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Thank you for visiting my blog!

This blog is used to share information that I find about the families that I am researching. To see these family names click on the tab above. Please feel free to contribute your stories or research and make comments, corrections, and ask questions.

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My posts can be accessed by the date posted from the column on the right. Blog posts containing specific surnames can be found by clicking on the names in the left column.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday's Photo: Snow Day!

In Virginia Beach, today was the third snow day this week! We had at least 10 inches of snow and as of last night, I couldn't see the where the road began and ended in front of my house. 

This is a photo of my mother (on the right) and her sister, both readers of this blog. The photo is dated 1939 and the family lived in Bellerose on 89th Street in Queens. Was school closed on this snow day?


© 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #4 Myrtie Marie Bryan

Myrtie Marie Bryan was born on June 21,1901 in Erath County, Texas. I suspect that she was born in Bethel where her Hairston grandparent's lived or possibly in Dublin where her parent's resided about that time. She was my father's sister and the first child of Myrtie Hairston and Redic Bryan. 

In 1905 Marie's parents and her grandparents, Phillip and Lodema Criswell Hairston, moved from Erath County to Baylor County. As a young girl, she belonged to the Woodsman Circle and the BYU - a Baptist youth organization. Marie is in the center, directly in front of the tallest girl in the group. 

This "Pussy Willow" by Marie Bryan in 1912 was found in the Bryan Family Bible.

Marie 1919

This was the photo seen in the Jackrabbit, the yearbook for Seymour High School, in 1920.
Marie was in 10th grade and was named the class artist under "Who's Who."

 According to Marie's 10th grade report card, she had excellent deportment
and received good to excellent grades. 

Dad said that Marie had a speech problem and that when she was young, her father took her to Oklahoma by wagon to see a speech correctionist. She must have had other issues - maybe apraxia or cerebral palsy. I was told that she had weakness on one side. 

This was found in the December 4, 1919 issue of the Baylor County Banner:   Mrs. R. E. Bryan left Sunday afternoon for Dallas in company with her daughter, Miss Marie. They are going to have an x-ray picture taken and try and determine the trouble with her speech.  It is hoped that this trouble may be located and remedied.

The following is an excerpt from a letter written by my grandmother to her cousin, she tells about plans to make the trip. I assume that Marie did not have the surgery. 

May, I am going to Dallas Thursday. I am going to carry Marie to Babtest Sanatarium for an X-ray Examination. She is having nervous troubles. I feel so sorry for her. It just breaks my heart to see her suffer. I am sending a Kodak of her. Drs here say I may have to have an operation on her head (a bone cut that is pressing on the brain). I will make the trip with she and myself and if I have her operated on I will wire for Redic. If you get this letter in time to ans before Thursday write me and tell me if Frank is at Wichita and I may see him as I come home. You come to see  me when you get moved. I get so lonesome since Mama died. Financially we have made lots of money lately. If we had not been in the hole from just 2 years but we are making good now but I have had so many worries lately I have not that very much about money but I am thankful that I have the money to have Marie treated and try to restore her to health. I realize her condition will be improved after the operation or worse if an operation can't be performed I just can't see her get in such bad shape. She is just as pretty as can be. She is in 10th grade will finish next year if she stays in school. 

Marie graduated from Seymour High School in 1921. This announcement was given to me in 2011 by a newly found Hairston cousin. Her family kept this for 90 years!
Thank you, Carla!

Next to her senior picture in the high school year book was written,
"Marie - If her work counts, success is hers. Her record shows no trace of blurs."

Marie didn't marry. After her mother died in 1927, I imagine that she was my father's primary caregiver as all other siblings were not living at home. When Redic Bryan died in 1929, Marie and my father, Whit, moved to Borger to live with sisters DeRay and Willa Mae. DeRay and Willa Mae both worked a variety of jobs in Borger. Marie took care of the house and the cooking.

