My Bruce Line

I was going to pick up on Sarah Scranton’s Strong ancestry, but a little voice said that I had better do a post on my Bruce line. I try not to ignore that little voice! When I gathered the below information, I realized that this is one line that I did not do a lot of research on, other than a bit on my direct ancestors. Below is all I know.

James (in one roll of land records, called George) Bruce was born circa 1765 in Scotland. According to “Guysborough Sketches and Essays” by A.C. Jost, he was part of The Duke of Cumberland’s Regiment, on the British side of the Revolutionary War. Much of this regiment was formed from Scotsmen in South Carolina, so perhaps James lived there for a while. He never saw action, as the regiment spent much of the war in Jamaica. The regiment spent a short time in New York just after the war ended, then made their way up to Halifax in late 1783, early 1784. Eventually, he was granted either 100 or 150 acres of land (Jost has conflicting information) in the Hallowell Grant in 1795. According to Jost, his lot was in the Southeast division, Block C, Number 1 in the town of Guysborough. (Looking at Jost’s map and comparing that to today’s Guysborough, it appears the town was on the peninsula just north of today’s Mill Cove.)

The portion of Guysborough, Nova Scotia in which James Bruce settled. Courtesy Google Maps/Google Earth.

The portion of Guysborough, Nova Scotia in which James Bruce settled. Courtesy Google Maps/Google Earth.

James married Catherine Cadel on June 30, 1798 in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. Their children were:

  • Christopher, born September 22, 1801, Manchester, Nova Scotia; married Abigail McKeough, January 27, 1827; died April 13, 1867 of consumption; buried in Boylston United Cemetery
  • Richard Samuel, born September 7, 1802, Manchester, Nova Scotia; married Margaret Morgan, February 19, 1828; died December 6, 1884
  • Mary Jane, born November 5, 1804, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia; married William McKeough before 1825
  • John, married Caroline Scott, March 20, 1827.

James was killed by a falling tree on March 28, 1805 in Guysborough County at age 40. Catherine later married a Mr. Kilfyle.

Below are John Bruce & Caroline Scott’s children, all born in Manchester:

  • Sarah Sophia, born December 10, 1828; married James Patrick O’Brien, January 13, 1853; died 1898. Their information is covered here .
  • William Wallace, born November 18, 1831; married Maria Whitman, December 25, 1855 (they emigrated with her family to Queens County, New York by July 1860)
  • Ruth Maria, born October 15, 1833; married Jeremiah Woods Lyle before 1856
  • John Joseph, born October 13, 1835; married Esther Jane Bigsby, March 15, 1877, Guysborough, Nova Scotia
  • James Robert Cooney, born December 9, 1838; married Christina Stewart, November 18, 1869, Gloucester, Essex County, MA (was James Robert Cooney O’Brien, Sarah’s son, named after him? Was she missing her brother who had moved away?)
  • Mary Jane, born March 11, 1842; married John Horton December 27, 1827; married Richard W. Cunningham, February 5, 1868, Manchester, Nova Scotia
  • George Christopher, born April 13, 1844

What else can I say about my Bruce line? Well, my grandmother claimed that we were descended from Robert the Bruce, but I have no evidence to prove or disprove it.

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Fourth Great-Grandmother Sarah (Scranton) McMasters: Born in the USA

Just three years after the end of the Revolutionary War, Sarah Scranton was born on August 11, 1786 in Durham, Middlesex County, Connecticut to David Scranton and his second wife Loraine Strong. Sarah was Loraine’s first child, but David’s second. His first was Phebe, who was born on May 11, 1782, to David’s first wife Phebe Curtis. The elder Phebe died less than three weeks after her daughter’s birth on May 30, 1782.

David was a mariner of his own sloop called Nancy that dealt in trading. His hometown of Durham was a landlocked rural town, at least twenty miles from the Connecticut shore and about ten miles west of the Connecticut River. Every time he was to make a trip on the Nancy, he would probably need extra days just to travel to and from wherever she was docked. (I have to admit that as I drove to Durham last summer, I was surprised just how far it was from the shore. “No wonder David didn’t stay here!” I said to myself.)

Durham, Middlesex County, CT. The southern border of Connecticut is its shoreline. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Durham, Middlesex County, CT. The southern border of Connecticut is its shoreline. Courtesy Wikipedia.

On one of David’s trips to Quebec, he had stopped in Chadebucto Bay in Nova Scotia, which runs along today’s Guysborough County’s southern shoreline. Apparently he was quite impressed with the area, for when the Hallowell Grant in Nova Scotia opened up for settlement, he took the opportunity to find a new home that was more convenient to his occupation. (A great description of the Hallowell Grant can be found here on the “From Maine to Kentucky” blog.)

