John Bryant

John was born on May 13, 1833 in either Lawrence County or LaPorte County, Indiana. He died on October 24, 1910 near Alpena, South Dakota and was buried in the Alpena Cemetery. He was 20 years old when the family moved to Iowa from Park County, Indiana. On March 27, 1855 he married Chloe Leaming. Chloe, the daughter of Judah Leaming and Rosanna Shippee, was born July 21, 1836 in LaPorte County, Indiana, and died March 30, 1912 at Alpena where she is buried. John's obituary gives the date as April 15, but the record of marriages in the Iowa state library cites the date as March 27. His obituary in the Minburn paper reads as follows:

Word was received in Minburn Monday of the death of John Bryant at his home in Alpena, S. D. The news of his death came as a shock to the members of the family and friends who reside in this section, although word that he was gradually growing weaker had been written and the reports of his condition contained no note of encouragement. He lived in this section so long; was a man of such upright character and principle that the long acquaintanceship had ripened into regard and sincere affection in the hearts of the old settlers, and they will mourn his passing as they would a brother.

Although 78 years of age he was still hale and hearty when he came here on a visit a few months ago and many remarked at his excellent appearance. He was born in Indiana and lived there until twenty years old, when he came west, locating in this part of Iowa. He was united in marriage April 15, 1855, near Adel to Miss Chlo [sic] Leaming and their married life, extending over 55 years, has been one of bliss and happiness, marred only when, 28 years ago, they stood with grief laden hearts beside the open grave of their little six year-old daughter, as they tenderly laid her to rest in the Myers cemetery. It was the only time, until now, that the death angel has entered the family circle. Besides the wife there is left to mourn the following children: Edward [Edmund] of Minburn, Mrs. Lydia McFee, Minburn, Mrs. Mary Bohannan, Minburn, Charlie, Huron, S.D., Mrs. Kirk Hiney, Perry, John L. [F], Alpena, S.D., Bird [William L.], Virgil, S.D., Mrs. Walter Bryant, Huron, S.D., and Al, with whom the father and mother made their home since leaving here two years ago last spring, moving from the home here in town where for eight hears they lived after leaving their farm.

Mrs. McFee and Mrs. Bohannan were with their father when he passed away. As soon as the news was received Ed Bryant and daughter, Inez, and Mrs. Hiney, left for the stricken home and were present at the funeral held yesterday afternoon. The aged man was laid to rest in the cemetery at Alpena. To the family will go forth the sympathy of many who feel a personal loss in the death of this good man.

Chloe's obituary appeared in the Perry Chief, 1912:

Death of Mrs. John Bryant. Minburn friends were shocked and pained to hear of the death of Mrs. John Bryant, which occurred at the home at Alpena, SD Saturday night. A message summoning the children was received from there and Mrs. Lydia McFee and Bouton hurried north to be present at the funeral. The family lived here so many years that in the hearts of the older residents Mrs. Bryant's memory will be enshrined in countless incidents with the growth of the community, joys and labors and sorrows. Chloe Leaming was born at LaPorte, IN in 1836. When but a small child the parents came to Iowa and settled within a short distance of Adel. When 18 years old she was united in marriage to John Bryant and the young couple established their home a mile and a half west of Minburn where for fifty years they lived, rearing a family of ten children, nine of whom survive: Edward J., Carrie E., and Mary Bohanan of Minburn, IA, Lydia McFee of Bouton, IA, John F., W.L. (Bird) and Al C. of Lusk, Wyoming, Chas. E. of Huron, SD and Mrs. Kirk Hiney of Perry, IA. She leaves two brothers and one sister, Mac Leaming of Woodward, IA and J. W. Leaming of Kimball, MO, and Lydia Miller of Dallas, OR. Mrs. Bryant had been since childhood a member of the M.E. Church and was a consistent Christian to the day of her death. Her father was the first Judge of the Court at Adel and the family has always been a prominent one. The death of the husband a year and a half ago broke up the home and the aged wife, ever mourning for her lost helpmate, is now again united with him for that long existence which knows no death.

These obituaries shows where some of the family members were living in 1910 and 1912 and provided the year in which the family 1eft the farm and the year they moved to South Dakota.

Where John and Chloe lived immediately after their marriage is unknown, but apparently in 1861 they acquired the property that became their home for over 40 years. That property appears to have been acquired in two pieces. The first piece, amounting to 95 acres was purchased by John and William for $2,000 from Joseph and Sidney Thompson and James and Eliza Hastings on November 20, 1861. Note that at this time William was unmarried and had not yet served in the Civil War.

The second acquisition of 80 acres adjoining the first piece is puzzling. Apparently, there were property interests by Clark Bryant, Joseph A. Thompson, Josiah Bryant, Lucinda Bryant (wife of Clark), and W. L. Williams. Evidently, a school fund claim of $284.35, including interest and costs, against Clark and Lucinda had resulted in a mortgage against the property which was unpaid when the property was subsequently purchased by Williams. The mortgage was dated August 15, 1855. How Thompson and Josiah Bryant became involved is unclear, unless they were cosigners. In any event, the property was foreclosed and sold by the sheriff to the highest bidder who was John Bryant with a bid of $327.80. This 80 acres was on the Raccoon River bottom and became the principal farm land for the family.

The site of the farm buildings was on the north side of the Raccoon River where the prairie broke off into the river valley. Across the river there are steep bluffs, heavily wooded, and the valley, except for the farmland, is also heavily wooded. Immediately below the buildings is the river-bottom field, around which, on the far side, the river curves next to the bluffs. There are some bayous in the timber on the valley floor near the river which were formed by earlier channels of the river. Gardens and fruit were grown back of the house on the high ground. It was, and is, a beautiful spot. The house burned many years ago and was replaced by another. The family has not owned the property since the first decade of the twentieth century, although Hugh Bryant, a grandson of John and Chloe, lived there for several years as a tenant.

