Cresap/Bruce Family papers
Thomas Cresap (c. 1692-1790) was a Maryland pioneer, patriot and frontiersman. He surveyed Maryland's western frontier for what is known today as the National Road and fought in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. His son, Michael, led Cresap's Riflemen during the American Revolution. Later generations include the family names Bruce and Neff. In 1916, Cresap descendants formed the Cresap Society. The collection dates from 1860 to 1987 and consists mainly of correspondence of family members, their genealogical research, Cresap Society newsletters, and newspaper clippings highlighting Cresap history. Also included are Cresap family charts, documents, and photographs.
Important Information for Users of the Collection
The collection is open for research.
Cresap/Bruce Family papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
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Thomas Cresap was born in Skipton, Yorkshire, England. The date of his birth could have been 1692 or 1702 as derived from depositions given by him in 1732 and 1758. In 1931 the Cresap Society placed a tablet in Skipton listing his birth as 1694. He arrived in North America about 1710 and settled in Maryland. In 1727, he married Hannah Johnson. They had seven children between 1728 and 1742. His will was probated in 1790, and that year is generally accepted as the year of his death.
Thomas Cresap earned a place in Maryland history as a "Maryland Monster" for his conflict with Pennsylvania settlers in the 1730s. He also surveyed Maryland's western frontier and, about 1749, cleared the land between Cumberland and Pittsburgh for what became the National Road. In 1755, at the request of Lord Baltimore, he located the source of the Potomac, leading to the establishment of the boundary between Maryland and Virginia. Cresap also served in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Thomas Cresap's youngest son, Michael Cresap (1742-1775), is remembered for leading Cresap's Riflemen from Frederick Town to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775 and for his involvement in Indian murders during Dunmore's War, recounted by Thomas Jefferson in his Notes on Virginia (1797). He died in New York City and is buried in Trinity Churchyard.
The Bruce and Cresap families were connected through the marriage of Phoebe Cresap (?-1826) to William Bruce in 1808. Phoebe was the daughter of Joseph Cresap (1755-1827), a son of Daniel Cresap (1728-1798), the oldest son of Thomas Cresap. Phoebe and William Bruce's two sons were Daniel Cresap (1809-1880) and Andrew (1811-1832).
Another branch of the family is named Neff. Annie Neff married William L. Cresap (great-great-great grandson of Thomas) in 1872. Annie and William produced at least one daughter, Helen Neff Cresap (b. 1899).
In 1916, descendants of Thomas Cresap organized the Cresap Society. In 1919, they erected a monument to Thomas Cresap in Cumberland, MD. In June 2004, the Cresap Society actively maintained a website which included an extensive Surname Index at http://www.rootsweb.com/~cresap/index.htm.
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Papers of the Cresap/Bruce Family span the years 1860 to 1987 with the bulk of the material dating between 1890 and 1950. Correspondence and newspaper clippings comprise the largest portion of the material. The collection also includes eleven issues of the Cresap Society newsletter; religious, legal, and genealogical documents; and photographs. Also included are seven items from Helen Neff Cresap related to Neff family history.
The correspondence documents the early history and genealogy of the Cresap family as researched by members of the family in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The newspaper clippings relate incidents from the Cresap family history.
Custodial History and Acquisition Information
The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Papers of the Cresap/Bruce Family from Charles Apfelbaum, a rare books and manuscripts dealer, in 1996.
Processed by Terry Sayler, June 2004.
The collection was acquired in no discernible order. Subsequently it was divided into the following categories: family, society, documents, and photographs. The materials have been placed in acid-free folders and stored in acid-free boxes. Two books were removed from the collection and transferred to the Marylandia and Rare Books Department. The photographs were sleeved in Mylar. One map and the genealogical charts and family trees have been stored in oversize folders and placed in a mapcase.
EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Jennie A. Levine, July 2004. Markup checked and verified by Jennie A. Levine, July 2004
Arrangement of Collection
The collection has been organized into two series:
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series 1: Genealogical Records, 1885-1987 and undated (121 items)
The bulk of the series, dating between 1890 and 1950, consists of correspondence, genealogical notes, and newspaper clippings. Several letters and notes written in the late 1890s and early 1900s document the Bruce family members' efforts to collect information on the Bruce and Cresap families. There are two genealogical circle charts: one dated 1894 showing five generations of the Cresap family and a later chart created ca. 1940. In addition, there is one family tree prepared by a Bruce-Cresap descendant in 1940. Eleven issues of the Cresap Society newsletter provide further information about Thomas, Michael, and their descendants. Also included is a Notary Public certificate from 1896 issued to Webster Bruce, an Application for Membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution for Laura Bruce from 1896, and a Certificate of Baptism for Helen Neff Cresap dated 1900.
A folder of miscellaneous items includes a flyer about Fort Ashby in West Virginia, a biographical sketch of John Ashby, and genealogical notes on Hanson Briscoe and a Sharpe family of Maryland.
