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Slavery and the Bryan Family

An old photo of the Bryan Cemetery. Behind the fence is the Iverson Cemetery. 

Throughout my Bryan family research, I have heard of or seen references to slavery.  From family letters, it appeared that the Bryans were a kind, loving, and close-knit family. They were hard workers, active in the Methodist church, and proponents of education. The Bryan family plantation was void of columns and southern charm. Found in the book Louisiana Plantation Homes, Colonial and Antebellum by W. Darrell Overdyke, the Bryan plantation home was a two-room dogtrot log cabin. I had hoped that the Bryans were benevolent slave owners, but have learned that not all were caring and compassionate. To the descendants of persons enslaved by the Bryan family, I hope that you will share your research and stories.

I created the blog, Slavery and the Bryan Family - Records of Slavery found in North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana in 2013. The blog still exists but I found I would not be able to research this subject or post regularly and want to ensure the information remains so am posting it on this regularly updated blog. 

I began the original blog after finding first names and birth dates in a transcription of a Bible record once owned by my great-great-grandfather, Reddick BryanI could not imagine researching families without the possibility of birth dates and last names. Additional names were found in Reddick Bryan’s probate record and in deed records. I have added anecdotal information based on census records.

I begin with records of 43 enslaved persons. These persons will be listed in possible family groups. Most records cited were found in Northwest Louisiana where my Bryan family settled in 1838. I will add to this if more information becomes available. On the 1840 census, Reddick Bryan reported owning eight slaves indicating that the majority of the enslaved persons he owned at his death in 1864 were acquired or born in Louisiana.

The First Ones

I will begin this list with a deed record from Reddick Bryan to his son Joseph B. Bryan found in Bienville Parish. This transaction, that took place on November 15, 1850, transferred 19 slaves to Joseph B. Bryan for a sum of $7,600.  It should be mentioned that not even a month prior, Reddick Bryan reported owning 19 slaves on the 1850 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedule taken on October 17, 1850. It should also be noted that in April of the following year, Reddick Bryan purchased the same 19 slaves for $7,600 from his son, Joseph B. Bryan. I am assuming that this was to avoid some type of tax. However, the importance of this document is not about the taxes or the transaction, but that some enslaved persons appear to be grouped by families.  

State of Louisiana
Parish of Bienville

Received of Joseph B. Bryan seven thousand six hundred dollars in full payment for the slaves named below  (__ iz)  Joe a man slave aged about sixty one years old, Nell a woman forty five years old, Alfred a man twenty two years old, Toby a man thirty five years old, Mourning a woman forty three years old, Green a man twenty one years old, Esther a woman nineteen years old and her infant child Ben 10 months old, Chaney seventeen years old, Jane a girl 13 years old, Charles a boy 11 years old, Jack a boy nine years old, Robert a boy seven years old, Julia a girl five years old, Jane a girl three years old, Walker an infant five months old, Annis a woman twenty four years old, Marshal a boy four years old, John an infant eight months old.  In all nineteen in number all of which I Reddick Bryan doth warrant to be sound in body and mind and I further warrant – the right and ____ to said Joseph B. Bryan and his heirs and assigns and from the claims of myself, my heirs, and assigns forever and from the claim of any other person whatever. In testimony whereof I have set my hand and seal before ____of this 15th Day of November 1850.

John N. Martin  (signed)                                                    Reddick Bryan {S.S}
William Wimberly  (signed)                                              Joseph B. Bryan    

This deed record combined with other records leads me to believe that Mourning may be the mother of most of these enslaved persons; Green, Esther, Chaney, Jane, Charles, Jack, Robert, Julia, Jane, and Walker.  Esther is the mother of Ben and Annis may be the mother of Marshal and John.

I am going to number each person as some names are repeated and changed. This will also eliminate any confusion as I further my research. Those with an * following a birth date were listed in Reddick Bryan’s family bible transcription.

1.     Joe – about 1789
Joe was listed in the deed in 1850 as being 61 years old, giving him a birth year of about 1789. He was not listed on the Partition of Slaves after Reddick’s death in July 1864. A Joe Blunt, age 100 lived with Nellie Blunt in Ward 4 of Bienville Parish in 1870.  Joe was not yet 100 years old, but I consider this a strong possibility.  

