The Bruces were Scotch, of a very distinct type, which follows the lineage in all its bearings. Positiveness and decision of character were traits always prominent in the phase of their demeanor. Earnest and straightforward in all places and relations, gentlemanly by nature and training, with intellectual forces of a superior order, and in many cases trained for high professional and official stations. The family in the full run of the past century have filled more official positions than any other family in the county, and always with fidelity and efficiency. The most remote ancestors of the name in Maryland settled in what is now Carroll county, long before the Revolution. The place has been known as Bruceville. There were Upton and Andrew, brothers, favorite family names. Upton Bruce, the father of our immediate subject, came to Allegany county at least a century ago; was a merchant in Cumberland in its infant days, and very prominent and respected in all relations of life; elected to the Legislature in 1804, and three successive times thereafter; Judge of the Orphans' Court from 1810 to 1812, and State Senator from 1812 to 1815, to say nothing of minor places filled by him; was the first president of the bank of Allegany. He removed to Ryans Glades, in what is now Garrett county, where he died in 1829, and was buried near Gorman. Looked at the gloomy spot years ago. He was tall and spare, much like his son Robert, extremely urbane, and even courtly in manners, an olden time gentleman. He left five sons Robert, Norman, Henry, Charles Key and Upton, who still survives, and two daughters, who afterwards became the wives of Wm. Price, Esp., and Gen. Walter Gwynn, respectively. Robert, the eldest son, was born in Cumberland. His education was plane[sic], but sufficient for the time and practical life. Beginning in the mercantile business; was once in railroad life; a skillful accountant, he could readily adjust and audit difficult accounts with great precision and clearness. In this line he was an expert., He also had a large experience in the banking business. When the late war came on hs was not in any particular business and volunteered in the Union Army soon as enlistments were in order in Maryland. He was very efficient in recruiting and organizing the Second Maryland Regiment, Potomac Home Brigade of which he became Colonel upon the resignation of Colonel Johns, and served with zeal and great usefulness to the end of the war. The Colonel was a man of true courage, but not of the demonstrative kind. We have occasion to know how he chafed under the orders which kept his regiment from defending Cumberland in 1863 when it was captured by the Confederates. He would not have hesitated a moment to have given up his life on that occasion, which was one of great discredit to whoever prevented willing soldiers from defending their homes. The Colonel was proud of his military record, and cherished it more than his creditable judicial career of 16 years, which closed with his death. He was elected to the Legislature in 1836; and was a candidate for comptroller in 1867, and elected to the Orphans' Court in 1874, a place filled by his father 62 years before. For some years prior to his death, owing to his great age, he was very quiet in demeanor and life, but his mind was bright and spirits buoyant to the last. Strong will and vitality considerably prolonged his valuable life. He was singularly fortunate and happy in his domestic relations, leaving a wife with whom he had lived in real felicity for six years beyond their "golden 50" with a family of most devoted and worthy children; Robert Bruce, Jr., a son now living in Washington; the eldest daughter, is the wife of Gen. B. F. Kelley; another daughter, the wife of Mr. D. J. Blackiston, a prominent and esteemed member of the Allegany bar, and another the deceased wife of Col. J. C. Lynn. The Judge was rigidly honest, reliable and straight-forward, steadfast to the right, and true to friends and friendship, positive and candid, but not peremptory or obstinate. His could not be otherwise, and be a Bruce. The mind and pen are not all weary of the subject just finished, still they most willingly and gratefully turn to his brother Normand, for whom too much of that which is good can not be said or told. Normand Bruce was born in Cumberland, in 1807, but became a resident of the Glades in earley[sic] life. His education was limited, but he never suffered for the want of a better one. A farmer, or grazer by occupation, in his more earley[sic] years - he always was a man of energy and force of character. Ever a man of the people without any effort to be so. Elected to the Legislature in 1833 and 1834, though with but little taste for legislation or legislative honors. The most popular man really we ever knew, and not a particle of it was ever "sought or bought". No man was ever freer from the disgusting practices of the demagogue than he. In those days at least, a man could be popular and respected without prostituting his manhood. He was elected