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My Search for Baker Bryan

 
My grandfather, Redic Bryan, wrote the following about his grandfather's family in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. This information was found on a scrap of paper inserted into the Bryan Family Bible.

grandfather Reddick Bryan

and

E. S. Bryan

James Bryan - no children

Baker Bryan - no children

___________

John Reagan

Spann Reagan

___________

J. B. Bryan

T. C. Bryan

Terrell Bryan

D. E. Bryan Davis Hammett

C. A. Bryan Watts Thomas

G. F. Bryan Pitman Wimberly - no children

These uncles and aunts all buried in Bienville. Louisiana

<signed>R. E. Bryan

My mother Harriet Albritton was born Aug. 15, 1836, was married to Terrell Bryan Died Feb. 9, 1909

 

Although all of Reddick and Elizabeth Bryan's children were not buried in Bienville Parish, this was a fairly accurate account of the members of Reddick Bryan's family. There is much well documented information about the children of Reddick and Elizabeth, however, no information could be found about Baker Bryan.  Baker Bryan, born in 1817, was the son of Reddick Bryan and his first wife whose name is currently unknown. Baker Bryan was not listed among the beneficiaries in the settlement of Reddick Bryan's estate in 1864. The Bryan Family moved to Louisiana from Houston County, Georgia around 1838. However, according to oral family history, Baker remained in Georgia.

Another descendant of Reddick Bryan, Larry Martin, posted his family history on the Ancestry World Tree Project (#1292) at Ancestry.com.   In Larry's family history, Simeon B. Bryan was listed as a third possible son of  Reddick Bryan and his first wife. My father and I once discussed the possibility of this being Baker Bryan. And, on a trip to NYC in 2000, I found the following at the New York Public Library leading me to the believe that maybe Baker was actually Simeon B. Bryan.
   
From Albany, GA Newspaper Clippings Vol. 1- Tad Evans (1996)

October 8, 1845
Baker Bryant was listed as having an unclaimed letter in the post office at Albany in Baker County, GA.

June 29, 1849
"Georgia, Baker County: Simeon B. Bryant files his petition for letters of dismission, from the estate of Martha L. Hull, late of said county, deceased. (signed) Seth C. Stevens, C.C.O."
 

From Albany, Georgia Newspaper Clippings Vol. II - Tad Evans (1996)

May 22, 1857
"Georgia, Calhoun County; Will be sold before the Court House door in said county on the first Tuesday in July, next, between the legal hours of sale, all the property belonging to the estate of Simeon B. Bryan, late of said County, deceased. Sold for the benefit of the heirs and creditors of said estate (signed) Elijah Padgett, Adm."

June 11, 1857
"Georgia, Calhoun County; All those indebted to the estate of Simeon B. Bryan, late of said county, deceased, or owed money by that estate, must make immediate payment or present their notes for payment. (Signed) Elijah Padgett, Adm." {Note: Calhoun County was formed in 1854 from Baker and Early Counties}

 
 

 

My real interest in Baker Bryan began with four letters written by an E. A. Bryan to Alice Mary Wimberly Bryan and her husband, James Bryan.  James was Reddick's first son and brother of Baker. These letters, written in 1858 and 1860, were published in the Wimberly Family History complied by Vera Meek Wimberly; first published in 1979 and revised and republished by Thomas L. Wimberly in 2002.  In her book, Vera Wimberly describes E. A. Bryan as a possible sister or sister-in-law of  James Bryan.  E. A. Bryan referred to James and his siblings as brother and sister and referred to Reddick and Elizabeth Bryan as Ma and Pap.  All the while, she was writing about her own mother, a widow in Dawson, Georgia and an unnamed sister who was married to a Dr. Lamar.  E. A. Bryan mentioned the death of her husband when she wrote, "I have burried won of the best husbands," in a letter dated July 16, 1858. Was  E. A. Bryan the widow of Baker Bryan?  After locating all of the family and geographical information in the letters, I searched the Internet for E. A. Bryan and found her identity in just a few hours.  She was Elizabeth Ann Mercer, daughter of Ann and Silas Mercer.
 
In a letter, dated July 16, 1858,  E. A. Bryan described the death of her sister who was married to a Dr. Lamar. In another letter, she writes of  the death of her sister's son, Jimmy, at the age of three. Strikingly similar descriptions and dates are listed in the biography of John T. Lamar which can be found at Memoirs of Georgia.
 
