Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Did Rev. Thomas B. Bryant have a son William Thomas?

     More than one researcher has stated that William Thomas Bryant, a resident  of Prince George County, Virginia, during the latter half of the 1800s, was the son of Rev. Thomas B. Bryant (1775-1841) and his wife Eliza R. Baugh. Thomas had a wife, Sarah (1779-1822), who was buried at Waverly, the Bryant homestead, later to be joined by her widower. Since Thomas outlived her by nineteen years, it is understandable that he might have married a second time, although no such record has been found.
    Rev. Thomas B. Bryant of Prince George County had three daughters and four sons, one of whom was William, who was born circa 1808 and died from heart disease at 54 years of age on 21 November 1862. William married Emily C., born circa 1825 to unidentified parents, and the couple had nine children between 1846 and 1862. Emily was living in 1877 when, as administratrix of William Bryant of Dinwiddie County, she filed  a Civil War claim.
    In 1842 this William purchased Waverly from his siblings; William Thomas Bryant was not among them. The tract of land contained 591 ½ acres and buildings, formerly the property of the late T[homas] B. Bryant. Mt. Sinai Methodist Church, founded by Thomas, stood on the property, and in 1858 William and his wife Emily sold the building and land to the trustees of the church.
    William Thomas Bryant (born circa 1818) married in Surry County, Virginia, on 21 December 1848 Elizabeth C. A. Ellis (born circa 1830). This couple had seven children born between 1851 and 1868, the last one six years after Thomas' son William died..
    There are many questions that can be raised about William Thomas’ alleged parentage:
    1) Since William was still alive in 1818, would Thomas have given this name to another son? While customary in some countries (Germany, for example, where all sons were given a first name of Johan and called by their middle name), instances in America were rare.
    2) Sarah was alive in 1818 and was undoubtedly still the wife of Thomas; otherwise, it is unlikely she would have been buried at Waverly.
1870 Rives, Prince George Co., W. T. Bryant (
    3) Would Thomas, Prince George County surveyor, schoolteacher, and founder and minister of Mt. Sinai Methodist Church, have raised an illiterate son, as William Thomas was reported to be on the 1870 census?
    4) Why wasn’t William Thomas a party to the 1842 sales of Thomas B. Bryant’s land by his heirs? William and his six known siblings were all involved.
    5) Where was William Thomas’ mother in 1830? There was no female older than 20-29 (undoubtedly unmarried daughter Mary Rebecca) in the Thoma B. Bryant household. If Eliza had died, why wasn’t she buried at Waverly as was Sarah?
     In any case, William Thomas certainly was not the son of Thomas and Sarah -- the gravestone of their son John Harrison Bryant (born in May 1817) identifies him as "Fourth & youngest son of Tho & Sarah Bryant of Prince George C[obscured]."

Find A Grave, memorial 124657865, John Harrison Bryant
Johns Family History Association (and other posted genealogies)
Prince George County deeds
Prince George County land tax lists
Prince George County personal property tax lists
Records of the Commissioners of Claims (Southern Claims Commission), 1871-1880
US census records, Prince George County
William Bryant’s death record, Prince George County deaths, 1853-1896
WPA Historical Inventory, “Bryant graveyard at Waverly” and “Mt. Sinai”