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Monday, April 30. 2012
So, in 1842, Shaw Wallace, one of my great grandfathers, found his way to Texas!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, April 27. 2012
My dad told me the following story about him and about my familyâ€™s past association with the Klan, yes the Ku Klux Klan. It all began on the hot, dusty, smoke covered battlefield of Chickamauga, where our Southern, Army of Tennessee, routed the Union forces, driving them out of Georgia, back across the Tennessee River and into Chattanooga.
In early 1862, my Great Grandfather, Brinson Murrill Bryan, had been in Sumpter County, Alabama, visiting relatives when he enlisted in the 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment. He was a sharpshooter and was attached to and later permanently assigned to the 10th Texas Cavalry Regiment (Dismounted), and finished the war with them.
During the opening morning of the battle of Chickamauga, Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, became separated from his cavalry division and assumed command of Ectorsâ€™ Brigade (Texas), the 10th Texas Cavalry, Brinsonâ€™s unit, being part of this Brigade. They held a key bridge over a creek and prevented Union reinforcements from reaching the main breach in the Union lines. The tenacity and courage of the Texans excited Forrest, who later said, â€œWhen the Texans charged at Chickamauga, it excited my admiration.â€
One year later, during Gen. Hoodâ€™s disastrous retreat from Nashville, Forrest was assigned to command the rear guard. His choice of troops for this grinding, week long battle was a Texas Cavalry Brigade and two Texas regiments of dismounted cavalry, the10th being one. The Texans won each battle and skirmish and was even recognized by Union Gen. Thomas, who said, â€œHoodâ€™s Army on the retreat from Tennessee was a bunch of disorganized rabble. But the rear guard, however, was undaunted and firm, and did its work bravely to the last.â€
After the war ended, the South was in chaos, Reconstruction was beginning, noticeably absent was law and order and influential Southern leaders, Forrest being one, joined together and formed a protective association that grew into the Ku Klux Klan. Brinson, who had "Rode With Forrest", returned to Alabama to marry, and, if Bedford Forrest was a founder, that was all Brinson needed, and he joined this new association and for a time was an active member. My dad told me that my grandfather, Peyton Bryan, had also been a member.
When my dad was 19, he joined the Klan in Falls County, Texas, and his first assignment was to take part in a Klan rally and march in a parade through the town of Marlin. My Dad put on his sheet and joined in the rally and parade. After the parade was over, the Klansmen removed their hoods and sheets and retired to the local saloon.
Soon the Sheriff entered the saloon and said, â€œThere was no parade permit issued so Iâ€™m arresting everyone who took part in it! Everybody line up against the wall!â€ My Dad, being smart, said, â€œSheriff, I have been standing at this bar during the parade, drinking this cold glass of butter milk and Iâ€™m not guilty of anything.â€
Grabbing him by the arm, the Sheriff escorted him bodily to the wall and said to him, â€œJohnny, my boy, your boots are dusty. They didnâ€™t get that way from standing at the bar! Youâ€™re under arrest!â€
After spending the night in the Falls County Jail, the â€œparadersâ€ were released and my Dad resigned from the Klan. He didnâ€™t even get to finish his cold, buttermilk.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 20:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, December 7. 2011
How could this be happening? That was the Nationâ€™s question on the morning of December 8, 1941. Roy Bryanâ€™s question was how did I, a civilian, end up in a shallow trench on a beach on the Island of Oahu, with a 16 gauge, Winchester, sawed off shotgun, watching the sun come up over Diamond Head, waiting for the inevitable Japanese invasion?
The Bryan family has always had an urge for new, different things and to keep moving west. Uncle Roy was my dadâ€™s brother and his urge caused him to leave Texas and migrate to Hawaii in 1939. By then, he was already, like his dad, Peyton, had been, a skilled carpenter and there was plenty of work available and waiting for Roy in the Islands.
It all started on December 6, a Saturday. Roy, 25 at the time, was a carpenter and had been doing some interior work on a battleship for the Navy and while working there he had become friends with some of the sailors. There was a big party in Honolulu that night and he was going to attend with his sailor friends. He hoped it wouldnâ€™t be an all nighter, because he had also planned to go fishing later in Aiea Bay, eat an early breakfast, then sleep most of Sunday.
The party, like all big parties, was loud and crowded, but the exceptionally pretty girls kept him there to almost midnight. His sailor friends invited him to come back to the ship with them and spend the night there. He replied, â€œNo thanks buddies, Iâ€™m going fishing in the bay and sleep in most of tomorrow. Iâ€™ll see all you all on Monday.â€
The fishing was good as usual and he had a nice â€œmessâ€ for supper that night. The morning was breaking and he enjoyed the sight of Ford Island and Battleship Row across the bay. It was just after 8:00 AM and Roy thought that it was a good time to be rounding up his gear and heading back. From out of the north he could hear airplanes, nothing unusual since our Country was beefing up our Pacific defenses because our relations with Japan were rapidly deteriorating.
