Bryans settled in Crenshaw County

Published 11:59 pm Friday, January 23, 2009

At least three columns have been written in the past few years on various lines of the Bryan Family whose ancestors migrated from Marion District, South Carolina. Today’s writing will feature another line that also came to south Alabama from South Carolina by way of Georgia.

Research done on this line reveals that the ancestors migrated from the Country of Ireland. The earliest known descendant is Robert Bryan who was born circa 1750 in South Carolina. He was married to Sarah Lanier who was born in 1755. She died in 1793 in Edgefield, S.C. Sometime after this date, Robert moved to Georgia where he died in 1799.

Robert and Sarah Bryan reared at least the following four children: John; Elizabeth; Robert, b. 1786, d. 1867, m. 1804 Tabitha Clarke (ca 1786-1853); and William, b. 1792, d. ca 1853, m. Celia Ann Smith. At least the last child, William, was born in Greene County, Ala., so that provides a time frame for when the family settled in this state.

The son, Robert, is the one who brought the line to Crenshaw County. He was born, reared and married in Georgia, but he died in 1879 in Crenshaw County where he was buried in the Leon Cemetery near the Covington County line. Robert and his wife, Tabitha, had at least two sons: Robert Clark, b. 1810, d. 1879, m. 1832 Martha Young Harper (1816-1874); and Joseph Franklin, b. 1813, d. 1894, m. Emily Ann Clarke (1817-1892).

Robert Clark Bryan and his wife, Martha Young Harper, daughter of Benjamin Harper, had nine children: Preston Harrison, b. 1840, d. 1905, m. Emily Adeline “Addie” Dozier (1849-1917); Benjamin R., b. 1844, d. 1865 during war (Company C., 37th Alabama Infantry Regiment); Joseph F., b. 1845, d. 1911, m. Henrietta Elizabeth Compton; Edward T., b. 1847, d. 1915; Newton, b. ca 1848, d. 1926; Jasper, b. 1849, m. Ella ?; Robert C., b. 1852, d. 1896; Elizabeth Carrie G., b. 1854; and Martha E., b. 1857.

Joseph Franklin Bryan and his wife, Emily Ann Clarke, daughter of Alfred and Martha Clarke, reared the following 13 children: Virginia, b. 1835, m. Dock Curington; Elizabeth, b. 1837, d. 1838; Henry C., b. 1839, d. 1863 during war in Battle of Vicksburg, m. Mary Anna Handley; Tabitha M., b. 1841, m. S.L. Scott; Robert W., b. 1843; Narcissa Frances, b. 1844, d. 1936, m. (1) William Reid Merrill (1839-1870) (2) Charles Henry McKenzie (1822-1900); Sarah E., b. 1845; Emily, b. 1848; Lobelia, b. 1852, d. 1928, m. William Henry Harrison (1844-1908); Caroline C., b. 1854, d. 1906, m. Hilliard H. Hollis (1855-1907)); Josephine, b. 1857; Emma, b.&d. 1859; and twin Laura, b.&d. 1859.

Robert Clark Bryan’s oldest son, Preston Harrison Bryan, and his wife, Emily Adeline “Addie” Dozier, daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth (Taylor) Dozier, reared the following children: Mattie Elizabeth, b. 1868, m. Cada A. Shelby; Daniel Clark, b. 1871, d. 1874; Preston Harrison Jr., b. 1875, d. 1915, m. Ella Hudson; Elvie Eugenia, b. 1881, m. Obed Jesse Jackson; and Palmer Austin, b. 1887, d. 1942, m. Emma Thompson.

Robert Clark Bryan’s third son, Joseph F. Bryan, was married to Henrietta Elizabeth Compton, a native of Crenshaw County. He owned a large tract of land used for growing timber and farming. He also operated a cotton gin, gristmill, sawmill and a brick kiln, which was powered by a central steam engine, operated by a complex system of shafts, pulleys and belts to deliver power. Henrietta was a founding member of the Liberty Congregational Church, which was held in a log building until a new one was erected in 1905. At Joseph’s death, his mills were transferred to his oldest son, Walter L. Bryan.

Joseph and Henrietta reared the following children: Walter L., b. 1873, d. 1942, m. Clemmie C. Morgan (1889-1968); Lillie Bell, b. 1874, d. 1926, m. Hillery D. Childre (1881-1954); Ruby Pearl, b. 1876, d. 1946, m. Hick Hubert Sasser (1879-1963); William Brown, b. 1879, d. 1955, m. (1) Fannie L. Sport (1877-1918) (2) Sally Faison (1900-1993); Martha Elizabeth, b. 1881, d. 1977; Alma Auguster, b. 1884, d. 1937, m. Samuel James Pendry (1880-1929); Judson Idee, b. 1886, d. 1970, m. Cora Lee Holland (1893-1970); Ira Jones, b. 1887, d. 1920, m. William Lee Murphy ((1886-1965); and Mittie Louise, b. 1889, d. 1959, m. James Daniel Jackson (1886-1980).

