Josiah Bryant

The few things that can be documented about my 3rd Great Grandfather, Josiah Bryant are that he was born December 8, 1790, that he was living in White County, Tennessee when the 1820 census was taken, that he moved to Indiana and appears in the censuses of 1830, 1840 and 1850, that he moved to Iowa and appears in the special Iowa census of 1856, having been in Iowa for three years at that time, and that he died on September 16, 1869 and was buried in the Kimrey cemetery, a small private cemetery about two or three miles south of Minburn, Iowa. The special census of deaths taken for the year 1859 shows that he died on "lung fever" [pneumonia] and that he had been ill for 18 days.

Less is known about his wife, Nancy (____). The census of 1850 was the first census to list the names and ages of the members of the household. Earlier censuses listed only the name of the head of the household and the number of persons in the household who fell into certain age groups. The 1820 census shows that Josiah was living in White County, Tennessee and that a woman, age 26-45, was in the household and that there was a female child less than 10 years old. One must assume that the woman was Nancy and the child Eliza. The censuses of 1856 and 1860 show that Nancy was 65 years old in 1856 and 69 years old in 1860, thus she was born either in the last half of 1790 or the first half of 1791. The maiden name of Nancy is unknown. When and where she died and where she is buried are unknown.

She could be buried in the Kimrey cemetery with Josiah, but there is no headstone for her. Her ancestry is unknown, as is that of Josiah, and no marriage record for them has been found. Ed Bryant, who did most of the research on the Bryant line, interviewed several family members (all grandchildren of John and Chloe Bryant) in 1983. One of them remembered her mother (Chloe) saying that Nancy had red hair, blue eyes and was Irish. She had cancer and Chloe took care of her.

Where Josiah and Nancy were born remains a mystery. The census of 1850 shows them living in Parke Co., Indiana. In the census taker's records it was reported (presumably by John or Nancy or both of them) that they were born in South Carolina. This origin was never repeated in any of the other censuses. The special Iowa census of 1856 shows Josiah living in Sugar Grove Township, Dallas County. That census reports that they were both born in Virginia. The 1860 census of deaths in 1859 shows Josiah to have been born in North Carolina. Nancy was living with her son, John at the time of the 1860 census and is reported to have been born in North Carolina. The 1870 census shows John's mother to have been born in Virginia.

Their son Lewis appears in the censuses of 1860, 1880 and 1900. In each of them he reports that he was born in Virginia. In 1880 he reported that his father and mother were born in Virginia. In 1900 he reported that his father was born in Tennessee and his mother was born in Wales! Daughter Eliza reported in 1880 that her father was born in Virginia (no state given for her mother), and that she was born in Tennessee. However, the census of 1870 shows her as having been born in Alabama! There is one brief note in a book of Tennessee marriages about the marriage of a Josiah Bryan to Nancy Tallent in Knox County, but the date of the marriage is given as August 30, 1820. Eliza would have been a year old by then. The names Bryan and Bryant were often misspelled in the records. It is possible that Josiah and Nancy were married in the wilderness which was then Tennessee by almost any kind of preacher they could find and that they decided to do it right in 1820. That is speculative and seems unlikely, but it could be true.

Some of the confusion about where Josiah and Nancy were born may be understood better (but not entirely explained) by looking at early Tennessee history. Prior to the Revolutionary War there were very few people, other than Indians, west of the Allegheny Mountains. By a proclamation of 1763 the British prohibited settlement west of the mountains, but a few hardy souls went anyway. The northeastern comer of Tennessee is believed to have been "settled" in about 1769. When the Revolutionary War began the early settlers had a tough time of it because the British encouraged the Indians to cause trouble. The four principal settlements in what is now Tennessee were loyal to the Revolution and, when the War began, organized their separate governments into the Washington District. The Transylvania Company, interested in settling the region, bought a huge tract of land from the Cherokee Indians. It included much of northern Tennessee and southern Kentucky.

