A prominent practitioner at the bar of Hailey, and ex-district attorney of Alturas (now Blaine) County, Idaho, Presley Morris Bruner, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio. September 15, 1850. On the paternal side is of German lineage, and on the maternal of Scotch descent. His father, J. A. Bruner, was born in Virginia, a representative of one of the old and prominent families of that state, living in the Blue mountain region. He married Miss Margaret Morris, a daughter of Judge Presley Morris, of Chillicothe, Ohio. Her father was a descendant of the McDonald clan of the highlands of Scotland, and traced his ancestry back to Mary, Queen of Scots. Mr. Bruner’s father was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, and devoted fifty-six years of his life to spreading the gospel of peace on earth, good will to men. He removed to California in 1856, going by way of the isthmus, and spent the remainder of his days as a member of the California conference. He was a man of scholarly attainments, of marked ability in his chosen calling, a persuasive speaker and a power for good among men. He departed this life in 1892, at the age of seventy years, and his wife passed away three years previously, at the age of sixty-nine. She was to him a most faithful helpmeet, ably assisting him in his work, and by her influence, example and kindly spirit largely augmenting the efforts of her husband This worthy couple were the parents of seven children, six of whom are living. Three of the sons and one of the daughters completed classical courses of study and four of the sons are prominent practitioners of law, three being located in Sacramento, California, while the fourth, our subject, has gained prestige at the bar of Hailey.
Presley M. Bruner, the eldest of the family, was educated at the University of the Pacific, at Santa Clara, California, and graduated at that institution in the class of June 1871. He afterward studied law under the direction of Thomas H. Laine and S. F. Lee, the latter now one of the prominent attorneys of southern California, and was admitted to practice in the courts of California in 1877. Establishing an office in San Jose, he there secured a good clientage, and continued his professional labors until 1881. The following year he came to Hailey and has been prominently identified with the growth, upbuilding and progress of the city since that time. The town was then in its infancy, so that Mr. Bruner has witnessed its entire advancement. He is actively connected with a profession which has important bearing upon the progress and stable prosperity of any section or community, and one which has long been considered as conserving the public welfare by furthering the ends of justice and maintaining individual rights. His reputation as a lawyer has been won through earnest, honest labor, and his standing at the bar is a merited tribute to his ability. He now has a very large practice, and his careful preparation of cases is supplemented by a power of argument and a forceful presentation of his points in the court room, so that he never fails to impress court or jury, and seldom fails to gain the verdict desired. Mr. Bruner has also been active in developing the mining interests of this vicinity, laid out the town of Huston, and put ten thou-sand dollars in the development of the copper mines, and has been an active factor in furthering many enterprises which have contributed to the welfare of Hailey, as well as his individual prosperity.
On the 8th of June, 1871, Mr. Bruner was united in marriage to Miss Martha M. Wilson, daughter of James Wilson, a respected California pioneer. Mrs. Bruner was attending college when her husband was a student there, they were graduated in the same class and almost immediately afterward they united their destinies for life. Their union has been blessed with two children, who are living: Morris Elwood, who is his father’s law partner, but is now in Manila, having volunteered for service at the beginning of the war with Spain; and Bertha J., a graduate of the Hailey high school, and now acting as a typewriter and clerk in her father’s office.
On attaining his majority Mr. Bruner became an advocate of the principles of the Republican Party, and on that ticket was elected to the Nevada legislature in 1873. While serving in that body he made the speech nominating John P. Jones for the United States senate. In 1896, however, he differed with his party on the financial question, and has since given his allegiance to the Populist Party, becoming one of its stalwart advocates. He served as chairman of the Populist state convention of 1898, and is an effective worker in promoting the cause which he now espouses. Socially Mr. Bruner is a Mason, having taken the degrees of the blue lodge in Bellevue in 1883. He also belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, having been past grand master thereof, and exemplifies in his life the beneficent principles of the societies.