History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio
and Biographical Sketches of its Pioneers Most Prominent Men
Philadelphia - Williams Brothers
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DAVID T. BRUCE AND THE BRUCES.
David T. Bruce was born at Winchinden, Franklin
county, Massachusetts, Dec. 15, 1784; was married to Lydia
Forrester, Aug. 12, 182 ; and died at Chardon, May 12, 1857.
His childhood, boyhood, and young manhood were passed
in Massachusetts, at the close of the last and beginning of the
present century. His education must have been fair, and in
addition to the common branches he understood surveying. In
1820 he visited the Western Reserve, was at Madison, Lake County,
went back, was married, and returned to Ohio with his young wife.
For one or two years he lived in Newbury, on the place now owned by
W. A. Jenks, and was engaged as a partner with Amos Parker
in a distillery, a business which he understood. He was at
one time concerned in the distillery in the northern part of
Claridon, and must have lived there for a time. In 1824 he
removed to Chardon, purchased and built a residence on the north
side of Water street, opposite the large spring, where he lived all
his after-life. He and Merrick Pease were partners in
merchandising, which he carried on in his dwelling-house, and they
built the old brick store, on the west side of the square, north of
the old academy, some time about 1827. Mr. Pease died
in 1830, when Bruce established the first tin shop in the
present limits of Geauga. With this was connected a grocery
store. In 1842 he sold out that establishment to his eldest
son, John Forrester.
In November, 1842, he purchased the
printing establishment and paper, known as the Geauga Republican,
of J. W. White, and in company with his younger sons, W.
W. and Eli Bruce, he edited and published the paper, and
carried on a general job office, till the infirmities of age induced
him to retire.
For quite all his life Mr. Bruce was one of the
widest known, most active, and influential men of the county,
through filling no official positions, except in the township, where
he was clerk, trustee, and justice of the peace. I think he
never sought office. He was a man of more than ordinary
intellect, well in formed, a large reader, of positive opinions,
frankly expressed, always defended. Nor was he free from
dogmatism. The kindest-hearted of men, a highly esteemed
neighbor, a sturdy friend, a liberal and public-spirited citizen.
In religion, Universalist; in politics a Whig and Republican;
zealous in all. He was a man of great activity and industry.
Early in his career he began to appear as counsel in
the magistratesí courts. Fluent of speech, with a quick,
shrewd mind, of much resource, and that knowledge of law picked up
from the statutes and the hand-books of practice in the magistratesí
courts, a wide knowledge of men and acquaintance with affairs, not
underestimating himself, he soon came to be widely known and greatly
sought after in this class of cases. For many years he
transacted a larger business before the magistrates than was ever
before or since done by any man in or out of the profession in
northern Ohio. Very popular with the mass, having the
confidence of the magistrates, a full command of the language which
might overwhelm an adversary, a master of all the arguments likely
to lead or influence the common mind, he was in these forums a most
formidable and often a dangerous advocate. He was generally
treated with respect by the regular profession, whom he often met,
and for whom as opponents he expressed a preference which they
doubtless reciprocated. After he became connected with the
press he gradually withdrew from this practice. Probably the
diminution of small
litigation incident to an older stage of social life and manner of
transacting business had much to do with it. In the heyday of his
fame the country was
full of anecdotes of his sayings and doings in the lower courts, and
men went miles to see and hear him on these occasions.
Mr. Bruce was a born politician, and not
averse from controversy. His information was extensive and
quite accurate. Without attempting to write many leaders, he
was a terse, pointed writer of paragraph-like articles.
Mr. Bruce was of the old Masonic fraternity,
and, of course, on that side of the old profitless controversy; was
one of the first to revive the lodges. In his day, he was the
associate, friend, or opponent of the elder Paines,
Canfields, Kings, Phelpses, Squires, and
that set of men who have passed away, and their friend ships and
feuds have passed with them. He had a vigorous dislike of a
Democrat, little respect for orthodoxy as a dogma, but tolerant of
the personal failings of even his opponents. Stout champion
and bitter partisan, he was full of kindliness, and the older
Chardon lost few better men.
Mrs. Bruce was widely esteemed as a true
woman, full of kindliness and charity. Of the daughters, the
eldest, Charlotte, became the wife of Charles L. Knowles,
and has resided most of her life since in Brooklyn, and survives her
husband with several children. The youngest, Lydia,
with much of the vigor and force of character of her father, resides
J. F. Bruce, the eldest, born June 6, 1822, was
bred by his father to the tinnerís business, which he still
prosecutes in Chardon. His first wife, now many years
deceased, was Amy Rockafellow, of Chardon, of whom
were born two sons. The younger of these is in company with
his father. His second wife is Laura, daughter of
Moses Haydon. Mr. Bruce is a man of
great personal worth, and highly esteemed.
William Wallace Bruce, second son, born in 1825,
was bred a printer, and pursued the business, with his father and
younger brother, Eli, for many years in Chardon and
Cleveland, of which latter place he is a resident. He was a
man of more than ordinary ability, and of extensive cultivation.
A fine writer, though of retiring manners, William Wallace
was well prepared to fill any position in life. For many years
he was the efficient superintendent of the Cleveland post-office,
which he filled with great credit to himself and usefulness to the
public: His wife was Maria, daughter of Judge B. F.
Avery, a woman of much excellence. She died at Cleveland
in the early part of 1878. The four surviving children,
two sons and two daughters, reside with the father. As a
family, they are noted for their devotion to each other.
Eli, the third son, born in 1827, also by
profession a printer, publisher, and editor, and associated with
William Wallace, married Caroline, daughter of
Eleazar Paine, and granddaughter of Judge Noah
Hoyt, for his first wife, and Caroline Eldridge
became his second wife. By the last he leaves three sons. He
died several years ago; was a man of rare excellence of character,
fair ability, and universally esteemed. The Bruces have
worthily filled their fair positions in life, and will leave
excellent records for integrity and good citizenship.
Source: History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio, Publ.
Philadelphia by Williams Brothers - 1878 - Page 122