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", and later found 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. 
   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 re-election bid for judge sometime between 1906 and 1910. Bruggemeyer would marry in 1912 Roberta Pauline Zimmerman (a widow then in her 40s), 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.

   Mancha Bruggemeyer retired from the practice of law in 1923 and in the following year 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 as a memorial to her. Sometime after his wife's passing Bruggemeyer became acquainted with a local librarian named Nell Helen Jones (1889-1960) and married her in April 1929.
   During the latter portion of his life, Bruggemeyer became a prominent civic leader in Redlands, serving a four-year term on the local city council in 1934. In April 1936 he won election as Mayor of Redlands, succeeding mayor Will L. Fowler and would serve a two-year term. After leaving office in 1938 Bruggemeyer continued to be active in local civic affairs and died at a Monterey Park hospital on June 16, 1949, aged 83. His second wife Nell survived him by eleven years, dying in 1960. Both were buried in the San Gabriel Cemetery in Los Angeles.

From the San Bernardino Sun, April 21, 1936. 


  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. See Bruggemeyer family article

    3. 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. 🤣