2.     Nell / Nellie – about 1805
Nell was listed as being 45 years old on the deed dated November 15, 1850. She was also listed as remaining with Elizabeth Bryan on Reddick’s estate’s Partition of Slaves in 1864. There are no Nellie’s in the 1870 census for Ward 4 of Bienville Parish born in 1805; however, two are listed as age 60. Nellie Carrel and Nellie Blunt are both possible matches. I did find it interesting that a Joe Blount, age 100 lived with Nellie Blunt. Nell probably came with the Bryan family from their move from Georgia to Louisiana. A Nell is listed in the will of Joseph Regan, Elizabeth’s first husband. 

Note: Elizabeth Regan married her cousin Joseph Regan in North Carolina. They moved to Pulaski County, Georgia in about 1818. Joseph Regan died in December of 1820. Elizabeth married Reddick Bryan, presumed to be a widower, on September 13, 1821 in Pulaski County. They lived in Reddick’s home in Twiggs County and later moved to Houston County, Georgia before relocating to Louisiana in 1838.

3.     Toby – about 1815
Toby was listed on the above deed with an age of thirty-five giving him a possible birth year of 1815. He was not listed on Partition of Slaves. No other information about Toby has been found.

4.     Alfred – June 3, 1928*
The ages on the above deed record appear to be very accurate when compared to the birth dates in the bible transcription. Alfred was listed as 22 years of age on the deed record and this matches the birth date found in the bible transcription. He was part of Lot #3, along with Walker, a boy, in Reddick’s Bryan’s Partition of Slaves. James Bryan, son of Reddick and his first wife, drew this lot.

5.     Bill
Bill, a boy was listed on the Partition of Slaves as a runaway in 1864.

6.     Prince - August 6, 1855*
Prince was found in the bible transcription twice with the same birth date. He was part of Lot #6, along with Jack, a man, in Reddick’s Bryan’s Partition of Slaves. Tilman drew this lot. A Prince Albert, age 15 was found on the 1870 census just below Tilman Bryan and family.  In 1880, Prince Albert was listed on the census as 23 years old and a mulatto with a wife Sarah A. They were living in the Ward 4 of Bienville Parish where the majority of Bryans lived. Two children Rena Hortford, age 3, and Eugine S. Hortford, age 1, were also living in the home. I found no additional information. I would assume that his mother is one of the women on this list, but that is not proven at this time.

7.     Anthony
Anthony was left to Elizabeth Regan Bryan by her first husband, Joseph Regan in Pulaski County, Georgia. No other information has been found.

8.     Simon
Simon was left to Elizabeth Regan Bryan by her first husband, Joseph Regan in Pulaski County, Georgia. No other information has been found.

9.     Bise
Bise was left to Elizabeth Regan Bryan by her first husband, Joseph Regan in Pulaski County, Georgia. No other information has been found.

10.Frances – born about 1839
11.Caroline – August 9, 1859*
12.Emily - October 3, 1855* / Emily - October 3, 1857*
13.Sam - April 24, 1861*
14.Mary - December 22, 1862*
Frances was purchased, along with her unnamed child, for $1300 by Reddick Bryan on May 3, 1858 from the Joseph Benning estate in Bienville Parish. Frances was described as female, 19, and cooper. Frances and her four children, Emily, Caroline, Sam, and Mary were listed in Lot #1 on Reddick Bryan’s Partition of Slaves and this lot was drawn by Harriet Bryan for her husband Terrell. In 1870, I found a Frances Thomas living with a Samuel Thomas who reported that he owned land. Children listed were Emily Bonnet, Caroline Blount, Sam Blount, Mary Blount, James Thomas, and Harriet Thomas. The fact that Samuel was listed as 90 years of age seems odd to me and more research needs to be done. In addition, the Thomas/Blount family is living with Thomas and Harriet Briant and family.  I suspect that this Briant family is that of my great-grandparents, Terrell and Harriet Bryan, but more research about this will need to be completed. If you are researching this family, check the 1880 census for Samuel and Harriet Thomas. I believe that Frances might have changed her name to Harriet. Also note that Blount is similar to Blunt, the last name that may have been taken by Nellie (2) and Joe (1).

Note that Emily was listed in the bible transcription twice, once born in 1855 and once in 1857. I am making an assumption that there was only one Emily, but research could prove this wrong.