The Silas Mercer Family Bible, found in the GAGenWeb Archives reinforced my theory that E. A. Bryan was Elizabeth Ann Mercer Bryan. According to the Bible, Elizabeth Ann Mercer, born February 26, 1830, had a sister, Nancy H. Mercer, who died on July 6, 1858. Also in the Bible, a James H. Lamar's date of death was listed as June 8, 1860.  These dates exactly match the dates written by E. A. Bryan as the death dates of both her sister and little Jimmy, her nephew in the excerpts below.
 

     "Oh how sweet the name Sister sondes to me yes my Dear Sister was taken from us by the strong arm of death on    the 6th inst." {from a letter dated July 18,1858 as found in Wimberly Family History  compiled by Vera Meek Wimberly}

     "Oh my dear little Jimmie is gone forever gone to his dear mother I trust he died the 8th inst in Dawson" {from a letter dated June 22,1860 as found in Wimberly Family History compiled by Vera Meek Wimberly}

A very kind Mercer researcher responded to a query about Elizabeth Ann Mercer and sent me the following:

1860 Clay Co., GA census p. 38 :
Ann Mercer, 45
Elizabeth Bryant, age 29
Harmon Mercer, 22
John Mercer, 21
James H. Lamar, 3

1870 Terrell Co., GA census, city of Dawson, p. 1057:
Green Thompson, 35
Elizabeth Thompson, 40
Ann Mercer, 62

 
Found at Georgia Marriages, 1851-1900, Ancestry.com:  Green B. Thompson married Mrs. A. E. Bryan in Terrell County, Georgia on February 25, 1864.  According to information given at the time the Silas Mercer Family Bible was transcribed, E. A. Mercer was E. A. Thompson at the time of her death in 1906.
 
Once E. A. Bryan had been identified, the search for her Bryan husband, quite possibly Baker, began. If Baker Bryan and Simeon B. Bryan were one in the same, then the article transcribed below would be about the death of his Baker's first wife:
 
The following came from Marriage and Death Notices from the Southern Christian Advocate 1837 to 1860 - Brent Holcomb (1979)

"Departed this life, in Houston County, Georgia, on the 1st inst., Mrs. Louisa, wife of Simeon B. Bryan and daughter of Needham and Ardelia Smith. She was a lady of eminent modesty . . . . embraced the religion at a protracted meeting at Emory chapel in 1837, and joined the M. E. Church.  Her marriage took place in May last and in the fall afterwards her husband's father and brothers emigrated to the far west, in the State of Louisiana . . . . {signed} Thomas Speight."

 
According to Georgia Marriages to 1850 at Ancestry.com, Simon B. Bryan married Louisa Smith on May 20, 1838 in Houston County, GA. This was also about the time that Reddick and Elizabeth Regan Bryan left Georgia with their family for Northwest Louisiana.  The reference to "Emory chapel" is of interest as Reddick Bryan served on the board of Emory Chapel in Houston County in the 1830s.
 
On the 1840 census of Houston County, Needham Smith, father-in-law of Simeon, is listed directly above Miles Bryan who is thought to be the brother or half-brother of Reddick Bryan. Thomas Speight, whose daughter married Baker's step-brother, Span Regan, is also listed on the same page. The1850 census revealed that Needham Smith and Miles Bryan were neighbors.  I have not been able to locate Simeon B.or Baker Bryan on the 1850 census. 
 
Simeon B. Bryan died in Calhoun County, Georgia.  Microfilm of early Calhoun County records are available to order at the Family History Center near my home.  Microfilm FHL #271321, Administrators bonds, indicated that Simeon B. Bryan died in Calhoun County, GA prior to October 27, 1856 when Elijah Padgett applied to be administrator of the estate of Simeon B. Bryan.
 
A microfilm of the Calhoun County deed index, FHL #271295, revealed two interesting entries in 1856. A deed filed for S. B. Bryant, immediately followed by one for Baker Bryant. In 1858, two entries for E. A. Bryan were recorded.  A look at the documents filed by Baker Bryant and S. B. Bryan did not prove that Baker was actually Simeon B. Bryan, however, one document filed by E.A. Bryan does state that she was the widow of Simeon B. Bryan. Another document gave John Thompson, an attorney in Clay County, Georgia, power to act as attorney-in-fact for Elizabeth Ann Bryan, widow of Simeon B. Bryan. This document was originally recorded in Bienville Parish, Louisiana and witnessed by James Bryan and T.C. Bryan.  Although I have not yet proved Simeon to be Baker or proved that Simeon was actually Reddick Bryan's son, I am confidant that I have enough  persuasive evidence to indicate that Simeon was the son of Reddick and in all probability was Simeon Baker Bryan.
 

 

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