Happy 188th birthday, Grandma Bruce!

By:  dowser  •  2 years ago  •  67 comments

Happy 188th birthday, Grandma Bruce!

Sophronia scan.jpg 188 years ago today, my great great grandmother, Sophronia Ann Combs Bruce was born in a nice log cabin near New Castle, KY.  The log cabin stood until the 1960s, when it was torn down.  Buried in the family plot in New Castle, Sophronia was an accomplished seamstress, and managed the farm, gave birth to 3 lovely daughters, and completed a quilt that toured Europe with the Smithsonian in the 1980s.

My son, Rockhound, has been invited to prepare and present a presentation about Sophronia at Murray State University for high school students.  We are wracking our brains about things to display.  Of course, the quilt will go on display, and I've ordered a locking jewelry case to display her jewelry that I have.  I have a lot of her furniture, but transporting it will be difficult.  

He has completed a great deal of research into Sophronia's life and with the family legends, Sophronia is an important part of our family still.  Happy birthday, Grandma Bruce!

Thanks for coming by!

wo sophronia bruce.JPG


This is a typical victorian mourning pin, containing my great great great grandmother's hair.  I wear this, too.  

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The crazy quilt that all 3 daughters worked on.  They made these out of their old clothes...

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Handmade lace, made by Sophronia.

Thinking of Grandma Bruce and her many accomplishments today!


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1  author  Dowser    2 years ago

Happy birthday, Grandma Bruce!

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Buzz of the Orient
1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Dowser @1    2 years ago

I have to wonder how long it would take to make such a beautiful, delicate and complex lace hankie.

1.1.1  GaJenn78  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1    2 years ago

The quilts and lace are just lovely!

Raven Wing
1.1.2  Raven Wing  replied to  GaJenn78 @1.1.1    2 years ago

Same here. The delicate detail in the lace hanky is truly amazing. It is certainly the product of many long hours spent practicing to achieve such exquisite results. 

1.1.3  Krishna  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1    2 years ago
I have to wonder how long it would take to make such a beautiful, delicate and complex lace hankie.

My cousin is involved with "needle arts"-- knotting, crocheting, sewing and...she occasionally makes hand-made lace! I believe almost all lace made today is made by machines-- somehow the hand-made also looks much better.(And since its so labour-intensive, it costs much more than the machine made product.

I have a feeling that, sadly,  many of these marvelous old types of craftsmanship are dying out.

Raven Wing
1.1.4  Raven Wing  replied to  Krishna @1.1.3    2 years ago

I learned how to sew on a sewing machine and by hand at a very young age from my Paternal Grandmother. Also how to tan hides. From my Maternal Grandmother I learned how to do tatting, a means of making lace. My Mother taught me how to crochet and knit, and play the piano. Embroidery was not something I really liked to do, but, I did make a lot of embroidery pillow cases, hand towels, as well as cross-stitch.

I also didn't like knitting as it took so much longer to compete something compared to crochet. I made much of my own clothing as I grew older, as well as clothing for my two children. I also taught my Granddaughter how to sew and crochet.

My Maternal Grandmother made all the lace for my Mothers' wedding dress and veil. It was truly beautiful. 

1.1.5  lennylynx  replied to  Raven Wing @1.1.4    2 years ago

"Also how to tan hides."

There are several NT members who could use their hides tanned!

Raven Wing
1.1.6  Raven Wing  replied to  lennylynx @1.1.5    2 years ago

Hey...not my job man! That job belongs to Perrie and the Mods. And they will likely do it the nice way. (hee hee hee)

1.1.7  author  Dowser  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1    2 years ago

Hours and hours.  Tatting is a long process!

1.1.8  author  Dowser  replied to  Krishna @1.1.3    2 years ago

My grandmother tatted, but I sure can't!  Oh my gosh, that tatting loom would just fly in her hands!

Raven Wing
1.1.9  Raven Wing  replied to  Dowser @1.1.8    2 years ago

Indeed it is! When I was younger I could do the tatting in a fair length of time, but, today, I would not be able to do so well. Mainly now I don't have the patience for it. My Mother loved the Pineapple pattern of crochet, and made many lovely table clothes, doilies and even bedspreads.  


