Bruce became a town on Sept. 22, 1928, by the designation of Gov. Theo G. Bilbo. The population was 618. The land had been acquired by Roger W. Butterfield, manufacturer of fine furniture, Grand Rapids, Michigan, between 1880-1934.
Butterfield sold land and timber to Robert Bruce and Company on Nov. 14, 1924 for a mill. A railroad was built and used to transport the equipment for the mill and later to bring in logs, ship lumber, carry passengers, mail, payroll, freight and express.
Work on the mill started in 1927 and a whistle let the workers know when to get up, when to be at work, when it was lunchtime, when it was time to resume work and when it was quitting time. The whole town lived by the whistle. It is estimated to have blown 75,000 times.
The Board of Aldermen granted a 25-year water franchise to the E. L. Bruce Company, who provided water from its well until the 1950’s when an elevated tank was built. Another well was built in the 1960’s.
E. L. Bruce Co. was given a 25-year electric franchise by the town board in 1927. Pontotoc Electric Power Company paid $4,000 for this franchise to serve 200 members in 1936 and continues to serve this area today.
The town was surveyed and plotted by brothers Mark and C. G. Richardson and Bruce Company began to build houses for its employees, many of which still exist.
Several newspapers were published in the early years. In 1953 Mr. and Mrs. Sellers Denley and their son Gale, founded The Calhoun County Journal, a weekly newspaper, owned and operated today by Gale’s daughters and a son-in-law.
Also in the 50’s Mr. and Mrs. Harry Waller came from Kentucky, bought the telephone company and built a first-class system second to none.
Pay as you go street work started in 1969. A 22-acre park was built by the town, civic clubs and sports enthusiasts. It consisted of a swimming pool, lighted ball fields and a community building.
The Jesse Yancy Memorial Library was built in 1975, replacing a one room facility in the city hall.Yancy was a prominent local attorney, serving as a state senator, when he died at an early age.
DSL, formerly Glenn Slacks, a garment plant and Brookwood, a furniture-making operation, were important plants and jobs providers during the rapid growth period of Bruce in the 60’s.
Lumber manufacturer Weyerhaeuser came to Bruce in 1974 and continues to provide numerous direct and indirect employment for the area.
The above information is provided from a history written in 1977 by the late Mayor Q. T. Crowson, also a historian.
In 1982 William and Ann Morgan started and continue to operate a low- power television station W07BN.
Today Bruce has Haworth Manufacturing, a plant that produces ergonomic office chairs and provides considerable employment. They also have Columbia Gulf Transmission Co. Murphree Frame Supply, Old Town Truss Company and Helena Chemical Co., providing employment and services for numerous people.
The town has excellent law enforcement and fire protection, which continues to grow and improve. They also have several community fire departments.
Bowles Garage and Honda is the oldest business in town and is now being operated by Mitzi Bowles McCostlin, granddaughter of the founder. Bruce has a retirement and nursing home, formerly built as a hospital by the late Dr. O. B. Crocker.
The town has many active service clubs and an active chamber of commerce along with Baptist, Methodist, Catholic and Pentecostal churches. Internet service is provided by Bruce Telephone Company.
We have recently opened a Bruce Forestry Museum that was the original E. L. Bruce Company company store, which carried groceries, furniture and dry goods.
Farming is a viable force here, where sweet potatoes, soybeans, cotton and corn are grown. Lumber, however, remains our staple and our theme is “Bruce Where Money Grows in Trees,” developed by the late S. Gale Denley.