I only met Aunt Marie once, at the age of four.
I am told that she was a wonderful cook and
that she loved to play bridge.
Marie and Dad (Whit Bryan) in 1943. 

Myrtie Marie Bryan died on September 16, 1986. She is buried with her sisters, DeRay and Willa Mae, at Westlawn Memorial Park in Borger, Texas. 


© 2014


Baylor County Banner [Seymour] 4 Dec. 1919: Microfilm.  

Family photographs and documents from the collection of Diana Bryan Quinn.

Letter from Myrtie Hairston Bryan to Amy Criswell Barton courtesy of Lena Criswell.  

Seymour High School.  "1919 Yearbook". The Jackrabbit.

Seymour High School.  "1920 Yearbook". The Jackrabbit. 

Seymour High School.  "1921 Yearbook". The Jackrabbit.

Stanley, Edith Guynes . "Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records and Online Memorials." Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records and Online Memorials.  Web. 17 Jan. 2014. < page=gr&GSln=BRY&GSpartial=1&GSbyrel=all&GSst=46&GScntry=4&GSsr=2041&GRid=48102309&>. Used with permission. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday's Photo: Another Picture of Dad

Whit Criswell Bryan - 1943

I found this photograph of my father, Whit Criswell Bryan, in an almost finished album last week.  I knew that I had never posted it and filed it in my memory for a future post.  

However, a few days later, I found this same photograph in the January 25, 1946 issue of the Borger Daily Herald at The Portal for Texas History. Dad was stationed on the U.S.S. Adams, a destroyer, and had just left Shanghai. 

As a young man who had spent his youth in small towns in Texas, Shanghai must have been a big experience. I wonder what it was like in 1946? Click on the Portal for Texas History link to read about Dad and the U. S. S. Adams. 


© 2014


Borger Daily Herald [Borger] 26 Jan. 1946: Digital.  Accessed February 18, 2009, University of North Texas Libraries, Portal to Texas History,

Family photographs and documents from the collection of Diana Bryan Quinn. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #3 Monte DeRay Bryan

DeRay is 3rd from the left. I have other pictures of the women in this photo, but cannot positively identify anyone except DeRay.

No Story Too Small

By 1929, at age nine, my father was an orphan and his sister, DeRay, became the breadwinner of the family.  Here is her story in photographs, documents, and newspaper clippings. 

Monte DeRay Bryan, the daughter of Myrtie Hairston and Redic Bryan was born March 11, 1904 in Erath County, Texas.

In 1905, DeRay's family, along with her grandparents Phillip and Lodema Criswell Hairston, moved to Baylor County, Texas. DeRay (on the left) is pictured with her sister, Marie. 

DeRay's family lived in Baylor County for most of her childhood; living in Levelview and later Seymour. For a short period they lived in Big Springs in Howard County and later, briefly lived in Stamford in Haskell County, Texas. I am not certain where or why this picture was taken. Are these friends or family? DeRay is said to be on the first row in the center. The tallest girl, behind DeRay, is said to be Millard Ray Latta, a Bryan cousin who lived with the family in Baylor County. 

DeRay graduated from Seymour High School in 1920. She gave
the salutatory speech "Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Maintaining
Our Political Institutions. 

DeRay attended Simmons College (now Hardin-Simmons University).
Found in the Baylor County Banner, March 23, 1921.

This unsigned teaching contract was offering DeRay $100 monthly to teach in Seymour, Texas. In addition, she would agree to not participate in dancing during the contract term except during Christmas holidays. In 1924, DeRay taught third grade at Seymour Elementary School.  In 1926, she was teaching at Amherst in Lamb County. 

 In 1927, DeRay moved to Borger, Texas where she taught until 1941. Dad said that she went to Borger because they had a teacher shortage and were paying more than any other place in Texas at the time. You can read a brief story that DeRay wrote about her initial trip to Borger and a little about her life in Borger in History of Hutchinson County, Texas 104 years 1876 -1980

With the exception of one brief meeting in 1959, I only knew DeRay through gifts and correspondence.
Pictured - DeRay, my father - Whit Bryan, and their sister, Marie, in Virginia Beach, Virginia

Monte DeRay Bryan died on August 16, 1987.
She is buried, with her sisters Marie and Willa Mae, in Westlawn Memorial Park in Borger, Texas.