My Great, Great Grandparents, Chloe (Leaming) & John Cyrus Bryant

Researcher and grandson of John, Ed Bryant and his wife, Virginia, visited Iowa in August, 1983 and talked with some of the other grandchildren of John and Chloe, of whom Ed is the youngest. He wanted to learn more about his grandparents. There was general agreement that John was uncommunicative, kept to himself and seldom talked with the children. Chloe was somewhat overweight and an outgoing person. She was a very devout Methodist, kept her bible on the kitchen windowsill, and referred to it frequently. She was warm hearted, but from what Ed heard from his father and his cousins, her strict Methodist ways did not make her popular with her sons. She believed in singing, as long as the songs were hymns, but dancing and card playing were taboo. When she found a pack of cards one of the boys had, she scooped it up with a fire shovel (so as not to touch it) and burned it in the kitchen stove. Her desire to raise her boys in the true faith were frustrated, however, because they would climb out of the upstairs window and go to town when she thought they were in bed.

John was slim, but, a powerful man. According to Ed's cousins, John may have led a double life. He was the respected family head and farmer to his family, but he kept racehorses in nearby towns. He entered them in county fairs and other local celebrations and wagered on them. Ed was sure the boys knew of his activities because his father knew more about horses and racing than he could have picked up by reading. There is also a story (unsubstantiated) that he, knowingly or unknowingly, traded horses with the notorious James Brothers.

In about 1902 John and Chloe sold their farm and moved to Minburn. The reason for doing so isn't clear. Apparently it was not because of poor health because John's obituary in 1910 indicated that he had been in good health until shortly before his death. Al and William Leaming (Bird) were still living with them on the farm, so they didn't make the change for lack of help to run the farm. One can only assume that they wanted a change.

They opened a general store in Minburn, although it seems doubtful that they took a very active part in its operation. The store was operated by Ed's father, Al, and Walter Bryant (not a relative) who married Carolyn. Bird did the butchering and meat cutting for the butcher shop which was a part of the store. How 1ong they operated the store is unknown, but it appears not to have been highly successful. For one thing, the first decade of the twentieth century marked the time for a general exodus of the Bryant family to South Dakota. Like Josiah and Nancy before them, they couldn't seem to tolerate civilization and gave rein to their desire to move West. Walter, Al, Bird, Charlie, and John (son of John and Chloe), all moved, so it appears 1ikely that they couldn't have continued with the store if they had wanted to.

John and Chloe, themselves, moved to a farm near Alpena, South Dakota, in 1908. Two years later he and Chloe were living with Al. It is there that John died. Alpena at the time was a thriving farming community and appeared to have a bright future. It suffered the fate of many small towns in the Midwest with the advent of the automobile and good roads. Today there is little left of the town.

After John's death Chloe lived with her son, Al, at his rented farm west of Alpena until her death in April, 1912. She was buried beside John in the Alpena Cemetery, but no headstone was erected for her until one was supplied by her grandchildren in 1983.

Graves of Chloe & John Bryant, Alpena Cemetery, Alpena, South Dakota

July 21 1836
March 30 1912
May 13 1833
October 24 1910

John Bryant Family ca 1896 at Bryant House (Family Bible on podium) Back: Edmund Bryant [GG Uncle], Mary (Bryant) Bohanan [GG Aunt], Charlie Bryant [GG Uncle], Doll (Bryant) Hiney [G Grandmother]. John Bryant [GG Uncle], Bird Bryant [GG Uncle], Al Bryant [GG Uncle] Front: Chloe (Leaming) Bryant [GG Grandmother], Vira (Hiney) McMurray [baby G Aunt], John Bryant [GG Grandfather], Carrie (Bryant) Bryant [GG Aunt]

Bryant Sisters: Carrie (Bryant) Bryant [GG Aunt], Lydia (Bryant) McFee [GG Aunt], Mary (Bryant) Bohanan [GG Aunt], Elizal "Doll" (Bryant) Hiney [G Grandmother]

The children of John & Chloe (Leaming) Bryant:

Edmund Jay was born on January 30, 1856 in Dallas County. There were few settlers at that time, but the Indians still lived on the Raccoon River, so he found his playmates among the Indian children. He married Martha (Mattie) Ann Warford at Minburn on May 15, 1881. She too was from a pioneer family. The Warfords had a store in Minburn and the first public school session was taught in a hall over the store. Martha (Mattie) herself was a pupil at the first school building in Minburn in 1879. She became a teacher at an early age, as was common at that time, and in 1880 was teaching school in Colfax Township and staying with the George Britton family. Later, she taught some of her brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law in the local school.

Ed was a farmer most of his life and was honored when he joined the Farmers' Golden Anniversary Club in Dallas County. He was in good health most of his life and celebrated being 80 years old by swimming Raccoon River when it was in flood. Mattie died on December 31, 1938.

Around 1930 Ed spent two or three summers in Wyoming herding sheep for Homer Eldredge. One of the neighbors was attempting to cross wolves with greyhounds to produce dogs that would not only be fast enough to catch a coyote, but savage enough to kill it when they caught it. He didn't have much success, but one litter of pups when almost grown attacked the band of sheep Ed was herding. Ed was an excellent shot and killed them all. He returned to Iowa, died on May 2, 1943 and was buried at Minburn.

