This week, after forty-four years in hiding, a piece of my family’s history finally turned up in, very fitting, a gun case. In 1966, Sam W. Bryan, at the time, eighty years old, dictated the following stories about Brinson Bryan, his Father, my Great Grandfather, to Lenora Bryan Peters, his Niece. This correspondence filled a gap in Brinson’s life and is also very interesting.
In 1847 Brinson Bryan riding a formerly, wild mustang horse and packing a .36 cal. pistol, joined a wagon train heading for California. His pistol, a Paterson Colt with a nine-inch barrel was issued to him when, as an eighteen, year old, in 1845 he joined the Texas Rangers.
Brinson had just completed service in the Mexican War with Bell’s Rangers. They served along the Texas/Mexican border and their job was keeping the supply lines open to General Zachary Taylor’s army encamped south of Monterrey. Regularly they had scrapes with Mexican soldiers, Mexican guerillas and marauding Comanche and Apache Indians.
The wagon train, driving a herd of oxen along with them, averaged about twenty-five miles a day and all the way out and back they had scrapes with Indians. One funny, but dangerous, story was when a lone, young Indian jumped Brinson, threw a tomahawk at him and charged. He subdued him, just as the main body of the Indians arrived. Brinson wanted to fight the tomahawk thrower, but the Indian Chief said the young, Indian’s Father would whip him. Which he did, leaving the young Indian some major whelps!
On another occasion, as the wagon train was lumbering along, Brinson was out hunting, he shot a bear, took it back to the train, skinned it and the folks enjoyed the bear steaks. At the same time, he and the other hunters came across a bee cave, robbed the hive, put the honey in the bearskin and enjoyed it all the way to California.
In 1849, coming back from California, he stopped for a drink of water at a spring west of Waco, Texas. Up rambled a bear, Brinson wasted no time, shot it with his pistol, got his drink and headed on into Waco. At the time Waco had one saloon and one log cabin house.
Family stories have Brinson guiding wagon trains to California, but we â€œlostâ€ him until 1855 when he purchased land in Hill County, Texas, after that, a blank until 1862 when he enlisted as a sharpshooter in the 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment. Sam’s stories also make no mention of the 1850-66 time frame.
Back then, things weren’t very easy, manual labor and hard work was the norm. Just think about walking and riding a horse from Texas to California! Men and women were tough and had to be strong just to exist from day to day. Where has all of that strength and toughness gone?