secure a ring, used one borrowed from one of the guests assembled at the mansion to seal the marriage. It is ironic that the lady who loaned the ring that August day in 1799, Mrs. Elvira Cabell Henry, the young widow of Patrick Henry Jr., would twenty years later become the second Mrs. James Bruce.
James, the founding father of the Berry Hill Bruces, came from an industrious and well-to-do family, beginning with James Bruce, "the Emigrant", down through George Bruce of Richmond Country, Charles Bruce of King George County, and Charles Bruce of Soldier's Rest, Orange County.
The son of the latter Charles, James built the great family fortune through what was then a very modern medium - a system of chain stores. At the early age of sixteen he left the relative comfort and security of Soldier's Rest and went to Petersburg, where he began his career in the mercantile house of a Mr. Colquhoun. He easily won the confidence of his employer, and was sent to Amerlia County to open a branch store, in which he was made a partner.
After a few years James found that the more remote areas of Halifax County offered far greater business advantages, so he came here in 1798 and began setting up his stores, not only in this county but in the surrounding counties of both Virginia and North Carolina as well, to supply the needs of the rural planters.
To furnish his stores with their wares, Mr. Bruce also operated a series of wagon trains. This was, of course, in