In 1920 Ed and Mattie visited their son, Hugh, in Wyoming with their daughter Inez, her husband George Parcel and the two Parcel boys. They traveled in a new Ford car and camped out along the way since this was well in advance of the motel era. An article about Ed appeared in the Daily Chief and Chief Advertiser when Ed joined the Farmers' Golden Annivesary Club:

One has to go way back in history in chronicling the history of this particular Bryant family. The parents and grandparents of Edmund J. Bryant settled near Ottumwa in the days when Iowa was a territory. About 1855 his parents moved to Dallas County and settled on the river west of where is now located Minburn. Here Edmund J. Bryant was born on January 31, 1856. Settles being few and far between, in the days before Minburn came into existence, he found many times his playmates among the Indian children. Mr. Bryant has a most intimate recollection of experiences during those pioneering yeas.

He says that if he had to start live all over again, farming would be his choice. Mr. Bryant was married at Minburn May 15, 1881, to Martha Ann Warford. Children are Mrs. George Parcel, living near Perry, Mrs. Verva Gardiner of Minburn, and Mr. H. W. Bryant, farming near Perry. One daughter, Mrs. Beth Lage, passed away some yeas ago.

Mr. Bryant was one of a family of ten children, five of whom are still living, three in the west and two still residing here in Iowa. He is a member of the Christian Church. A number of yeas ago he retired from active farming. His long residence on a Dallas County farm makes him a most welcome member of the Farmers' Golden Anniversary Club.

The caption for the picture above reads: "Paper-reading time. Independence is as Yankee as cod and baked beans. Any honest man will tell you wryly that money doesn't grow on trees up his way, but with hard work, thrift and common sense, no man need want." Below are Edmund's two obituaries.


Two of Edmund & Mattie Bryant's children, Hugh Bryant & Inez (Bryant) Parcel Harris
Cousins, Beth (Bryant) Lage & Verva (Bryant) Gardiner. Verva is another daughter of Edmund & Mattie Bryant
Verva (Bryant) Gardiner
The obituary of Inez (Bryant) Parcel Harris, daughter of Edmund & Mattie Bryant, from Des Moines Register, August 4, 1989.
Grave of GG Uncle Edmund Jay Bryant & his wife, Martha Ann (Mattie) Ann Warford.
Grave of Mary Elizabeth (Beth) (Bryant) Lage, daughter of Edmund & Mattie.
Grave of Verva (Bryant), daughter of Edmund & Mattie, and her husband Charles Gardiner.
Grave of John Winchester (Chet) Bryant, son of GGG Uncle William Carl Bryant.

Lydia Jane was born December 12, 1857. She was named after her aunt, Lydia (Leaming) Miller. She married Plato McFee on April 15, 1885. Their children were Ivyl, who died of diabetes at the age of 20, and Elma Irene, who in later years went by her middle name, Irene. The family moved to Oregon where Plato was killed in a hunting accident near Dallas in 1906. Lydia and her two children, Ivyl and Elma Irene, returned to Iowa and lived with John and Chloe in Minburn. They had left the farm in 1902 and were in Minburn until 1908. Lydia then became housekeeper for Frank Dugan who had married Plato's sister, Olive McFee. Irene married Elmer Berg.

The story of the death of Plato McFee is told in a letter from Ivyl to his aunt and uncle. Ivyl was 14 years old at the time. A copy of the original first page of Ivyl's letter is shown below.

Dallas, Oreg.
April 24 1906

Lanada & Ermina McFee
Dear Aunt and Uncle,

It was between 2 and 3 o'clock last Tuesday that the awful accident happened.

Papa was going to Harringtons and he let the dog loose to go along. The dog went ahead and treed a squirrel. Then Papa came back and got the gun. A little while after mamma heard the noise and thought he had killed the squirrel she thought that she heard him hallow but only thought that he was hallowing at the dog. He didn't come back but mamma thought nothing of that because he had started to Harringtons. Then after Elma and I came home and we had had our suppers mamma began to wonder why that papa was not home.

Then after I had got the cows up mamma told me to go down towards Harringtons and see if papa could be hurt but at the same time she thought that I would meet him comming home.

I went down and as soon as I got over the hill I saw our horse (bally) feeding around. Then I began to think that there was something the matter and I hallowed and I heard the dog bark but could not tell where. Then I hallowed again and again and then I heard the dog bark again and I ran to where he was and saw my poor papa lying there dead.

I then went and told mamma and she told me go and tell Mr. Selby and have him to tell Mr. Walter. She then had me to go to Harrington's and have them to telephone to Cobbs and to Uncle William Miller. They telephoned to every body around. But it was for about 2 hours before they could get central to telephone to Cobbs and Miller's. The neighbors came in from all around but they said that the law wouldn't allow them to touch him.

And that they couldn't take him in unless to coroner was there so they tried to get the coroner but he wasn't in town. Dr. Cary came out and found that the gun had exploded and a piece of the iron had struck him in the neck and cut the juglar vain vain [sic] and he had bleed to death. Cary was not the coroner so they let papa stay out all night but the men stayed with him. Mrs. Humphrey, Mrs. Blodgett and the school teacher Miss Higgins came and Mrs. Humphrey cooked Biscuit for the men who had to stay out in the woods. Next morning when Mr. Cobb came up he made the men bring him up anyhow wheather the coroner was here or not. The coroner didn't come untill about 10 o'clock. We got a half a lot in the odd fellows cemetery where papa is laid to rest.


(Ivyl Bryant McFee shown at right).

Dallas, Oregon is near Salem and is the location to which Chloe's sister, Lydia (Leaming) Miller, and her husband moved over the Oregon Trail. The William Millers referred to in Ivyl's letter were Lydia and William Miller. One can't help but be touched by the simplicity and precision with which Ivyl told the story of this shocking episode in his young life.

