Only a few documented clues concerning the life and times of William Bryan have been found. The records that have been discovered list his name ending in the letter "T". This spelling of the name generally continued in the family until his great grandson Alvie Clarence dropped the "T" completely.
The first date that can be established for William's life was January 3, 1805, when he married a woman named Elizabeth. Their first child, Levi, was born later in 1805 somewhere in North Carolina. They probably continued to live in North Carolina at least until after 1809 when their son named Mitchell was born in that state.
On 13 November 1814, William joined Captain John Hamilton's company of the 3rd Regiment of the Tennessee Militia. The War of 1812 had been going on since the summer of 1812. Andrew Jackson had been fighting the Indians in northern Florida and southern Alabama. By November of 1814, Jackson's concern was the British threat to invade Louisiana through New Orleans.
William Bryant joined the 2,500 militia troops who departed Nashville by boat on November 20, 1814, with Major General William Carroll. They fought under Andrew Jackson to defeat the British in the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. While in Louisiana, William contracted yellow fever. He had been too sick to work for ten weeks when the sickness created a condition called "black scurvy". In an affidavit by his friend and fellow soldier, Joshua Bradley, signed in 1854; it is said that this disease made it impossible for William to return home to Sumner County, Tennessee, without help from friends after his discharge 13 May 1815. Bradley continued by stating that William never did recover from that sickness as it ate away at his gums and cheeks and affected his entire system. William died of black scurvy on October 21, 1818 in Sumner County, Tennessee.
On 27 July 1818, William had conducted a transaction with a man named Edward Gwin in which Mr. Gwin agreed to pay William 254 dollars. In May of 1820, a suit was filed by a friend, Joseph Spradlin, in the Sumner County court to collect that money or one-half of a 127 acre tract of land on Drake's Creek in Sumner County in behalf of the five children of William and Elizabeth. These children were Levi, Sally, Mitchel, Saleta and Delila. The record of the result of that suit has not been found but the document that filed it is what tells us that William was their father.
On September 9, 1819, Joseph Spradlin and Elizabeth "Betsey" Bryant were named as administrators of William's estate on the inventory of his property. That inventory was as follows:
William BRYANT Inventory
Taken September 9, 1819
1 Note of ?Hard?
on Henry Deal 12
1 Horse 25
4 Cattle 22
15 Hogs 29
18 Geese 6.50
Working Tools 9
Table Furniture 8
1 Frying Pan 1.50
1 Griddle 1
2 Spinning Wheels 5.50
1 ?Real? 1
1 Hackle 2
1 Loom 1
1 Cooper's Ware 2
1 Table 2
2 Feather Beds & Furniture 40
By John Bradley, Senr.
By 1830, William's sons Mitchell and Levi and his daughters Sally and Delila had probably moved to Warrick County, Indiana. It is not known exactly when Elizabeth joined them there. She was reported to be a resident of Warrick County on 9 February 1854 when she filed an affidavit to apply for a pension as a widow of a veteran of the War of 1812. Her application was rejected when it was found that there was no official Army record of William's illness while in service. She then got an affidavit from Joshua Bradley who had been in the regiment with William. Although Mr. Bradley described William's illness in detail, Elizabeth did not get a pension.
Elizabeth was listed as head of her household in the census of 1820 in Sumner County, Tennessee. She has not been found in subsequent census rolls. Likewise there has not been a tombstone or other record of her death found in Warrick County.
William HallJoseph Spradlin
) Betsey Bryant
) Ordered that the above persons be appointed admd 4 Amd?and that Wall & Stephen Tribell sureties in the sum of five hundred dollars.?? HEIRS OF WILLIAM BRYANT vs EDWARD GWINState of Tennessee May ?? 1820 Sumner
CountyLevi Bryant, Sally Bryant, Mitchell Bryant, Seleta Bryant and Delela Bryant, minor aged heirs at law of William Bryant deceased by their agent and friend, Joseph Spradlin complains of Edward Gwin whose case is attached if a plea that be rendered to them two hundred and fifty four dollars which to them he owes and from them unjustly delays. For whereas the said Edward Gwin by his certain ?WRELING obligation made at the county aforesaid on the 27th day of July 1818 sealed over the seal of the said defendant and the court now shown this date whereof the same day and year last aforesaid acknowledged himself to be held and formally bound unto the said William Bryant in his lifetime in the said sum of two hundred and fifty-four dollars to be paid to the said William Bryant when he should be there unto requested and for which payment will and truly be made and done. The defendant did by said writing obligatory bind himself, heirs and executors to be void on condition that the said defendant made or caused to be made a good, general warranty deed of conveyance to the said William Bryant or his heirs or assigns for one half of a piece of land of one hundred and twenty-seven acres of land on the dry fork of Drake's Creek being the land sold by R.M. Azbrook's widow, Nancy Azbrook, her ?chi ? dower as soon as ??? ??? can be made in due application made the said William Bryant on the day of the deed leaving the above named plaintiffs, his heirs at law, never the less the said defendant did not though often requested, pay the said William Bryant of the one-half the said tract altho a division was made and due application to him to that effect. Nor has the said defendant since the death of William Bryant altho often requested paid said sum of money to the plaintiffs, heirs at law aforesaid or made good a deed with general warranty to the plaintiff aforesaid land altho a division was made, value application made to said defendant and by the plaintiffs to that effect but hath hither to wholly refused and still doth refuse so to do - to the damage of the plaintiffs, two hundred and fifty-four dollars, therefore, they sue you.
