing before W. B. Corlew, justice of the peace was waived on April 27; he was held in jail without bond on the murder charge.
A Montgomery County Grand Jury in Clarksville returned an indictment of first degree murder against Ed Bradely on May 2, 1926. Bail was denied.
In July, news accounts were reporting the trial of Mr. Bradley. About 50 potential jurors had been summoned. Readers learned that his restaurant was at Franklin and Sixth Streets in Clarksville. The case was expected to last "...the larger portion of next week." The attorney general, Matt G. Lyle would prosecute the case. For Bradley, he would be represented by attorneys Dancey Fort and H. N. Leech. Due to Mr. Bradley's celebrity status his trial was expected to draw a great deal of interest.
The jury was selected on the first day of the trial on July 20. Bradley was alleged to have shot his wife as she ran across Franklin street from his fish market. It was reported that he was given the privilege of furnishing bail, but was not able to do so. It is said that the quartet had once gave a number requested by President Calvin Coolidge.
The prosecution put one witness (Bennie Pardue, a negro minister) on the stand - he had actually seen the shooting. Also taking the witness stand was Annie Bradley's mother, Aunt Addie Jackson. Jealousy she said played a role in their domestic disputes. She said that Ed had brought the two children to her a year and a half earlier and told her that her daughter Annie would be by later. Ms. Jackson could not state whether Mr. and Mrs. Bradley had lived together again after that incident.
She told the jury she was at the restaurant that night and had heard the first shots, then saw her daughter face down just inside the door. The Bradley's two children were standing over their mom screaming, "Grandma, don't let daddy hurt mamma." She went on to describe the murder weapon and that she went out to the street and yelled "Murder!" before she began to weep on the stand.
She went on to relate of an incident that happened a few months earlier - the couple had a fight and he began to beat his wife but a neighbor stepped in to stop it. His wife claimed she had caught Ed sleeping with another woman in another room one evening. But Mr. Bradley accused his wife of writing to another man.
The news account told of other witnesses who told of Annie and Ed meeting prior to the shooting at a boarding house and the discussion continued on to the restaurant.
After the prosecution had rested its case, Ed entered a plea for self-defense. He admitted the two of them had been unhappy for some time. He had gone to the hotel where she was at and asked her to come to the restaurant so they could talk. He claimed his wife produced a pistol during that conversation and had attempted to shoot him. He felt he had to act in self-defense.
The last day of testimony included Ed's contention that the trouble had started when he found a letter signed with her maiden name addressed to a man who's name he could not remember. He confronted her and she just said she was not serious about it and did not intend to mail it. But Ed felt he couldn't trust her after that. He then packed up all of her things and took her and their two children to be with her mom. There were claims she tried to shoot him but the gun did not go off as they walked to the restaurant. He claimed she tried to get the gun in the cash register at the restaurant and that's when he shot her and she then stumbled to the front door. The trial was delayed a bit as the Sheriff went to the fish market to try and find the letter that Ed claimed he had put on his files. They could not locate the letter. An accusation was made that Ed had taken up with another woman who was said to have left a church service due to the apparent friction. Rebuttal testimony was introduced.
After all testimony including rebuttals, the jury came back with a verdict of first-degree murder; he was sentenced to thirt years. Mr. Bradley made no motion for a new trial. Papers were prepared so that Mr. Bradley would begin to serve his sentence immediately.
Ed and Annie Bradley had a couple of kids. One, Ed William Bradley was born on September 27, 1919, but died several months later on March 15, 1920 due to pneumonia. The 1930 U. S. Census shows Ed as a resident of the state penitentiary in Davidson County. The 1920 census shows the couple had another son, John D Bradley. Census records show that Ed was ten years older than his wife, Annie. Ed's World War I draft card indicated he was born on May 5, 1888. No date of death could be found for Mr. Bradley.
Attempts to find out more about the other three members of the quartet have not been successful to date.
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