History of Bradenton, FL

Bradenton is a small fast developing city located on the Florida coast between St. Petersburg on the Tampa Bay area and the city of Sarasota in Sarasota County. The city’s population was estimated to be around 58,000 in 2018. Bradenton city serves as the headquarters of the local metro area which is comprised of both Sarasota and Manatee counties.

The story of Bradenton’s inception starts with two brothers, Hector and Joseph Braden, who arrived along the Manatee River in the early 1840s. They initially settled in a log cabin about 8 kilometers up the stream. Their intention was to establish a plantation in the area. Even the unfortunate death of Hector who drowned into the river in 1846 did not prevent his brother from realizing their dream of establishing a giant sugar plantation. Joseph additionally established a sugar mill near the meeting point of today’s Braden and Manatee rivers. He also constructed a wooden pier at the edge of what is now known as Old Main Street. This pier helped him with the loading of processed sugar into the boats for shipping.

After his plantation started thriving, Joseph moved out of the initial log cabin to the newly constructed plantation home under the name “Braden Castle” in 1851. This new tabby structure was located a short distance from his Sugar Mill.

Despite his thriving business, Joseph was unable to pay a debt he had borrowed, leading to the confiscation of his land and properties in 1857. After this, he relocated back to his native Tallahassee. The “Braden Castle” area was used as a picnics site for many years in the 1900s; long after Joseph Braden was gone. Some of its remains can still be found on the site.

The plantation land which was part of today’s Bradenton area started to develop into a settlement community on the 1860s. When the community experienced massive population growth in the 1870s, the land owner by the name Major Turner petitioned to have a post office and new name for his upcoming town. Unfortunately, the residents did not turn up in large numbers for the first town meeting which was vital if the town was to qualify for an independent post office.

Interestingly, Turner hired people from neighboring communities to attend his second meeting and the consequently the town was approved to have its own Post office. Turner also suggested that the town be named Bradentown in memory of the late Hector Braden. The acting secretary at the meeting misspelled the word to “Braidentown” and it remained that way until after the arrival of the railway in 1904. The “i” was dropped from the name in 1905. The name was altered again almost 20 years later when the “w” was dropped and the city of Bradenton was born. In 1943 Manatee and Bradenton cities were merged to form modern-day Bradenton city.