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John Joseph Bruner
Editor And Publisher BY L. S. MOORE John Joseph Bruner, the subject of this sketch, was born in Rowan Coun ty on the Yadkin River about seven miles from Salisbury. He was the only son of Henry Bruner, a gunsmith by trade, and the third generation of the name—the first Heruich having im migrated to America in 1731 with| John Jacob Bruner, "presumably his father, as he was then a mere lad of less than siaifeen years of age. Wheth er or not the trade of gunsmith was handed down from father to son is not positively known, but a few of the Bruner flint lock rifles are still in ex istence and are evidently the work of Henry, the father of the Henry nam ed above. From wills dated 1769 and 1803 respectively, it is known howev er, that they were landowners and men, of substance. On September 29th, 1814, Henry Bruner married Edith, youngest daugh ter of Col. West Harris of Montgom ery County and his wife, Edith Led better of Anson. Col. Harris was a native North Carolinian, but his fath er, West Harris, Sr., came from Isle of Wight County, Virginia, and was first a citizen of Granville County, North Carolina, "serving there as vestryman of St. John’s Parish in 1746, and in 1756 he is one who long refused to qualify as a Justice of the peace.’’ Subsequently he settled with his family in that section now known as Montgomery County. The history of this family is of interest, as it cov ers a period of more than two hun dred and seventy-five years, going back to the first settlement of the country. The ancestor of the North Carolina branch was one Thomas Har ris, the date of whose will, as record ed in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, is October ye 9th, 1688, and that of his son, Edward, dated March 25th, 1734. Both father and son leave land granted them by Patent to their pos terity. West Harris, Sr., was the son of Edward' and father of Col. West Harris, who "on the breaking out of hostilities with the mother country, enlisted in the North Carolina Line of the Continental Amry—9th Regiment , —as ^Lieutenant, and notwithstanding his youth, by patriotism, zeal and in- p trepidity was advanced before the end of tbe war to the rank of Colonel. , After tbe peace be represented his fel- < low citizens for a number of years in the General Asesmbly of the State. And such was the confidence of the people iii his probity and intelligence, ■ that any office in their gift was at his command. In the private walks of life he was equally esteemed: he was be nevolent to the poor, and honorable in all his dealings with the world.” (Western Carolinian August 7 th, 1826). He died July 19th, 1826, aged sixty-nine years and was laid to rest in the private burial grounds on his estate near the mouth of Beaverdam Creek. Here for more than a century had rested the bodies of members of the Harris families, but owing to the fact that when the big dam on the Yadkin ’ near Badin, then under construction _1916—was finished and the waters turned on, practically submerging ten thousand acres of land, this among others, would become the bed of a l 1 C T „ /'nncomiprw’P Vital UKjyi y v/jl ~-x thereof, steps were at once taken by descendants to exhume the remains. During his life Mr. Bruner had seen personally to the care of this sacred spot and had made provisions for its upkeep after his demise, hence it was deemed but fitting that the ahes of his beloved dead should lie with his in the old English Cemetery, there to await the Resurrection Morn. The exhuming of these remains, of which seven in number were brought .to Salisbury, goes back into the his tory of the family in North Carolina nearly two hundred years, the eldest being West Harris, Sr., born August 13th, 1715, died May 14th, 1795. To Henry Bruner and Edith, his wife, two children were born, Salina Williamson, first and only daughter, August 4th, 1815, and John Joseph, March 12th, 1817. When the latter was a little over two years old, his father died and his mother with her two children returned to her father’s residence in Montgomery. In 182 5 John Joseph came to Sal isbury, under the care of his uncle, the Hon- Charles Fisher, father of Col. Chas. F. Fisher who fell at the Battle of Bull Run. His first year in Salis bury was s.pent in attending the school taught by Henry Allemand and was about all the schooling of a regular style he ever received, the remainder of his education being of a practical kind, gleaned at the case and press of a printing office. When nine years of age, he entered the printing office of the "Western Carolinian,” then under the editorial control of the Hon. Philo White, late of Whitestown, N. Y. In 1830, the "Carolinian” passed into the hands oi the Hon. Burton Craige, and then in to the hands of Maj. John Beard, late of Florida, Mr. Bruner continuing in the office until 1836. In 1839, M. G Pendleton of Salisbury and Mr. Brun er purchased the "Watchman," a Whig and anti-nullification paper, establish ed in July, 1832, by Hamilton C. Jones, Esq., to support Gen. Andrew Jackson and combat the nullification movement of that time, started in jouth Carolina under the inspiration of John C. Calhoun and other dis