As a result of the War, Virginia claimed all of the area from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River north of its present day southern boundary, as far north as Maryland to the western boundary of Pennsylvania, and west of that to the Great Lakes. In doing so they nullified the Transylvania purchase. In 1784 they ceded what is now Kentucky and parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to the United States. Kentucky was admitted as a state in 1792, two years after Josiah was born. Boundaries were very uncertain west of the mountains, however, and there was an area in eastern Tennessee north of the Holston River (one of the original four settlements) in which the residents believed they were living in Virginia. Thus, anyone born there in 1790 could logically believe that he was born in Virginia, although, in reality, the area is a part of what is now Tennessee.

Most of Tennessee was actually a part of North Carolina after the Revolutionary War, since North Carolina claimed all of the land west to the Mississippi River south of the (later established) Kentucky border and south to the claim of South Carolina. That state claimed a narrow strip of land from its present western boundary west to the Mississippi. The northern boundary of the strip was a westward extension of the northernmost part of South Carolina. The southern boundary was a westward extension of the westernmost point connecting South Carolina and Georgia. Within a small area, then, we have claims of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Is there any wonder that the confusion arose?

The eastern part of Tennessee almost became the State of Franklin in about 1784, but the jurisdiction of the new state was overturned by the Continental Congress in 1789. Tennessee became a state in 1796 with the formation of its constitution. Note, then, that if Josiah and Nancy were born in that part of what is now Tennessee that was inaccurately considered at the time to be a part of Virginia, it had in reality been a part of North Carolina.

As a result of all of the above, it seems likely that Josiah and Nancy were born in what is now East Central Tennessee. At least that supposition is consistent with the confused reporting of their birthplaces by the Census Bureau.

It is likely that a close relative of Josiah lived near Josiah and Nancy in 1820. The census of that year shows, on the same census page, a William Bryant between 26 and 45 years of age, a woman in the same age range, three females under 10 years of age and two females in the age range 10 to 25. Since this family appears on the same census page as Josiah and Nancy they would have been neighbors because of the way the census was taken. It seems likely that William and Josiah were brothers. No other reference to William was found in the census records of Tennessee or Indiana, so that part of the family probably moved somewhere else. Either that or William died and his wife remarried in which case the name of the family head would have been something different in 1830.

It is known that there were Bryants in what is now Eastern Tennessee long before 1790. For example, on July 11, 1776, a message was sent to the officers of Fincastle County from John Sevier at Fort Lee as follows: "Dear Gentlemen: Isaac Thomas, William Falling, Jarrett Williams, and one more (seemingly John Bryant or Bryan) have this moment come in by making their escape from the Indians and say six hundred Indians and whites were to start for this fort, and intend to drive the country up to New River before they return." John Bryant appears frequently in the early records of Tennessee and was apparently an important land owner. He and Thomas Bryant were on the tax list for Greene County in 1783.

There was also a Peter Bryant who was an officer in the army. He played an important role in the early history of Tennessee. Another Bryant by the name of James was in Buchanan's Fort during an Indian attack, September 30, 1792. He was also summoned for Davidson County jury duty in 1788. A William Bryant received a land grant in 1812 for service in the Revolutionary Army, and Jesse Bryant was on a pension list in 1818 for service as a private in the Virginia Army. There are various other Bryants (or Bryans, or Briants) who received land grants for service in the militia. There was also, at one time, a "Bryant's Ford" on the Cumberland River.

At the time of the census of 1820, taken as of the first Monday in August, Josiah and Nancy were living in White County, Tennessee. At the time of the 1830 census taken on June 1, Josiah and Nancy were living in Lawrence County, Indiana.

One can imagine that the trip from Tennessee to Indiana was not an easy one. The 1856 census shows that Clark was born in Tennessee, so the family must have moved some time between 1827 and 1830. It is possible that they were still in transit in 1830. The north-south trails were still pretty primitive in the late 1820s, and Kentucky is quite a mountainous state, particularly in its southeastern pan. A likely route would have been to stay west of the mountains, following the Kentucky River to the Ohio and crossing that stream by ferry boat. Lawrence County is in south central Indiana.

There is no way of knowing for sure why they left Tennessee. White County is in an area of Tennessee which is primarily limestone that is poorly covered with top soil except along the river bottoms. If Josiah was a farmer, and it is likely that he was, the lack of good farmland would certainly not have appealed to him. He does not appear in the land records of White County, so he was either a squatter without land rights or he farmed land as a tenant. In either case, the availability of the rich land of Indiana must have beckoned to him.