Plato, Ivyl (baby) & Lydia (Bryant) McFee [GG Aunt]
Siblings, Irene & Ivyl McFee.
Cousins, Beth Bryant & Irene McFee.
Elma Irene (McFee) Berg

When Frank Dugan died in about 1917 he left $6,000 to Irene McFee. His family contested the will, but it was upheld in court and provided the money to buy Irene and Elmer Berg's house when they were married. Lydia lived with the Bergs at the time of her death in 1938.

Irene and her mother, GG Aunt Lydia (Bryant) McFee

Several of Lydia (Bryant) McFee's letters survive as do two of Plato's and copies were obtained by me from her grandson, Darryl Berg.

1) Letter from Plato to his brother, Lanada:

Dallas Ore
Sept. 8, 1901

Mr. Lanada McFee

Dear Brother, we are able to pick hops a little & eat our grub & grunt a whole lott. Ivyl can help some it rained last Friday afternoon about 3P.M. & also yesterday 3P.M & stopped the picking. Pa camps there in an old house & barn he has a fire place in the house to warm his grub & sleeps in the barn we drive he come home last night it is the Hallock hop yard, they are smaller this year than commmon on account of the dry weather but they are better there than most other yards on account of the Dam & rock being above them & keeping the ground moist prune drying will commence in a week or so Harry Butzs [husband of William & Lydia (Leaming) Miller's daughter, Chloe Lucinda Miller] brother William Butz came up visiting this summer he looks lotts like Harry he will help Harry dry prunes. Elroy Jackson & two Perry boys came down yesterday to the hop yard & are camped in that little old house below the old Hallock saw mill. take good care of yourself.

Yours as ever,
Plato McFee

2) Letter from Plato to his brother, Lanada:

Dallas Ore.
Sept. 21, 1901

Dear Brother,

I did not have any envelopes & did not get any til this week so did not send what I wrote first. Elroy Jackson & the Perry boys moved to Writes (?) hop yard this week. I suppose they are done. it is raning to day. we got some rustic at the mill at Dallas and have the north side of our house covered except a foot or so at the top & this fore noon we are in the house letting it rain. it is too bad that McKinley [President William McKinley who was assassinated] had to be shot by an Anarchist. the rain will come in good to start the grass up. feed was scarce in the pastures. Joe Card has a nice S. house painted white west of the oak Dale School house. he married a school ma'am. Cass Gibson comes up to Williams the east end of Nichols place to get big fir wood. he pays $150 per cord. Sue (?) brothers bought 4 cords of young fir of me for $5.00 [illegible] cord on the road between here & the gate. take good care of yourself.

yours as ever,
Plato McFee

3) Letter from Lydia to a sister back in Minburn, Dallas Co., Iowa:

Dallas, Or.
Feb. 23, 1903

Dear Sister & all at Home,

We rec'd your last letter in due time. Willie Miller's little baby [Margery Miller, granddaughter of William & Lydia (Leaming) Miller, dau. of William & Grace (Chapin) Miller...Lydia (Leaming) Miller was the sister of Chloe Leaming, John Bryant's wife] died the 21 & was buried yesterday. they had the funeral at the house. We thought [the] funeral was at the Church. We went down to the Church & found nobody there -- the Preachers wife told us it was to be at the house & we went on down there. It died of lung fever, it was a very pretty child. it looked a little like Ruth only it had long black hair. Willie seemed to take it harder than Grace, but perhaps he couldn't control his feelings as well as she could. Ruth & Carl are both sick with cold settled in their lungs.

if Pa & Ma are coming back out here, they better come next month, as I see in the paper that the R. R. fare is reduced until the first of April. I don't know how much the reduction is, but of cours[e] it is enough to save them quite a bit. Elma wants me to tell you that she is well pleased with her ribbons. you couldn't have pleased her better, they will come handy when she starts to School. the other day she was trying to fix her pompadour & I told "she was a small kid to be a primping". Well she says "when I get big I am going to have my hair all frizzled up like Aunt Carrie's." I have her new apron made, it makes a lovely apron. she washes the dishes for me sometimes & then other times she tells me I try to put too much work on her to do. she has learned all of her letters out of her picture book that her Grandpa sent her. I had often tried to learn them to her before but she would declare that she knew them, every one. [She] is learning to sing so she can sing for her Grandma when she comes back. Can follow a tune pretty well. if Pa thinks he would feel better here they better get ready & start right off. their young ones are all big enough to take care of themselves especially since their baby got married. I forgot to tell you that I kept a half dozen of your stamp pictures, but there is only about one out of the six that looks like you.

Mrs. Cherinchir was buried yesterday. she died of consumption. Plato is trying to plow a little today. this has been a very hard winter on stock. our cattle are very poor. we didn't have near enough hay for them & the grass has been very short this winter.

Write soon,

4) Letter from Lydia her brother-in-law, Lanada McFee:

Dallas, Or.
Jan. 9, 1906

Mrs. & Mr. L. McFee & Daughters, we were glad to hear from you. it was real cute for Opal [presumably one of Lanada's children] to remember the color of my aprons. she was so little I didn't think she would remember much about her visit. it rained here all day Christmas. Ivyl & I went down to Aunt Lydia Miller's for Christmas dinner. Plato stayed here with his Pa & Elma was already down there to her Aunt Vanilla's. [Plato's sister, Vanilla McFee.] Vanilla gave me an apron already made, it came pretty good for my old ones are about played out. We done pretty well with our turkeys this fall. What we have sold came to $65-80 & we have 6 left yet to sell in the Spring. of course it wasn't all clear gain for we had to buy all the feed to feed them with. if they had all been right fat would have brought more. I expect Florence [presumably another of Lanada's children] looks quite different now that she is older. You are right. Mind about the Sun not bothering us now. I wish it would shine out warm & nice. We hope to hear from you soon.


