Wallace Bruce




DeFuniak, Jan. 4.—The funeral service of Hon. Wallace Bruce, who passed away at DeFuniak Springs home Friday. Jan. 2, was held yesterday at 2 p. m. in the Chautauqua auditorium. It was felt by the people of DeFuniak Springs that there could be no more fitting place for the holding of the last sad rites of Mr. Bruce than this auditorium, which was erected by him and, as it were, given to the people of DeFuniak Springs and the Florida Chautauqua. Therefore, the business league officials of the town and the entire community wishing to pay the last honors and tributes to the one who has so long loved it and its people, through a committee appointed, requested the family that if it met with their approval the service would be held in this auditorium In order that all might attend the funeral and thus show, in a measure, their love and respect for the honored dead.

The body, embanked in magnificent floral tributes, lay in state on the auditorium platform under a Masonic guard of six, from 12 n. to 2 p. m., the hour of the funeral, [where] it was viewed by many of his sorrowing friends. At this hour the service was conducted by Rev. A. C. T. Smythe, rector of the Episcopal church, others of the local churches taking part. At this service, “My Ain Countrie,” a hymn loved by Mr. Bruce, was sung by Mrs. Emma Dawdy Sessoms of Bonifay, Fla., whose voice was so much appreciated by Mr. Bruce in his life time. “Lead Kindly Light,” and “Nearer My God to Thee,” two of his favorite hymns, were sung by a union choir of the various churches of the town. The interment was had at the city cemetery, the vast concourse of people, led by the Masonic Lodge, of DeFuniak Springs, marching from the auditorium to the strains of Chopin’s funeral march, to the cemetery where the Impressive Masonic ceremonies were held at the grave.


Probably there are a few of our people who really know what a great man cast his lot among us when Hon. Wallace Bruce came to Western Florida, more than a quarter of a century ago. We would speak first of his work for Western Florida and DeFuniak DeFuniak Springs. All acquainted with the work of the Florida Chautauqua, of which he was for many years the honored president, realize the great uplift this institution has been to the people of Western Florida. It has given them a broader view of life and a higher culture. It has prepared them to appreciate many of the beauties in literature, art and nature, than they would have except for the Chautauqua [environment]. Hon. Wallace Bruce saved the Florida Chautauqua to Western Florida and DeFuniak Springs years ago. When a financial crisis had to come in the institution he shouldered the burden and now he has borne the burden through the years and how he has sacrificed his own interests in the building up and maintaining of this Florida Chautauqua, shows the worth and greatness of the man probably more than the seeming greater privileges that he had, to which we shall refer later.

Mr. Bruce was great in the literary world. His poems are among the most popular of any American author. His literary greatness was recognized at home and abroad. He was invited by congress to write and deliver a poem at the centennial of the disbanding disbanding of the army under Washington at [Newburgh], also at the centennials of the battles of Yorktown, Saratoga, and Bennington, and at many reunions. He gave the poem at the unveiling of the Bums monument at Ayr, Scotland. He was the Poet Laureate of the Masonic Lodge No. 2, in Edinburgh, Scotland, the successor of Robert Bums. He was a correspondent and member from the United States of the [Shakespeare] society of Great Britain, having been appointed to succeed John Greenleaf Whittier, who was his personal friend.


Net only had he met a great literary career, but from the year 1870 he has been upon the lecture platform. During these years the messages carried by him over the length and breadth of our [country] have been an uplift and inspiration to many, and there are those of today [who] point back to having heard this noted lecturer lecturer as the source of their Inspiration for greater things which they have accomplished.

In this wide and useful career he formed the intimate friendship of many noted men at home and abroad, among them John B. Gough, Henry Ward Beecher, [Wendell Phillips], [Emerson], Oliver Wendell Holmes, John [Greenleaf] Whittier, William E. Gladstone, and many others.

In 1889 Mr. Bruce went as United States consul to Edinburgh, Scotland, having been appointed by Benjamin Harrison, president. It was while serving his country in this position that he gained much distinction and had such honors paid him abroad. It was through his efforts that Thomas-the-Rhymers Tower was preserved, also that the Lincoln monument was erected in [Calton Hill] cemetery of Edinburgh, this being the only monument erected to Lincoln in Europe. He was a link between Scotland and this country.


The above is only a brief resume of the life of Mr. Bruce. A great man has gone and he shall to missed. More especially will he be missed by the people of DeFuniak Springs. Long will they remember what he has done for the town and they will ever cherish his memory and delight to do it honor. He loved DeFuniak Springs, and we know of no more fitting place for him to take his long last rest than beneath the sunshine and flowers of this part of the Southern clime of which he spoke, from his own heart in the early years of his life here, these words:

A Lotus-land, where Time forgets its date,
A dreaming-place beneath the swaying trees;
A lake so pure it seems the wedded mate
Of yon fair sky, before the rustling breeze
To rippling laughter wakes its gentle breast.
Showing it, too, is human: Oh, what joy
To roam in sunlight here, kind Nature’s guest,
Wooing her smile! or, bliss without alloy,
To watch the moonlight kiss the lapsing wave
With one we love, and speak with answering eyes
The language Paradise ne’er lost, but gave
Lest no man should be an outcast from the skies.
No spot so sweet; no water half so blue;
God’s crowning circle wrought with compass true.


[Source: Pensacola Journal, 5 January 1914, Page 2]

[Burial: Magnolia Cemetery, DeFuniak Springs]

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