Apparently, however, Lawrence County was not the place he was looking for, because the census of 1840 found him in LaPorte County which touches the shore of Lake Michigan. Judah Leaming, my Great Grandfather, moved from there to Iowa in about 1839, so it may be that the two families became acquainted during the time that they both lived in LaPorte County.

LaPorte County still wasn't the place they were seeking, and the census of 1850 found them in Parke County which is near the western edge of Indiana with Rockville as its county seat. This was the first census that listed all members of the household by name. The census record also shows that Josiah owned $1,000 of real estate so one might assume that he had finally settled down. If so, one would have assumed incorrectly, because the special census of 1856 taken in Iowa shows him to be in Dallas County, and that he had been in Iowa for three years.

A newspaper clipping from the Daily Chief and Chief Advertiser about Josiah's grandson, Edmund, says that Josiah and Nancy settled near Ottumwa and moved to Dallas County in 1855. This may be correct because the special census of 1854 does not list Josiah in Dallas County, but the special census of 1856 does. Josiah died in Dallas County on September 16, 1859, ending a long journey. Nancy was living with her son, John, in 1860 and doesn't appear again in the census records. It seems likely that she died between 1860 and 1870. None of the censuses except that of 1860 show Nancy living with the John Bryant family.

Josiah Bryant
Sept. 16, 1869
78 yrs. 9 mos.


Kimrey Cemetery

Near Minburn,

Dallas Co., Iowa

Josiah died intestate and his estate had to settle in court.

In the matter of the Estate of Josiah Bryant

Proof of Heirship
Filed in my office
Nov 3rd 1866

J. Perkins
Co. Judge

Petition for the appoint(ment) of Administrator of the estate of Josiah Bryant

J. Perkins
Co. Judge

To the County Court of Dallas Co. Iowa

Your petitioner William Elder represents to the Court that heretofore to wit on the 19th day of September 1859 one Josiah Bryant late citizen of Dallas County Iowa departed this life. That at the time of the death of said Josiah Bryant he was the owner of a large amount of personal and real property which are now of the assets of his Estate. That there has never been an Administrator of said Estate appointed. That this Estate is largely indebted to various persons and that your petitioner is a Creditor of said Estate.

Petitioner therefore prays that some suitable person may be appointed Administrator of said Estate.

Wm. Elder
By J R Reed his atty

I J R Reed do solemnly swear that I am the Attorney of the above petitioner Wm Elder and that the matters set forth in the above affidavit are true.

J R Reed

Subscribed & Sworn to before me by J R Reed this 19th day of February 1861.

J Perkins
Co. Judge

State of Iowa )
ss )
Dallas County )

Be it remembered that on this third day of November A.D. 1866-before me John Warford Clerk of the District Court of the State of Iowa (folded crease╔probably "in the county") of Dallas personally appeared Thomas West and Samuel H. Myers of said County of Dallas who being by me duly sworn depose and say-That they reside in the County of Dallas, are farmers by occupation and are of this age towit-the said Thomas West thirty seven years and the said Samuel Myers Twenty nine years. That we (they) are personally acquainted during his lifetime with Josiah Bryant late of said Dallas County deceased. That the said Josiah Bryant left surviving him Nancy Bryant widow who is still living and resides at the same place where her husband died. That the said Josiah Bryant left as children and heirs as (illegible) Eliza Bryant who intermarried with James Hastings sometime during the year A.D. 1858 and (line missing-possibly "who resided with said Nancy and") said Josiah Bryant. She now resides with her husband in said Dallas County. Clarke Bryant who now resides in Des Moines Polk Co. Iowa and was married in Indiana before these deponents had any acquaintance with him. Sidney who intermarried with Joseph A. Thompson sometime during the year A.D. 1854 and now resides with her husband in Boone County Indiana. John Bryant who intermarried with Chloe Leming (sic) sometime during the year A.D. 1855 and now resides in said Dallas County. William Bryant who intermarried with Orilla Ann Waldo during the year A.D. 1862 and now resides in said Dallas County. That the said William Bryant is the youngest of the children and is now twenty nine years of age. These deponents further say that they have been intimately with the family of the said Josiah Bryant since sometime before his death fully believes that if there had (line missing-possibly "been other children of Josiah") Bryant they would certainly have known of them. That they heirs above indicated are all that they ever had any knowledge of and fully believe that no others exist. These deponents further say that to the best of their knowledge and belief the said Josiah Bryant died intestate and the above named heirs are the only ones interested in the estate of said Josiah Bryant. These deponents further say that they are in no manner interested in said estate or the matters in this deposition contained and further say not.