5) Letter to a sister back in Minburn, Dallas Co., Iowa:

Dallas, Oregon
Jan. 25, 1891

Dear Sister:

I will try to ans. your good letter which we rec'd some time ago. we are having nice warn weather, almost like Spring. Nilla [nickname for Vanilla McFee, her sister-in-law] and I have been keeping batch, part of last wk. & will have 15 again this [year?] while Plato is plowing for a man down by Dallas, he has plenty of work to do at home, but owes some dribs around & wants to get a little money. I haven't been down to the valley since Christmas, the roads have been so mudy & I don't feel like riding over them. Nilla & I stayed all night with one of our neighbors by the name of Nichols last Friday night. They used to live at Placerville Cal. I asked them if they knew anyone by the name of Lyons there. They said they did know an old man & his wife, & they owned a quartz mine & were well fixed in this worlds goods, but they couldn't remember their first names, but I expect they are Lizzie's uncle & Aunt. We had some parsnips for dinner today. if the weather keeps this fine we can make garden next month.

Lanada [her brother-in-law, Lanada McFee] has gone back to Tillamook. tell Verva [her cousin, daughter of Edmund & Mattie (Warford) Bryant] to hurry up & send her letter & picture I am waiting patiently for them & Winnie's too.

I think Alma [probably Margarette Alma, daughter of William Carl & Orilla Ann (Waldo) Bryant] has given her baby an awful ugly name. if I had a dozen children I wouldn't name any of them for any of my relatives or relation-inlaw either. [Unfortunately, I don't have the names of any of her children, so don't know what this awful name was.]

I suppose Henry has gone to raising cats to sell as you say he has about 2 dozen on hands, how much does he charge a head? don't Sherman try to go with any of the girls? Charlie has left him to dance in the pig trough.

I should think it would keep Emma a scratching to keep enough cooked for all them boys. what has become of Jennie Pierce, is she just the same yet? Lizzie Luellen can't - she find some old widowes with a family already raised. I guess I better quit - I can't think of anything more to say.

write soon & often
L.J. Mc

the old man is still on a pout - he thinks I ought to beg pardon & ask his forgiveness for saying anything against his old Mason Lodge, but I think when I do it will be when I'm a bigger fool than I am now.

6) Letter from Lydia to possibly one of her nieces or nephews.

Dallas, Ore
Sept. 2, '93

We read your welcome letters last wek. always glad to hear from you. I think your story is very good, if you are as good in your other studies as you are in writting & composition, you can teach School before long.

Plato got through Threshing & we went to town yesterday, but I forgot to get any writting papers so thought I would write on this & perhaps we will go to town tomorrow & to Church & then I can mail it. we were at Nilla's [her sister-in-law, Vanilla McFee] yesterday. George [Vanilla's husband] had gone to the Coast after a load of fresh fish to peddle out.

Lanada was there he came out about a wk. ago. George & Nilla are going to take him back next wk. They are going to [torn] them a place there.

[torn] thinks this is a good place to live. he says he don't want to go back to Iowa to freeze. he thinks I don't have much flesh on my bones. he thinks I am about half as big as I used to be. the threshing is all pretty well done & hop picking will soon commence. if Ivyl was a little older I would try to pick hops but I couldn't do much in the pack with him. he is growing up fast as he can & just as mischievous as ever. a good many of the people have been to the Coast for recreation & fish but don't suppose we will go for Plato has some wood yet to haul off & Straw to haul up the hill. I suppose it will keep him busy until the rains commence. Hope this will find you all well. I hope next fall we can muscle up chink [?] enough to go & see the folks. can't bear to see Chloe [illegible] behind but suppose [torn]

7) Letter from Lydia to her sister-in-law, Vanilla McFee in Oregon after she had returned to Iowa following Plato's death:

Minburn, Ia
July 5, '06

Dear Sister & Family,

We rec'd your kind letter. had been looking for it for a long time. Elma and I just got back from Perry yesterday. Mary took us up last Saturday & then Sunday she & Doll [her sister & my great grandmother, Eliza "Doll" (Hiney) Bryant] & I drove up to the Cemetery.

We had to hunt around quite a while before we could find your Ma's & Olive's graves. I thought I could go right to them, but they are farther toward the northeast Corner than I thought for. Mary [probably her sister, Mary Bryant] & I each made wreath & put one on each of the graves. We sent Elma & Dolls little girl [probably my Great Aunt Vira, who would've been 10 years old in 1906] to Hallie Kelley's & got some sweet peas & Nasturtiam & Crimson Rambler roses & then mixed some green in & they looked quite pretty. how I wish Plato could have been laid there too. it seems like I could stand it better.

tell your Ma Cobb that I thank her very much for her kindness is decorating Plato's grave.

The Cemetery looks very pretty - they have a man to run a lawn mower over it all the time & keep it down like a carpet. it is pretty well filled up & so many pretty tomstones. they have named it Violet Hill cemetery & have the name up over the south gate. the corn fields look fine & gardens also. we have had plenty of rain.

Doll & I started out Tuesday evening to hunt Uncle Thans. we had to walk about 2 miles. Doll lives on the st. south of the house we used to own. Uncle Than was not at home, but Aunt Mary was. she is not as fleshy as she used to be. Uncle Thank & John George came down with Dolls in the evening to see me. I had to break down & have a good cry when I saw Aunt Mary, but when I saw Uncle Thank. could control myself better. Uncle is quite thin in flesh, but looks pretty well. [I have no idea who this Uncle Thans./Than/Thank could be or his wife Mary. To be Lydia's uncle, he would have to be a brother of one of her parents and neither John Bryant nor Chloe Leaming had siblings by this name. Perhaps this was one of Plato's relatives.]

