Monday, January 14, 2013

De La Mancha Bruggemeyer (1865-1949)

From the Chicago Bar Association Record Volume I, October 1910.

    This curiously named public servant is De La Mancha Bruggemeyer, a prominent Chicago based jurist during the early years of the twentieth century. Listed by sources of the time as "Mancha Bruggemeyer", few details on Bruggemeyer's early life could be found online, but enough has been located to compile a small biography for him here on the site.
   De La Mancha Bruggemeyer was born in Lewisham, Kent, England on July 4, 1865, a son of William J. and Ellen M. Bruggemeyer, and is recorded in the 1871 England and Wales Census as a five year old child with three siblings, Ellen M. (aged four), Charles E. (aged two) and Elizabeth W.C. (infant). The origins of his unusual first name are also a mystery, but one can assume that it was a way of honoring literary figure Don Quixote (the man from La Mancha) who resided in the like-named region in central Spain. The February 19, 1977 edition of the Redlands Daily Facts periodical gives a brief note on his childhood, relating that Bruggemeyer's father died when he was seven and his mother later brought her "brood of five to America" while Mancha was still a child.
  The Bruggemeyer family eventually settled in Chicago, where Mancha is recorded as working as "a cash boy at age nine", later finding employment in a local clothing factory as a shirt cutter. Mancha continued in this line of work into his twenties and later began pursuing the study of law, attending night school in his spare time. He attended the Chicago Law School for three years and was admitted to the state bar in 1892. Bruggemeyer later married to Ms. Roberta Pauline (last name unknown), and the two were married until her passing in August 1928. It is unknown at the time of this writing if any children were born to them.
   After being admitted to practice, Bruggemeyer wasted no time in looking for a law office to partner in, which he eventually found in one Joseph G. Strauss. The Bruggemeyer-Strauss partnership lasted until 1895, whereafter Mancha began a solo law practice that became defunct in 1906.
  In November of 1906 Bruggemeyer was elected as a Judge for the newly established Municipal Court of Chicago. His tenure on the bench lasted four years, concluding in 1910, after which he continued in the practice of law. The rare portrait of him below is a campaign postcard made during his reelection bid for judge sometime between 1906 and 1910.

   Mancha Bruggemeyer retired from the practice of law in 1923 and shortly thereafter removed from Chicago to the city of Redlands in San Bernardino County, California. Roberta Pauline Bruggemeyer died in Redlands in 1928 and Mancha established the Bruggemeyer Memorial Library in Monterey Park, California as a memorial to her. Some time after his wife's passing Bruggemeyer became acquainted with a local librarian named Nell Thomas (1889-1960) and married her around 1929.
   During his twilight years Bruggemeyer became a prominent civic leader in Redlands, serving a term on the local city council in 1934. Two years later he was elected as Mayor of Redlands at age 71 and served a two year term. After leaving office in 1938 Bruggemeyer continued to be active in local civic affairs well into his eighties, dying on June 16, 1949 at age 83. His second wife Nell survived him by eleven years, dying in 1960. Both were buried in the San Gabriel Cemetery in Los Angeles.


  1. Bruggemeyer Library is located in Monterey Park, not Redlands. It appears Mr. Bruggemeyer lived in Monerey Park before he moved to Redlands. Redlands is in San Bernardino County. Monterey Park is in Los Angeles County, and Monterey County is probably an error.


    2. data4teachers,

      Hello and thanks for the comments and correction as to the location of the Bruggemeyer Library....its fantastic that someone else has taken an interest in the life of this oddly named jurist (and later California resident). Since I noticed your comment an hour or two ago I managed to locate a few new details on Mancha's life that I missed out on when I originally wrote the above article nearly a year ago (and if oyu happen to be a descendant of his this may be of major interest).

      As of Jnauary of this year I had been unable to find the names of Bruggemeyer's parents or siblings, as well as his exact biorth location (all I had seen mentioned in period literature was that he was born in London). With that being said, I found the Bruggemeyer family listed in the 1871 England and Wales census, with his parents being William and Ellen. Mancha had three siblings and their birth location was Lewisham, Kent, England, not London as I had found earlier. If you have any other details on Bruggemeyer you'd like to share please feel free to contact me via the site's Facebook page (which can be visited and "liked" via the box at the top of the page. Thanks again for your interest and correction!!


    3. See Bruggemeyer family article

    4. Hello Andy, Lewisham is now a London Borough although at one time it was part of kent.

  2. Hello Andy, my neighbor is the grandson of Mancha. He told me that De la Mancha name came from his great grandfather being friends with the governor of Del La Mancha, Spain. 🤣