Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Who was Rev. Thomas B. Bryant of Prince George County, Virginia?

    Thomas B. Bryant was born between 1777 and 1778, where and to whom is unknown,  although some sources claim he hailed from Raleigh (Wake) North Carolina.  He died in Prince George County and his gravestone in the Waverly Burying Ground, now vanished, was inscribed:
        In/ Memory of/ Rev. Thos. B. Bryant/ Died March 31, 1841/ in the 63rd year of his age./ For more than 39 years he/ was a follower of Christ./ And for more than 23 years/ a parish minister of his/ word in the Methodist/ Episcopal Church./ ‘Mark the perfect man/ and behold the up right/ for the end/ of that man is peace.’/ Psalms 37-37.
    Thomas’ wife was Sarah Womack, probably daughter of John Womack of Prince George County.  Her gravestone was inscribed:
        In/ Memory of/ Mrs. Sarah/ wife of/ Rev. T. B. Bryant,/ Born Sept. 28, 1779/ Died Dec. 9, 1822/ Blessed are the pure/ in heart for they/ shall see God.
    According to the Virginia Historical Inventory, Thomas’ estate, Waverly, had been in the Bryant family for over 100 years and Thomas had been born there.  The site of the homestead was near Pool Run Road and Blackwater Creek, with the family graveyard a short distance from the house.  It was on this property that Thomas had his cooper shop, used during the week, and a meeting house, used on Sundays and the first home of Mount Sinai Methodist Church, which he founded.  In addition to his trade as a cooper and his religious and educational undertakings, Thomas was surveyor for Prince George County from early 1800 until about 12 June 1838, the date of his last recorded survey.
    Land records and land tax records indicate that the Womack family originally owned the Waverly property, which probably came into Thomas’ hands at the time of his marriage.  Thus, it is unlikely Thomas was born there.  Few land records survive for the late 1700s and early 1800s; however, Thomas was first taxed on land in 1805, when he had a total of 377 acres.  A survey was made March 1842 of the plantation called Waverly, containing 291 acres, belonging to the estate of Thomas B. Bryant. 
    There were no Bryants listed in the early personal property tax records, save for Michael Bryant in 1788 and 1789, until Thomas appeared in 1799, charged with one white male over sixteen (himself) and no slaves or horses.  Had Waverly belonged to the Bryant family at that time, Thomas surely would have had personal property, if only a horse.
    Thomas was the father of eight children born between 1802 and 1817: Mary Rebecca (William Henry Harrison); Dr. Alexander (Aduella P. Norville); John Harrison (Pauline M. Garland); William (Emily C.); Rebecca (William Smith), Eliza Ann (Edward Archer Marks); Elizabeth S.; and Henry T. (Mary L. Marks).
    Does anyone know more about Rev. Thomas B. Bryant and his wife, Sarah Womack?
What happened to the records of Mount Sinai Methodist Church?

    Batte, R. Bolling Batte papers, The Library of Virginia, Accession no. 35360
    “Bryant Graveyard” and “Waverly Homesite,” WPA, Virginia Historical Inventory, 1937
    “Mount Sinai Sunday School,” news item, The Intelligencer & Petersburg Commercial Advertiser, 10 June 1828, p. 2, col. 1
    Hening & Munford, “Marks and wife, &c. against Bryant and wife,” Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the  Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia,” 14VA, 1911
    Prince George County VA, deed books
    Prince George County VA, land tax lists
    Prince George County VA, personal property tax lists
    Prince George County VA, surveyor’s records
    US census records
    Miscellaneous records
Signature of T.B. Bryant from survey for Estate of Col. William Harrison, Virginia State Library, Accession no. 1724.