© 2014


Baylor County Banner [Seymour] 23 Mar. 1921: Microfilm.  

Family photographs and documents from the collection of Diana Bryan Quinn. 

Stanley, Edith Guynes . "Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records and Online Memorials." Find A Grave - Millions of Cemetery Records and Online Memorials. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jan. 2014. < page=gr&GSln=BRY&GSpartial=1&GSbyrel=all&GSst=46&GScntry=4&GSsr=2041&GRid=48102309&>. Used with permission. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #2 Whit Criswell Bryan

Whit Criswell Bryan - About 1924 at his home in Seymour, Texas.

No Story Too Small
Last week, I accepted Amy Crow's challenge of posting 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I did this knowing that I had put my genealogy away for January as I have a work project, due January 29th, that needs all of my attention. However, I just couldn't pass it up.  I really wanted a way to focus my attention on my Hairston family. I have tons of information from Hairston research that needs to be organized and this challenge will be perfect for that. 

So, for the next few weeks (until January 29), my posts will be "easy" posts about closer Hairston family members. Today's post is a photo timeline about a Hairston descendant that I knew well, Whit Criswell Bryan, my father. 

Whit Criswell Bryan was the son of Redic E. Bryan and Myrtie Hairston Bryan

He was born in Seymour, Texas on December 21, 1920 and lived there until the death of his father in 1929. 

Dad lived with his sisters, in Borger, Texas, until 1940 when he joined the Navy.
Pictured with Dad are his sisters - Marie Bryan, DeRay Bryan, Willa Mae Dudley and his niece, Jackie Dudley.

He attended Basic Training at the U. S. Naval Training Station in San Diego California. Bill Smith, Robert Winters, and Whit Bryan

Dad was assigned to the Mobile Naval Hospital #3 in Pearl Harbor when the bombing occurred on December 7, 1941. 

Dad was married twice. After WWII, he married Geraldine Mixon. They had two daughters.

He married my mother in 1955 and had two children.
That's me in the picture with Mom. 

Dad in Vietnam. He served as a Hospital Corpsman with the 3rd Marine Division in 1967. 

Dad retired from the Navy in 1969. 

Here is Dad in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, in 1981, at the grave of his great-grandfather, Reddick Bryan.  His interest in his family led to my obsession with genealogy. 

Whit Criswell Bryan passed away on August 22, 2001. He was 80 years old. 


© 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Transcription Errors on that Death Certificate Could Change Your Family History

We all know that family information provided on a death certificate is only as reliable as that family member’s knowledge and memory of the events.   However, have you considered errors made in transcription?  I have several family census records that have obvious transcription errors, but until last month, never thought that transcriptions could be an issue on a death certificate.

I have two copies of my great-grandfather’s death certificate. The first obtained by my father from the Baylor County Clerk’s office in the 1970s and the second, found at, was digitally copied from records at the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

In Texas, reports of death were completed by a county clerk, medical professional, or mortician who talked to the informant. These reports of death were filed with the county clerks or local registrars who sent the information to what is currently known as the Texas Department of State Health Services. Copiers were not common place in offices until the 1960s. So, human transcription was usually the method of making copies prior to that time. 

Although, the certificate saved on my computer from was the record of choice when looking for Hairston information last month, I suspect that the information that I had in my retrievable memory came from the certificate from the Baylor County Clerk.  On the certificate found at (see above), I noticed that the name of my great-grandfather’s mother was written as Liza. I have seen Liza in a few family trees, but the death certificate that I remembered had her as Eliza. Looking a little more closely, I notice that the informant was Mr. or Mrs. (not legible) R. E. Bryant. My grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Bryan. 

