Item’s from Eaton’s founding-father make way back to family

By Sydney L. Murray

June 15, 2014

Kenneth Swank, one of the descendants of William Bruce, the founder of Eaton, recently returned to the city from northern Ohio to buy back some items that had once belonged to his family.

Swank bought some dishes and linens from Steve Carrasas, who had bought the items from Swank’s mother about 20 years ago. Carrasas said he’s fairly certain the items belonged to William Bruce himself.

“I bought this at the auction because of the Bruce connection, because I like history,” Carrasas said.

Carrasas said he is happy to see the items go back to the family, though.

“What’s weird is, his mother sold this, actually auctioned it off, and I’m the guy that bought it, and he’s getting the same stuff back,” Carrasas said. “His mom had no clue that he would have any interest in it years ago when I bought it.”

The linens and the china had the Bruce “B” on them. Swank is the great-great-great-great grandson of William Bruce.

Swank said he is excited that the items will be back in the family, but said they will probably eventually end up with the Historical Society in Eaton.

“But right for now, it’s coming with me,” Swank said.

Swank already has other items that have been handed down through the Bruce family, such as a 200-year-old rocking chair from the original homestead, as well as picture frames from the 19th century. Swank said he hopes to track down more furniture that belonged to the family.

Swank said he likes finding out where he came from.

“It’s just kinda interesting to find out about the lives that they lived,” Swank said.

Carrasas said he wishes more people appreciated their family history.

“It’s sad when I watch Pawn Stars and I see these young people come in and they got their great-great-great grandfather’s watch that was in the Civil War and they go, ‘I don’t know, I don’t like this old stuff, how much is it worth?’” Carrasas said. “They should keep that stuff, want to see stuff get back to the family.”