Hadly Att. For the plaintiffs
Application Number 12746 by Elizabeth Bryant, widow of Wm. BryantState of IndianaWarrick County On the 9th day of February in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty-four personally appeared before me the undersigned a justice of the peace within and for said county aforesaid Mrs. Elizabeth Bryant a resident of Warrick County aforesaid aged sixty-nine years (69), who first being duly sworn according to law doth in her oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the pension made by the law of the United States passed February 3rd, 1853: That she is the widow of William Bryant who was a private in Captain Hamilton's Company of the Tennessee Militia in the war declared by the United Stated against Great Britain on the day of June 1812. That she was married to the said William Bryant on the 3rd day of January 1805, that her husband, the said William Bryant, died in Sumner County, Tennessee, on the 21st day of October 1818 in consequence of a disease called Black Scurvy contracted while in the service of the United States and in the line of his duty and that she was a widow at the passage of the act of Congress above referred to and is still a widow and that she had by the said William Bryant the following children: Sally 46, Mitchell 44, and Delila 36 years old all of whom were over sixteen years of age at the date of passage of said act. She would further state that she has received a land warrant for bounty land for the service her said husband. Said warrant issued to her for 80 acres sometime in the latter part of the year 1853 and she would refer to the application for said bounty land and the ?Endines? accompanying the same as ?Endines? in this application. her
Elizabeth X Bryant markSubscribed and sworn before me the day and year first above written. And I certify that I have no interest in the result of this case and am not concerned in its prosecution.
John Stephenson JP -1-State of IndianaWarrick County
On the 9th day of February 1854 personally came Alfred Moore and William Hall before me the undersigned a Justice of the Peace in and for said county and made oath that Mrs. Elizabeth Bryant is the widow of William Bryant late a private in Captain Hamilton's Company Tennessee Militia War of 1812, that they were well acquainted with said Bryant and his wife Elizabeth and knew that they were always regarded in the neighborhood where they lived as having been lawfully married and that she had by Wm. Bryant the following children: Sally aged about 46, Mitchell about 44 and Delila about 36 years old all of whom were over 16 years old at the passage of this act and that the reason that said William Bryant died by disease which they believe he contracted while in the line of his duty in the service of the United States in the war aforesaid and further that said Elizabeth Bryant was a widow at the passage of this act and is still a widow.
Alfred Moore William Hall Subscribed and sworn before me the day and year first above written and I do certify that Alfred Moore and William Hall are well know to me and they are credible witnesses.
John Stephenson JP------------------------------------Rockport Spencer Co., Ind.Feby 20, 1854To the Comm of Pensions
Inclosed please find application of Elizabeth Bryant for half pay as widow of William Bryant. Yours truly,James C. Veatch
Atty -2-State of KentuckyButler County
This day personally came Joshua Bradley before me the undersigned judge of Butler County court in and for said county and being duly sworn upon his oath says that he was well acquainted with one William Bryant who served as private soldier in Captain Hamilton's Company of Tennessee Militia in the war between the United States and Great Britain declared on the day of June 1812. And that this affiant served as a soldier in the same company with said Bryant in said war. That this affiant and said William Bryant went with the said company to New Orleans and were there during the battle of the 8th day of January 1815. That the said William Bryant during his service in said company was attacked with Yellow Fever while at New Orleans which disease rendered him unfit for active duty about ten weeks. That his disease then changed to Black Scurvy. That the said William Bryant was honorably discharged from service about the 15th day of April 1815 and that he then started for his home in Sumner County State of Tennessee. That the said William Bryant was unable on account of his said disease to reach home but was left on the way and afterward conveyed home by his friends. That the affiant resided in the immediate neighborhood of the said William Bryant in Sumner County, Tennessee, and knows from his own personal knowledge that said Bryant never recovered from said disease which he contracted while in the service of the United States and in the line of his duty but that he continued to grow worse with said disease of Black Scurvy until he died about the 21st day of October 1817. That the disease of the said William Bryant known as the Black Scurvy destroyed his gums and eat away a considerable part of his cheek and produced a general disagreement and disease of his system. And further that the said William Bryant left a widow, Elizabeth Bryant, with which this affiant was personally acquainted. That he has since visited her at her residence in Warrick County, Indiana, where she now resides and knows her to be the identical widow of the said William Bryant.
his mark Joshua X Bradley
Subscribed and sworn before me this 7th day of October 1854 and I do hereby certify that I am personally acquainted with the said affiant, Joshua Bradley and know him to be a person of good reputation and credibility in his neighborhood. Witness my hand and seal this 7th day of October 1854
Samuel Austin P-- Judge BCG -4-No 975 Treasury Department Thude Auditors Office March 9th 1854Sir
William Bryant, a private of Captain Henry Hamilton's Company of Tennessee Militia, entered the service on the 13th November 1814 and served to the 13th May 1815. The rolls afford no evidence of his sickness while in service. Respectfully Your Obt Servt F. Burt Thude Auditor(To) Com of Pensions Dept of the Interior
Half pay pensions---------------------------------------Rockport Dec 15, 1854 To Commissioner of Pensions Inclosed I send you additional testimony on the application of Mrs. Elizabeth Bryant for a pension for service of her husband &c. I hope it will be found sufficient and satisfactory. James C. Veatch