The planes kept coming, and when they cleared the hills, he could see they werenâ€™t the big, B17s, that had been ferrying in, just single engine planes that didnâ€™t look like the F4Fâ€™s or SBDâ€™s that flew off of our carriers. Strange, but as the planes came screaming in, he could clearly see the red ball on the wings and fuselages, just as the first torpedoes were released, their targets being our battleships â€“ Japs!
He could hear the rattling of machine guns, then feeling the concussions from the thunderous explosions, with his mind racing his first action, as the battleships were being hit, was to get behind a coconut tree, peer around it and watch the spectacle. He clearly saw the Arizona, or the ship berthed beside it, being hit, then there was a great explosion and he thought of his friends aboard who had invited him to spend the night with them. The poor guys! Then, the torpedo planes, finishing their work, along with their fighter escorts, were leaving.
He moved to gather up his gear, when he heard more planes approaching from the east. More Jap planes, more death, more destruction, as he snuggled down behind his tree and watched the bombers pound our Pacific Fleet. The harbor was all confusion, ships exploding and maneuvering trying to keep the channel clear, fires raging on the ships and on shore, sirens screaming and black smoke spiraling skyward! A scene from hell! And, even though he had watched every minute of the attack, but for fate, he could have been more in the middle of it and doomed on the U.S.S. Arizona!
The Japs flew away and Roy thought, this means war with Japan. Finally moving off of the beach he tried to drive toward Pearl Harbor, but the roads were closed. He was stopped and told martial law had been imposed and he was to report to â€œsuch and such a placeâ€ and await orders, his guess was that all able bodied men had been â€œdraftedâ€ into the service, or home defense.
The officials were positive the Japs would invade the Islands, Oahu especially, and, he was right, all able bodied men were guarding the beach for the next several nights. No invasion, but the world and the Hawaiian Islands, along with Roy, would forever change after that day, December 7, 1941!
Roy Bryan told me this story when I visited him just before his death, wanting to make sure that it was recorded and saved for future generations. Having visited the U.S.S. Arizona monument in Honolulu Bay several times, there are 2 Bryans forever entombed in the ship (no relation), but for a quirk of fate, Uncle Roy would be there too.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, August 13. 2011
Both families had taken advantage of the cool morning to do some exploring and try to find some coveys of quail. Back in the mid 70â€™s, we, the Schroderâ€™s and my family, were looking for quail in the higher, desert elevations, along a creek, southeast of Phoenix when one of the girls spotted what looked like a cave nestled under a rock overhang.
Closer inspection showed it to be a cave, at least 7 feet tall, extending back into the bank 20 feet, or more. As the girls walked into it, they noticed a rock ledge running along the back, the ledge was around five and a half foot tall and they couldnâ€™t see what was stored on it. They called to Jake and I to come runninâ€™ and see what was up there. He and I were astonished with their find, because up on the shelf was the remnant of a straw basket and in the basket were what looked like, at one time, fletched arrows, but over time the fletching had deteriorated.
As we removed the basket it fell apart, but definitely, once, the basket had been an arrow container. There were no arrow points, or arrowheads, to be found anywhere, just long, uniform, arrow shafts, but the hard work of fletching the arrows had already been done. Looking over the shelf and standing on my tiptoes, back in the shadows, was a turned over rock.
The last smooth rock that I had seen turned out to be, when I turned it over, a matate, or Indian corn grinder. When an Indian village was attacked, many times the women would just turn over their matates and high tail it out of there. Attackers wouldnâ€™t notice the â€œrocksâ€, but if a matate was found, it was summarily destroyed. At the time, the thinking was that if you couldnâ€™t grind corn, youâ€™d starve!
Jake gave me a boost as I wedged myself into the rock shelf and, expecting to see a rattler, I carefully turned over the rock. No rattler, but a partially worn matate along with its mano (the grinding tool). Finders keepers, as I tugged both to the edge of the shelf and hefted the 60 pound rock, the matate, to my shoulder. It would be long carry back to our trucks, over 2 miles and one of the girls gave me a hand towel to put as a cushion on my shoulder, saving the day for toting the rock out of there.
