Macomb County Pioneers

Bruce Township Perspective: from the History of Macomb County

"In the year 1830 or 1831, the portion of the township known as the "Scotch Settlement" began to be occupied. One or two families- Crawford and Wylie, also David Taylor- were there previously. Dr. Neil Gray and his brother Hugh came to Romeo, and, acting on the advise of Jesse Bishop, located the tract since known as the Gray farm. The relatives of the Grays came over from the country of Robert Burns and settled near the Gray farm. The Resides, Reids, Hopkinses, Muirs, Hamiltons, Borlands, Stephanses and many others soon followed. Josiah T. Sanborn, one of the first settlers of Bruce, still resides in the northeast part of the township.
"On one of the first days of April, 1832, the inhabitants of the Fourth Town met in a log schoolhouse on the corner four miles north of Romeo, and half a mile west of Parmelee's house, for the purpose of forming a township. Mr. Goodrich was called to the chair, and Martin Buzzell was chosen Clerk.
"Various names for the new township were proposed, which each in turn, met with various objections, until one of the Gray's proposed the name of Bruce, in honor of Scotland's renowned chieftain. The being short, easily written and pronounced, commended itself to the people at once and was accepted.
"Among the first officials of the new township were: Hugh Gray; Hiram Hopkins; and Isaac Thompson."

The paragraphs quoted above, taken from the History of Macomb County (Leeson, 1882) give us several important insights concerning the beginning of the Scottish Settlement:

1. It concurs with other documents that establish the beginning of the settlement in the early 1830s.

2. It establishes that (at least) three Scottish families were living in southeastern Michigan prior to the formation of the Scottish Settlement: Crawfords; Wylies; and Taylors (some of the Taylors were English). Presumably these families came before 1830.

3. The text says that the pioneers came from the “country of Robert Burns”. Clearly this is a reference to Scotland’s national poet and so refers to the whole of Scotland. There is another way to interpret this, however. Robert Burns grew up in southwestern Scotland, in the County of Ayrshire, near the towns of Craigie, Tarbolton, and Mauchline. This is also the area from which many of the Scottish Settlement families lived before they came to Michigan.

4. The Gray family, if I interpret the paragraph correctly, was a force in drawing others- their relatives- to the settlement. We might conclude (tentatively) therefore that the Resides, Reids, Hopkins, Muirs, Hamiltons, Borlands, and Stephanses were relatives of the Grays. Furthermore, we can conclude that these families came to Michigan after 1830, but probably before 1840 (i.e. they came soon after the Gray’s).

5. Josiah T. Sanborn is mentioned in the paragraph as a first settler to Bruce Township in the same paragraph that lists Scottish Settlement pioneers. Perhaps, this suggests that Sanborn was Scottish, although Sanborn is an English name. Also, a search of federal census reports-linked below-for 1840, 1850, 1860, and 1870, for people born in Scotland, fails to list Sanborn among them. Sanburn, does show up in the 1870 census as a Scottish name (so, I am still not sure).

The three Scottish families who were in the region prior to the influx that led to the Scottish Settlement, the Crawfords, the Wylies, and the Taylors, with Willie Thompson, came from the eastern United States; their ancestors had come to America in the 1700's and early 1800's, and then migrated westward. As such, they are not part of that group of Scottish pioneers, neighbors and relatives in Ayrshire/Glasgow, who came to the settlement between 1830 and 1870. They might, however, have been instrumental in drawing the Grays or others to Michigan. There is no evidence one way or the other.

The 1840 Federal Census for Bruce Township

The 1850 Federal Census for Bruce Township

The 1860 Federal Census for Bruce Township

The 1870 Federal Census for Bruce Township

Robert the Bruce

Bruce Township is, of course, named for the legendary Scottish king Robert the Bruce who lived from 1274 to 1329. Bruce was king from 1306 until his death. "He became one of Scotland's greatest kings, as well as one of the most famous warriors of his generation, eventually leading Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against the Kingdom of England. He claimed the Scottish throne as a four-greats-grandson of David I of Scotland, and saw the recognition of Scotland as an independent nation during his reign. Bruce is remembered in Scotland today as a national hero." (Wikipedia)

The Pioneer Families in Bruce Township









Reed (Ried)





The Pioneer Families in Armada Township