Bryan Family Bible – A Strand of Hair That Matches Mine

One of the fun things about going through an old Bible is finding little items tucked in between the pages. The Bryan Family Bible contained a few such treasures. I’m sharing just one of them today – a strand of blonde/light brown hair wrapped with a piece of thread.


I wonder who saved this little strand of hair and who the hair belonged to? I think I’m pretty safe in assuming that it belonged to a member of the Bryan family – perhaps one of George’s and Sarah’s children. Maybe it belonged to my own great-grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Bryan, or to one of George’s and Sarah’s grandchildren.

A while back I was going through one of my stacks and came across this envelope.
DSCN3194That’s my handwriting from many years ago. I don’t remember saving a sample of my hair in an envelope, but here is what was inside.
DSCN3196 - Version 2These look like they are just about the same color, don’t they?
DSCN3196And just to make it abundantly clear how closely they match since the lighting in the picture above makes the hair look redder than it really is, here they are together and closer to the actual color of the hair samples.

A pretty close match, especially the darker parts of my hair, even if I don’t have the best photography skills to prove it.

It is kind of awesome to find a strand of hair tucked away in an ancestor’s Bible that is over 150 years old – and have it match your own hair. I think we may be related.

Related posts:

Treasure Chest Thursday – Bryan Family Bible
Bryan Family Bible – The Best Laid Plans
Bryan Family Bible – To Honor a Life
Bryan Family Bible – George Washington Bryan Wrote Here – I Think
Bryan Family Bible – Just the Facts, Ma’am



Bryan Family Bible – Just the Facts Ma’am

JackwebbbbigseptembermanI looked for a clip from the old Dragnet television show with Detective Joe Friday saying the most famous line from the series: “Just the facts Ma’am.” I couldn’t find one.

It turns out that Friday, as portrayed by Jack Webb, never said those exact words. What Friday actually said in an early episode is “All we want are the facts.” Parodies of the Dragnet series popularized the phrase. Never happened. We just thought it did.

What does Dragnet have to do with the Bryan Family Bible anyway? Well, let me explain…

Most of my posts about the Bryan Family Bible have been attempts to analyze handwriting or intentions or understand circumstances. I’ve been using facts, but making guesses. As I was preparing yet another post, I realized that I already disagree with something I wrote in one of my previous posts.

What do I do about that?

Well, today, what I do about that is offer just the facts in the form of my transcription of what is written in the Bible. No speculation. No analyzing. No attempt to understand the mindset of the writer. No guessing – except for interpreting handwriting.

Just the facts, Ma’am!

(click to enlarge Bible pages)


Page 1
Jesse James Bryan died Nov. 13-1918. Age 31. In France. Died with the Flu.

Page 2
Family Record Births

James W. Bryan was born June 28th 1856.
Rosa Hoskins was born Jan 2th 1869
William F. Bryan Was born September the 6th 1885    1885

Jesse James Bryan was born July 4th 1887.
Georgia Anna Bryan was born Oct 16th 1888.
Henry Ward Bryan was born Feb. 4th 1890.
Frances Jane Bryan was born Sept 18th 1891
Daniel Webster Bryan was April 1th 1893
Della Mae Bryan was born April 2th 1895
Nancy Luella Bryan was born Oct 17th 1896
Thomas Wesly Bryan was born March 14th 1898
Sarah Alice Bryan was born Oct 2th (or 5th?) 1899
Mamie Myrtle Bryan was born Sept 12th 1901
Lewis Marion Bryan was born Jan 18th 1904
Edna Lelia Bryan was born June 15th 1905
Nellie Ruth Bryan was born Aug 30th 1909
Hattie Rosa Bryan was born Feb 3 1912


Page 3

Family Record

William Wesley Bryan Died Dec 4th 1856.
Eliza Ann Bryan Died Oct. 27th 1858
George Washington Bryan Died Jan the 3th 1864
George L. Bryan Died August the 2nd 1878
Uncle John W. Bryan Died April. 1th  1909
Sarah Bryan Died October 27th
October 27th .1914 on Tuesday morning 11 am (?)
Joe Bryan died Nov 13 1918 with flew in france.
Next is an erasure which looks like: John W Bryan Died April 1 19??