Long and heavy carry it was, three cross country moves, a divorce and 40 year later, Bradley, my grandson and I photographed the mano and matate at his place. Now it belongs to Bradleyâ€™s Mom, Bradâ€™s widow, and he and I thought that this story should be saved for posterity!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, February 21. 2011
Today, even though I have walked away from a head on accident prior to seat belts and air bags, heard the zip of .308 bullets fired over and around my head, slid and fell down a steep canyon wall only missing a 200 foot drop by inches, lived through 5 tornadoes, been in the eye of 4 hurricanes and survived a 120 car, fog bound, pile up on Beltway 8 outside of Houston, through all of that youâ€™d think that fear would only be a word that I just use! However, when I go into a doctorâ€™s office, I experience a terrible case of â€œwhite frightâ€ my blood pressure goes up twenty to thirty points, my heart rate up twenty beats or more per minute and I have even fainted while getting a shot in my arm and, just think, all of this was caused by a dog bite when I was 5 years old.
As I was running outside and the door slammed shut, the last words I heard Aunt Myree say to me were, â€Jon Howard, you be careful and donâ€™t play with that dog!â€ â€œThat dogâ€ in question was a terrier mix and my aunt and uncle, Myree and A.C. Turner, had it on a leash, attached to a clothesline in their backyard because it had been acting funny. Their backyard was in Huntsville, Texas, one block off of old Highway 75 and my mom, dad and I had gone up to spend a weekend with them and their two, young sons, Bill and Roy Peyton, known then as â€œBubbaâ€.
Once outside, being five years old, the first thing I did was go right up to the dog and try to play with it and it responded, not very playfully, by jumping up on my chest and biting me! The dog went for my throat, but because of its restraints could only jump to my chest. Inside I ran bleeding and crying, not caring about all of the â€œwe told you soâ€™sâ€ heaped on me.
The biting event occurred on a Saturday morning and the first thing Monday the dog was euthanized and my uncle took its head to Austin, and sure enough, the dog was rabid. My family got the results on Thursday and Friday morning found me and my mom and dad in Dr. Talleyâ€™s offices, in the old Medical Arts Building, in downtown Houston, for the first of 22 rabies shots, spaced around my navel, timed every other day. It was the biggest needle I had ever seen, and thinking back, it must have had one or two ounces of an unpleasant looking, green serum.
The shots saved my life, but by the third morning, I resisted the shot so bad, that before it could be administered, it took 4 adults to hold me down with me being only 5. This went on for the next 19 shots and scarred me forever.
Saturday, October 23. 2010
Since Colonial times, during the Revolution and the War of 1812,which actually was an extension of the Revolution, my forefathers answered their call to arms and served their colony and country.Â In writing a book about my forefathers, I have uncovered some very interesting facts that follow!
In â€œColonial Soldiers Of The South, 1732- 1774â€, a Poll dated June 13, 1748, Lewis Saunders, my 6G Grandfather served in the Virginia Militia, in Fairfax County, George Masonâ€™s District (Mason is recognized as the father of our Bill of Rights), in Maj. Lawrence Washingtonâ€™s Company, in Col. George Washingtonâ€™s Regiment. Â
Farther south in the Colony of North Carolina, in what is now Onslow County, on Friday October 24, 1754, Colonel John Starkeyâ€™s regiment of foot, met for muster and training at Jonathan Miltonâ€™s residence on New River.Â Since the Spaniards had recently attacked Georgiaâ€™s outer islands the troops were formed to meet an expected Spanish invasion.Â John Brinson was a member of Capt. Thomas Hick's company.Â Â John Jarrott was a member of Capt. Richard Ward's company.Â All three of these men, Brinson, Jarrott and Ward, were my paternal, 5G Grandfathers.Â The Spanish invasion never took place!
William Murrill and Richard Ward, my 5Ggrandfathers and Joseph Sanders, my 4G Grandfather, all served in the Revolutionary War. Murrill was in the North Carolina Militia, Ward was an officer in the North Carolina line and Sanders was a regular trooper in Col. Hogan's, 7th regiment, North Carolina Continental Line. ÂWilliam Murrill was involved in several actions during the Revolutionary War.Â One story was very interesting and has been passed down through the family and recorded in the diary of a 2G Uncle of mine, James Buckner â€œBuckâ€ Barry, and later copyrighted and published as â€œBuck Barry, Texas Ranger And Frontiersmanâ€, edited by James K. Greer.Â This story was in my post on July 4, 2009, â€œSkirmishâ€.
And finally, during the War of 1812, a 3Ggrandfather, Absolum Presnell, from Onslow County, North Carolina, who had been too young to serve in the Revolution, volunteered and served in the First Regiment ofÂ U.S. Volunteers. He signed on as a Private and was discharged with the same rank.
Proudly, my family has served during all of our Countryâ€™s conflicts!
