Oak Springs Mountain Ranch

We Take Pride In Our Ranch.  Oak Springs Mountain Ranch consist of 411 acreas of pasture meadows, hay fields and woodland.  We love to horseback ride or four wheel, checking on fence and cattle and just wondering over the beautiful mountain range. 
Legend of Harve Bruce




  Daily Courier Democrat, Russellville, Ark., Sunday, October 17, 1982

For Harve: Three shots, three deer

By Piney Page

This is a legend of Harve Bruce as related to Dr. Arnold Henry by some of his mountain friends. 

Mountain men have always been noted for their accuracy with a gun.  It is a tradition handed down from father to son.  The need for such accuracy began when the pioneer with his single shot muzzle loader found his life and that of his family dependent on his accuracy when fighting Indians. 

Lead for bullets and powder were scarce and expensive.  They were not to be wasted foolishly.  Food for the table was also dependent on the ability to use a rifle.  To miss a charging bear meant death or at best serious injury.  To miss a deer when the hunter only got one shot meant a hungry family.  Accurate shooting was a skill necessary for survival.
   In a pioneer world the training for this skill began early in life.  The young boys could kill with a rifle when so young they had to prop the gun up over a limb to shoot.  The gun was the pioneer's most important tool.

   Harve Bruce grew up in a time when ability to shoot was an essential skill.  According to men who knew him, he had no peer with a rifle.  He acquired additional skills with guns as a fighting man in the forces of the Confederacy.  Those who knew him considered him a man not to fool with.
    Charley Landers during his life lived east of Dover.  On one occasion he was hunting with Harve Bruce when the dogs jumped a herd of deer.  As the herd passed through a clearing, Harve shot three times and killed three deer.
  Jake Gargous lived in the area north of Hector.  He had many times seen Harve shoot objects thrown into the air.  That man's favorite rifle was the lever action Winchester, a 45-70.

   On one occasion Jake and Harve were hunting with a pack of dogs, both men riding mules.  In a creek bottom meadow were five deer.  The dogs gave chase as did Harve.  Shooting from the back of a running mule he killed three of the five deer. 

   According to Jake, Harve was a bootlegger.  On one occasion he had taken a wagon load of whiskey to Clinton, AR. and was peddling it in the outskirts of town.  He was approached by a man claiming to be a deputy sheriff.  He wanted to search Harve's wagon.  Harve requested he show his credentials but the man ignored him, moved towards the wagon and began the search.  Not wishing to kill the man Harve shot him in the leg.  He went home and took to the woods.

   On a Sunday morning Harve was visiting some friends who were operating a still.  The mash was worked in homemade wooden boxes rather than barrels.  Harve was sitting on a fence built to keep the hogs out.  As it became light, some men came in shooting.  At that time Dr. Arnold Henry's grandfather was sheriff.  He was a strong sympathizer with all old soldiers, including Harve Bruce.  The revenuers who had attacked the men at the still had avoided the sheriff since they suspected where his sympathy would be.  The revenuers did find other Russellville men to go along. 

   Their moving in on Harve Bruce and his friends was without warning according to Jake.  Harve rolled off the fence, jumped behind a mash box, and grabbed his Winchester.  With the first two shots he killed two men.  Another attacker was behind a tree with his elbow sticking out.  Harve put a bullet in the elbow.  Another man was lying on his stomach with a hip exposed.  Harve put a bullet in the hip.  A young Russellville man trying to run away was shot in the shoulder.  The battle was over. 

   Harve stayed hid out in the woods.  After a couple of months he sent word to Silas Henry, sheriff, that he would surrender to him in Atkins.  He had killed two men and shot others but due to the circumstances of the raid he pleaded self-defense.  He served a year in the pen.  When he got out he reported to the sheriff's office to let him know he was back home.  He was advised to stay away from moonshining and bootlegging but he did not heed the advice.

   Harve was said to have been a tall man with piercing blue eyes.  His vision was perfect and his reflexes legendary.  A couple of years later, after Silas was out of office, a deputy went into the mountains to bring Harve in for making mooshine.  When asked his wife did not know where he was.

