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Cresap/Bruce Family papers


Cresap/Bruce Family papers
Cresap/Bruce Family
Collection number:
0.25 linear feet (141 items)
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
circa 1860-1987 and undated
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

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.

Preferred citation:

Cresap/Bruce Family papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

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.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

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

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.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Terry Sayler, June 2004.

Processing note:

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.

Encoded by:

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.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Bruce Family, 1885-1943 and undated series 1box 1folder 1
Cresap Family (Includes Oversize), 1919-1968 and undated series 1box 1folder 2
Cresap Family -- Cresap, Michael [1742-1755], 1927-1976 and undated series 1box 1folder 3
Cresap Family -- Cresap, Thomas [circa 1692-ca. 1790], 1923-1958 series 1box 1folder 4
Cresap Family -- Cresap Memorial and Fort, 1919, 1924 and undated series 1box 1folder 5
Cresap Family -- Genealogical charts and Family Tree (Oversize), 1894, 1940 series 1box 1folder 6
Cresap Family -- Cresap Society, 1919-1967 series 1box 1folder 7
Cresap Family -- Cresap Society -- [newsletter], 1936, 1938, 1956, 1959, 1967, 1983, 1987 series 1box 1folder 8
Documents, 1893-1909 and undated series 1box 1folder 9
Miscellaneous, undated series 1box 1folder 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.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / FrameItem
Prints and Photographs, circa 1860-1967 and undated series 2box 1folder 1
Cresap Monument, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 01
Headstone of Moses Rawlings, Rose Hill Cemetery, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 02
Headstone of Ruth R. Cresap, 1967 series 2box 1folder 1item 03
Lieutenant Joseph Cresap, born 1755, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 04
Portrait of man and woman [Cumberland, Maryland], undated series 2box 1folder 1item 05
Portrait of man and woman [Cumberland, Maryland], undated series 2box 1folder 1item 06
Portrait of two women and one man [Cumberland, Maryland], undated series 2box 1folder 1item 07
Portrait of two women and one man [Cumberland, Maryland], undated series 2box 1folder 1item 08
"Old Town" historical marker, 1962 series 2box 1folder 1item 09
Postcard of Trinity Church, New York, (c. 1897), undated series 2box 1folder 1item 10
Postcard of Fort Ashby, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 11
Unidentified woman, Summer 1888 series 2box 1folder 1item 12
Unidentified women, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 13
Unidentified women, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 14
Unidentified women, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 15
Unidentified men, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 16
Unidentified men, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 17
Unidentified men, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 18
Unidentified men, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 19
Van S. Cresap in a Confederate uniform, undated series 2box 1folder 1item 20

Related Material

The two books received with the collection and now in the Marylandia and Rare Books Collection are:

Researchers may also consult the following works in the Maryland Room:

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.


Names (Added Entries)