Family History
Bruce Harrison Leland

My web research (sounds much more respectable than "surfing") has led me to a number of sites dealing with people and events that make up my family history. So I decided to start building a Leland family/personal history site--to be continually under construction

First of all there's the matter of my name. I'm named for Robert Bruce, King of Scotland. My mother says she wanted a name that couldn't be abbreviated or turned into a nickname. The Scottish connection is that mom's parents immigrated from Hawick, Scotland early in the century. Through my grandfather, a Reid, I'm part of the Robertson clan, also known as Clan Donnachaidh (which not coincidentally, supported Robert Bruce).

My middle name comes from William Henry Harrison, who is noteworthy for giving us the campaign slogan "Tippicanoe and Tyler too" and for giving the longest inaugural address in American history. He delivered it during a March snowstorm, caught pneumonia and died a month later. The name got into my family's history because my great-grandfather (my father's mother's father) was born on November 6, 1840--election day. His father came home from voting for Harrison and called his son William Henry Harrison Chappell. My father's name is Harrison Chappell Leland, and I got the Harrison part. (It could have been worse--other family names of that era include Gurdon, LeGrande, Carlos, Griswald, Willard, and Leander!)

The Leland part goes back to the 17th century, which is when the first Leland, Henry immigrated from England to Shelbourne, Massachusetts. There's a little monument in his honor in a field in Shelbourne. Most of the Lelands in this country are descended from Henry.

My father's grandmother Robinson's family goes back a little further. Due to a lot of intermarriages among the old families, I have eighteen Mayflower pilgrims in my ancestry, including William Bradford and John Alden. Through Priscilla Mullens Alden, I can trace a lineage back to William the Conqueror and his tenth century ancestor Rognwald of Norway. Biographies of some of the Mayflower Pilgroms are included in the Plymouth Colony site.

Other noteworthy relations:

  1. Henry Leland (another one) was the founder of both the Cadillac Motor Company and Lincoln Motors. He was a cousin of my father's father's father Carlos Leland, and kept up close contact with the Vermont branch of the family--my grandfather's brother's family. He frequently visited Grace and Roy Leonard, who lived Barton, Vt., where Henry was born. My connection with him is that when I was in high school I, too, visited Roy on his farm!
  2. A more contemporary celebrity is my second cousin once removed Howdy Doody. Howdy was built and operated by Rufus Rose, my dad's cousin. Somewhere there's a picture of Howdy and me that I'll scan in here. In the meantime here's cousin Howdy with Buffalo Bob. The theatre at the Eugene O'Neill Center in Waterford, CT is named in honor of Rufus and Margo Rose.

Now to my more immediate history. I was born in Schenectady, New York, where my father worked for General Electric. My mother worked for a few years in the Schenectady City Hall, before she was married. That even happened in 1943. Dad was in the army, stationed in New Jersey, but got a leave for the wedding. He was shipped to Europe (sea sick all the way!) and participated in the D-Day invasion, spending quite a bit of time in France, Holland, and Germany.

While he was stationed in England he managed to get to Hawick, Scotland to meet my mother's family--my grandfather's mother and two unmarried sisters, his brother's two sons George and David Reid, and my grandmother's sister's family, the Bruntons. He and mom have made a several trips to Scotland since he retired. Me--I've been there twice.

When my brother John was born the family moved from Schenectady to the town of Colonie--which fills the space between Albany, Schenectady, and Troy. They bought the (then) 150-year-old farm house that had been built by Col. John Lansing, the original homesteader in the area. Only a couple acres of Lansing's land was left to go with the house--but it was enough for a very large vegetable and flower garden. Every summer Dad put out a sign in front of the house and sold sweet corn and gladiolus. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.

I went to school in Colonie, and in 1994 I was one of the inaugural inductees in the Colonie Central High School Hall of Fame. Then I went off to Oneonta, N.Y. to Hartwick College and from there to Rutgers in New Jersey.

Which seems a good place to pause and direct the persistent reader to my personal page. Or you can back out gracefully to my home page.