The Brinton Ranch House opens for tours May 12. Free Admission for Mothers on Mother’s Day. Currently on exhibit: FRA DANA: American Impressionist in the Rockies.
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Bradford Brinton, born on June 26, 1880 in Tuscola, Illinois, was the son of a prosperous family. His sister Helen was born on September 29, 1874. Their father, Col. William B. Brinton, owned the Peru Plow and Wheel Company and the Grand Detour Plow Company, which was later sold to the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company.
Bradford attended Yale University and graduated in 1904 from the Sheffield School of Engineering. After graduation he joined his father in the farm implement business; later he became a director and manager of the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company. In 1916 he served under General Pershing in Mexico and in World War I (1918 to 1919) in France. On September 2, 1916 he married Catherine Bell Metcalf. His twin daughters Pat and Barbara were born in 1926. He bought the ranch in 1923, extensively remodeled the ranch house in 1927-28 and added the Horse Barn across the creek and Little Goose Creek Lodge. He died in February of 1936 while in Florida and left the ranch to his sister Helen, who used it as a summer home. She wintered at Ahwatukee Ranch in Arizona (near Phoenix), which she purchased in the early 1930s. When most of the livestock was sold after her brother’s death she kept the cowboys employed building rock walls like the ones she had seen on her travels in Norway and New England. She died in 1960 and left the ranch in trust with the Northern Trust Company of Chicago, who administers it as the Bradford Brinton Memorial & Museum.
The Quarter Circle A Ranch: a brief summary
The earliest records of the ranch show that it was first homesteaded in 1882 by the Clark family, and then owned by Mr. Becker. The first house built on the site at that time is now the Ranch Foreman’s House to the north of the Ranch House. In 1892 William Moncreiffe of Scotland bought the homestead and surrounding land, established the Quarter Circle A Ranch and built the Main Ranch House (1892-93). His brother Malcolm Moncreiffe founded the Polo Ranch.
In 1923 William Moncreiffe sold the Main Ranch House (the Quarter Circle A headquarters) with one remaining section of ranch land (640 acres) to Bradford Brinton, and he and his wife Edith retired to the South of France. Brinton continued to use the Quarter Circle A as a gentleman’s working ranch and summer home, buying an additional 2200 acres located further east, and adding new buildings (e.g. the Horse Barn across the creek, Little Goose Creek Lodge) and in 1927/28 adding on to the Main House itself (porches and bay windows as well as an addition to the south and west–Prentice Sanger of New York was the architect he hired–Brinton and Sanger had met at Yale). After his death in 1936 his sister Helen Brinton inherited the ranch and used it as a summer home until her death in 1960.