Tuesday, June 22. 2010
As WWII ended, spending most of my summers at my Grandma Bryanâ€™s house, outside of Marlin, was an exciting time for me.Â But, as boys in a rural setting will do, we decided that we needed more excitement than just catching crawdads. Â
One afternoon, my cousin, Dan, said that he thought stealing some watermelons would be fun.Â I quickly agreed with him.Â Our first job was to find a patch with some ripe melons.Â He figured that down the lane from Grandmas, Uncle Tom Norwoodâ€™s patch would be just about ripe.
To both of us, being 10 years old, Uncle Tom was a menacing figure.Â Tall, erect, a retired school teacher and, we later discovered that he was also a former slave.Â Before, or during, the Civil War, he was born into slavery and at the time he must have been over 85 years old.Â His wife, Betty, approximately the same age and a former slave too and when we were younger, she was a very caring nanny to both Dan and I.Â Being the closest patch around, we picked Uncle Tomâ€™s.
We figured that it would be better if we stole the melons during the afternoon since the high temperature then would probably keep Uncle Tom inside.Â Down the lane, short pants and tennis shoes clad, we snuck and ahead, spotting the melon patch.Â Climbing through the fence we noticed some sticker kind of low, bushy flowers growing among the melons.Â We soon found out that these harmless looking â€œflowersâ€ were really bull nettles, or stinging nettles, a very poisonous plant known to kill small animals, even dogs.Â The little hairs along the leaf packed a wallop, especially on bare legs!
Finding two ripe melons was easy.Â The hard part was getting them out of the patch.Â The first thing I did was to brush against a nettle.Â Wow, that stung as bad as a yellow jacket!Â Then Dan brushed against one, howling, and the race was on!Â Our goal of stealing melons was quickly forgotten as we dropped â€˜em and scrambled out of the patch and hightailed it home.
Our legs were on fire as we told our Grandma what weâ€™d done.Â In no uncertain terms, she scolded us for even thinking of taking one of Uncle Tomâ€™s watermelons, but, kindly, she told us of an old Texas remedy for bull nettle stings, pee on the sting.Â We peed on each otherâ€™s legs and the stinging abated and we never thought again about stealing watermelons again!
Monday, May 31. 2010
Today we take time to honor and recognize our troops who have died while defending our way of life.Â In the North, tradition was that Decoration Day began in New York in 1868, but, in reality, it really started in Virginia soon after the end of the Civil War.Â This is one of my favorite stories!
Now, enter my Grandmother, Linnie Ross Sanders Wallace, born in 1866, , who I wrote about on May, 27, 2007, in "A True Texan".Â She was a Civil War baby boomer, and a rebelâ€™s daughter.Â Her Father, Levi Sanders, hadÂ spent four years fighting with the 6th Texas Cavalry across Indian Territory, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.Â She made sure that I knew what â€œDecoration Dayâ€, now known as our Memorial Day, was and just what it meant.
Within a month after the end of the Civil War, May 1865, ladies in Winchester, Virginia, formed a Ladies Memorial Association, (LMA), with the single purpose to gather fallen Confederate soldiers within a fifteen mile radius of their town and provide them burial in a single graveyard.Â Once that task had been done they hoped to establish an annual tradition of placing flowers and evergreens on the graves.Â There were Federal troops buried along with the Confederates and they received the decorations also.Â Within a year, ladies across the South had established over 70, LMAâ€™s.
In the first year, these LMAâ€™s had assisted in the recovery of over 70,000 Confederate dead!Â The ladies of Lynchburg chose May 10 as their Decoration Day.Â This was the day that Lt. General Thomas J. â€œStonewallâ€ Jackson had succumbed to wounds.Â The Richmond LMA had chosen May 31 because that was the day the populace of that town had first heard the guns of war in 1861.
Vicious Reconstruction laws not withstanding, by 1867, Decoration Day flourished across the South and it was a day that southern spirit and pride surfaced. Alabama, Florida and Mississippi celebrated it on April 30; North and South Carolina on May 10 and Virginia finally compromised on May 27.
Then in 1868, in the North, May 5 was officially designated Memorial Day.Â This was later changed to May 30, because no significant battle was fought on that day.Â In May 1968, at Waterloo, New York, Pres. Lyndon Johnson â€œofficiallyâ€ recognized Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day.Â Still later, our government intruded and made the last the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, a Federal holiday.
LBJ should have studied his history better!Â He began his career as a history teacher at San Jacinto High School in Houston, and taught Linnie Rossâ€™s youngest, daughter, Hazel.Â He soon switched to teaching civics, government studies.Â Maybe he was deficient in American history?Â
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