15.Evaline/Evalina – born about 1835
16.Green - August 1854*
18.Warren - November 14, 1858*
19.Elizabeth - March 16, 1861*
On June 24, 1858, in Bienville Parish, Reddick Bryan purchased Evalina and her sons, Green and Ben from Washington Nix for $1800. Evalina was 23 years old giving her a birth year of about 1835. She and her children were described as black.  Reddick’s Partition of Slaves indicated that she and her five children would remain with Elizabeth, Reddick’s wife. In 1870, an Evaline Jones age 32 was living with Samuel age 38 and with Green 16, Jane 14, Warren 12, Lizzie 10, Mariah 9, and Elisa 5. Ben was not listed on the 1870 census.

20.Annis – about 1826
21.John - April 7, 1850. *
22.Marshal - April 1846.*
I am assuming that John and Marshal were sons of Annis. John and Marshal had birth dates listed in the bible, but Annis did not. In 1864 after Reddick’s death, John, a boy, and Marshal, a man were Lot#4 of the Partition of Slaves which was drawn by Reddick’s wife for Span Regan, step-son of Reddick. Were John and Marshal sent to Georgia to live with Span? Were they sold or did the war end before their circumstances changed? Annis was not listed in the bible, but the deed record giving her age of 24 results in an approximate birth year of 1826. There is an Ann Abrams of Red River Parish on the 1880 census. Ann Abrams was born about 1826. She was married to Jo Abrams and had a 9-year-old daughter named George Ann. Coincidentally  Annis was part of Lot #2 along with Esther, a woman, and Felix, a boy. This lot was drawn by Reddick’s daughter, Georgia Ann Frances Bryan Pitman.


Some Iverson families living in Bienville Parish, Louisiana in 1880

While visiting the Bryan Cemetery near Ringgold in Bienville Parish, I was told that the cemetery was cared for by an African American family named Iverson whose family cemetery was directly behind the Bryan Cemetery. I later determined that Iverson is probably the surname taken by many of those who were once owned by the Bryan family. The daughter of Larry Martin, a descendant of Reddick Bryan, wrote the following in June 2003:

I don’t know if my dad told you, but the Bryan Cemetery was destroyed several years ago by a construction crew. I can remember going to it as a child and the Bryan family had this black iron fence around it and there were 100s of slave's graves all around it. Some of the slaves had masonic emblems and were masons.
Also, some people are buried there that did not have stones when I was a child and then there are a lot of graves lost or not identified, mostly slaves.

believe that the remaining persons listed are all descendants of Mourning, a female enslaved by the Bryan family. After emancipation, she took the name, Iverson.

Morning was listed in the deed record between Reddick and his son, Joseph B. Bryan. She was not listed in the bible transcription but was one of several who would remain with Elizabeth Bryan as reported on the Partition of Slaves recorded after Reddick Bryan's death.

24.Green - August 14, 1829*
Green remained with Elizabeth Bryan along with Mourning and several others that I suspect are Mourning’s children.  

25. Easter/Esther -  July 15, 1831*
26 .Ben – February 11, 1850*
Ben, 10 months, was named as the son of Esther, age 19, on a deed record dated November 15, 1850. Her name was spelled Easter in the bible transcription, but Esther in Reddick’s Partition of Slaves. She was in Lot#2 which was drawn by Reddick’s daughter, Georgia Ann Frances Bryan Pitman. Ben, a boy was part of Lot#8 along with Henry, a boy and this lot was drawn by Joseph B. Bryan.

27. Chaina/Chaney/Chanci - September 15, 1833*
28. Gordon / Jordan - November 17, 1856*
29. Felix - June 26, 1854
30. Martha - April 12, 1861*
31.Wesley – February 26, 1859*
On November 15, 1850 Chaney was listed as 17 years old on a deed record. She was listed as Chanci on Reddick Bryan’s Partition of Slaves and was in Lot#5 along with her children, Martha, Westley, and Jordon.  Lot#5 was drawn by Robert E. Hammett of Natchitoches Parish, husband of Reddick's daughter, Dorothy Bryan. Felix, a boy, was in Lot#2 and drawn by Georgia Ann Frances Bryan Pitman. In 1870 Chany was the wife of  Isa Canfield with children, Jordon, Wesley, Felix, Peggy, and Mat.  

32. Janet/Jennette – May 6, 1837*
33. Coleman – October 31, 1857*
34. Sarah – February 19, 1860*
Janet/Jennette may have been the 13-year-old Jane found on the above November 15, 1850 deed. Jennette and her children, Coleman and Sarah were Lot#7 in Reddick’s Partition of Slaves and drawn by Reddick’s daughter Catharine Amanda Bryan Watts.