I got out the paper copy of the certificate sent from the Baylor County Clerk and sure enough, my grandmother did spell her name as Bryan and her grandmother was listed as Eliza. Spelling and handwriting differences show that the certificate obtained at was probably the transcription. I assume that it was made in Baylor County, prior to sending it to the state offices in Austin. 

This is the death record received from the Baylor County Clerk in the 1970s. Accompanying the death record was this note: We are unable to find the name John L. Hairston on our death records {apparently Dad was looking for John L. Hairston}. The enclosed death certificate is indexed under P. A. Hairston, but shows no name filled in but does have his father's name J. L. Hairston, and the correct birth date. The copy is $2.00 and would appreciate prompt payment. 

The errors in the transcription did not make a huge difference in my family research, but transcription errors could easily change a family tree if important names and dates are misinterpreted.  If you have questions about spellings, dates, or illegible handwriting on a death certificate, you might want to try to find another source for the record. 

Postscript – For those of you researching this particular family, John L. Hairston and his wife were probably not born in Virginia. All census and other records indicate that John was born in South Carolina and that his wife was born in Georgia or Alabama. The fact that my grandmother, Myrtie, stated that they were born in Virginia leads me to believe that her father may have known about and talked about his Virginia heritage. 


© 2014

Sources: Texas, Death Certificates, 1903–1982 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data:  Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas Death Certificates, 1903–1982. Archives, Orem, Utah.

"Copying Machines Used to Make One or a Few Copies of New Documents,  Mainly Outgoing Letters." Copying Machines. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2014.

"Texas, Deaths (New Index, New Images), 1890-1976." Index and Images.FamilySearch. : accessed 2013. Citing Bureau of Vital Statistics. State Registrar Office, Austin.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday's Photo: Mary Ann "Polly" Evans Criswell

This tintype of my great-great-grandmother, Mary Ann "Polly" Evans Criswell was found in my Bryan family bible. Mary Ann was the mother of my great-grandmother, Lodema Walker Criswell Hairston, and the grandmother of my grandmother, Myrtie Hairston Bryan.  

Mary Ann Evans was born on June 9, 1829 in Alabama. She was the daughter of Evan Evans and Nancy Selman. She married William Moore Criswell in Cherokee County, Texas on August 30, 1847 and was the mother to 13 children. Mary Ann "Polly" Evans Criswell died on May 31, 1883 in Falls County, Texas. She is buried in the Criswell Cemetery


© 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #1 Johnie Myrtlene "Myrtie" Hairston

No Story Too Small
Taken in the early 1890s
Today, I read Amy Crow's Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks at her blog No Story Too Small.  The challenge is to have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. I am up for the challenge. For each of the 52 Sunday's in 2014, I will be posting information about ancestors from my Hairston family tree. 

My first Hairston ancestor is my grandmother, Johnie Myrtlene "Myrtie" Hairston. I never knew my grandmother or Redic E. Bryan, my grandfather. Myrtie died 28 years before I was born. I found a lot in her obituary and am quite lucky to have several photos.   Note her year of birth is incorrect. She was born July 9, 1880. 

For more about Myrtie see the blog posts listed below. 

Friday's Photo: A Family Portrait (a photo of Myrtie and her parents)

Friday's Photo: A New Photo of My Grandmother

Friday's Photo: A Baby's Death

Family Photos: The House in Seymour – Part III  (My father with my grandmother)

Old Newspapers (a wedding photo)

Forgotten Family – Part VI: The Painting (a painting of Myrtie)


© 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

Friday's Photo: Warren Giddens

Warren Giddens  1894 to 1949

This is the only picture that I have of my grandmother's brother, Warren Giddens. He is pictured here with his wife Calla and daughter Doris. The date under the picture is 1928. Just last month, my aunt, my mother, and I spent a nice morning with Doris and her family in not far away Williamsburg. 


© 2014