tinguished statesmen of the Common wealth. Under the above firm name the paper was continued for three years, at the end of which time the junior partner withdrew for the pur pose of collecting a considerable amount due the firm and paying off accumulated debts. This was accomp *ished in the course of eighteen months, during which time the paper was continued under the management jf Mr. Pendleton as editor and pro prietor. In 1843 Mr. Bruner was married to Miss Mary Ann Kincaid, a daughter to Thomas Kincaid, Esq. The mother of Mrs. Bruner was Clarisa Harlowe Brandon, daughter of Col. James Brandon of Revolutionary fame, close kinsman of Matthew Brandon and the Lockes. Col. Brandon was the son of Wm. Brandon who settled in Thya -ira as early as 1752,'and whose wife was miss cvnn barney oi tnat region, then known as Cathey’s Settlement. For nearly a century the name of Brandon was noted all through the fadkin and Catawba Valleys. It has been conspicuous in the fights jf Ramsour’s Mill, Charlotte, King’s Mountain, Cowpens and Cowan’s ord. It is said that in some emergency luring the Revolution, Col. Fran cis Locke raised a strong company of minute men, composed mainly of Brandons and Lockes. They came orig inally from England, settled in Penn sylvania, are found early in Virginia tnd are among the first immigrants o this section, one date going back o 1730. Having married, Mr. Bruner pre ared for-his. life work by re-purcbas lg the ^Watchman” in partnership mh Sam’l W. James in 1844. After ix successful years this partnership vas disolved and Mr. Bruner, becom ng sole owner and editor, c.ontinued :o publish it until the spring of 1865, when Stoneman’s raiders took posses sion while here on'the 12 th and 13 th j af April, and after printing an army sheet, turned the office upside down, wrecked the principal press and de stroyed all they could. Upon the ar rival of the Federal Army after the surrender, the commander took pos session of it, detailed printers from the army to gather up type enough to print a daily news slip and held pos session until about the 4th of July, when they turned over the shattered establishment to the owner. Three years later, Lewis FJanes, Esq., of Lexington, purchased an in terest in the paper and it was called the "Watchman and the Old North State.” Ill health caused Mr. Bruner to retire from business for a couple of years, but his mission was to conduct a paper, so in 1871 he re-purchased it, and thereafter it made its regular ap pearance weekly until his death. At this date the "Watchman” was the oldest newspaper and Mr. Bruner the oldest editor in North Carolina. He was one of the few remaining links binding the ante-bellum journalist with those of the present day. The history of Mr. Bruner’s editorial life is a history of the progress of the state. He was contemporary with Edward J. Hale, Ex-Governor Holden, Wm. J. Yates and others of the old editors. When he began the publication of the "Watchman”, there was not a daily newspaper or a railroad in the State. In 1849 the "Watchman” advertised the "Great Western Stage Line” which left Salisbury at 5 o’clock A. M. one day and arrived at Asheville at 8 P M. on the following day. The adver tisement under the cut of an old fashioned stage coach read: "For speec could not be surpassed.” At the time of his death no one living in Salisbury and few elsewhere in the State hac such an extensive personal acquaint ance and knowledge of men and event! in the early years of the last century He sat under the preaching of every pastor of the Presbyterian Churcl since its organization—Dr. Freeman Mr. Rankin, Mr. Espy, Dr. Spafrow Mr. Frontis (by whom he was mar ried), Mr. Baker, and Rev. Dr. Rum pie, who was his pastor and frienc for more than_thirty years. He was scholar in the Sunday School under it first superintendent and was after wards a teacher and superintenden himself. The Hon. Philo White, hi early guardian and kinsman was ; high-toned gentleman of the Presby terian faith and so impressed himseli upon his youthful ward that he choss him as his model, emulated his exam ple and held his memory in cherished veneration to the end of his life. At seventeen years of age Mr. Brunet joined the Presbyterian Church of Sal isbury, and in 1846 he was ordained a ruling elder and continued to serve in that capacity through the remainder of his life. Ever active and useful in its ecclesiastical courts his opinions were often sought and always receiv ed with deference and repect. The family altar was established in his household and he reared his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. His marriage was abundantly blessed by a faithful, diligent and af fectionate wife, who bore him twelve children, seven of whom preceded him to rest. Mr. Bruner died after a lingering illness, March 23rd, 1890. His end was peace. As he gently passed away—so gently that it was difficult to tell when life ended and immortality be gan—a brother elder by his bedside re peated the lines, "How blest the righteous when he dies! When sinks a weary soul to rest; - How mildly beam the closing eye, How gently leaves the expir ing breath!" His memory must ever shine out as one of the purest, sweetest, best