This one was one of her favorite patterns:


1.1.10  author  Dowser  replied to  Raven Wing @1.1.9    2 years ago

Wow!  It is gorgeous!

thumbs up

Perrie Halpern R.A.
2  Perrie Halpern R.A.    2 years ago

Wow Dowser, what amazing treasures you have from your family!! I love the quilt and lace hanky. Do you know when your family came to America?

2.1  author  Dowser  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2    2 years ago

The Bruce family came in about 1750, fought in the revolutionary war, etc.  I don't know when Sophronia's bunch came.  Rockhound may know!  I'll ask  him!  

Her husband, William O. Bruce's grandfather, also William O. Bruce built the first Methodist church west of the Alleghenies in 1808.  It was still standing until a couple of years ago.

Trout Giggles
2.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Dowser @2.1    2 years ago

Any relation to Robert Bruce of Scotland?

Happy birthday to your grandmother.

How do you make lace, anyway?

2.1.2  author  Dowser  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.1.1    2 years ago

Descendant of his brother, all he has.  Us and about 4 million other people.

You make lace with thread and a tatting shuttle, or a crochet needle.  I used to watch my Grandma tat.  wow!!!

2.1.3  sandy-2021492  replied to  Dowser @2.1.2    2 years ago
Descendant of his brother, all he has.

His daughter married into the Stuart line and had children.  I believe her name was Marjorie (may have been spelled differently).

2.1.4  author  Dowser  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2.1.3    2 years ago

I have heard of her, but the Bruce family name has to come from one of his brothers, at least as I understand...  Needless to say, don't ask me.  We're the descendants of a younger son...  William Bruce came to the US in the 1750s, married and had two sons, Elijah and Joel.  Elijah married Charity Dye, and had 3 kids, while Joel went off to fight in the Revolutionary war.  While Joel was gone, some kind of ailment wiped out Elijah, Charity, and two of their 3 children.  When Joel came back, he took the younger son, also named William O. Bruce, under his wing and raised him.  When he reached his majority, Joel gave him his inheritance from his father, which he brought to KY and purchased about 1/4 of the county as it exists today, (a lot less than 1/4th back then, as the counties were larger, but about equal to 10,000 acres.), and he founded the Bruce family in Henry County, KY.  William O, the second had John and William, and 6 other children.  John had William O, my great great grandfather, and about 8 others.  William O had 3 daughters, and then, after Grandma Bruce died, he remarried and had 2 sons, neither of whom married, but they both fought in WWI.  I knew them and loved them.  The Bruce Boys. Every generation has a John, a William, a Thomas, and a George.  They got a little more creative with the woman's names, thankfully.  But, it makes it difficult to trace and keep track of.

Trout Giggles
2.1.5  Trout Giggles  replied to  Dowser @2.1.4    2 years ago

Mr Giggles ex-wife is a Bruce from Ohio. I know there are lots of Bruces in the country, but I wonder if you and she are 5th or 6th cousins?

Nah....you're way too nice to be from that branch of the family, tho her dad was really nice

2.1.6  author  Dowser  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.1.5    2 years ago

We may be related...  I keep up with a 4th cousin, Charles O. Bruce, who is an attorney, here in Louisville.  Lovely fellow, and I love him dearly!  I would love to be related to you!

2.1.7  TTGA  replied to  Dowser @2.1.6    2 years ago

Marsha, have you checked for a family genealogy website?  Until I looked, I wasn't aware that my family even had one.  It was set up by a guy who is like a 20th cousin out in Pennsylvania.  Turns out that the man who brought our family to North America came from France in 1640 and set up a shop to make bricks in Quebec.  He probably made a lot of bricks but what he mostly made was babies.  As a result, I've got distant relations all over the US and Canada.

