1st mayor defeated tuberculosis

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published January 10, 1996 in The Suburban Life, added February 10, 2018.

(Left) Sarah Dones Druce, the wife of Samuel Druce, came from one of Madeira’s older families. (Right) Samuel Kitchell Druce, after being rejected for Civil War service because he had tuberculosis, went west on a wagon train to regain his health. He returned to become Madeira’s first mayor.


When Samuel Kitchell Druce tired to volunteer for service in the Civil War he was rejected because he had active tuberculosis.  At that time, without modern medicine and drug therapy, tuberculosis diagnosis usually met a fatal sentence.

But Samuel Druce recovered to become Madeira’s first mayor in 1913.  He lived to the age of 75, when he died of pneumonia.

Samuel Druce would not accept his illness as certain doom.  He fought it.  He has two granddaughters, Drucilla Bain of Madeira and Naomi Bain Henn of Loveland, who remember him and who tell his story to regain his life and the story of life in Madeira at the time he was mayor.

After being rejected for Civil War duty, Samuel decided to go west to clear his lungs.

Drucilla Bain has in her possession a long letter in her grandfather’s handwriting telling the details of that trip and of his stay in the Nebraska Territory, where he ended up and lived for a time.

He went by train to St. Louis.  From there he went to Leavenworth, Kansas, by boat.  He wrote about his trip on the Missouri River.

At Leavenworth, he bought mules and provisions and joined a wagon train to go to the Nebraska Territory.

“I’m not sick or even homesick,” he wrote home.  “There are five wagons in our train.  One belongs to a doctor and his family.  We have a guitar and two violins.  They sound nice, along with the singing on the plains at night.”

He wrote about experiences with Indians.  “We saw our first Indians today,” he wrote.  “They were Sioux, and we gave them crackers to eat.”

He did not say in the letter, but obviously the Indians were friendly.  Drucilla has a long, wooden feather-tipped arrow, which he brought back from his stay in the west.

In a letter to his aunt, datelined Cottonwood Station, Neb., May 22, 1864, he wrote:  “We camped on the Platte Rive in a valley about two miles wide surrounded by cedar and pine trees,”

Then he told his aunt about going through the East Bannock Idaho Territory and described the beauty of it to his aunt who loved flowers.  “Beautiful flowers completely covered the plain,” he wrote.  “We went through beds of the prettiest flowers I ever saw.”

Outdoor life in the clean, dry air cleared his lungs and cured his illness.

Then Samuel Druce moved back to Madeira, where he married Sarah Dones and they settled down to life on Euclid Avenue.  Sarah Dones came from on of Madeira’s early families.  Her parents were James Dones and Sarah Marvin. The Marvins are another old name in Madeira history.

Samuel Druce also had Madeira historical links from his mother’s side.  His mother was Mary Kitchell, who came from another important early Madeira family.

Sarah Dones was also linked to other prominent Madeira families through friendship.  Her best friend was Clara Fowler Hosbrook, the mother of Miss Nelle Hosbrook.  Clara was the wife of Leonard Fowler.  They lived on Euclid Avenue, where the Ed Hillmans now live.

Samuel and Sarah Druce lived in the big, white house at 7744 Euclid, much remodeled from the early days, according to the granddaughters, who say it now does not look like the large, old house where they spent happy childhood days.

“I was practically raised at the big house,” Naomi said recently.  “It doesn’t look like it did then.”

Samuel and Sarah’s daughter, Mary Lee, grew up and married Kenneth Bain.  They had three daughters, Naomi, Esther and Drucilla.  Esther died in childhood.

Naomi and Drucilla survive and are left to tell he family history.

Their stories about live in Madeira around the time their grandfather became its first mayor will continue in subsequent columns.