In mid-1787, Sarah was only one year old when she made the voyage with her parents and fourteen-year-old cousin Henry Scranton (who was recovering from a “fever-sore in one limb”) to Nova Scotia; she likely never saw the country of her birth again. Other settlers came with them on the Nancy, some of whom had been Loyalists during the war. The Scranton family settled on a farm in the newly formed town of Boylston* on east side of Milford-Haven River, a tidal river that empties into the Chedabucto Bay. This seemed to be a perfect location for David, who could easily split his time between his travels and the family farm.

Left behind in Durham was Sarah’s five-year-old sister Phebe, who was being raised by Phebe’s maternal aunt (whose name I do not know). I have to wonder if this aunt may have stepped in to help raise the newborn Phebe after her mother’s untimely death. Perhaps the two formed a mother-daughter-like bond that David could not break up. In any case, I am sure Phebe and her father kept in touch; one of her children was named after him, after all.

Cousin Henry’s illness did not get any better with time. On December 21, 1787 (just a few months after his arrival), Henry passed away. I have to wonder if his was one of the first deaths in Boylston. So Sarah became the “oldest child” of the family, having nine younger siblings that were between one and a half and sixteen years younger than herself, all born in Manchester. (I will detail them in a later post.) As such, Sarah probably helped her mother run the household and take care of the children; perhaps she even helped out on the farm.

Meanwhile, in 1790, a Scotsman named John McMasters arrived in Manchester and was deeded 172 acres of land. The two books that mention him say that his parents were John McMasters and Ann Cummings. I assume that John must have been close to twenty years older than Sarah. John and Sarah were married on November 20, 1808 in Manchester. They had nine children, all born in Manchester:

  • George Henry, born October 10, 1810; died August 1812 of rheumatism
  • Lauraine, born November 16, 1811; died September 11, 1838
  • Ann Charlotte, born October 26, 1814; married Thomas McKeough December 19, 1848; died sometime after 1891
  • John, born December 9, 1816; married Catherine J. Cummings before 1855; died 1906
  • Catherine, born November 8, 1818; married A. Henry Partridge before 1843
  • David, born April 19, 1820; married Margery E. Fox 1855; died 1903
  • Samuel, born February 25, 1823; married Margaret Pyle October 2, 1873; died 1903
  • Christina, born May 26, 1826; married Robert Bruce Lipsett January 8, 1859; died June 15, 1891
  • Margaret, born June 23, 1829

John died somewhere between 1838 (where he appeared as a farmer on the census) and 1861 (where Sarah seemed to be living as a widow with her son David). Sarah died of old age on March 23, 1865 in Manchester. (Her son David was the informant of her death.) I assume both are buried in Manchester, but I don’t have any records of that yet.

* Harriet Cunningham Hart’s “History of the County of Guysborough” indicates that “Boylston did not thrive as a town” and became a part of Manchester township. Therefore, the Scrantons did not move, but their residence became known as Manchester. The town of Boylston was later re-established in 1874.

The O’Brien Line

Last year, I bought a book: “North America’s Maritime Funnel: The Ships that Brought the Irish, 1749-1852” by Terrence M. Punch. I was hoping to find specific information on my Lipsett and O’Brien lines; yet there was little genealogical information there. Instead I got a feel as to why my Irish ancestors may have immigrated to Canada in the late 1700s/early 1800s. Apparently Ireland was becoming overcrowded and with that, job opportunities became increasingly scarce. Even those who farmed had limited land on which to cultivate and provide for their families.

Michael O’Brien (born 1726) and his wife Catherine Quinn lived in Cahir, County Tipperary. They had at least two and possibly three children. Things took a turn for the worse when Michael passed away. Some online trees say that he died on October 18, 1770, but he had to have been dead at least two years beforehand, as we shall see.

An Internet search brought me to an article written for the September 2012 issue of “The Seniors’ Advocate” by Terrence Punch. (This is someone whose work I need to give more attention to!) Dr. Punch told the story of Catherine’s brother James, who was a Halifax, Nova Scotia innkeeper. He died intestate in 1768, which proved to be fortunate for Catherine, his only heir. When she heard of her brother’s death, it seems that she saw a great opportunity for herself and her family. She was able to gather the necessary paperwork that proved their relationship and whatever was needed to make the trip to Halifax in 1769. Of course Catherine was able to procure James’ land.

Eventually Catherine’s son Patrick and his family immigrated to Halifax to join her and inherit her land. This established my O’Brien line (below, in bold) in Nova Scotia. Catherine passed away on April 16, 1806 in Halifax.