The oldest son, Walter L. Bryan, and wife, Clemmie C. Morgan, had four children: Luman Payne, b. 1906, d 1994; Bradie Ray, b. 1914, d. 1969; Willie Joe; and Coy.

The oldest daughter, Lillie Bell Bryan, and husband, Hillary D. Childre, had the following six children: Infant, b. 1898; Bessie Lee, b. 1900; Infant, b. 1901; Grady, b. 1905; Onna Merle, b. 1906; and Etta Nadien, b. 1909.

Daughter Ruby Pearl and Husband, Hick Hubert Sasser, son of Jesse and Celia (Dannelly) Sasser, had the following six children: Walter Idee, b. 1900, m. Annie Laura Faison; Annie L., b. 1903, m. Fred Clark; Hilton B., b. 1905; Lora Girtie, b. 1907; Linnie M., b. 1909, d. 1967; and Bennie, b. 1913.

Son William Brown Bryan, and first wife, Fannie Lee Sport, daughter of John S. (1847-1928) and Nancy (Frost) Sport (1841-1925), reared the following six children: John Foreman, b. 1903, d. 1984, m. Marena Norman (1905-2000); Joseph Durwood, b. 1905, d. 1997, m. Clementina Elder; Dixie, b. 1908, m. Joel Calvin Taylor (1906-1965); Richmond Frost, b. 1913, m. Marion Wallace (2) Mary Ellen Welden; Willie Robert, b. 1924, d. 2000, m. Betty Smith; and Patsy, b. 1939, m. Jackie Morgan (1935-1997).

Son Judson Idee Bryan and wife, Cora Lee Holland, had the following three children: Judson Holland, b. 1917; Aldon Oneida, b. 1919; and William Jennings, b. 1928, d. 1978.

Daughter Ira Jones Bryan and husband, William Lee Murphy, had one son, William Charley, b. 1907.

Daughter Mittie Louise Bryan and husband, James Daniel Jackson, had the following four children: Jesse Boyd, b. 1913; William Jennings Bryan, b. 1916; Mazie Etta, b. 1917; and Carl Green, b. 1919.

In the next generation, John Foreman Bryan, son of William Brown Bryan, was 15 years old when his mother died. He was an industrious young man and became successful in the field of accounting. He advanced to management in the food industry and returned to his home state of Alabama where he opened and operated Bryan Bakeries. He helped organize the original Montgomery County Republican Organization and became a member of the John Birch Society. He and his wife, Marena Norman, had two children: John Foreman Jr. “Jack,” b. 1927, m. Dorothy Dunford Milligan; and Barbara Lee, b. 1935.

John Foreman’s brother, Joseph Durwood Bryan, moved to St. Louis, Mo., to work with Ward Baking Company in a job secured for him by his brother, John Foreman. He and his wife, Clementina Elder, reared a son, Joseph Durwood Jr. “Joey” Bryan who remained single.

John Foreman’s sister, Dixie Bryan, was the only girl in the family. She finished eighth grade at the Liberty School and then transferred to Dozier High School where she graduated as valedictorian in 1929. She and her husband, Joel Calvin Taylor, settled in Luverne where they eventually bought and operated a general store in a new building downtown. They reared two children: Wilda, b. 1938, m. Fred Brown; and Joel B., b. 1942, m. Joan Gabel.

Another brother, Richard Frost Bryan, was educated in the schools in Dozier. Upon graduation, he hitchhiked to Plant City, Fla., to work in the citrus industry. He later went to live with his brother, Foreman, in Chicago, where he attended a small engineering college, Chicago Tech. He and his wife, Marion Wallace, had two sons: Richard Frost Jr. “Rickey,” b. 1943, d. 1958; and Michael, b.&d. 1947.

Another brother, Robert Bryan, and his wife, Betty Smith, had four children: Robert Clark, b. 1953, m. Pam Briggs; Kelly, b. 1956; Kerry, b. 1958; and Bruce, b. 1961.

The youngest daughter, Patsy Bryan, and her husband, Jackie Morgan, reared three children: Joni, b. 1965; Traci, b. 1969; and Kristie, b. 1970.

Appreciation is expressed to Richard Frost Bryan for sharing his family records for this writing. Frost is in remarkable health at 95 years of age and resides in Luverne. He has compiled his family’s history and enjoys genealogy.

Anyone who has comments relative to this narrative or additional information on this family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; call 334-222-6467; or e-mail:


The Covington Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m. on Thurs., Jan. 29, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library.