Bio: Bruce, John W. (Commemorative Bio - 1895)

Poster: Crystal Wendt

John W. Bruce

John W. Bruce, one of the honored veterans of the Civil War, who during that important epoch in our country’s history wore the blue and aided in the defense of the Union, is now one of the highly-esteemed citizens of Merrill, Lincoln County. On the 15th of August, 1841, he was born in Troy, N. Y., and is a son of William Bruce, a native of England. The father was born in 1816, and was a Scotch descent. But little is known of his family save that his parents were in limited circumstances, and the father had several brothers and sisters. One brother, John, is still residing in England, where he is an inn keeper, and another, James, who has retired from business, now makes his home in New York City. He also has a sister who lives in Massachusetts.

When a young man the father of our subject crossed the Atlantic to America. By his marriage with Sarah Masters he became the father of nine children, namely: Mary, the eldest, who died at the age of one year; and the others are Mary, John W., Sarah F., Amelia W., Wallace, James H., Charles, A. and Carrie. The father was a shoemaker by trade, and brought his family to Wisconsin in 1850, where he located at Racine. There he established a shoe store, and remained in that city until 1857, when he removed to Allen Grove, Wis. Opening a shoe shop at that place, he continued business for some ten years, on the expiration of which time he went to Clinton, Wis., where he purchased a stock of goods and opened a shoe store which he conducted only a short time. His death occurred at that place in 1894.  

John W. Bruce pursued the elementary branches of study in the common schools of this State, but afterward attended the high school at Racine, Wis., being in the same class with Governor Upham. He remained in school most of the time until his enlistment on the 27th of August, 1861, when he became a member of Company K, Seventh Wis. V. I. At that time he was but twenty years old. The company of which he was a member was formed at Beloit, Wis., and the regiment was attached to the famous Iron Brigade. They participated in the battled of Gainesville, the second battle of Bull Run, and the engagements at South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg, after which they went into winter quarters at Belle Plaine. At the battle of Gettysburg he was wounded, a bullet having pierced his left breast, and he lay on the battlefield for twenty-six hours, during which time he suffered terribly for want of water. The ball still remains in his body. This was on the 1st of July, 1863, and after the retreat of the Confederates, in whose lines he was left, he was taken to the field hospital at the old court house. He was later removed to Baltimore, where he was under the charge of Dr. Bliss, who afterward became President Garfield’s physician. After twenty days he was given a furlough and returned to Wisconsin, but sixty days later went to the officers’ hospital at Annapolis, where he received an honorable discharge, as his wound was pronounced incurable, and two years and three years elapsed before it healed. After his discharge he became a clerk in Fairfax Hospital, and later entered the office of Quartermaster-General Meigs at Washington, where he remained two years. During his service he had been promoted on the 1st May, 1863, for bravery in action, from corporal to orderly-sergeant, and later on the 1st of June was commissioned second-lieutenant.

On his return home, Mr. Bruce worked for his father until he embarked in the same business, as a shoe dealer in Clinton, Wis. In 1881 he came to Merrill, where he opened an insurance office, but sold out to Mr. Coon in 1890, and, accompanied by his family, removed to Minneapolis, Minn., where he also engaged in the insurance business for one year. He then returned to Merrill, and as Mr. Coon was going South on account of ill health, he resumed control of the business. Since Mr. Coon’s death he has had entire charge.

In Clinton, Wis., on the 20th of June, 1869, Mr. Bruce was married to Sarah E. Wright, a native of that city and a daughter of Randall and Henrietta (King) Wright. She is one of a family of seven children, the others being Frank, who is now deceased; Electa, Nancy, Adelbert, Albert and Elmer, who are yet living. Her parents, farming people, were natives of the Empire State, her mother now residing on a farm near Clinton, Wis., and her father being deceased. To Mr. and Mrs. Bruce have been born the following children: Ina, Harry R., Charles W., Roy J., Leonard J., Sadie Emma and Nellie H. Harry is married and resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Our subject and his wife are earnest Christian people, having held membership for a number of years with the Presbyterian Church. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, has been commander of Lincoln Post and aide-de-camp on staff of National Commander. As a Republican in politics, Mr. Bruce takes great interest in all political questions, although not an aspirant for political preferment. He once allowed his name to appear for register of deeds, but was defeated, as the county was strongly Democratic. He has been alderman from the Seventh ward of Merrill, but prefers to devote his time and attention to his business interests rather than to public affairs. During the days of our country’s peril he valiantly aided in her defense, and in times of peace has also been a loyal citizen.

---Source: Commemorative Biographical Record of the Upper Wisconsin Counties of Waupaca, Portage, Wood, Marathon, Lincoln, Oneida, Vilas, Langlade and Shawano. publ. 1895 by J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago 1110 pages, illustrated; Page 690-691


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