Ensley Baptist Church

william bruce
church pastors

Ensley Baptist
7077 120th St

Sand Lake MI 49343






William Bruce

Run Away Slave

And Brother of the Church


(Picture courtesy of the Ensley Baptist Church)

(Photo Enhancement by Verduin Webs)


The subject of this sketch was born in Virginia a slave in 1815. He was taken to Kentucky and worked there and in Tennessee on the cotton Plantations until he was 35 about years of age when he was taken to Missouri about six miles from St. Louis.

When about 35 years old he became deeply concerned about his souls welfare and earnestly striving he sought and found pardon of his sins in the blood of the Lamb. He was baptized by Rev. Anderson of St. Louis and attached himself to the First Baptist Church (colored) of St. Louis.

Impressed with a longing desire to become freed from the bondage of slavery as well as of sin, he attempted to escape but was re—captured and re—turned to slavery, however in 1851 he made another and more successful attempt to escape, reaching Chicago Ill, in safety, remaining there a short time. Coming on to Michigan he settled in Ensley Township Newaygo County.

Soon after the organization of the Ensley Baptist Church he attached himself thereto becoming a faithful, earnest, zealous worker in the cause of Christ, believing in the atoning blood of the Lamb having that faith to lay hold on the promises praying earnestly for a closer walk with God, his constant theme was Savior more than life to me, I am clinging, clinging close to thee.

He was held in the greatest love and esteem by the Church and all who were acquainted with him. His last sickness was of short duration with his abiding faith that soon he would be with the Redeemer in Heaven. He breathed his last on Sunday evening at 6 P.M. Jan.13, 1889. Just before his soul took its flight from this Realm of day he raised his hands aloft with eyes gazing upward looking into the portals of heaven he gradually dropped his hands and all was over.
He died of “quick consumption” at the home of Walter Lobdell.

The funeral was held at the Ensley Baptist Church on Tuesday Jan.15th at 10:00 o’clock. A large concourse of people attending the funeral.

Rev. N. Stilwell our pastor preaching from the text Rev. 14:13, And I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me, write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labour; and their works do follow them.

Having no relatives the Church were the chief mourners. Thus born in bondage to man and to sin at last was free.

Yours in Christ,

J. A. Delano

P.S. Please publish by request of the Church. Herewith find enclosed 50 cents send sample copies with notice to this amount to my address J. A. Delano

Grove, Newaygo County, Michigan
Jan.  19th. 1889

In 1866, William purchased 80 acres on 104th Ave east of Cyprus Ave, southeast of what is now Birds Meat Market. He purchased this land from Benjamin Hillman and wife for $250. When William died, he gave his land and possessions to the Ensley Center Baptist Church. (Mr. Bruce never married.) His gift was a great financial boost to the church.





Ensley Township property map of 1880

Courtesy of the White Cloud Public Library

To honor William Bruce, the members of the church decided to hang his picture in a prominent place in the church. It has been hanging there ever since.