35.Charles - March 2, 1837* (could be 1839)
Charles remained with Elizabeth Bryan after Reddick’s death. A Charles Iverson was found on an older Bryan Cemetery transcription as born on March 2, 1839, and died November 22, 1900. If Charles and Jennette (32) are both the children of Mourning, the 1839 year of birth is probably the birth year for Charles. In 1880, Charles is living in Bienville Parish with his family which included his 75-year-old mother, Moarning (23)Iverson. Just below his family is Jackson Iverson, maybe Jack (36).

36.Jack – June 5, 1841*
Jack is the right age for Jackson Iverson, found on the 1880 census near Charles Iverson and his mother, Mourning. Jack is found on the 1850 deed above and also on the Partition of Slaves where he was in Lot#6 along with Prince, a boy. Lot#6 was drawn by Tilman C. Bryan, son of Reddick. 

37.Robert – May 7, 1843*
38.Morning - February 9, 1863*
This could be Robert Iverson who was found on the 1870 census at the age of 26 living with wife, Ann, and children; Charles, Morning (age 6), James, Robert, and Allie. This might also be Bob who was listed as part of Lot#9 along with a woman, Jane. John Regan, son of Elizabeth and her first husband, Joseph Regan drew this lot.  Young Morning was not mentioned in the Partition of Slaves. Note that on the same census page were Eveline Jones (15) and her family and Jane Pope (40)

39.Julia (possibly July)- September 1845*
Julia was found in the bible transcription and listed, on the 1850 deed, but not on the Partition of Slaves. Could she also be July, who was on the Partition of Slaves, and who was to remain with Elizabeth Bryan? I can find no other reference to July or Julia.

40.Jane – November 14, 1847*
Could this Jane be the daughter of Mourning? Jane married a General Pope and I have found her in several public family trees on as the daughter of Mourning. Jane’s age, on the 1870 census, matches that of Jane Pope, although she states that she was born in Georgia. The Pope family is just below the Robert Iverson family on the 1870 census.

41.Walker – June 16, 1850. *
Walker was a five-month-old infant on the deed record seen above. He was part of Lot#3 along with Alfred on Reddick Bryan’s Partition of SlavesLot#3 was drawn by James Bryan, son of Reddick.  No other information has been found about Walker.

42.Henry - December 7, 1851. *
Henry and another boy Ben (26) were part of Lot#8 in the Partition of Slaves and they were drawn by Joseph Bryan. No other information can be found about Henry.

43.Miles - October 30, 1852.
Could this be Miles Iverson found in the 1880 census with wife Nancy and 4 young children? Miles, a boy, was listed in the Partition of Slaves as remaining with Elizabeth Bryan. 


*These names and dates were found in a transcription of the Reddick Bryan Bible  found at the DAR library in Washington DC by Diana Bryan Quinn on July 7, 2010.  This bible record was submitted in 1950 and found in Louisiana Bible Records (1950), Louisiana DARGRC report S1v25. These records were submitted by Mrs. John Newton Pharr of the New Iberia Chapter of the DAR. There doesn't appear to be a connection between Mrs. Pharr and the Bryan family.  It was stated that the Bible originally belonged to Reddick Bryan of Georgia.  It was published in 1824. At the time of the transcription, it was owned by James Bryan Cook.  The location of this Bible is not currently known. 1930, 1920, 1910, 1900, 1880, 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT:, Inc., 2004. Indexed by ProQuest from microfilmed schedules of the [1930-1870] U.S. Federal Decennial Census. Data imaged from the National Archives and Records Administration. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.

Deed of sale from Reddick Bryan to Joseph B. Bryan. 15 November 1850, Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Deed Book A, page 380.

Overdyke, W. Darrell. Louisiana Plantation Homes, Colonial, and Antebellum.  New York: American Legacy Press, 1981.

Smith, Edith, and Lehman, Vivian. No Land -- Only Slaves!" Volume 8:
Slave Conveyances Abstracted from the Deed Books of Bienville Parish, Louisiana. 2004.  [].

Will of Joseph Regan. 18 December 1820, Pulaski County, Georgia. Will Book A, page 56.

Wimberly, Vera Meek. Wimberly Family History: Ancestors, relatives and descendants of William Wimberly, pioneer from Georgia to Louisiana, 1837. (Houston, Texas: D. Armstrong Co., c1979).

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