2.1.8  author  Dowser  replied to  TTGA @2.1.7    2 years ago

Yes, we have different web pages for various branches of the family, and Matthew looked at those in his research.  Ours is just one tiny twig on the whole tree...  thumbs up

2.1.9  TTGA  replied to  Dowser @2.1.8    2 years ago
Matthew looked at those in his research.  Ours is just one tiny twig on the whole tree... 

Excellent.  Matthew is very quickly learning how both History and Archeology work.  The best place to start for both kinds of research is with genealogical records.  Next, of course, is the local cemetery, at least if it's been there for any length of time.  Burial records are also kept by the County Clerk or the particular church that owned the cemetery, if it has been destroyed.  I;'m sure that Matt's professors have told him about these sources.  Here are two that they may not have mentioned.  Please pass them along to him with my compliments.  First, property tax records, when compared with averages, will show the status of a family or individual within the community at the time the taxes were assessed.  Second, when an individual dies, particularly a head of household, their will is reviewed by the Probate Court and a record of property valuations is kept.  The archives of those courts can give you very valuable information about social status and social mobility among the people over any given period.  Give him my sympathy.  All of these records can be and, in my experience, usually are, picky and boring to work with; but, they can give you very valuable primary source data. This stuff should, within the next year or so, give him a good start on his Master's thesis (or enough material for a couple of books).

When they start any digs, I'm sure that there will be plenty of History teachers and Archeology teachers around.  You can never tell, however, they might just need a bit of advice from a good Geologist.  I know of at least one in that area.

2.1.10  author  Dowser  replied to  TTGA @2.1.9    2 years ago

We have copies of the wills and the burial notices in the paper, as well as access to the family cemeteries.  Both family cemeteries have grown up, although were well taken care of up until the 1960s.  The main family plot is still under perpetual care, and yield a font of information.  We found Uncle Henry Hutchison, (other side of the family) just two months ago up at Cave Hill Cemetery.  Uncle Henry was the feather bed renovator.  His buried up next to his brother and sister, up under 3 giant shrubs.  Needless to say, Cave Hill is very cooperative.  If you have a family member who is not up to the "family snuff", you just cover them up with a shrub.  winking

3  TTGA    2 years ago

Beautiful Marsha.  Matthew's report should be very well done and will give him an even better understanding of his family's history. 

3.1  author  Dowser  replied to  TTGA @3    2 years ago

Thanks, TTGA!  It is amazing that the history department recruited him, when he is majoring in archaeology!

3.1.1  TTGA  replied to  Dowser @3.1    2 years ago

Archeology is a lot like History, detective work from very old clues.  In Archeology, it's just a lot harder to find your source material.

3.1.2  author  Dowser  replied to  TTGA @3.1.1    2 years ago

I think he is going to help Murray apply for a grant to do a dig at the site of the old church.  Which would be wonderful!  My great-great-great grandparents are buried there!

Buzz of the Orient
3.1.3  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Dowser @3.1    2 years ago

Not so amazing that they recruited him if they were aware of the long history of his family in America.

3.1.4  author  Dowser  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.1.3    2 years ago

Yeah, well, it was an English assignment, and turned into a small book.  Then, the rest of the English department got involved, then the archaeology department, and now the history department.  He is amenable, and we do have a lot of their stuff...  We moved to KY in 1806.  And one of us has been here since!

Love you, dear Buzz! 

4  Krishna    2 years ago

Dowser: I love your articles about your family's history. Also about some of the things that have been in your family for generations and have been handed down!

Would be wonderful to see more articles like this one (as well as some of the others you have previously posted). Laugh

4.1  author  Dowser  replied to  Krishna @4    2 years ago

Thanks, Krish!  There are advantages to being the last of the pack rats...  I would not be happy without their things around me.  It gives a depth and richness to my life that I truly treasure!

Thank you!

Raven Wing
4.2  Raven Wing  replied to  Krishna @4    2 years ago
I love your articles about your family's history.

I do as well, Krishna. In fact, Dowser did write some very interesting stories about her family in a group here on NT a good while back, and I made sure to copy them so that I could enjoy reading them again when they were no longer available. 

