Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

Rev. Caleb Alexander Bruce

The Rev. Caleb Alexander Bruce, Trinity's third rector, was born in Duanesburg, New York, in 1818. He was raised in the Methodist church by his clergyman father, the Rev. Nathaniel French Bruce, who brought the family to Michigan while Caleb was still a youth. There, Caleb married sixteen-year-old Mary Sortore and began his ministry as a Methodist pastor in Ridgeway Township, Lenawee County, Michigan. From there he moved to Kalamazoo, where he decided to read for Episcopal orders with Michigan's bishop, Samuel McCoskrey. He was then ordained and sent to Fort Wayne in November 1854, his first posting as an Episcopal priest.

Bruce found Trinity attempting to pay off the debt of the parsonage, which it had built for Joseph Large in 1853. The parish had hosted a concert "given by a few amateur musicians in the city" to help raise revenue for the parsonage fund before Large had left. During Epiphany 1855, the ladies of the church decorated the nave with boughs of greens, which they festooned into roping. In early January, a visitor arrived calling himself the "Churchgoer," and he wrote an article for the newspaper that was critical of the church. He called the decorations "Romish" and said they made the church resemble "a child' play house." He criticized the stained glass windows, which he said were "unmeaning," and faulted Bruce for reading the liturgy too quickly. The article sparked anger within the church, and an anonymous member, probably Peter Bailey, who said the churchgoer's criticisms had been in questionable taste, explaining the custom of decorating the church with greens going back to its English heritage. The church itself, while small, had been built by its members ho have "given liberally of the means they possessed."

After little more than a year in Fort Wayne, Bruce became ill and could no longer perform his duties. He resigned the rectorship in October 1855, and moved to Michigan City, where he took charge of Trinity Church there. He remained there through 1859, when he moved to Alton, Illinois, to become rector of St. Paul's Church. After the Civil War he moved to Arkansas and established a mission at Helena, where he died in 1895. 


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