My ancestor, James Bruce was born 20 May 1720 in Leochel Cushine, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the son of John Bruce and Sarah Caroline Coles. James married Margaret McMahon on the 10th of Jun 1744, in Winchester, Frederick County, Virginia. Margaret was the daughter of Colonel William McMachen and Elizabeth Blair. Margaret was born in about 1724 in Ireland. Her parents were from Scotland, but left Scotland during its political upheavals looking for a better life for their family. They initially moved to Ireland for some years before moving to Virginia. Margaret was the 2nd of six children in the family.
Both of these families made their living by farming, as did most residents of Virginia at this time. Their farms were located in the Shenandoah Valley, near Opequon, an area that attracted many Scots – Irish. Land patents were issued under the seal of the Colony of Virginia and were grants from the Crown, free of any obligation of feudal services to the Fairfax family, who claimed the land as lords/proprietors of the Northern Neck of Virginia.
James was in Virginia by 17 Jul 1735, because his father John is recorded in several court judgments that day and later in the year. It is thought that the family arrived in America in 1724, originally settling in Pennsylvania before moving south to Virginia.
James and Margaret had six daughters and three sons. The two oldest children were born in Virginia and the rest were born about 25 miles north in Maryland. He served in the Colonial Army under James Rogers Clark in the Kentucky Infantry. Shortly after the end of the war, he and Margaret moved west to what is now, Nelson County, Kentucky where they died in 1795 / 1796. They were part of the group of new settlers who claimed some lands as payment for services in the war.
Their living conditions were probably fairly rugged most of their lives. A settler in Virginia, Maryland and Kentucky encountered thick timber, few if any well developed roads and in the cases of Kentucky, outposts instead of any stores. Settlers lived under the ever-present threat of attacks by Indians and lawless white men. The land had to be cleared for farming by hand sawing down the trees, moving the rocks by hand and with the use of horses to pull the roots from the ground. They built small log homes and split trees into rails for their corrals and feed yards.
Once a young couple married, they often moved away from family and friends and the goodbye’s said at that time were the ‘last’ goodbye as they never saw each other again.