I wish you could all come back here & live - it seems like a better shame here to live than out there - it is a great relief to get rid of the dirt & fleas, hope to hear from you soon.

L. J. M.

Beth Bryant & cousins, Ivyl & Irene McFee. Notice how skinny and sickly Ivyl is in this picture. He died shortly afterwards of diabetes at age 20.

GG Aunt Lydia (Bryant) McFee and her son, Ivyl are buried together. Below the names and dates is the caption: "Blessed Are the Pure in Heart For They Shall See God."

Darrel & Ken Berg
Sons of Irene & Elmer Berg
Irene (McFee) Berg


Mary Ellen was born in 1860. She married Lee Bohanan and they had no children of their own, although they adopted a son, Howard. They lived on a farm west of and near the Bryant farm on Raccoon River. They eventually moved to Minburn, having bought the house that Lydia lived in before going to live with the Bergs. Mary and Lee Bohannan and buried in the Minburn cemetery.

Below: GG Aunt Mary & Lee Bohannan. At right, their adopted son Howard with a fox he shot.


Violet (Hand) Willard, Mary (Bryant) Bohanan [GG Aunt], Doll (Bryant) Hiney [G Grandmother] Lee Bohanan [Mary's husband], Little Maple Hand, Howard Bohanan

Grave of Great, Great Aunt Mary (Bryant) and husband Lee Bohanan.
Grave of Great, Great Aunt Carrie (Bryant) and husband, Walter Bryant. NOTE: Carrie is buried in CA, NOT here.

Charles Ellsworth (Charley) was born in 1862 and married Ida M. West. The census of 1900 shows them living in Beaver Township of Dallas County, that Ida was 30 years old, and that they had one child at that time, Evelyn who was five years old. Evelyn married Oscar Olson. Charley's other child was Maxine who married Hermala Gruhn. Charley and his family moved to South Dakota in the early 1900s. In the 1930s Charley was in poor health and went to Wyoming to live with his brother, John. He died in Wyoming and was buried in the Lusk cemetery.

The photo on the right, copied from a tintype is, according to my mother, supposedly of Great, Great Uncle Charlie Bryant and his wife, Ida (Dolly) West. However, the photo on the left is definitely Charlie who, while resembling the man in the other photo, is certainly NOT the same man. If one looks carefully at the group photo of the entire Bryant family [shown above near top of page], the man in the tintype looks identical to Charlie's brother, John (Bub) Fagan Bryant. In that case, the folks in the tintype would be Great, Great Uncle Bub and his wife Candis Myers.

Eliza Mabel (Doll) [see link]

Etta was born in 1866 and died when she was only six years old. The exact cause of death is unknown, but she had severe diarrhea. Irene (McFee) Berg told the touching story of her death. "Grandmother had either made, or got someone to make, her a red dress. She was so proud of this little red dress and she asked to wear it. Then she wanted Grandfather to hold her and asked Grandmother, 'Where do little girls go when they die?' Of course Grandmother told her that Jesus would take herŅand then she was gone. I suppose in these days it could have been avoided." Etta was buried in the Myers cemetery and later moved to Minburn.

John Fagan (Bub) was born on November 3, 1870. On March 8, 1891 he married Candis Freda Myers who was then sixteen years old. They lived on a small parcel of land which was part of the family farm near Minburn. Their first son, Fred was born on June 21,1895 at Minburn and their second son, Wilbur, on August 3, 1903 in Bouton. The family moved to South Dakota, near Alpena, in March 1906. There Iris Marjory was born on June 8, 1908. She died of typhoid fever on September 26, 1910. Elvin Jay (Ted) was born on September 19, 1910 (just before Iris died). John filed on a homestead near Hat Creek, Wyoming and moved there in March, 1911.

Times were rough on the homestead and John and Candice moved to Lusk in the late 1920s. Candice opened a rest/convalescent home and John ran the livery barn for a number of years. After a fire burned the livery barn, John became caretaker at the cemetery and remained at that job until a heart attack forced him to retire in the late 1940s. He died on February 21, 1950. Candice continued for a time with the rest home and died on September 16, 1956. Both are buried in Lusk.

At right, a photo of John And Candis's son, John Wilbur ("Burr") Bryant.

William Leaming (Bird) was born in 1872. He is the only one of the nine children who reached adulthood who never married. He learned the butchering and meat cutting trade early and served as the butcher for the Bryant store in Minburn. He moved to South Dakota at about the same time as the rest of the family migrated. There he worked as a butcher in Huron for a number of years until he filed on a homestead in Wyoming and moved there about 1912. He never completed his house on the homestead, however. He left it with a dirt floor and didn't spend much time there. He was in the livestock business with the widow of Charley Hughes, a pioneer preacher. When she sold out, he and a nephew, Hugh became partners in the cattle business. Bird was always footloose. He trailed sheep for some of the neighbors to the Black Hills one summer and stayed there with them. He finally spent the remainder of his life with friends near Missoula, Montana and later in Powell, Wyoming. He had a serious stroke and spent a couple of years in a nursing home in Powell where he died.

Alpha Clark (Al) was born on July 11, 1875 at Minburn. The origin of his name. "Clark" is obviously from his Uncle Clark, but why Alpha? All of the other children have names that are Midwestern protestant names typical of the middle of the nineteenth century. Why did John and Chloe reach back to the Greek alphabet to name him? As the ninth child, one would have thought that "Omega," the last letter of the Greek alphabet, would have been more appropriate than the first letter.

