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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Solomon Bruce and Barney Redman

Hello Jane and all who have an interest in Solomon Bruce and Barney Redman,
As you know from your correspondence, I am the co-author of Early African American Life in Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania. When the book was written, there were a couple facts that were not known at the time about the Bruce family. The information on the Bruce family that appears in the book was given to me by Bruce family descendants; however, after sending for a death certificate for Mary Bruce, the daughter of Solomon Bruce, I learned that Solomon Bruce was either previously married (because I have not seen any record of marriage)or had a relationship with a woman named Jane Fisher. Mary's death certificate states her mother's name as Jane Fisher. In the 1850 census Jane is living with Solomon in Hardy County with their assumed children. Now, sometime after 1850 Solomon moved his family to Greene County and is now with Nellie also known as Eleanor Lett (her maiden name is proven in the pension file of Barney Redman, her son). Jane probably died in Hardy County before Solomon moved with Nellie to Greene County. As a result, the Bruce family that provided the information assumed that all of the children were Solomon's and Nellie's. I could never understand until I received Mary Bruce's death certificate why Nellie and Solomon would name two of their children Andrew. Then I learned that Solomon and Jane Fisher had a Andrew and Solomon and Nellie Lett had a Andrew. One was a Andrew Harrison Bruce and the other was a Andrew Jackson Bruce. Andrew Jackson served in the Civil War.
Furthermore, there is not two Solomon Bruce's. The Solomon Bruce that settled in Greene County is the same one that was freed in the VanMeter will. The VanMeter family also settled early in Greene County. I know there is a reference that Barney Redman married a Stacey Lett. This is too much of a coincidence; the Lett surname, that is, for it not to be Nellie. Perhaps Nellie short for Eleanor is a middle name as so many people back then used. There seems to be some overlapping of when this marriage could have taken place based on the ages of the children Nellie and Solomon shared, but let's be realistic. Our good relatives back then were not saints. They had children out of wedlock, lived in sin, etc. In Greene County, Pennsylvania, a John Redman is reported to have been helping slaves escape on the Underground Railroad. It is written in the records. That is the only proof, and I don't dispute it. Many of the Redmans in Greene County left and went to Ohio and other places where they passed as white. While in Greene County, they intermarried with other mulatto families and for all intense purposes now consider themselves white.
Henry Louis Gates was here in Pittsburgh a couple of months ago. I gave him a copy of my book because it had the Bruce family in it. I also gave him an insert with the corrected information on the Bruce family. In addition, I told him about my first cousin, Ira Franklin Clifford, who descends from Luther Clifford, Jr. of Hardy County, West Virginia. My cousin and Mr. Gates have never met, but they are cousins. The Cliffords lived in Greene County and married with several of the families in Fayette and Washington Counties as well. It amazes me how these people were able to get around without cars.
I hope that I have cleared up the misinformation about Solomon Bruce and Barney Redman.
Marlene Garrett Bransom

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18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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