Arrangement is alphabetical by topic and then chronological within the folders; undated material appears at the end of the folder.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|Bruce Family, 1885-1943 and undated||series 1||box 1||folder 1|
|Cresap Family (Includes Oversize), 1919-1968 and undated||series 1||box 1||folder 2|
|Cresap Family -- Cresap, Michael [1742-1755], 1927-1976 and undated||series 1||box 1||folder 3|
|Cresap Family -- Cresap, Thomas [circa 1692-ca. 1790], 1923-1958||series 1||box 1||folder 4|
|Cresap Family -- Cresap Memorial and Fort, 1919, 1924 and undated||series 1||box 1||folder 5|
|Cresap Family -- Genealogical charts and Family Tree (Oversize), 1894, 1940||series 1||box 1||folder 6|
|Cresap Family -- Cresap Society, 1919-1967||series 1||box 1||folder 7|
|Cresap Family -- Cresap Society -- [newsletter], 1936, 1938, 1956, 1959, 1967, 1983, 1987||series 1||box 1||folder 8|
|Documents, 1893-1909 and undated||series 1||box 1||folder 9|
|Miscellaneous, undated||series 1||box 1||folder 10|
Series 2: Prints and Photographs, ca. 1860-1967 (20 items)
This series consists of sepia portraits, a color postcard of Fort Ashby and one of Trinity Church in New York, a photograph of the Cresap Monument, two black and white photographs of headstones, and a print of Joseph Cresap. All of the portraits are unidentified except for three: Van S. Cresap, father of William Lynn Cresap, in a Confederate uniform, and Lieutenant Joseph Cresap. One photograph of a headstone was taken October 1967 and reads "Ruth R. Cresap, Native of Cumberland, MD, Wife of James Ord, April 10, 1860, Aged 66 years. Regnicscant in pace." Several of the unidentified portraits are labeled with the name of the photography studio; four of the studios were in Cumberland, Maryland.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame||Item|
|Prints and Photographs, circa 1860-1967 and undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1|
|Cresap Monument, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 01|
|Headstone of Moses Rawlings, Rose Hill Cemetery, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 02|
|Headstone of Ruth R. Cresap, 1967||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 03|
|Lieutenant Joseph Cresap, born 1755, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 04|
|Portrait of man and woman [Cumberland, Maryland], undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 05|
|Portrait of man and woman [Cumberland, Maryland], undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 06|
|Portrait of two women and one man [Cumberland, Maryland], undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 07|
|Portrait of two women and one man [Cumberland, Maryland], undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 08|
|"Old Town" historical marker, 1962||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 09|
|Postcard of Trinity Church, New York, (c. 1897), undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 10|
|Postcard of Fort Ashby, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 11|
|Unidentified woman, Summer 1888||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 12|
|Unidentified women, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 13|
|Unidentified women, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 14|
|Unidentified women, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 15|
|Unidentified men, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 16|
|Unidentified men, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 17|
|Unidentified men, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 18|
|Unidentified men, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 19|
|Van S. Cresap in a Confederate uniform, undated||series 2||box 1||folder 1||item 20|
The two books received with the collection and now in the Marylandia and Rare Books Collection are:
- A Biographical Sketch of the Life of the Late Capt. Michael Cresap. Cumberland, Md.: J. J. Miller, 1881. (UMCP HBK Maryland Room, Maryland Rare Stacks F517.C87 J3 1881)
- A Biographical Sketch of the Life of the Late Captain Michael Cresap by John J. Jacob. Cincinnati, Ohio, Re-printed from the Cumberland ed. of 1826, with notes and appendix for W. Dodge, by J.F. Uhlhorn, 1866. (UMCP HBK Maryland Room, Maryland Rare Stacks F517.C87 J3 1866)
Researchers may also consult the following works in the Maryland Room:
- Anger, Charles Leroy. Thomas Cresap, a Maryland frontiersman. Charlottesville, Va., 1933. (UMCP HBK Maryland Room, Maryland Microfilm Ban42t)
- Bailey, Kenneth. Thomas Cresap, Maryland frontiersman. Boston, Mass., The Christopher Publishing House, 1944. (UMCP HBK Maryland Room, Maryland Stacks F184.C84)
- Ord, Joseph Cresap. The history of the Cresaps, compiled by Joseph Ord Cresap and Bernarr Cresap. McComb, Miss., Cresap Society, 1937. (UMCP HBK Maryland Room, Maryland Stacks CS71.C925)
- Powell, Allan. Forgotten heroes of the Maryland frontier: Christopher Gist, Evan Shelby, Jr., Thomas Cresap. Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, 2001. (UMCP HBK Maryland Room, Maryland Folio F184.G57P69)
Also available from Frostburg State University is the revised edition, 1987, of The History of the Cresaps.
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Selected Search Terms
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.
- Bruce family -- Archives
- Cresap, Thomas, 1694?-1790?
- Cresap family -- Archives
- Maryland -- Genealogy
- Pioneers -- Maryland -- History -- Sources
Names (Added Entries)
- Cresap, Helen Neff, 1899-
- Cresap Society