John Bryant

John and Mary A. Bryant

    Numbered among the early settlers and prominent farmers of Lake County, John Bryant well deserves representation in this volume, for in business life he has been active, diligent and trustworthy, and in citizenship has championed the various measures which have led to the substantial improvement and up-building of this portion of the state. He was born in Richland County, Ohio, July 20, 1833, and comes of the same family to which William Cullen Bryant, the poet, belonged. His grandfather was David Bryant, a native of New Jersey. His father, Elias Bryant, also a native of New Jersey, accompanied his parents on their removal to Washington County, Pennsylvania, when he was twelve years of age, and there he was reared and educated. He was also married in that county, and afterward removed to Knox County, Ohio, about 1820. He followed farming in the Buckeye State until the fall of 1835, when he came to Lake County, Indiana, settling at Pleasant Grove, in Cedar Creek Township. He was one of the first settlers here, and he entered land from the government for which he paid a dollar and a quarter per acre. This he placed under the plow, transforming the raw tract into richly cultivated fields, and there he carried on general farming until his death, which occurred September 10, 1850, when he was sixty-six years of age. He was a zealous and active member of the Presbyterian Church, in which he served as a Deacon. He gave his political support to the Whig party and during the early years of his residence in Lake County was a school director. He contributed to the pioneer progress of the county, and his enterprise and energy made him a valued citizen of the frontier district. He married Miss Ann Vance, who was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and was a daughter of Robert Vance, one of the pioneer settlers of that state and a native of Ireland. Mrs. Bryant died in Lake County, Indiana, February 6, 1847, when fifty-five years of age. By her marriage she became the mother of six sons, of whom four grew to manhood, while one died in infancy in Ohio and the other was killed by a rattlesnake bite when thirteen years of age. Arthur V., now in his eighty-second year, resides in Lafayette, Indiana. David died in 1900, at the age of seventy-six years. Robert, seventy-seven years of age, is extensively engaged in farming in Porter County, Indiana.

    John Bryant is the youngest of the family. He pursued his education in one of the primitive log schoolhouses found in the frontier settlements, attending through the winter months until eighteen years of age. In the summer seasons he worked upon the home farm, gaining practical knowledge and broad experience concerning the best methods of promoting agricultural interests. In 1852 he crossed the plains to California with a horse team, traveling north of Salt Lake City on the old Kit Carson route. He went first to Grizzly Flats, in Eldorado County, and there on the 15th of August, 1852, he was taken ill. The only shelter he had until the following December was a pine tree, and he was not able to do any work until the following March, when he took a contract to build a ditch to lead the water to what was called the dry diggings. After executing this contract he began prospecting and was engaged in prospecting and mining until December, 1856, when he went into the valleys, where he remained until 1857. He then returned to the east by way of the Panama and Aspinwall route to New York, spending two days on the island of Cuba while en route.

    Mr. Bryant continued his journey to Lake County. He went to Hebron to visit his brothers David and Robert, and afterward engaged in farming until 1858, also bought and sold stock. In January, 1859, he came to Lowell, where he engaged in merchandising with his brother, Arthur V., this partnership continuing for two years, at the end of which time John Bryant purchased his brother's interest, and soon afterward traded the store for eighty acres of land in Cedar Creek Township. He removed to the farm and continued the work of cultivation and improvement there until 1865, when he sold that property and bought another farm, whereon he carried on general agricultural pursuits until 1869. In that year he purchased a stock of merchandise at Hebron, where he remained in business until 1874, when he sold his property there and returned to his farm in cedar Creek Township, making it his home until 1880, when he also sold there. He located then upon the farm which is now his home. In February, 1882, he again went to California, this time making the journey by rail, to visit his relatives who had crossed the plains with him in 1852 -thirty years before. He remained in the Golden State until April, when he returned to Lowell, and in May of the same year he removed to South Chicago and engaged in the grocery business, in which he continued for about three years. On the expiration of that period he again came to Lowell and resumed farming, which he has since followed. He has a valuable tract of land of one hundred and seventy acres, and the land is arable and highly cultivated, while many substantial improvements have been made on the farm and indicate his enterprising, progressive spirit.

    On the 21st of February, 1860, Mr. Bryant was married to Miss Mary A. Lawrence, a daughter of George W. and Julia C. (Haskins) Lawrence. Mrs. Bryant was born in Michigan, December 28, 1840, and was brought to Lake County when only two years old. She died September 25, 1893, and her many excellent traits of character caused her death to be deeply regretted by many friends as well as her immediate family. To Mr. and Mrs. Bryant had been born six children:

  • Bertha A., born February 20, 1861, is the widow of C. C. Phelps, and has been for a number of years a clerk in the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad office at South Chicago.

  • Luella C., born August 22, 1862, also resides at South Chicago.

  • Marie Vance, born July 21, 1867, is now filling the position of stenographer with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at South Chicago.

  • John D., born at Hebron, April 13, 1871, died March 6, 1874.

  • Winefred Clair, born in Lowell, January 17, 1875, died on the 6th of September of that year.

  • Julia A., born September 17, 1876, is the wife of Ernest Hummel, a son of Ernest Hummel, Sr., City Treasurer of Chicago.

    Mr. Bryant has been a life-long Republican, active in the work of his party and deeply interested in its success, yet never seeking or desiring office as a reward for party fealty. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity at Lowell, Lodge No. 378, and of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at South Chicago, Lodge No. 245, and he belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church. His has been an eventful, useful and interesting life history, for he has been familiar with pioneer experience in Indiana and in the far west, and his mind is stored with many interesting reminiscences of his sojourn in the Golden State during the early days of its mining development.

SOURCE: Encyclopedia of Genealogy and Biography of Lake County, Indiana, with a compendium of History 1834-1904 . A record of the Achievements of its people in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. By Rev. T. H. Ball of Crown Point, Editor-in-chief. The Lewis Publishing Company, 1904, page 392, 393, 394, 395.