He was known as Al throughout most of his life, but was known as "Beaver" around Minburn. Ed Bryant, his son, did not know about that until he was in graduate school at Iowa State College in Ames. One weekend Ed drove to Minburn and inquired around to see if anyone might have known Al Bryant who had been gone from the area at that time for 45 years or so. An old gentleman at a filling station said he knew the Bryant family, but no one by the name of Al. He said the person Ed described to him was Beaver Bryant. When Ed checked later with his cousin Hugh, he said that Al had always been known as Beaver and he told Ed how it came about. The Indians were still on the Raccoon River when Al was small and one day an Indian woman with her small boy came to the house to trade with Chloe. She pointed to her boy's eyes and then to Al's eyes which were also dark brown. Then she pointed to Al and said, "Him Beaver." The other children quickly picked it up and the nickname stuck. Apparently, when he moved from Iowa to South Dakota he was able to establish Al as his preferred name.

Al got through the fourth reader in school which was how progress was measured. That was fairly typical of the times, since boys were expected to help with the farming until the corn was harvested in the Fall and then to help again as soon as the land could be worked in the Spring He worked for the brick factory near Minburn hauling the brick clay in an ox cart from the quarry to the mill. He spent a lot of time on the River, hunting, trapping, fishing, and swimming. All of the Bryant boys did.

He was about 27 when his parents sold the farm and moved to Minburn. For a period thereafter he, with Walter Bryant, managed the Bryants' general store in Minburn. He moved to Alpena, South Dakota after John moved there in 1906. His name appears for the first time in the Alpena Journal in November, 1909 when he went to the Black Hills with Morgan Shull, Frank Shull and two other men to hunt. They came back with eight deer and apparently Al shot most of them.

The connection with the Shulls is important. Morgan (Morg) Shull and Bird were good friends and spent a lot of time hunting and fishing together. An item in the paper in March 1910 says that they had over 500 muskrat pelts that they had bagged on Sand Creek. The Shulls went to Florida for the 1910/1 winter and Bird went with them. Pearl Hunter, was a cousin of Dora Shull, sister to Frank and a daughter of Morg. When Pearl returned to Alpena in early March she went to work in a general store, a job that she had held off and on for several yeas to fill in between the times she was teaching school. Al and Frank Shull were good friends and one day Frank introduced Al to Pearl in the store. When they got out on the sidewalk, Al said, "That's the girl I'm going to marry." Six weeks later they were married in May, 1911. (Photo of Al and Pearl shown above.)

Briefly, Pearl was born near Everly, Iowa on April 20, 1879. She moved with the family to a farm near Dixon, Missouri in 1896, and taught school there and worked on the family orchard until she moved to South Dakota in the early 1900s. The exact date is uncertain. She taught school there for a number of years and she and her cousin, Dora Shull, traveled quite extensively, to Colorado, the West Coast, Florida, Illinois, and Missouri.

At the time of their marriage, Chloe (Leaming) Bryant was living with Al, John Cyrus having died in 1910. Chloe continued to live with them until her death in April, 1912. A1 and Pearl moved almost immediately to their homestead near Hat Creek, Wyoming. Life was hard for them, as it was for all dry land homesteaders. Their horses were stolen and Al and Uncle John were instrumental in catching the thieves and sending them to prison. In retaliation, Pearl and Al's house was burned along with all of their belongings.

In the middle 1920s Al and Pearl raised registered Duroc Jersey hogs. They switched to turkeys in the late 1920s, in the meantime increasing their land holdings and their cattle interests. The drought and depression years hit them hard, as they did all dry land farmers. A complicating factor was that Pearl developed breast cancer in 1932 and died on July 8, 1934. She was buried in the Lusk cemetery.

That same year, Charles and Edward went away to college and Al stayed on at the ranch. In 1941 he married Mary Ellen Leffingwell. He sold the ranch in 1945 and moved to Lusk and from there to Riverton, Wyoming. He died in February, 1962 and was buried in the Lusk cemetery.

Great, Great Uncle Al Bryant
Siblings, Great, Great Uncles & Aunt-Al, Carrie & Bird Bryant.
Ed & Charles Bryant, sons of Al & Pearl Bryant.
Ed Bryant as he looks today.

Caralyn Ella (Cad) was born at Minburn on November 8, 1878. She married Walter William Otis Bryant who was born in 1881. Walter, along with Al, managed the Bryant general store in Minburn. Presumably, he was not related to Carrie, but there are a number of parallels between the two families. Both families came from Indiana to Iowa at about the same time and both moved from Iowa to South Dakota, also at about the same time. It seems at least possib1e that there was some distant kinship with Josiah Bryant, particularly since "Josiah" appears among the given names in both families. It seems too much of a coincidence that one of the "other Bryants" was named Josiah.

Great, Great Aunt Carrie & her daughter, Phyllis Colleen Bryant Calvin.
Great, Great Aunt Carrie Bryant & husband, Walter Bryant.

Carrie's marriage to Walter was opposed by John and Chloe. She had been engaged to a lawyer from Perry, Iowa, by the name of James Dugan. She was staying with the Bohannans at the time the engagement broke up. John and Chloe took her to Oregon to stay with Lydia and Plato McFee in the hope that she would "forget" Walter. She was there from 1900 to 1902. The separation didn't work and she married Walter.

They lived in Huron, South Dakota, for many years. Their children were Phyllis Colleen, born January 29, 1904 in Minburn and Lowell Byron, born August 29, 1907 in Huron, South Dakota, so sometime between those dates is when they moved to South Dakota. Colleen was divorced in 1933 and married Oscar Olson. Lowell married Harriet Pender and died January 31, 1963. Carrie died on August 27, 1981 at the age of 103 years and nine months. Despite having a gravestone in Minburn shared with Walter, she is buried in California where she died.