Thomas West
S. H. Myers

Subscribed and Sworn to before me this 3rd day of November AD 1866.

John Warford Clerk

Much of the research on the BRYANT family was done by Ed Bryant, a great grandson of Josiah. During his interviews, Ed Bryant found information about each of Josiah and Nancy's children, though it is sketchy.

Eliza was born in Tennessee before 1820 and traveled with the family to Indiana and from there to Iowa. On January 9, 1859 when she was about 40 she married James Hastings who was a widower with a daughter, Emma, who was then about three or four yeas old. Eliza had no children of her own. James was a farmer, seven years older than Eliza, and by 1870 was reported to own $2,000 in real estate. By 1880 Eliza was a widow and Emma, 24, was still living with her. Eliza was buried in the Myes Cemetery and later moved to the Minburn Cemetery.

Lewis is a hard person to track in the census records. He was born in Tennessee (presumably) in 1823, but all of his census reports show him having been born in Virginia. Ed Bryant wondered at times whether he was a member of the Josiah Bryant family, but Ed's father, Al, knew him and said definitely that he was a brother to John. He was omitted in the Proof of Heirship (above). Great, great Aunt Carrie, in a letter to Inez (Bryant) Parcel omitted him in a list of the members of the family. Ed Bryant's best guess is that he was a member of the family but was something of a maverick.

A listing of early marriages of Dallas County shows that Lewis married Margaret A. Overman on October 24, 1858. The census of 1860 shows that she was born in North Carolina and that they had one eleven month old child, James M. Lewis was a farmer at that time. He wasn't found in the 1870 census, but appears again in the census of 1880, which shows that he was born in Virginia in 1823. This date is probably correct, since it also appears in the census of 1900. Tennessee rather than Virginia is probably correct, however, as much as Josiah and Nancy they moved around it is possible they went to Virginia. In 1880 Lewis lived in Adel Township and his children are listed as Josiah, 13; Ulysses, 10; and Francis, 8. Jacob Overman (40) lived with them. He was a brother to Margaret.

There are no available census records for 1890, but the census of 1900 shows that Lewis B. and Margaret were living in a rented home in Boone and that Johanna Schlieman was their housekeeper. It also shows that Lewis was born in 1823. Margaret was born in 1827. Lewis was a Civil War Pensioner.

Inez (Bryant) Parcel reported to Ed that Lewis had been in the Civil War and lived with the Edmund Jay Bryant family when Inez was a little girl. This could have been after the census of 1900. Inez' mother, Mattie, told her to handle Uncle Lew's handkerchiefs carefully because he had the "Andersonville cough", which seemingly would indicate he was in the notorious Andersonville prison. However, the notoriety of Andersonville was so great, the term "Andersonville cough" may have applied to anyone who came home from any prison with a bad cough. Ed searched the Iowa records of Civil War soldiers and didn't find a record of his service. However, it was common for draftees to pay someone else to serve for them, and maybe he used another name. The fact that he was drawing a pension in 1900 is pretty conclusive evidence that he served in the War. One can assume that his son Ulysses S., born in 1870, was named for General Grant.

Clark was of some special interest to Ed since that is Ed's middle name. Ed found it unusual that the first two sons of Josiah and Nancy should be named Lewis and Clark. Lewis was a fairly common given name at that time, but Clark was not. Was the family connected in some way with the families of the two famous explorers, or simply named after them? It is true that volunteers from what is now Tennessee joined the forces of General John Rogers Clark (a brother of William, the famous explorer), but that is a pretty thin connection. Both Merriwether Lewis and William Clark came from Virginia near Charlottsville, so possibly the very early roots of the family were there. There is simply no way of knowing. After Lewis and Clark made their famous trip across the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis became the governor of the territory for a while and was stationed in St. Louis. He was not a very successful governor, however, and was recalled. He went to Tennessee and died there in 1909 near what was known as the Natchez Trace. That is the area from which Ed thinks Josiah and Nancy came. So, if there is any link between the Bryant family and Lewis and Clark it is unknown.