Page 4

Family Record

George Washington Bryan and Sarah Stokes were married. June 9th 1842
Mary. H. Bryan and James C. Moddrell were married July 24th A.D. 1861
James W. Bryan and Rosa. L. Hoskins was Married April 17th 188?


Page 5

Family Record  Births

Charley Jefferson Bryan was born Dec 23th 1885
George Washington Bryan was born April 1st 1819
Sarah Stokes was born August . 26th 1821
Mary Hester Bryan was born December. 3rd . 1843
Nancy Jane Bryan was born June 20th . 1845
John Franklin Bryan was born Sept 10th. 1846
George Larkin Bryan was born April . 6th. 1848
Thomas Jefferson Bryan was born October 23rd. 1849
Jones Marion Bryan was born. August 10th 1851
William Wesley Bryan was born. June 3rd. 1854.
James Washington Bryan was born. June 28th. 1856
Eliza A. Bryan was born Oct 27th. 1858
Samuel David Bryan was born Nov 22 A.D. 1861
Sarah Elizabeth Bryan was born February the 27th AD 1864
Mary Marinda Bryan Was Born October the 20th
20 of Oct 1881                 1881   1881
Charley Jefferson Bryan Was born Dec 23rd. 1885

At the top of the next page:
Tom Bryan


No record of information on the page above.


Back cover of Bible:

Sarah Bryan was born August 26 1821
Sarah  ?  6 ch of Rom
George Washington Bryan was born April the 1 1819
John M Cooper and Nancy Jane Bryan was Married April the 15 1869 AD
(I had to insert breaks beyond this point for formatting)
George L. Bryan and Hannah Gant was married July the 31 1870
Marion Bryan and Lucinda Camern was married June the 5 1873 AD
Samuel D. Bryan and Mrunda  (Miranda) Cuningham Was Married 3 (or 30) of March
AD 1880

Stay tuned for the next episode of The Bryan Family Bible: Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone.

Related Posts:
Treasure Chest Thursday – Bryan Family Bible
Bryan Family Bible – The Best Laid Plans
Bryan Family Bible – To Honor a Life
Treasure Chest Thursday: George Washington Bryan Wrote Here … I Think

Treasure Chest Thursday: George Washington Bryan Wrote Here … I Think

Related Posts:
Treasure Chest Thursday – Bryan Family Bible
Bryan Family Bible – The Best Laid Plans
Bryan Family Bible – To Honor a Life

I started going in one direction with this post but turned onto a different path. If you have been following along, I am sure it has become clear to you that I have no plan. I’m just sitting with this Bible my ancestors once held in their hands and looking at the remnants left behind. Ink. Handwriting. Dates. Lives. Loves. Losses. Smudges. Watermarks. Wondering what I can squeeze out of these old pages in a Bible…

This time around I’ve been trying to discover/prove who wrote the earliest entries in the Bible. I think it was George Washington Bryan. I’ll tell you why and try to see if I can pick up on any clues to the other writers while I’m at it. I hope you’ll offer your opinions too!

A short recap:

George Washington Bryan and Sarah Stokes (entries 2 and 3) on the Births page below were the head of the family to whom this Bible belonged. Their births are recorded and the births of their 11 children follow beginning with Mary Hester in 1843 and ending with Sarah Elizabeth in 1864.

In a previous post, I took a look at a portion of this page – which is the second Births page – and made the case that, disregarding the entry at the top of the page, the birth entries beginning with George Washington Bryan and ending with Eliza Ann Bryan were written at the same time – following the death of Eliza Ann, a baby who did not survive the day of her birth. And that the first Marriage entry and the first two death entries were also written by the same person at the same time. Now I want to see if I can make a case that the writer was George Washington Bryan.


I found a transcribed letter written by George Washington Bryan on the internet some years ago, but there was not a scan of the actual letter. It would have been written within a few years of the entries on this Births page and would have helped to confirm whether or not this handwriting belongs to George. I surely would like to see a scan of that letter!