   He was under an overhang working at his still when the deputy approached.  Harve's daughter was assisting him with the work.  The deputy came up and said he wanted to talk.  The deputy said, "If you don't go with me, I'll take your daughter."  
Harve replied, "You bother my daughter and I'll kill you."  That ended the conference.  

Later, one of his sons who had become a medical doctor talked Harve out of further involvement with whiskey.

William Harvey Bruce was the son of William and Sarah Ann Walker Bruce and was born in North Carlina.  He enlisted in the C.S.A., Co. D., Thomas Legion, N.C., in 1863, when he was only 16 years of age and served until the close of the war April 9, 1865.  In 1871, he married Hannah L. Cotter from Severe County, Tennessee.  To them were born 9 children. He made a claim in a very choice location and by good management he soon had a well established farm.  a large dwelling, a huge barn, being careful to cut the logs when the sap was down so they would not rot.  Some of the center logs are still there yet.  Still being plagued by bushwackers he was appointed Deputy Sheriff of van Buren County. by Sheriff W.S. Maddox, in 1891.
 William died March 27, 1907, and Hannah died March 7, 1915.  Both are buried in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery at Alread. 

The Conway Democrat 17 Aug 1900

Arkansas Penitentiary

While in Little Rock thursday J.E. Little, Dr. Foster Richardson and J.W. Underhill were the guests at supper of Col. Bud McConnell, superintendent of the State Penitentiary.  He showed us the new State Capitol building which is making rapid progress.  We were informed that the work which has been done at the established prices for such work would amount to $85,000 and there is yet remaining $15,000 of the $50,000 appropriated by the last legislature. 

The walls and buildings of the old penitentiary are being torn down as the work on the new penitentiary, southeast of the city, progresses.  We did not go to see the new penitentiary.

One of the most noted characters in the penitentiary is Harve Bruce.  He was sent up from Pope County for the killing of two deputy marshals and wounding two others.  He has a very short term, only six months.  He is a typical old mountaineer and moonshine distiller.  He is 65 or 70 years old and before his imprisonment began, he wore long flowing whiskers, which made him look about as we imagine Moses did about the time he delivered the law of the "Children of Israel."  these whiskers were cut off when he began his term of service.

When asked if he killed those marshals he said, "well, I was the only one that did any shooting on that side and when it was over two were dead and two others wounded."  He regretted that he had to do it, but said he would have to do it again under the same circumstances.  On the morning of the killing, six deputy marshals crept up under the cover of a bluff when upon the top of the bluff to within one hundred yards of where old man Bruce sat with a neighbor on a fence.  The neighbor said "look at those men".  Old man Bruce stood up and looked in the direction indicated.  The marshals began shooting without saying a word, so he says.  The neighbor fled.  Bruce's Winchester was several yards from him and towards the marshals, he ran and got it and began shooting at them.  He said the bullets whizzed around him when they get too close to whiz.  If any of you was in the war you know bullets don't whiz when they get too close.  Old man Bruce was in the Confederate Army.  One of the bullets glanced Bruce's ankle making a blood blister.  He shot two of the marshals down and it was afterwards found that they had been killed.  He wounded two others and two escaped uninjured. 

After his trial and sentence he was turned loose on his own recognizance to arrange his business and then to go to the penitentiary.

One eveing about one month ago Bud McConnell, superintendent of the state penitentiary, was notified that a man at the office wanted to see him.  He found old man Harve Bruce there ready to begin his term of service.  He is now one of the guards on the wall.  The superintendent told him he thought that as he could use a Winchester so desterously on marshals he would make a good guard.  He impresses one that he would keep his promises if possible.  It is said that when disputes arose between his neighbors they generally left the matter to old harve Bruce. 

The mountaineer hates the marshals and the government that try to prevent him from doing with his corn as he pleases.  He thinks that he has as much right to make whisky out of it as bread.

Old man Bruce explained that their corn was worth only 30 cents per bushel.  When they made it into whiskey the slop was worth as much as the corn to feed the hogs and they could get $2.00 per gallon for the whiseky.  This was about the only way, he explained, of getting any money up there in the mountains.  He said that he would not distill any more whiskey as he wanted to live in peace now. 

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