Clark traveled with the family to Indiana, but married fairly young and started farming on his own in Parke County. In 1850 he was 22 and his wife, Lucinda, was two years his junior. Almost immediately thereafter they moved to Iowa because the specia1 censuses of Iowa of 1854 and 1856 show that he had been in Iowa for six years in 1856. Thus, he preceded the movement of Josiah and Nancy and the rest of the family to Iowa by three years. In 1856 Clark had an 80 acre farm and two children, John (5), and Malinda (3).

Clark does not appear in any of the other Iowa censuses, but it is known that he moved to Kansas. He appears there in the 1900 census and was living with his son-in-law Shepard R. Sayre.

A story related Ed's father by someone in the family claimed that Clark traveled west to see Pike's Peak. On the way he killed an Indian who attacked him. There is no way to verify the story.

Sidney (a woman) was born in Indiana (probably in Lawrence County) in 1831 and moved with the family to Iowa. She married Joseph A Thompson on August 31, 1854 which would have been the year after she moved to Iowa. She was then 23 years old. Thompson had moved to Iowa in 1852 from Indiana. The Census of 1880 indicates that he was born in Kentucky, that his father had been born in Kentucky also and that his mother had been born in Tennessee. It appears that there had been a substantial migration of farmers from Tennessee to Indiana and then to Iowa because of the number of marriages among persons with that general background.

The census of 1880 shows that the family consisted of Joseph and Sidney, a son by the name of James M. 25 years old, a daughter Ella P. 18, and a son, W. Burton aged 13. The census shows that the last two were born in Indiana. There was also a son by the name of Martin, but where he came in the birth order is unknown. Some time after 1880 the family moved to Pomona, California.

John Cyrus (see link).

William Carl was born in Indiana in 1836, moved to Iowa and was 1iving with Josiah and Nancy at the time of the census of 1856. All of the other children had left home by that time except Eliza. On May 24, 1863 he married Orilla Ann Waldo who had been born in Ohio and was about 19 yeas old at the time. The census of 1880 shows that they had five children, Margarette A. (16), John Winchester - known as Chet (14), Josiah L. (11), Mary E. (7) and Charles L. (1). They had at least one other child. One was killed in an interurban accident in Perry. This may have been Josiah, although the dates don't quite agree, since there is a tombstone in the Myers cemetery which has the inscription "Josiah Bryant, Died 12 Jun 1898, 32 years, 5 months, 29 days."

Shortly before his marriage, William served in the Civil War. He enlisted as a private in the Seventeenth Infantry on March 12, 1862 and was discharged at Jackson (state unknown) on October 12, 1862, so he served only seven months. He was in the Mississippi campaign and was in two battles. The record reads:

Regiment mustered into service with Jno. W. Rankin as Colonel April 16, 1862. New volunteers reached Mississippi in time to assist at the siege of Corinth. Their part taken earlier in the battle of Iuka received the censure of Rosecrans. Smarting under this the command went into the battle of Corinth determined to wipe out the stain on its reputation. General C. Goddard wrote, "Seventeenth Iowa Infantry by its gallantry in the battle of Corinth on the fourth of October, charging the enemy and capturing the flag of the Fortieth Mississippi, has amply atoned for its misfortune at Iuka and stands among the honored regiments of his command.

Since the Battle of Corinth took place only eight days prior to his release, the "Jackson" where he was discharged must have been Jackson, Mississippi.

The land records of Dallas County, Iowa, show that on March 4, 1865 James and Eliza Hastings (see above) sold 50 acres of land to William C. Bryant for $350.

The obituary of one of William Carl's sons, John ("Chet") Winchester Bryant appears at right.





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

See lineage of Bryant Family

Read the Biography of Josiah's son John Bryant

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

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