Children of Carrie & Walter Bryant, Phyllis Colleen & Lowell Byron Bryant.
L-R: Great, Great Grandma Doll Bryant Hiney; Great, Great Aunt Mary Bryant Bohanan; Great, Great Aunt Lydia Bryant McFee; Margarette Alma Bryant Doxstater & her sister, Lyde Bryant Carmichael (daughters of GGG Uncle William Carl Bryant).

Great, Great Aunt Carrie; husband Walter & brother Al Bryant.
Sara Evelyn Bryant Olson
(daughter of GG Uncle Charlie & Dolly Bryant).

Back: Charlie Gardiner [Verva's husband], Verva (Bryant) Gardiner, Inez (Bryant) Parcel, George Parcel [Inez's husband]. Edmund Bryant [GG Uncle] Beth (Bryant) Lage, Ralph Lage [Beth's husband] Front: Glen Gardiner, Mattie (Warford) Bryant [Edmund's wife], Fern (Bryant) Shearer, Roland Parcel, Kenneth Bryant, Marie (Ellsworth) Bryant [Hugh's wife], Hugh Bryant

Bryant Reunion - Perry Daily Chief - Wednesday, August 30, 1967, Perry, Iowa:

Five Generations Gather in Perry
by Doris Uken

Family reunions in Pattee Park are commonplace but the gathering of the Bryant clan here last weekend was different than most. It last over the entire weekend and brought together for their fifth annual reunion five generations of the descendants of John and Chloe Bryant, Dallas County pioneers, who were married 125 years ago.

The original Bryants had 10 children, and the only one now surviving, Carolyn (Carrie) Bryant Bryant [she married a Bryant], was among those attending the reunion. Now 87 years old, she makes her home in Manilla, Iowa.

Youngest members of the family present, representing the sixth generation of John Bryant descendants, were little Scott Ellett, son of Gary and Judy Ellett, and Jimmie Shearer, son of David and Judy Shearer, all of Perry.

The large group of Bryant relatives, more than 60 of them, used the camping area in Pattee Park as the site of this year's reunion with some of those coming from distant points camping out in tents and campers. Much visiting, considerable horseplay, games and music provided warmth in the chilly temperature as the group enjoyed a merry songfest with guitar and "fiddle" accompaniments.

Relatives from Wyoming and Colorado had come prepared for Iowa's summertime heat and humidity so there was much scrounging around for warmer clothing and sleeping garments when the temperature dropped to surprising lows.

John and Chloe Bryant were married in Adel April 15, 1842, and homesteaded on the Raccoon River west of Minburn. Chloe Leaming Bryant was born in Rhode Island [no! - she was born in LaPorte Co., Indiana] but she lived in Adel as a child and her father was a court official in Adel. He had come to America from England [no! - Judah Leaming was born in Middletown, CT - his great, great grandfather, Christopher Leaming is the one who emigrated from England] and had a law degree.

"Aunt Carrie" Bryant had stories to tell the younger generations at the reunion about early days in Dallas County. She remembered seeing Indians going up and down the river and sometimes they stopped at the Bryant home to beg for food. They especially liked to come when the Bryants were making maple sugar from the sap of maple trees in the area.

Next year the Bryant clan plans to have another reunion, probably at Meadowlark Lake in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Last year they gathered at Douglas, Wyo.

Iowa relatives who attended the reunion this year were: Mrs. Myrtle Ellis, George and Inez Parcel, Mrs. Mavis Kuehl and daughters, Maureen and Coral, Paul and Fern Shearer, Hugh and Marie Bryant, Gary and Judy Ellett and son Scott , David and Judy Shearer and son Jimmie, Barbara Shearer , Wesley and Arlene Bryant and children, Jan, Jeff and Jay, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Bosier, Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Lambson and Jim Bosier, all of Perry.

Also, Mrs. Carolyn Bryant, Manilla; Lester and Pearl Parcel, Scranton; Fred and Mary Edna Gardner and sons, Dale and Larry, Guthrie Center; Glen Gardner, Mrs. Maple Voge, Clarence and Vira McMurray, Elmer and Irene Berg, and Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Greenly, all of Des Moines. Also Mr. and Mrs. Riley Bosier, Dawson; and Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Bryant, Woodward.

From Wyoming were Fred and Hattie Bryant, Lusk; Ted and Betty Bryant and son Teddy, Powell; Jim and Neva, Kenneth and Rocky Bryant and Joyce Giovanini, Greybull.

Colorado relatives were Wilbur and Joy Bryant, Mrs. Berty Bowens and children, Candace and John, all of Denver, and Henry and Coleen Kreagear and children, Barbara and Archie, all of Arvada.

Family members who traveled the longest distance to attend the reunion here were the Ted Bryant family from Powell, Wyo.


Back: Lydia (Bryant) McFee [GG Aunt], Kirk Hiney [G Grandfather], Doll (Bryant) Hiney [G Grandmother] Verva (Bryant) Gardiner, Lyde (Bryant) Carmichael, Charles Gardiner [Verva's husband] Mary (Bryant) Bohanan [GG Aunt], Fern Thompson [Bill's wife]. Vira (Hiney) McMurray [G Aunt] Mattie (Warford) Bryant [Edmund's wife] Front: William Carmichael [Lyde's husband], Beth (Bryant) Lage, Lee Bohanan [Mary's husband] Bill Thompson, William Bryant, Howard Bohanan

I'd be happy to exchange family information.
Please send e-mail to Sam Behling.

See lineage of Bryant Family

Read the Biography of John's father Josiah Bryant

Read the Autobiography of Irene McFee Berg,
granddaughter of John & Chloe Bryant
whose husband, Plato was killed in a gun accident.

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