Wyche Wilkins and Elizabeth Judkins Raines Wilkins of Belmont, Northhampton County, North Carolina, she had preceeded him in death in 1850.
(It is interesting to note here that on 12 June, 1865, Alexander Bruce, as executor of his father's will, paid Thomas Fox of Halifax $50 for his walnut coffin.)
James Coles was deeply devoted to his wife, and her death had left a great void in his life. Several years afterward he told his sister-in-law Mrs. Sarah Seddon Bruce that he knew the dead never came back to earth. Night after night, he said, he had thrown himself on her tomb and implored her to return to him, but that return she never did.
While on his death-bed Mr. Bruce said that he felt a rather grim sense of satisfaction in leaving the world at that particular time, as he knew that nothing but ruin was in store for his class.
The war which he saw as the death-knell for Virginia's slave-based aristocracy reached Berry Hill in several ways. When it was learned that Union troops were approaching the county, a movement that ended in the little-known encounter called the Battle of Staunton River Bridge, Mr. Bruce and his family, excepting his son Alexander, evacuated the plantion.
Alexander Bruce, who has studied at Virginia Military Institute under General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, served for a time in the Confederate army, but was released to return home and manage the plantation. The South was just as in need of food for the troops as it was for troops themselves.