ele ments of the past. His character was singularly beautiful and upright, and his life an unwritten sermon. He was emphatically a self-made man. His learning he acquired by his own unaided efforts, his property he earned by the sweat of his brow and his reputation he achieved by prud ' ence, wisdom and faithfulness in all the duties of life. By his paper he helped thousands of men to honorable and lucrative office, but he never helped himself. After the war he adhered with un wavering fidelity to the Democratic party which he believed was the only hope and refuge of the true friends of liberty anywhere in America; and he never faltered in his allegiance to those principles which he believed every true Southern man should adhere to. Up to the very last he was.unflinching and unwavering in his love for the South and in his adherence to the best ideals and traditions of the land of his nativity. At no time during his life did he ever "crook the pregnant hing nr Irnan flaif ri-f ♦" tniollf ffll low fawning.” In the very best sense of the word, he was a Southern gentle man of the Old School. The old South and the new. was all one to him—the same old land, the same old people, the same old traditions—the land of Washington, of Jefferson, of Calhoun and Jackson, of Pettigrew and Fish er, of Graham and Craige, of Stone wall Jackson, of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. He was honest and economical, al ways living within his means. He was not only honorable in financial mat ters, but the soul of candor and hon esty in the expression of his opinions. He "did not needlessly parade his con victions of men and things, but when he did express a judgment, it was an honest one. It is probable that he nev er consciously flattered a man in his life. A man of great moral courage, he did not fear to face and oppose able and distinguished men if he thought they were wrong. Though never a neutral in politics, morals or religion, but having strong party affinities, he would still upon accasion throw off the tramels of party and speak forth his independent convictions. He did not obtrude himself upon public not ice and was willing to take the lowest seat unless there was a call for his ap pearance. He dared more to satisfy his own conscience and please God, than to have honor among men. The following from the pen of the late John S. Henderon is characteristic —''Now that he is gone, he will b appreciated at his true worth, as on of this world’s true noblemen. I kneM Mr. Bruner all my life and I alway admired and revered him. Sometime I disagreed with him in opinion, bu , in doing so I always felt that possibh f might be wrong, knowing as I di< that while he was slow in coming t< a conclusion, when once his opiniot was formed, he adhered to it with ar undeviating and inflexible fixedness oJ purpose. He was a just man in all hii dealings and conscientious and truth ful always. In politics, he was always true to his convictions and to his par ty principals—but he was anything but a time-server. He had a perfect horror of duplicity. As an instance of this, I remember once, when 1 was in the Legislature, a petition had been forwarded to the Governor re questing the appointment of a certain man to an important public position. Mr. Bruner was importuned to sign the petition, and did so reluctantly, but being convinced that he had made a mistake and that the man was un worthy, he would not be satisfied un til he had cleared his skirts of all re sponsibility in the matter. -He noti fied the friends of the candidate that he wished to withdraw his signature from the petition. The reply was that it was too late, the petition had been sent to the Governor. He then wrote to me to call upon the Governor and ask him to erase his name from the list of petitioners. I complied with the request, and I now remember that the Governor was very courteous and made the erasure instantly with his own hand.” ror more cnan nair a century Mr. Bruner was at the head of the "Watch man”. A bold and fearless advocate of the rights of the people, he wrote with great force and fidelity of ex pression, and always with conserva tism and great good sense. The high mindedness, the inflexible and uni versally recognized integrity of the man, added to his prudence and fine judgmlit, gave weight to his coun sels and rendered him always an in dividual and an editor of influence. >Of pronounced views and great deci sion of character, he was yet the most amiable, genial and kindly of men, at all times characterized by a degree of iberality and cinservatism that won him respect and friendship even from those who might differ with him in matters of Church or State. With but one hope or purpose—to serve his peo ple and State, faithfully and honest ly-he steered his journal from year to year, from decade to decade, froen the morning of one century almost to the morning of another, until he made himself and his paper honored landmarks not only of his own town, but throughout North Carolina. The editor of the "Manufacturers’ Rec ord” has said—"No other North Car olina journalist of earlier days had the prescience to see apd the ability to set forth what the future of that State might be made