The Bradley Polytechnic Institute was founded by philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley in 1897 in memory of her husband Tobias and their six children, all of whom died early and suddenly, leaving Bradley a childless widow. The Bradleys had discussed establishing an orphanage in memory of their deceased children. After some study and travel to various institutions, Mrs. Bradley decided instead to found a school where young people could learn how to do practical things to prepare them for living in the modern world. As a first step toward her goal, in 1892 she purchased a controlling interest in Parsons Horological School in LaPorte, Indiana, the first school for watchmakers in America, and moved it to Peoria. She specified in her will that the school should be expanded after her death to include a classical education as well as industrial arts and home economics: ". . . it being the first object of this Institution to furnish its students with the means of living an independent, industrious and useful life by the aid of a practical knowledge of the useful arts and sciences. "