Transcribed from: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.
II, page 124, 1923.
BRUCE, Capt. FREDERICK W. The career of Capt. FREDERICK WILLIAM BRUCE, of Jacksonville,
has been a decidedly active, varied and interesting one, during which he has had experience
on both land and sea and has accomplished results as vessel captain and civil engineer.
While he is practically retired at the present time, having accumulated a competence that
allows him to indulge his wants and hobbies, he is still consulted frequently on matters
pertaining to the civil engineer's profession and keeps in close touch with the affairs of
the day. Monuments to his skill and industry as an engineer are to be found in a number
of Jacksonville's notable structures.
Captain BRUCE was born in Sullivan County, New Hampshire, May 10, 1856, a son of TIMOTHY
W. and SARAH E. (JENNINGS) BRUCE, natives of New Hampshire, the former on September 20, 1831,
and the latter, May 19, 1834. He traces his ancestry back to the Duke of Elgin in Scotland,
and to TIMOTHY BRUCE, the first American ancestor of this branch of the family. TIMOTHY
BRUCE had been an officer in the English Navy, but was cashiered, and as he did not wish
to be hanged if captured, joined the patriot army during the War of the Revolution, instead
of the navy. He was an officer under AARON BURR in the expedition against Quebec, and held
a captaincy in the United States Army during the War of 1812. His home was at Bolton,
TIMOTHY W. BRUCE, the father of Capt. FREDERICK W. BRUCE, was educated in the public schools
of New Hampshire, and as a young man adopted the vocation of carpenter and builder. After
following that trade for some years he began contracting on his own account, and in this
way developed an extensive business in New Hampshire. In 1884 he came to St. Augustine,
Florida, where he carried on carpentry and contracting up to the time of his death, November 12,
1899. He was well known and highly esteemed, and at one time served as a member of the Board
of Aldermen. As a fraternalism he was initiated into the mysteries of Masonry while a resident
of New Hampshire, but demitted and became a member of Ashler Lodge, F. and A. M., of St.
Augustine, and was also a thirty-second degree Mason and a member of Florida Consistory.
He likewise held membership in the Knights of Pythias. Originally a Whig, he later joined
the republican party, but after coming to Florida adopted democratic principles. His religious
identification was with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Early in the war between the states,
Mr. BRUCE enlisted in Company C, Seventh Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, and
while he saw action in several engagements, a large part of his service was on detached duty
because of his mechanical skill. He participated in the engagements at Fort Wagner, Hilton
Head, Morris Island and New Orleans, under Gen. BENJAMIN BUTLER, and at the close of the
struggle received his honorable discharge and returned for the time being to New England.
Mr. BRUCE had five brothers and one brother-in-law in the Union Army during the struggle
between the North and the South. Mr. BRUCE married Miss SARAH E. JENNINGS, who died July 25,
1895, and they became the parents of three children: FRANK W., a resident of St. Augustine,
Florida; Capt. FREDERICK WILLIAM; and ALTHEA C., the wife of ELI MALLET, of St. Augustine.
FREDERICK WILLIAM BRUCE received his early education in the public schools of New Hampshire,
and when still a youth was taught the trade of carpenter under the preceptorship of his father.
He also, during his vacation periods at Fitchburg, Massachusetts, worked in a book bindery,
and in 1869 came to St. Augustine, Florida, where he was sent to attend school. In the winter
of the same year, however, he tired of his studies, and accordingly ran away from school and
shipped on the brig "Enterprise", Capt. JIMMIE ALLEN, with whom he sailed to Cuba and various
Mexican points. After about two years he returned to New Hampshire and attended school winters
until he was twenty-one years of age, in the meantime indulging his love for the sea by working
as a sailor in the summer seasons. He also attended a navigation school at Boston, rose to a
captain's berth, and continued to follow a seafaring life up to the time of his marriage in
1877, when he embarked in business with his father, in Sullivan and Belknap counties, New
Hampshire. While thus engaged Captain BRUCE studied civil engineering under private tuition,
and for some years was engaged in surveying and civil engineering. In 1884, when his mother's
health failed, he brought her to St. Augustine, Florida, and here took up the practice of
his profession, with very gratifying results. In 1885 he joined the United States Engineering
Department, but subsequently resigned to accept the office of chief engineer of the Port
Commissioners of Jacksonville. He designed and constructed the terminal and interchanging
facilities of the port and also accomplished other good work in connection with this office,
but resigned after two years of faithful service. His next big work was the designing of
the Merrill-Stevens Shipbuilding Company plant at South Jacksonville, but resigned after the
ship construction appliances had been completed at a cost of about three million dollars.
Since that time Captain BRUCE has been living in semi-retirement, although he still acts as
a consulting engineer. During his residence at St. Augustine he served two terms as alderman,
and rendered excellent service. Also, while living in that city, during the yellow fever
epidemic, he was placed in charge of the shot-gun quarantine and restored order out of chaos.
He has also served as justice of the peace, under appointment by Governors Catts and Hardee,
and under the first issue of city bonds, served by appointment as a member of the Board of
Trustees for South Jacksonville. In 1896 Captain BRUCE was made a member of Ashler Lodge,
F. and A. M., but subsequently demitted and joined Duval Lodge of South Jacksonville. In
his political sentiment he maintains an independent stand and views, and gives his vote rather
to the man whom he deems best fitted for the office than to the party which the candidate
On July 23, 1877, Captain BRUCE was united in marriage with Miss CLARA F. PADDLEFORD, who
was born at Littleton, New Hampshire, February 3, 1854, and to this union there has been born
one child, SARAH LOUISE, the wife of CLEVELAND JOHNSON, with three children, FREDERICK BRUCE,
CLARICE RUTH and MARY LOUISE. Captain BRUCE has been a valued member of the American Society
of Civil Engineers since 1900.