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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Catharine Amanda Bryan Watts of Bienville Parish, Louisiana

This paper was found tucked into Terrell Bryan's family Bible. The names of his siblings and half-siblings are listed under his parents' names. Those who died young are not listed. My grandfather, Redic E. Bryan, wrote the final line at the bottom - These uncles and aunts buried in Bienville Parish, La. (REB). However, most, but not all were buried in Bienville Parish. 

Catharine Amanda Bryan's date of birth was recorded
in this Bryan family Bible record. The penciled note next
to her name is "Aunt Mandy." 
Catharine Amanda Bryan was born in Georgia, probably Houston County, on August 17, 1834. She was the second daughter born to my great-great-grandparents, Reddick Bryan and Elizabeth Regan. What I know about Catharine Amanda Bryan has been gleaned from conveyance records, census records, and a few documented sources. The Bryan family moved to Northwest Louisiana in the late 1830s and settled near what was later known as Ringgold in the Parish of Bienville. At age 14, on August 9, 1849, Catharine Amanda Bryan married James C. Watts. 

In 1858, Catharine Amanda's father-in-law, Richard I. Watts, gave his entire estate, valued at over two thousand dollars to Catharine Amanda and his daughter, Lurany S. Ezell. Some land transactions and sales followed.

James C. Watts died before August 21, 1867. On documents found in his probate record, the earliest dated August 21, 1867, Catharine A. Bryan was listed as his widow and C. A. Watts was also listed as the Natural Tutrix* of her children. Catharine's half brother, James Bryan, was listed as the Under Tutor* for the minor children of James C. Watts. The children were listed as Edmund Bryan, Alice Elizabeth, Sarah Catherine, and Martha Caldwell Watts.

The grave of Edmund and his wife in the Wimberly Cemetery.
Edmund married Martha Wimberly,
Alice married Green H. Huckaby,
Sarah Catherine married Elastus Stewart,
and Martha married Jeff Tolbert. 
Catharine Amanda Bryan was referred to as "Amanda," Mandy and "Manda" in family letters and other documents. She was found in the 1870 census living with children, Edmund Watts-age 17, Alice Watts - age 13, and Martha Watts - age 4.  A daughter, Sarah Watts was living with Catharine Amanda's sister, Georgia Ann Frances Bryan Pitman Wimberly. Catharine Amanda remained close to her family as most of her neighbors listed on the census page were family members.

In 1873, Catharine Amanda Bryan Watts was listed in a conveyance record as the wife of J.B. Thomas and a resident of Bienville Parish.  Red River Parish marriage records show that Amanda C. Watts married  G. B. Thomas on January 7, 1873. This matches the handwritten record found in Terrell Bryan's family Bible. Catharine Amanda was recorded as "C. A. Bryan Watts Thomas."

On April 11, 1875, Amanda Watts was counted as present at a church meeting held at the Liberty Chapel in Bienville Parish. Most members of the chapel were descendants of Reddick Bryan and Elizabeth Regan. Also on the list were Mrs. Alice Huckaby and E. B. Watts,  children of Catharine Amanda Watts.
Dorothy "Dollie" Bryan Hammett
is buried in the cemetery at
Davis Springs Methodist Church

In 1877, Mrs. C. A. Watts was listed on the membership list of  Pleasant Grove Church. A notation next to her name and many others, including her sister's Hammett family, indicate that they were being transferred to Davis Springs, a Methodist Church in Natchitoches. C. A. Watts was listed on the membership list of the Davis Springs Methodist Church in Natchitoches Parish in 1879. Her sister, Dollie Hammett, was also on that list. Dollie and her husband, Robert E. Hammett were active members of the church. Catherine Amanda was also listed as a member of the church in 1881 as Mrs. C. A. Watts and in 1892 as Watts, C. Amanda.


06 Mar 1880, Sat  •  Page 2
I was not able to locate Catharine Amanda Bryan Watts on the 1880 census; however, a Mrs. Wetts was living with Catherine's sister, Dollie Hammett, and family in Natchitoches Parish. Mrs. Wetts was listed as a daughter but, she was a 45-year-old widow born in Georgia. All those facts, as well as the church memberships and the clipping on the left, confirm that she was in Natchitoches in 1880. 

In 1881, a conveyance record also indicated that she was living in Natchitoches Parish.  Mrs. C. A. Watts was acting as attorney-in-fact for her daughter, Martha "Mattie" Tolbert, signing a land transaction in Bienville Parish. Catharine Amanda's other children all signed this transaction. The daughters all had husbands who were mentioned in the conveyance record and authorized their wives' actions.  No mention was made of Catharine Amanda's husband in this land transaction.  This, and her use of the Watts surname soon after her marriage, lead me to believe that she did not remain married. Further research is needed to confirm this.

Catharine Amanda Bryan Watts' signature was found in her father's probate records.

Catharine Amanda Bryan died on September 14, 1903, at age 69. This date was found in Joseph B. Bryan's family Bible. Her name was written as "C. A. Watts" so I assume she didn't marry again.  I have no records for Catharine Amanda beyond 1892. I have not found her in the 1900 census and currently don't know where she died or where she is buried. 

Catharine Amanda Bryan's date of death was recorded
in this Bryan family Bible record.

*Similar to guardian, a tutor is a person appointed or qualified by a court to act as guardian of a minor’s property. In every tutorship, there is an under-tutor who shall act when the tutor is unable or whenever the interest of the minor is in opposition to the interest of the tutor. Each time that I read about this tutorship and under-tutors, Louisiana Law was mentioned. It appears that these terms may be unique to the laws of Louisiana. 

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© 2020

Sources Louisiana, Compiled Marriages, 1728-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1997.

"Bryan."  Watts Family Accessed 17 Jan. 2020.

Family photographs, letters, copies of Bienville Parish records, and other documents from the collection of Diana Bryan Quinn.

Bible records from the collection of Marguerite Cook Clark. Accessed April 28, 2014, September 14, 2014, and November 9 to 11, 2016. Used with permission.

The People's Vindicator. Natchitoches, Louisiana 06 Mar 1880, Sat  •  Page 2.

Year: 1870; Census Place: 4th Ward, Bienville, Louisiana; Roll: M593_507; Page: 85A; Family History Library Film: 552006

Year: 1880; Census Place: 3rd Ward, Natchitoches, Louisiana; Roll: 457; Page: 616B; Enumeration District: 033

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