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Below is a family biography included in History of Union County, Iowa published by S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., in 1908.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Thomas F. Bruning, living on section 34, Platte township, is a wide-awake, enterprising and progressive agriculturist and stock-raiser and proprietor of the Platte Cedar farm. This is a rich and productive tract of land of two hundred and forty acres lying along the south line of Union county and its splendid appearance is indicative of the spirit of enterprise which has developed Iowa from a wild prairie into one of the richest agricultural states of the Union.

It was upon the farm which is yet his home that the birth of Thomas F. Bruning occurred October 18, 1863. His father, F. H. Bruning, was a native of Germany, born in 1822, and in that country he was reared to the age of twenty-one years, after which he crossed the Atlantic to America in 1841 upon a sailing vessel, which was three months on the broad Atlantic, encountering some very severe storms during that time. At length, however, he landed safely at New Orleans, whence he proceeded up the Mississippi river to St. Louis, where he worked at the wagonmaker’s trade for several years. He afterward removed to Gentry county, Missouri, and took up his abode upon a farm, where he lived for a number of years. In 1852 he reached Iowa and entered two hundred and forty acres of land in Union county. With characteristic energy he began to break the sod and till the fields and as the years passed his labors wrought a marked transformation in the appearance of the tract. The wild flowers and native prairie grasses were replaced by waving fields of grain, in the midst of which substantial buildings were erected. Mr. Bruning was one of the first two settlers of Platte township, living here when many hardships, privations and even dangers were incidents in the life of the frontiersman. He made quite a business of trapping during the winter seasons for a number of years and derived not a little income from the sale of pelts. In those early days there was much wild game here, including deer and elk, and the Indians were as numerous as the white settlers. At an early day Mr. Bruning established a nursery, which was one of the first in the state. He had great quantities of cedar and pine trees, some apple trees and also small fruits and sold as far north as Canada and as far south as the Gulf. He also made extensive shipments to the east and the west and at a single shipment sent ninety thousand trees to Colorado.

F. H. Bruning was married in Gentry county, Missouri, to Miss Anna Vasser, a native of Tennessee. He continued his residence in Union county from 1852 until his death, which occurred August 15, 1903, when he had reached the advanced age of eighty-one years. He had led a very busy, useful and active life. At the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 he had made an exhibit of fruit and won a number of premiums. The work which he did for the horticultural development of the state cannot be overestimated. Through the establishment and conduct of his nursery he gave proof of what might be accomplished along horticultural lines and in the raising of fine shade trees. He demonstrated through his own experiments the practicability of his ideas and in many parts of the state are today seen beautiful groves and tree bordered streets which have resulted from his nursery stock. Mr. Bruning is yet survived by his wife, who now resides with a sister in Kansas.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. F. H. Bruning were born the following children: W. H. Bruning, now living in Nebraska; J. L., of Colorado; T. F., of this review; Isabelle, the wife of George Johnson, of Texas; E. J., the wife of A. J. Darby, also of Texas; Ruth Caroline, deceased wife of Sylvester Klingsmith; Nancy E., deceased wife of Z. T. Van Horn; Daniel Webster and Louise Isabelle, also deceased; Albert P.; and Kittie Louisa, deceased wife of A. A. Davis.

In taking up the personal history of Thomas F. Bruning we present to our readers the life record of one who is widely and favorably known in this part of the state. He was reared to manhood upon the home farm and in his boyhood was a pupil in the district schools. He early received ample training in the work of the fields and gained practical knowledge concerning the best methods of cultivating the crops. After his father’s death he purchased the interest of the other heirs in the old homestead. He had cared for his father during his declining years and throughout his entire life has continued to live upon the old home place, which is endeared to him through the associations of boyhood as well as those of later manhood.

Mr. Bruning married his present wife in Findlay, Ohio, January 7, 1897. She bore the maiden name of Lydia F. Wickham and is a daughter of Minor T. Wickham, a native of Ohio, who was reared in that state and there married Malissa Moffitt. Mr. Wickham was a well known business man and stock dealer and shipper, who spent his entire life in the Buckeye state. Mrs. Bruning was liberally educated, attending Findlay college of Ohio, the Northern Indiana Normal School of Valparaiso and the State Normal School of Greeley, Colorado. For twelve years she capably and successfully engaged in teaching, spending six years of that time in the schools of Findlay, Ohio. She also taught in the country schools of Ohio, and subsequently became a teacher in the Rocky mountains of Colorado, her last school being at Boulder City. Mr. and Mrs. Bruning began their domestic life upon the farm which is yet their home. They have two children, Pleasant F. and Opal V., both of whom are attending school.

Mr. Bruning makes a specialty in his farm work of raising and feeding hogs, keeping high grade Duroc Jerseys. He likewise raises high grade shorthorn cattle and good horses and his livestock interests are an important branch of his business. Politically he is a democrat, loyal to the interests of the party but without desire for office. He and his wife attend the Methodist Episcopal church and Mr. Bruning is serving as trustee and steward of the Grove Chapel church, of which he is a devoted member. His entire life has been passed on the farm which is now his home and throughout this period he has not only made for himself a favorable place in public regard as a citizen but equally so as a business man. He and his wife are much esteemed in the community and the hospitality of the best homes is freely accorded them.

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This family biography is one of 247 biographies included in The History of Union County, Iowa published in 1908.  For the complete description, click here: Union County, Iowa History and Genealogy

View additional Union County, Iowa family biographies: Union County, Iowa Biographies

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