Tag Archives: Vanceburg Cemetery

The Life of Lucy Neville Blakemore Bragg

I’ve never been as interested in the life of a woman before meeting Lucy Neville Blakemore Bragg – metaphorically speaking.  We met at her gravestone in Vanceburg, Lewis County, Kentucky, two years ago.  Lucy died 156 years ago – but what a life she lived.  And the most important dates and information are on her stone for all to know a part of her story.

Lucy was the daughter of Thomas Blakemore and Ann Gibbs Neville, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764.  She married Thomas Bragg – a captain during the Revolutionary War.  They eventually moved their family to Lewis County, Kentucky.  Thomas Bragg died October 14, 1820.  Lucy lived on for another 42 years.

Lucy began life as a British subject, the daughter of Thomas Blakemore and Ann Gibbs Neville, born April 8, 1764, giving allegiance to King George III, and being a loyal subject until the war.  Her father and at least one brother fought during the Revolution, as well as her future husband, Captain Thomas Bragg, whom she married September 20, 1781.

Thomas and Lucy Bragg were in Lewis County before 1810, when they appeared in the census of that year.  This is twenty-seven years after the war, Lucy was 46 years of age.  In 1819 Thomas Bragg petitioned the court to open a tavern at his home in Vanceburg, and after his death in 1820, Lucy continued to keep the tavern.

In the 1850 census Lucy is head of her household, aged 86 years.  With her lives her son-in-law, Alexander Bruce, who married her daughter Amanda (who is deceased by this time).  Also in the household are two grandsons, children of Alexander and Amanda – Thomas J., 28, a boatman, and his new wife, Mary, 20; and Henry C., 26, also a boatman, and his new wife, Mary, 20.  Vanceburg sits right on the river and I’m sure many in the town and county worked on the water.  In the 1860 census Lucy is 96, Mary Bragg, 18, living with her – probably a great-granddaughter.

And she was living life to the very end.  In February of 1862, nine months before her death, she changed her will in favor of her grandson, Henry C. Bruce, in stead of grandson Horatio W. Bruce.  At first I thought there must have been a tiff in the family, but read that Horatio W. Bruce moved to Louisville, and perhaps Lucy decided Henry, living in the county, would keep the land and slaves in the family.  Just a guess.

Going from a British subject to a citizen of the United States, Lucy Blakemore Bragg lived through sixteen presidents!  From our first president, George Washington, down the line to Abraham Lincoln.  What an amount of history this woman experienced!  She lived through four major wars – Revolutionary War, 1775-1783; War of 1812, 1812-1815; Mexican War, 1846-1848; and the first two years of the Civil War. 

Think of the amount of changes and events that came about in her lifetime – a new country that was given ‘certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ – Lewis and Clark explored the Louisiana Purchase – the steamboat was invented – the city of Washington was burned by British troops in 1814 – James Monroe proclaimed his doctrine of manifest destiny – the California gold rush – the slavery issue is debated – the country grew from the original 13 states to 34 – the South secedes from the Union and the Civil War begins.  And that’s just to name a few.

Lucy outlived her husband, Thomas Bragg, by 42 years.  She outlived all but two of her children and they died within three years – John in 1863 and Harriet in 1865. 

How I would love to sit and talk with this woman!  What interesting things she could tell us about the infant days of our country and the way it changed in the ensuing 80 years!

Lewis County, Kentucky Will Book F, Pages 270-271

In the name of God, amen.

I Lucy Bragg, of Lewis County, State of Kentucky, knowing the uncertainty of life, the certainty of death, being frail in body though sound in mind, do make the following disposition of a part of my property.  I give to my grandson, Henry C. Bruce, of Blackrock Bottom, my Negro woman Minerva, her three children, or more if she has more children, and all their increase.  Also I give to my said grandson Henry C. Bruce a piece of land adjoining the town of Vanceburg and bounded on the north by the town of Vanceburg, on the east

by the state road, on the south by the lands belonging to the heirs of my late husband at my death, and on the west by the land of W. C. Halbert; said parcel of land namely bequeathed to Henry C. Bruce is the same land heretofore claimed by my grandson H. W. Bruce, and I ever give and bequeath said land and slaves or other to said H. W. Bruce in any former will I may have made heretofore I hereby revoke said will as far as it gives any property of any kind to said H. W. Bruce and all gifts or bequests heretofore made by me to said H. W. Bruce are hereby changed and said property of every kind thus given or bequeathed to said H. W. Bruce is hereby given to my grandson Henry C. Bruce, hereby revoking all former wills and testaments so far as may conflict with this.

In testimony hereby I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 14th day of February A.D. 1862.

Lucy Bragg

Signed, sealed, declared, published and delivered in presence of the undersigned who witnessed this in the presence and at the request of Mrs. Lucy Bragg:  W. C. Harnett, R. F. Waring

Lucy Blakemore, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764, married Thomas Bragg, September 20, 1781, and died in Lewis County, Kentucky, November 1, 1862, aged 98 years, 6 months and 23 days.  Vanceburg Cemetery, Lewis County, Kentucky.


How Reliable Are Old Biographies?

Some say that many family biographies are unreliable, such as those written for the Kentucky – A History of the State volumes – or any biographical works.  I believe any biography gives you a starting place.  It’s up to you to go to the original records and check the facts!  This biography was chosen since Ritchey and I visited Vanceburg Cemetery in Lewis County – we have photos of several of the gravestones for some named below.  Footnotes are given for the original sources, although the numbering system is a little different with WordPress!

Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, Battle & Kniffin, 1888

Lewis County

Henry C. Bruce was born in Lewis County, Kentucky, January 16, 1824[1], and is a son of Alexander Bruce, a native of Garrard County, Kentucky, was born September 5, 1796.  He was educated at Transylvania College, Lexington, Kentucky, studied law in his native county, and began the practice of his profession in Vanceburg in 1819.  In the latter year he married Miss Amanda Bragg, daughter of Thomas Bragg, of Lewis County.  Alexander Bruce was a Whig in politics and was a leading lawyer of the Vanceburg bar.  In 1825 he was elected to the Lower House of the State Legislature, when the political issue was upon the Old and New Court.  Mr. Bruce was an advocate of the Old Court party.  He was the father of seven children, all of whom are living.  He died in Vanceburg in 1851[2], being at that time the first candidate for county judge under the new constitution.  His wife survived him about one year[3].

Alexander Bruce died April 18, 1851, aged 53 years, 7 months and 13 days.  Vanceburg Cemetery, Lewis County, Kentucky.

Amanda M. Bruce died May 20, 1852, aged 49 years, 2 months and 6 days.

John Bruce, grandfather of Henry C., was a native of Virginia and was one of the pioneers of Garrard County, Kentucky.  He was a son of one of the Refugee Highlander soldiers who escaped after the Battle of Culloden Moor in 1745 and took passage for America.  He was also a Revolutionary soldier[4].  Thomas Bragg, the maternal grandfather of our subject, was a native of Fauquier County, Virginia, and located in Vanceburg, Kentucky, about 1800.  He also was a soldier of the Revolution and died in 1820, his wife surviving him until 1863, when she died at the advanced age of ninety-nine[5].

Lucy Blakemore, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764, married Thomas Bragg, September 20, 1781, and died in Lewis County, Kentucky, November 1, 1862, aged 98 years, 6 months and 23 days.

Henry C. Bruce passed his early life in steamboating[6] on the Ohio River.  In 1850 he married Mary Conner[7], daughter of Major William Conner, of Greenup County, Kentucky.  In 1870 he engaged in the mercantile business with his present partner, Mr. Rugles.  He is the father of seven children, viz: Sidney, Mary, Thomas, Samuel, William, John and Elsie[8].  His wife died in 1867, and in 1871 he married Miss Cassandra Caines[9], of Lewis County, a daughter of Charles Caines.  He had six children by his first wife and one by the latter.  In 1881 Mr. Bruce was nominated by acclamation for Senator and was elected the following August.  After the expiration of his term he again resumed his business pursuits.   He is an energetic business man, and is the owner of large city and farming property.


[1] According to the 1850 Lewis County Census Henry Clay Bruce, 26, and his new wife, Mary, 20, are living with his grandmother, Lucy Blakemore Bragg, 86.  Henry is listed as a boatman.  His mother, Amanda Bruce, also lives in the household, along with son Thomas J. Bruce, 28, and his wife, Mary, 20.

[2] Gravestone in Vanceburg Cemetery reads ‘Alexander Bruce died April 18, 1851, aged 53 years, 7 months and 13 days.’

[3] Gravestone in Vanceburg Cemetery reads ‘Amanda M. Bruce died May 20, 1852, aged 49 years, 2 months and 6 days.’

[4] Andrew Davis Bruce Sons of the American Revolution application from May 21, 1956.  Also, buried in the Bruce Cemetery in Garrard County – John Bruce, Revolutionary Soldier, born April 30, 1748, died April 13, 1827.  Elizabeth Clay Bruce, wife of John, born January 13, 1755, no death date.

[5] Gravestone in Vanceburg Cemetery reads ‘Lucy Blakemore, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764, married Thomas Bragg, September 20, 1781, and died in Lewis County, Kentucky, November 1, 1862, aged 98 years, 6 months and 23 days.’

[6] See footnote 1.

[7] Death certificate of Samuel Ellis Bruce, who died January 7, 1938, gives father as Henry Clay Bruce, and mother, Mary Conner.

[8] Children are listed in the 1870 and 1880 Lewis County census.

[9] Death Certificate of Elsa B. Kline, who died December 26, 1959, gives father as Henry C. Bruce, and mother Cassandra D. Caines.

Gaines Family Buried At Vanceburg Cemetery

IMG_1251The beautiful Vanceburg Cemetery is located on a hill overlooking the Ohio River, in the city of Vanceburg, in Lewis County.  This county was named for Captain Meriweather Lewis, famous for traveling through the Louisiana Purchase with William Clark.  Up a windy, pot-holed road, you begin to think you will end in a field!  But once around the last bend the cemetery continues in  an incline to the bluff.  What a gorgeous view!

IMG_4081The family of Charles and Clementina Gaines are buried here, their site marked with a fine gravestone.  Of the seven family members buried here, their names all begin with the letter “C”.

IMG_4085Charles Gaines, born February 1, 1799, died January 14, 1868.  Clementina, wife of Charles Gaines, born July 2, 1808, died May 18, 1858.

IMG_4082Caroline Gaines, born September 28, 1829, died September 18, 1847.  Clementina Gaines, born February 27, 1842, died April 7, 1845.

IMG_4083Charles Hammond, born July 7, 1833, died October 31, 1853

Was this a nephew living with the family?

IMG_4084Charles S. Gaines, born December 10, 1839, died August 29, 1865.  Cordelia Gaines, born September 16, 1835, died December 26, 1864.