Michael Reynolds Bruce was born to Thomas and Polly (Turpin) Bruce on November 9, 1834 in Chapel Hill, Tennessee. At an early age, he moved to Keokuk, Iowa where he was educated and reared, graduating in medicine in the State University at Keokuk. Dr. Bruce participated in the gold rush to California in 1849, returning by way of Isthmus of Panama, Cuba and New York City. The Bruce family is traced back to three brothers who came from Scotland and all of whom served in the Revolutionary War from North Carolina. Michael’s father, Thomas was born in North Carolina on September 12, 1797 and died January 25, 1862. He was a soldier in the Black Hawk Indian War in 1832. Polly Kemp Turpin, wife of Thomas was born on December 25, 1797 to Edmond Turpin, owner of White Sulphur Springs plantation near Nashville, Tennessee. General Andrew Jackson camped there on his way to the Battle of New Orleans and was given a pair of yarn socks made by Polly’s grandmother. When Polly married Thomas on May 8, 1817 her father gave her as a wedding present a slave girl, Aunt Susa, who had taken care of her all of her life. When her grandfather freed his slaves before the proclamation, Aunt Susa refused to leave and took care of Polly, Thomas and their children. She died in Keokuk, Iowa at the age of about 80 years.
He began practicing medicine in Lancaster, Missouri and continued there for 20 years. When the Civil War broke out, he was one of the first to respond to the Union call and was enlisted as First Lieutenant. Dr. Bruce was mustered out of the 42nd Missouri Volunteer Infantry at the close of the War.
In 1866, Doctor Bruce was commissioned by Governor Fletcher as Supervisor of Registration of Schuyler County for reconstruction purposes. Michael and Margaret Ann Taylor were married at the end of the Civil War and to this union were born 3 children: Edmund, Pearl and Bertram. Margaret died in 1875 in Missouri and Dr. Bruce married Josephine Brush. To this union was born one son, Earl.
In the spring of 1876, Dr. Bruce and his family came to Augusta and engaged in the drug store trade as well as practicing medicine. He brought with him a supply of groceries and drugs, as well as a partner, Mr. Bundick. He set up his office in J. R. Reynolds’ Drug Store at 117 E. 5th Street, which was located in the Opera Block at the time. Dr. Bruce practiced in our community for the next 10 years, at which time they moved to Topeka, to a home at the corner of Topeka Avenue and 10th Street. Dr. Bruce was a member of the Masonic Order and the G.A.R.
Their son, Edmund, graduated from Augusta High School in 1884 and became an accountant in Washington, D.C., and their son, Pearl Willard, graduated from Augusta High School in 1888. Later that same year Pearl began working for the Santa Fe Railway in Topeka and continued that employment for the next 51 years. (There is no information concerning Dr. Bruce’s sons, Bertram or Earl.)
Dr. Bruce died shortly after moving to Topeka in May of 1888 from ‘consumption’ and is buried in Topeka, Kansas in the soldier’s plot near Gage Monument. His wife, Josephine is buried in Columbus, Kansas, along with their son, Earl.
Photos: Dr. Bruce photo during Civil War; his headstone in Topeka Cemetery; his wife, Josephine’s, and son, Earl’s, headstone in Columbus, Kansas; early AHS graduates; and, son, Pearl Willard.