Like Kavika's stories, Dower's ability to bring you into the actual story is truly amazing. 

4.2.1  author  Dowser  replied to  Raven Wing @4.2    2 years ago

Thank you!  I've been trying to remember what I've written before...    Semi-brain dead these days...

5  Kavika     2 years ago

Great photos and story Dower. 

Well done.

5.1  author  Dowser  replied to  Kavika @5    2 years ago

Thanks, Kavika!  I miss you!

Buzz of the Orient
6  Buzz of the Orient    2 years ago

How many cakes would you have to bake to feed all her descendants?

6.1  author  Dowser  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @6    2 years ago

Surprisingly enough, not that many.  We aren't a family that has boocoos of kids.  Don't ask me why!

7  Kathleen    2 years ago

Such beautiful quilting.. I also love the lace handkerchief. : )

7.1  author  Dowser  replied to  Kathleen @7    2 years ago

Thank you!!!  I treasure the handkerchief, too.

Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
8  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom    2 years ago

Hang on to your underwear.  We might be related.  I'll get back to you in a bit. 

Wonderful family heirlooms, by the way.  

8.1  author  Dowser  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @8    2 years ago


LOVE to you!

The People's Fish
8.1.1  The People's Fish  replied to  Dowser @8.1    2 years ago

Don't respond, SMAAB just wants a cut of the family $$$$. She tried to say she had a child with Michael Jackson when he passed.

8.1.2  lennylynx  replied to  The People's Fish @8.1.1    2 years ago

So...they should tell her to beat it?

8.1.3  author  Dowser  replied to  The People's Fish @8.1.1    2 years ago


The People's Fish
8.1.4  The People's Fish  replied to  lennylynx @8.1.2    2 years ago

He sang, Billie Jean Smaab is not my lover

She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son

Raven Wing
9  Raven Wing    2 years ago

I am the last one of my family still alive. My parents were each only children, and there was only my older Brother and I. All the rest of my relations have all walked on now and I am the last one standing. So I inherited all the family heirlooms and history. I created an Access database to log all the history and cataloged all the old photos and connected them with the database was well. I scanned in the official documents and records of births, marriages, divorces and deaths of all the family members back to before the Trail of Tears. Every thing has been logged in the database for easier reference. It is all backed up on a DVD for safe keeping and copies given to my Granddaughter, who will inherit it all when I have walked on. 

It took me several years to compile it all and then enter it into the database. But, at least now those who follow will have a head start of recording all of the family history that will follow for future generations. It is also a record of our Cherokee heritage so that future generations will know of their heritage as well.

9.1  nightwalker  replied to  Raven Wing @9    2 years ago

Maybe you should make just one more copy to stash somewhere to be absolutely safe. Any chance you're planning to post any of those pics? Pic pics or pictures of anything else, I don't see how most people could resist looking at them if you were to post them out, but if you decide you don't want to go through all that, well, nobody can fault you for that either.

Raven Wing
9.1.1  Raven Wing  replied to  nightwalker @9.1    2 years ago

Nightwalker.....I have a copy in a safe deposit box, and a key for those who should have access. It is a copy that I keep all the copies updated as needed to that there are nothing left out of the loop. No one else had wanted to do what I have done, but, in case somethings happens to the hard copies of all the documents and pics there will always be at least one up to date copy left. 

It took me at least three years to correlate and log all the stuff in the database and scan all the documents and pictures, but, at least now there will be something for future generations to look back at and see where their family tree grows from. 

As for the pics, I am not one to post personal stuff on public venues. Just my personal preference.  :-)

9.1.2  nightwalker  replied to  Raven Wing @9.1.1    2 years ago

All good, then,  a good, safe plan. LOL Should figured you'd have the safety all covered.

9.2  author  Dowser  replied to  Raven Wing @9    2 years ago

Just gathering it is a lot of work!  I've been through 7 suitcases of pictures and clippings, photo books, etc.  Matthew has a knack and is wanting to help, so I'm eager for his help.  We have had a few disagreements, where family history doesn't seem to fit historical events, BUT, they have all worked out upon further research.  Yay!  Grandma never knowingly steered me wrong.