because of its im mense and varied natural resources. Living in the center of a natural dis trict surrounded by vast forests and by fertile lands, Mr. Bruner saw that the State had within itself every need ed natural material for the creation and continuance of diversified indus tries, and while a young editor he be gan to study these intelligently, and to give such publicity to them as his cir culation permitted. Scrupulously hon t est, he never permitted any statement e to be made that he did not believi r to be true, and so, in the course ol i years, the "Carolina Watchman” cam< i* to be widely recognized as a safe and : accurate authority on all such sub ■ jects. Among all the Southern news 1 paper men whose acquaintance it has ' been my good fortune to make, none i has seemed to me so near perfection in all that constitutes a true journalist and a true man as John Joseph Brun er.” He recorded truthfully and with out envy or prejudice the birth and downfall of political parties. He—in spired by a united effort to American ize and weld together every section of this great union—grew eloquent in praise of wise and sagacious leaders, and he blotted with a tear the paper on which he wrote of sectional strife and discord. He chronicled with sober earnestness the birth of a new republic, and like other loyal sons of the South, raised his arm and pen in its defense. He watched with unfeigned interest its short and stormy career, and then wrote dispassionately of the furling of its blood stained banner. He was ever found fighting for what he be nevea to De tne Dest interests or his people, and advocating such men and measures as seemed to him just and right. An old time Whig before the war, he aspired not to political pre ferment or position, but. only to an honored stand in the ranks of a loyal and beneficient citizenship. Joining with the rank and file of the white men of the conquered South he was content to lend all his talent and en ergy in aiding them in the upbuild ing of an impoverished section. The greater portion of his composi tions were editorials upon political or | practical themes of a public nature. They were plain, pointed and intelli gible. He did not pretend to the graces of rhetoric, though from constant reading his taste had developed in the line of transparent, simple' style. He could distinguish bombast and fustian from pure English at a glance. But aside from his editorials, Mr. Bruner sometimes in leisure moments indulged in writing graceful little po ems and essays which he did not pub lish but put into his drawer, there to lie for years. These were_evidently jot ted down at a sitting and have not had the advantage of critical filing and resetting—and yet they indicate the possession of an imagination, which, had it been cultivated might have won him distinction in the world of letters. Blameless and exemplary in all the relations of life, a Christian gentle man, he met all the requirements of the highest citizenship, and what higher eulogy can any one hope to merit? "The great work laid upon his three score years Is done, and well done. If we drop our tears We niourn no blighted hope or broken plan With him, whose life stands rounded and approved In the full growth and stature of a man". GRANDI MADE AMBESSADOR i Within 24 hours after displacment in a cabinet shakeup, Dino Grandi, for several years Itlay’s foreign min ister, was appointed as Italian am bassador to Great Britian. AVOID EYE STRAIN Scientific tests have proved the vast difference between performance of tasks of individuals with or with out properly fitted glasses. Let me assist you to health and ef ficient work. DR. N. C. LITTLE Optometrist 107J/2 South Main (next to Ketchie’s Barber Shop) PHONE 1571-W Carter & Trotter I SALISBURY, N. C. 1 * r*2\*r. -, .r Drugs I AT CUT RATE I "13 YEARS OF SERVICE TO 1 THE PEOPLE OF I SALISBURY” I Relieves Women’s Pains Here is an example of how Cardui has helped thousands of women: “I was very thin and pale,” writes Mrs. F. H. Scott, of Roa noke, Va. “I suffered from weak ness and a severe pain in my back. This pain unnerved me, and I did not feel like doing my work. I did not care to go places, and felt worn, tired, day after day. "My mother had taken Cardui, ' and on seeing my condition she ' advised me to try it. I have never regretted doing so. I took three bottles and it built me up. I I gained in weight, my color was t better and the pain left my back. I am stronger than I had been in some time.” Cardui, the purely vegetable medi cine which so many women take and ; recommend, Is sold by local druggists. A Service Institution The cost of a funeral represents much more than the mere price of the casket. It includes the services of our trained, experienced per sonnel, every one of whom is carefully select ed and schooled for the work he is to perform; | the use of our complete modern establishment where every facility is provided for the fun ral service and our up-to-date motor equip ment. \ What is more important, it secures the pro tection of a reliable service institution whose chief object is to guard the interest of its pat rons. Geo. C. Peeler Funeral Home I PHONE 108 DAY OR NIGHT 318 S. MAIN ST. SALISBURY, N. C.