The children of Michael O’Brien and Catherine Quinn:

  • John O’Brien – b. 1750 Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland; d. 1819 (so far, I’ve only been able to find him on on-line trees)
  • Patrick O’Brien – b. 1751 Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland; m. Mary Anglin; d. Jan 10, 1813, Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Mary Anglin – b. 1763 (Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland); d. July 20, 1813, Halifax, Nova Scotia. They seem to have immigrated between 1786 and 1790 from Ireland to Nova Scotia.
  • Ellen O’Brien – b. Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland

Children of Patrick and Mary:

  • Michael O’Brien – b. circa 1781, Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland; m. Ann Elizabeth Prescott, June 4, 1816, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia; d. Dec 18, 1821, Caen, Normandy, France
  • Catherine O’Brien – b. circa 1784, Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland; m. William Newman, May 24, 1806, Halifax, Nova Scotia; d. Sep 1, 1824, Pope’s Harbour, Nova Scotia
  • Ann Nancy O’Brien – b. circa 1786, Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland; m. George Matthew, Dec 6, 1812, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Mary O’Brien – b. circa 1790, Halifax, Nova Scotia; m. Robert William Barber, Nov 30, 1816, Halifax, Nova Scotia; d. Feb 2, 1881, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • John O’Brien – b. 1794, Halifax, Nova Scotia; d. Jan 21, 1819, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • David O’Brien – b. 1796, Halifax, Nova Scotia; m. Margaret Seckar, Apr 12, 1825, Halifax, Nova Scotia; d. Jan 7 1844, Manchester, Nova Scotia
  • Thomas O’Brien – b. 1798, Halifax, Nova Scotia; m. Eliza _____; d. Jan 7, 1868, Manchester, Nova Scotia
    Eliza _____ – b. circa 1800
  • Matthew O’Brien – b. 1798, Halifax, Nova Scotia (could he and Thomas be twins?); d. Oct 16, 1839, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • James O’Brien – b. 1804, Halifax, Nova Scotia; d. Jan 22, 1828 at sea
  • Eliza O’Brien – b. 1806, Halifax, Nova Scotia; m. Francois Laurent, Jul 15, 1822, St. RochDesAulnie, L’Islet, Quebec; m. Charles Hilaire Tetu, Sep 19, 1837, Quebec City, Quebec; d. circa 1877
  • Eleanor O’Brien – b. Halifax, Nova Scotia; m. Henry Newman, Dec 7, 1822, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Children of Thomas and Eliza:

  • James Patrick O’Brien – b. 1822, Manchester, Nova Scotia; m. Sarah Sophia Bruce, Jan 13, 1853, Guysborough, Nova Scotia; d. 1898; buried Boylston Cemetery, Boylston, Nova Scotia
    Sarah Sophia Bruce – d. 1898
  • Mary Ann O’Brien – b. Nov 30, 1824, Manchester, Nova Scotia; m. James Mitchell Whitman, Jan 25, 1853, Manchester, Nova Scotia; d. Mar 16, 1915, Mulgrave, Nova Scotia
  • William M. O’Brien – b. Jan 5, 1830, Manchester, Nova Scotia; m. Lydia Elizabeth Martin, Feb 16, 1858, Manchester, Nova Scotia; m. Margaret McKeough, Feb 27, 1868, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia; d. 1904, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia
  • Thomas Masters O’Brien – b. Apr 1, 1833, Manchester, Nova Scotia
  • Michael England O’Brien – b. Nov 29, 1835, Manchester, Nova Scotia
  • Robert Barber O’Brien – b. Apr 15, 1837, Manchester, Nova Scotia
  • Eliza Master O’Brien – b. Sep 5, 1844, Manchester, Nova Scotia; m. Joseph Henderston before 1866
  • John Henry O’Brien – b. Nova Scotia; m. Catherine Livingstone; d. circa 1856, Manchester, Nova Scotia

Children of James and Sarah:

  • John Bruce O’Brien – b. 1854, Manchester, Nova Scotia; d. Aug 22, 1876, drowned in the Salmon River, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia
  • Caroline Eliza O’Brien – b. Sep 6, 1855, Manchester, Nova Scotia; m. Edward Stanley Lipsett, Dec 29, 1883, Gloucester, Essex County, MA; d. 1934
  • Eva Amelia O’Brien – b. Apr 26, 1859, Manchester, Nova Scotia; d. before 1881
  • Annette Morton O’Brien – b. Jan 19, 1861, Manchester, Nova Scotia; m. Parker Hart, before 1880
  • John Winslow O’Brien – b. Mar 11, 1861 (I believe he may have been adopted. A 9-year-old appears on the 1871 census as “Basto Bruce”; in 1881, an 18-year old “James.”)
  • Sarah Sophia O’Brien – b. Aug 31, 1864, Manchester, Nova Scotia; m. Robert Fenwick Lipsett, Jan 18, 1893, Manchester, Nova Scotia; d. July 23, 1932, Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Robert Fenwick Lipsett, b. Jan 23, 1866, Manchester, Nova Scotia; d. Feb 19, 1948, Antigonish, Nova Scotia
  • James Robert Cooney O’Brien – b. Apr 20, 1867, Manchester, Nova Scotia; m. Irene _____, between 1883 – 1892; d. 1956 (“Jim” is the only O’Brien of whom I have a picture.)
  • Effie May O’Brien – b. Feb 23, 1870, Manchester, Nova Scotia; d. 1951
"Uncle Jim" O'Brien, August 1953, Manchester, Nova Scotia. Author's collection.

“Uncle Jim” O’Brien, August 1953, Manchester, Nova Scotia. Author’s collection.