William F. Bryan, son of one of the oldest and most prominent Californians, himself a prominent rancher and stock-raiser of Sacramento county, residing two miles and a half southeast of Mills, where his ranch of thirteen hundred acres is devoted to the raising of bounteous agricultural crops and fine stock, is a native son of California, born in Eldorado county, August 3, 1855, a since he was five years old has lived on his present homestead.

A son of Hon. William E. and Mary G. (Herndon) Bryan, octogenarian citizens whose honorable and useful lives have been an ornament to every community of their residence, it is pertinent to this record to mention some of the important facts in the life of the revered father, whose passing to the bourne of silence will leave another great gap in the lists of pioneer Californians. Born in Kentucky in 1821, living in his native state until he was past the age of thirty, in the spring of 1853 he started, mainly with ox teams, across the great plains and after seven months' journeying reached Eldorado county in September, his first location being near Newtown, where he lived until his removal to Sacramento county in 1860. Without meeting success at mining, he turned his attention principally to freighting, and did a large business in that line, not only in this state, but later, when the Nevada mines came into prominence, on the other side of the Sierras. Thirteen miles from Sacramento he purchased forty-two hundred acres of the Folsom grant, and, with his sons, went into the sheep business on a large scale, which he continued until he divided his lands among his children in 1876. Since 1880 he has lived in Alameda, the beautiful home where he and his equally aged wife are spending their declining years being at 546 Pacific avenue. On October 29, 1904, he passed the eighty-third milestone of his long mortal journey, and on February 25, 1905, his wife entered upon the eighty-first year of her life, and nearly ten years aso, on October 21, 1895, they celebrated the golden anniversary of their wedded life. They have three children: Margaret C., who resides in Alameda and who is the widow of the late J. R. Morris, of Napa county; Elijah H., who lives in Oakland; and William F.

In early life a disciple of the great Whig, Henry Clay, but since generally independent in political thought and action, William E. bryan has been a positive influence in civic affairs for many years. Elected in 1873, he served one term in the California legislature, representing Sacramento county, and since taking up his home in Alameda he has been honored by official preferment several times. For a number of years he was an active worker in Sacramento Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry. A venerable pioneer, firm in his integrity to his latest years, and with a weight of years, each teeming with usefulness, such as few mortal men may expect to attain, he deserves a permanent place in California history.

William F. Bryan, the son of such an honored father and mother, was reared to man's estate in Sacramento county, and the education which he received in the county public schools he rounded off by a period of attendance at the Pacific Business College in San Francisco. Engaged, from youth up, in agricultural and stock-raising pursuits, he has made a large degree of material success and is one of the leading men in such enterprises in Sacramento county.

November 30, 1879, Mr. Bryan married Miss Alice A. Criswell, a daughter of the late Mrs. E. M. Criswell, of Sacramento county. Of the seven children born to them, five are living, named as follows: Macie M., wife of Fred W. Bush, in Sacramento county; and Hazen A., Ralph W., Arthur F. and Edna B., who live with their parents.

Mr. Bryan and his wife are members of the American River Grange No. 172, P. of H., and have been active members of this grange since May, 1875, during which period of thirty years he has served two terms as master. Mr. Bryan has further fraternal connections as a member of Industrial Lodge No. 157, I. O. O. F., at Sacramento, and belongs to the Farmers' Protective Association at Mills. Like his father, he is independent in political affairs. For a number of years he served as trustee of the Kinney school district. He was one of the organizers and is still a director of the Sacramento Rochdale Company, one of the leading mercantile concerns of the capital city.

Source: History of the New California - Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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