Here is what I do have to draw from:

* This Bible belonged to the family of George Washington Bryan and Sarah Bryan nee Stokes. There is no information in the Bible about anyone born before these two individuals and all of the information pertains to them, their children, and their grandchildren. Seems logical that the first writer in the Bible was either George or Sarah.

* When the first marriage entry was recorded – the marriage of George and Sarah – the writer unconsciously wrote baby Eliza’s name instead of Sarah’s. It makes sense to me that George, in this time of grief, made this mistake. If the baby’s mother, Sarah, had written the entries, it seems less likely to me that she would have made a mistake with her own name.

* I have not researched the tradition at the time, but I would guess that the “head” or husband of the family often assumed the task of recording the family history in family Bibles. Please correct me here if I am wrong.

* George and Sarah migrated from Kentucky to Missouri in 1854 and left most of their family behind except the John Wesley Bryan family who migrated with them. John was George’s brother and John’s wife, Nancy, was Sarah’s sister. Sarah’s and Nancy’s parents had also made the journey but did not stay in Missouri. It is unclear if they were present in 1858. The John Wesley Bryan family may have been with George and Sarah – assisting with the birth and/or present with the family for the burial. Could one of them have taken on the task of recording the first entries in the Bible when baby Eliza died? I suppose so. But it seems unlikely.

* The handwriting is neat and well practiced, leading to the assumption that the writer had some years of schooling. In an unpublished genealogy written by Edna Ruth Starling in 1958, “Roses in December”, she wrote this about George: “George Washington Bryan was teaching school in Todd County, Kentucky. He and his brother, John Wesley Bryan, had married sisters and their two families were very close. In the spring of 1859, they hitched their oxen to a couple of prairie schooners and joined a wagon train. Some of the Keeling family came along.” (Other evidence suggests that the move west was actually in 1854, not 1859.)

I have never seen any other documentation that George was a school teacher. If Edna Starling’s story is correct, neat and legible handwriting would likely have been part of George’s skill set as a teacher. Census records for 1850 and 1860 show George’s occupation as “farmer”.

* What about Sarah? Could she have written these early entries? I don’t know much about Sarah’s early life – whether or not she attended school, for example.  In addition to my previously stated reasons for discounting her is the simple fact that she had just delivered a baby that did not survive the pregnancy/delivery or was unable to survive after birth. She was likely in a time of physical recovery as well as grief.

* The oldest child in the family, Mary Hester, was 14 at the time of Eliza’s birth and death. It is possible that she could have recorded these entries, but doubtful. The handwriting seems too mature and the organization of the entries and layout are so well executed.

* The most compelling reason to think that George Washington Bryan was the one with the lovely penmanship is that he died in January of 1864, so any entries made by George would have ended before 1864. In my opinion, there are no entries after 1861 that match these early entries.

Here are writing samples for comparison:
DSCN3129 - Version 2

The entry for Samuel David Bryan looks like it could have been written by the same person as the entries above it even though it is larger and not as constrained as the earlier writing. Samuel’s birth was a happy event, unlike the birth and death of Eliza, so I think this could account for the difference.

The birth of Sarah Elizabeth Bryan, in the blue ink, is similar in style to the earlier entries, but the slant and proportion is different. I don’t think it is a match.

The rest of the handwriting on this page has nothing in common with the earlier writing.
DSCN3129 - Version 7

Looking at other pages of the Bible, only the first two entries on both the Deaths page and the Marriages page below appear to match the early writing on the births page. The marriage of Mary Hester (page on right) looks like a match to me – although much larger than the early entries. Again, I attribute this to the difference in emotion.

DSCN3119The two “happy event and larger” handwriting samples record events in 1861. Even if they are not written by the earlier writer, they do not eliminate the possibility that the first writer was George.

I could be completely wrong, but I think George wrote everything up to and including those dated 1861.

So what do you think? Can I add this to my collection of ancestor signatures?

DSCN3129 - Version 2With the caveat, of course, that it is just my opinion.