Harold Anson Bruce - noted track coach (1885 - ca, 1958)
Thomas and Susannah Collier descendant Harold Anson10 Bruce (WINSLOW LEWIS9 BRUCE, JONATHAN8 BRUCE , LYDIA7 LORING, JONATHAN6, SAMUEL5, JANE4 COLLIER, JOHN3, THOMAS2, THOMAS1) was born in Boston, Mass. on March 24, 1885. (His WWI draft registration appears to give the date as March 21.) His grandfather Jonathan Bruce had been born at Boston Light, off Hull, as his father, of the same name – the husband of Lydia Loring – was keeper of the light for 22 years.
Winslow Bruce was described as a “clerk” at the time of Harold’s birth, and was perhaps involved in the mining industry at some point. Census entries for him are difficult to read
Harold A. Bruce was probably a graduate of City College of New York, as he was elected to the CCNY Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979. In 1909, at the age of 24, he became the track and field coach at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he remained until 1924. His title then was Director of Physical Training
An article in the Syracuse (NY) Herald of Sunday, July 26, 1936 gives some information about Mr. Bruce’s career. “U. S. Coach Puts Austria Out in Front,” page Two –B describes the great success his Austrian track team had enjoyed since he took over the program on May 1, 1935. A couple of paragraphs give a brief overview of his career, as “a well known coach.”
“Bruce has been coaching track and field since 1909, when he joined the faculty of Lafayette [College]. At that time he was the youngest collegiate track and field in the United States.
“He also has coached at Union College [Schenectady, New York], and in 1932 was coach of the American Olympic marathon squad.
“During his competitive career, Bruce was a cross country runner.”
Certainly one of the most memorable moments in Mr. Bruce’s long career came in 1912, when his Lafayette track team competed against a small squad from the Carlisle (Pennsylvania) Indian School. From <http://www.anecdotage.com/index.php?aid=1921>
“Thumped . . .
“In 1912, Harold Anson Bruce, coach of the undefeated Lafayette College track team, heard rumors of "Pop" Warner's impressive Carlisle Indian School contingent and invited his rivals to compete in an Alumni Day dual track-and-field meet. Having reluctantly agreed to pay a large guarantee, Bruce arrived with his forty-eight man squad to welcome the visitors' train and was dismayed to find Warner with a team comprising only half a dozen men.
"Where are your Indians?" Bruce demanded.
"I've got enough," Warner replied.
"But, Pop, I've got a team of forty-six," Bruce exclaimed. "It's an eleven-event program. This is a disaster. You haven't got a chance."
“The meet was indeed a disaster - for Bruce: a single competitor won the pole vault, high jump, broad jump, shot put, discus, 120-yard high hurdles, and 220-yard low hurdles, and "slumped" to third in the 100-yard sprint. His name? Jim Thorpe, often named the greatest athlete in sporting history.
“[Two of Thorpe's teammates placed first and second in the half-mile, mile, and two-mile events. Another won the quartermile. And the fifth won the high hurdles. Carlisle's margin of victory? 71-41.]”
Harold Bruce and his family returned from Europe on the “Gerolstein” in January 1937. His wife was named Catherine, born New York City in 1888. She and a daughter Joan, born in Brooklyn, NY on June 13, 1927, were on the ship’s list with Mr. Bruce.
I believe Harold Anson Bruce died about 1958, but I have no firm record of date or place. I would love to have more details on his later life, if anyone can share them.
“Colliers of Massachusetts” Project
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