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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Was Terrell Bryan born in 1836 or 1837? Do the Math!

Yesterday, I posted the photo of Terrell Bryan's funeral and, this morning, I added the following update to the post. 

Note: On the cemetery marker, the funeral notice, and obituary, Terrell's birth year is 1837. His death certificate also gave a birth year of 1837. The informant was a grandson, McNeil Wylie. However, both Terrell Bryan's family bible and his father's family bible give Terrell a birth year of 1836. 

Terrell was born on November 17th, but documents conflict as to whether it was in the year 1836 or 1837. All of my trees and Internet postings give Terrell a birth year of 1836. Do I need make changes? 

The year of 1837 was found in four places - the funeral notice, obituary, death certificate, and cemetery marker. All probably from the same source and all recorded very close to Terrell's death. 

The year of 1836 was found in a transcription of Reddick Bryan's bible. Reddick was the father of Terrell.  The bible was published in 1824 and transcriptions found in DAR records that were submitted in 1950. 

Terrell's birth date of November 17, 1836 is found in his family bible published in 1870. 

On November 19, 1909, the Stephenville Tribune published an article about Terrell celebrating his 73rd birthday on November 17th. This would give him a birth year of 1836. 

Census records gave estimates of Terrell's birth year as 1835, 1836, and 1837. The 1900 census specifically asks the month and year of birth. Terrell's was reported as November 1836. 

According to the 1900 census, Terrell and Harriet Bryan both reported to be born in 1836. 

Terrell was found on the 1920 census living with his daughter, Dollie Wylie, and family in Coke County, Texas. This family was recorded on the census on January 17, 1920. Terrell was reported to be 83 years old and as his birthday was not until November 17, his birth year would be calculated as 1836. 

I calculated ages on
census records and
the death certificate
age using the
Easybee Age Calculator
Remembering that he was also said to be 83 years old on his death certificate in May of 1920, I took a second look. On the death certificate, his birthday was written as November 17, 1837 and his age was reported to be 83 years, 5 months, and 30 days old at his time of death.  If his age was correct, his birth year would have to be 1836. If born in 1836, Terrell Bryan was exactly 83 years, 5 months, and 29 days old when he died. The county clerk didn't do the math. 

Early on, I determined that information recorded during an ancestor's lifetime usually proves to be more accurate than those dates recorded at or after an ancestor's death. Keeping that in mind and noting the incorrect math calculations on Terrell Bryan's death certificate, I am sticking with 1836.  


© 2015

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

Louisiana Bible Records (1950). Reddick Bryan Bible Transcription. 
Louisiana DARGRC report S1v25.

Stephenville Tribune [Stephenville] 19 Nov. 1909: Microfilm

"Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 March 2015), Death certificates > 1920 > Vol 027-031, certificates 013276-016435, Apr-May, Dallas-El Paso counties > image 2888 of 3369; State Registrar Office, Austin. 

"United States Census, 1850," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 March 2015), Louisiana > Bienville > Bienville parish > image 59 of 89; citing NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

"United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 March 2015), Texas > Erath > ED 65 Justice Precinct 1 (all southeast of r.r. excl. Stephenville city) > image 23 of 41; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Year: 1880; Census Place: Precinct 1, Erath, Texas; Roll: 1302; Family History Film: 1255302; Page: 119A; Enumeration District: 206

Year: 1910; Census Place: Stephenville Ward 2, Erath, Texas; Roll: T624_1550; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0017; FHL microfilm: 1375563

1 comment:

  1. Good for you -- NOT everything "set in stone" is the absolute truth. As you said, sometimes those giving information after the death do not always have the correct information. What is important is that you document and source ALL information so that it is putting the reason for your choice of information. I am glad you were able to find so many different sources / documentation. That is great. Keep up the good work and enjoy it. Family History is just that - FAMILY History -- I love it and happy that I can do it. Enjoy