sheriff in 1842 over John M. Carlonton, a strong man, who had a party advantage of from 100 to 200. Besides, Bruce had some powerful men in his own party (Whig) against him, yet he was triumphantly elected. The upper end of the county was nearly solid for him. He made and excellent officer in every respect, strong and energetic whenever such qualities were needed, but human and forbearing whenever such would answer the ends of duty. The office of that day was one of far greater responsibilities and dignity than clothed it later years. It fell to his unhappy lot to execute William Christ, a foul murderer. The kind-hearted sheriff had arranged for his deputy (Edwin Gilpin) to do the job, but as the hour approached he concluded the unpleasant duty was his and not the deputy's. the victim himself requested to be hung by the man who had been so humane to him. We saw the official hand sever the tensioned rope, and the guilty one sent from the world he had so much offended. Though a boy at the time, the good sheriff took us to the cell of the doomed man the night before. He was enjoying his pipe, with the dark coffin at his elbow, laden with not less than ten pounds of ginger bread, his chosen food. The sheriff took from his pocket a pair of new slippers and handed them to "Mr. Christ", as he addressed him. "Will they answear[sic] for to-morrow?" "Oh, yes," was the cheerful answer. This was in Nov., 1843. A most excellent sheriff he was, a model indeed, to be remembered and associated with Richard Beall and Moses Rawlings. In the early part of his term at the age of 36, he was married to Elizabeth Bruce (only daughter of George Bruce) one of the celebrated "Trinity Lizzies", Bruce, Beall and Sides, all cousins, named Elizabeth after their Grandmother Tomlinson. This marriage broke the unity of this much admired little circle of charming young ladies. Soon after Lizzie Sides was married to Wm M. Magraw, and later Lizzie Beall became the wife of M. Sherry. The wife of N. Bruce still survives as the widow Dickinson, enjoying good health, on this side of the Psalmists allotment. It has often been asserted she and her first husband were first cousins, but not quite so near in blood. They were the respective grandchildren of the two most remote Bruce ancestors in the county, Upton and Andrew. After the close of his three years sheriffalty, he embarked largely in the grocery business, combining with it other important enterprises, one being an investment in a large coal property in Somerset county, Pa,., now worth $1,000,000. No doubt that he would have been a wealthy man had his useful life not been cut off so early, at 47. We ask pardon from readers for interpolating a little personal incident that occurred in the few last weeks of the life of the subject. Happening to be in Hagerstown in the latter part of September, 1854, we met him there unexpectedly; was invited to ride with him to Martinsburg to meet a home-bound train; as we neared at Sir John's Run, he suddenly took the notion to sop off and go to Berkley Springs for a few days. In parting with us he drew from his pocket a large package, and requested it to be handed to his brother Robert, then cashier of the Cumberland Savings Bank. This was promptly done next morning. The package contained $5,000, yet he did not say what it contained. What a confiding man he was, with so many other noble and generous qualities that drew and held close so many friends! Never saw his genial, and benignant face alive after this incident. He came home sick and died in a few weeks thereafter. His funeral was the largest and most sympathetic that ever took place in Cumberland up to that time. Remember of none to exceed it since. It is to be hoped these reminiscences and suggestions may be of some interest to the few surviving friends of this marked man, but such interest can not in any degree compare with the pleasure in giving them utterance. Henry Bruce, another brother, was very prominent in his day; commissioner for four years for No. 10, in the early eighteen forties; appointed clerk of Allegany county court in 1845, by Governor Pratt, and served until 1852. He then went to the practice of the law and died soon after the war. His wife (now a widow) was Luvenia Thistle, daughter of Thomas Thistle. Charles K. Bruce, the fourth brother, was a merchant, and died some twenty years ago. Upton, the youngest brother, still survives, an old man living the life of a recluse on or near the old Bruce homestead. Charles K. Bruce, brother of Upton Sr., was sent to Edenburg, splendidly educated, became a physician and then went to Calcutta, East Indies, practied[sic] his profession for many years; became wealthy returned to this county a bachelor; died in Baltimore long years ago, left a thousand dollars to his needy brother and the bulk of his fortune he disposed of in a whimsical manner, to strangers of his noble race.
"Brown's Miscellaneous Writings Upon a Great Variety of Subjects: Prepared and Written from 1880 to 1895" by Jacob Brown
Posted June 21, 2013