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The Bryant Family of Washington DC

Levi Jesse Bryant and his wife Ellen Sarah Salley had four children – three boys and one girl. In order they were Arthur Levi Bryant (1870-1933); Charles Fardon Bryant (1872-1923); Grace Bryant (1876-1943) and Herbert Sydney Bryant (1878-1950). The only one I have a picture of is Herbert Sydney Bryant, my great grandfather. He died before I was born but I have a feeling I would have enjoyed getting to know him.

Levi was a government clerk in the War Department for most of his career. When he died in 1920, he was identified as one of the oldest residents of the District of Columbia. He was a member of the Burnside Post No. 8 of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. After the civil war, men from both the Union and Confederate armies formed social groups with fellow veterans, each named for a famous general. From what I could learn about Burnside Post No. 8, its members often marched in Memorial Day parades, participated in civic and patriotic activities, such as dedicating the Washington Monument and commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The organization also provided for its members in need.

Soon after the war, and when he was just starting his family, Levi attended law school, graduating in 1875 as a member of the 4th graduating class of National University. I don’t think he was in private practice for very long , since all census reports indicate his profession as a government clerk rather than a lawyer. I remember being surprised when I learned that I wasn’t the first in my family to attend law school. Levi was ahead of me by 110 years!

Sometime between 1870 and 1880, Levi built a sizeable home (or perhaps a row of homes) on Q Street, NW, just a little north of DuPont Circle. In the late 1800s this area was a far cry from the bustling commercial and residential center it is today but true to his pioneering spirit, Levi settled there and raised his family as the City grew in his direction. The addresses were 1817 and 1819 Q Street, NW.

Levi and Ellen Bryant’s Children

Arthur Levi Bryant was a patent attorney in Washington DC. He and his wife, Lizzie Habel, never had children. Arthur worked for the patent firm, Cushman, Bryant, Darby and Cushman and from his 1907 passport application we learn that he was 5’8″ with a high forehead, oval face, brown hair and blue eyes. He and Lizzie Habel married in 1897 and lived at 1819 Q Street (next door to his parents) for their entire married life. When Lizzie died in 1963 (outliving Arthur by 30 years) her estate was valued at $1 million. Most of her specific bequests were to her siblings and their children but a portion of her estate passed to the descendants of Arthur’s siblings, which included my father and his brother, who received their mother’s share.

Charles Fardon Bryant was a business man of some sort although he also worked as a government clerk. His most interesting mention in the DC papers was for his enlistment in Company H of the regiment of men from Washington DC who fought in the Spanish American War. This war only lasted from April to August of 1898 but in keeping with our family tradition, he gave a very detailed report of his expedition in a letter home. His mother shared it with the Evening Star and it appeared in the newspaper in August 1898. It just might appear in a later post here so stay tuned!

Charles married Isabella Byrn whose father was a patent lawyer and well-known member of the DC Bar. He was also active in real estate and built what sounds like a beautiful home near the Capitol in 1894. Charles and Isabella were married there in October 1899.

Sadly, the Byrn home on B Street is no longer standing.

Charles and Isabella had one son, Charles Byrn Bryant. From the address for him in Lizzie Bryant’s will written in 1955, he was living in Chicago. Charles died in 1923 and there was only a brief mention of his death in the Washington newspapers.

The only girl born to Levi and Ellen was Grace Bryant who was born in 1876. She married William John Eynon in September 1900 and they lived in Washington DC where William had a very successful career in the printing industry. He often appeared in the newspaper for his leadership role in that industry as well as other civic and philanthropic endeavors including the Board of Trade, which was the equivalent of what we know as the Chamber of Commerce.

Grace and John had three children, although their firstborn son, William John Eynon, Jr. died at ten months in July 1902. Their next son, Lee Edward Eynon was born in 1903 and died in 1965 and their daughter, Dorothy Bryant Eynon was born in 1905 and died in 1969. The children born to Grace and William Eynon, offer the best chance of finding relatives with pictures of our common ancestors. If any of you happen to be reading this, please get in touch.

I’ll close this post by listing the names of the descendants of Levi and Ellen Bryant’s children who are my third or fourth cousins. Charles Byrn Bryant, born in 19–; Lee Edward Eynon, whose children with Dorothy Von Bayer include William A. Eynon (1927-2001); Lee Ellen Eynon (1929-2011) who married Erik Gregory Nordholm; and Roberta C Eynon (1935 – 2005) who married David Walton Mayo. Sadly, Lee and his wife Dorothy divorced shortly after Roberta was born – some time between 1936 and 1940.

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