Raven Wing
9.2.1  Raven Wing  replied to  Dowser @9.2    2 years ago

Glad to hear that all is working out for you with the gathering of your family history. And yes, it is rather daunting when you have to start from scratch. And about the time you think you have everything where it should be, something else pops up and you have to try to backtrack to get it in the right place and time. Ugh!! anger

It's good that Rockhound is eager to help, it does help to have a second pair of eyes and hands to do the job. 

9.2.2  author  Dowser  replied to  Raven Wing @9.2.1    2 years ago

I just don't have the strength these days to track down every lead...  thumbs up

Love you!

Raven Wing
9.2.3  Raven Wing  replied to  Dowser @9.2.2    2 years ago

Love to you as well, dear Sister.


10  sandy-2021492    2 years ago

Lovely, Dowser.  It's wonderful that you have so many heirlooms from your great great grandmother.

10.1  author  Dowser  replied to  sandy-2021492 @10    2 years ago

Thanks, sandy.  The quilt is the best, I think...

11  Spikegary    2 years ago

Hi Dowser,

Thanks for the look into your family (yet again).  I'm amazed at the skill that goes into these handicrafts.  ALmost a lot art in this day and age of going to whatever big box store and buying stuff instead of making what you need from materials on hand.  Again, thank you!

11.1  author  Dowser  replied to  Spikegary @11    2 years ago

Thank you for your kindness!  I found a swatch of fabric that was her wedding dress-- carefully labeled by Grandma many many years ago.  I'm still finding things, in out of the way places.

11.1.1  Spikegary  replied to  Dowser @11.1    2 years ago

Amazing........My nephew and I were going throguh one of the outbuildings at the lake last fall, trying to get ready to close up and found all sorts of neat stuff my dad had left nehind.....I look forward to continuing the search this year.

11.1.2  author  Dowser  replied to  Spikegary @11.1.1    2 years ago

I've found a LOT of stuff up in my mother's attic...  Amazing.  Things that haven't seen the light of day for years and years...

12  Enoch    2 years ago

Dear Friend Dowser: Where can I read you sons research on your shared ancestor?

When completed, can it be seeded on this site, so I and others could read it too?

Warmest regards to you and the family.

Peace, Abundant Blessings, and Ultimately Springtime.

Enoch, (Still dodging North-East late winter storms). 

P.S. Perhaps you might consider hosting an open article on the family tree of others.

I think the site would enjoy sharing their family roots too.


12.1  author  Dowser  replied to  Enoch @12    2 years ago

How wonderful, dear Enoch!  He has published a part of his research, but I don't have the link to it.  I'll ask him for it again...  

An open article about everyone's family is a grand idea!

Much love to you, my friend!

12.1.1  author  Dowser  replied to  Dowser @12.1    2 years ago

Enoch-- this is what is ready so far-- he's hoping to get his full paper published!


12.1.2  Enoch  replied to  Dowser @12.1.1    2 years ago

Dear Friend Dowser: Superb scholarship. 

Interesting, informative and nice flow to the narrative.

How proud you and your husband must be of your son.

Almost as proud as he is of you both.

Peace and Abundant Blessings Always.


12.1.3  author  Dowser  replied to  Enoch @12.1.2    2 years ago

That's really sweet, dear Enoch!  He's a keeper!  I don't know how proud he is of us, but we love him dearly!  He comes home from college tomorrow-- not soon enough!  thumbs up

12.1.4  Enoch  replied to  Dowser @12.1.3    2 years ago

Dear Friend Dowser: Please give him my warmest regards.

Best wishes for continued success at Murray State.

May all of you enjoy a joyous and meaningful Easter holiday forthcoming.


12.1.5  author  Dowser  replied to  Enoch @12.1.4    2 years ago

I will pass this on to both my dear husband and my son!  Thank you!

Isn't this the time of Passover for you?  Best wishes for you, too!


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