Bryan Life in Rowan County, North Carolina and Beyond

Yesterday’s post paved the way, so to speak, for the family of Morgan Bryan’s move from Virginia to North Carolina. They may well have originated in Pennsylvania, but I have not been able to verify that information for myself.

So, while Morgan Bryan’s early adult life hasn’t yet been proved, he did leave a nice paper trail in Rowan County, North Carolina and even left a will.

It would take multiple posts just to share Morgan Bryan’s life story as a land speculator. As my goal is to prove whether or not Rebecca Alberty was a member of this family, I am going to jump right to the 1763 will of Morgan Bryan. This will appears to have had some folded edges and tears which have been taped, making some words impossible to read:

Will of Morgan Bryan, Rowan County, NC, A:13-14
Source: FamilySearch

I Morgan Bryan of Rowan County being in perfect (?) memory blessed be God for his mercies do dispose of my Estate as followeith Viz. 1stly I give & bequith unto my be—- son Thomas Bryan my mansion House & plantation . . ..part of a Negro Boy named Jack also my Waggon & Wag. . . Horse called black and the necessarys belonging to the Wag. . . and my Plow and utinsils thereunto belonging to . . . .viz: a man called brown Dint(?) & her . . . & young . . . her colt two Cows Viz a Cow called posey & her calf the other called Brown . . . .also my Bed & Furniture

After my Decsase resarving a Suffisent Living for me of the Land while I live 2d I give & bequith unto my beloved Daughter Elinor Linville all my wifes wearing apparele 3d I give & bequith unto my Grand Dauhter Mary Forbes my great pot & five shillings sterl. 4th Eight pounds prelamation(?) to my beloved Son James Bryan 5th I rezarve for my funeral Charges and sickness 6th I give & bequith Joseph Samuel Morgan John William James & Thomas & my Daughter Elinor Linville all the rest of my real & personal Estate to be equale divided amongst them together with that part of my Estate which they have already recd 7th Article I do nominate & appoint my beloved sons John Bryan & William Bryan to be Exer ratifying and confirming this & no other to be my last Will and Testamint whereof I have hereunto set my Hand & Seal

Morgan Bryan (Seal)

March ye 28th: 1763
Signed sealed published & pronounced
in the presence of
Morgan Bryan junr
Anthony (Peaverler?)
Mary (her mark) Forbis

Morgan Bryan died sometime between 28 March 1763 and the July 1763 court term when his will was proved and recorded.

If the family lore is true that the Bryans left Pennsylvania for the Shenandoah Valley about 1729 (and they were most definitely settled in Virginia by 1734), then the first five children were probably born in Pennsylvania and the rest in Virginia.

Children, perhaps in birth order in Morgan’s will:

  1. Joseph, born c1720; probably died in Fayette County, Kentucky after 1800, as he is found on the 1787 and 1800 tax lists there; said to have married Alyee Linville, but no marriage record found. Most of the Fayette County land deed books are not indexed and Joseph left no will. He earlier lived on Opequon Creek in Frederick County, Virginia, south side of the south branch per Draper Manuscripts.
  2. Elinor, born c1722; married William Linville, before 1746,  who was reportedly killed while hunting in the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1766. Elinor is said to have moved to Kentucky and died there c1792, but again proof is lacking.
  3. Samuel, born c1724; died 1798, Rowan County, North Carolina; married Elizabeth. He left a will. Samuel was in Kentucky by 1775 and Samuel’s family arrived in Kentucky on 26 April 1779 per Draper’s Manuscripts.
  4. Morgan, born c1725; Morgan was in Kentucky by 1775 per Draper Manuscripts. His son, George, was born 15 February 1758 per Draper. There is a will dated 29 September 1794 but not proved until July 1804 by one Morgan Bryant, but it isn’t clear whether it is this Morgan. He made bequests to his wife, not named, daughter Rebecca, son Morgan and Mary, daughter of his son Joseph Bryant. If Morgan who wrote the will is this man, then  there is a daughter Rebecca who could be the one who married Henry Alberty. However, her father would have been 55 when she was born c1783. Not impossible or even improbable, particularly if he married more than once.
  5. Mary?, born c1728; Morgan Bryan is said to have had a daughter Mary who married Thomas Curtis and who died after giving birth to a daughter, also named Mary. Mary Forbes, grandchild of Morgan who he named in is will might be the child of Mary Curtis. It is also possible, as Mary is named after Elinor in the will that she is a daughter of Elinor Bryan Linville.
  6. John, born c1730; in Kentucky by 1773, if information in the Draper Manuscripts is correct.
  7. William, born c1732; died by 1782, when his will was proved in Rowan County, North Carolina and possibly soon after 23 May 1780 in Kentucky County, as it was then called. (From Draper Manuscripts: The death of William Bryan was greatly lamented. His wound in the knee mortified. It was not at first thought to be dangerous.) It is said he was killed in an Indian attack, which is supported both by his son’s interview and by his opening statement in his will that he was of “low Estate of Health, but of Sound mind” and later in the interview “the Indians fired on my uncle, shot him through the knee, then the groin, and shot away the ball of his thumb and shot his horse in the side of the head.The horse sunk to his knees, then rose and carried Bryan off.; married Mary Boone, c1755, based on their son’s Darper Manuscript interview. He named his wife and children Samuel (born c1756), Daniel (born c1758, based on his statement of age and being the second son) in the Draper interview) and unmarried daughters Phebe, Hannah, Sarah, Elizabeth and Mary. However, “BRYAN FAMILIES” by J.R. Coo was published in THE LEXINGTON HERALD Sunday, April 17, 1927 in a diary format and it states that this was William Bryan JUNIOR??? If Mary was a newborn and we count back by increments of two years between births and one more year for marriage, then William who died would have been born in the 1730s. Junior might be an error. The information was apparently taken from interviews found in the Draper Manuscripts about 1844. William was in Kentucky by 1773 if information in Draper Manuscripts is correct. The Draper interview was seemingly given by a son of William and Mary (Boone) Bryan.
  8. James, born c1734
  9. Thomas, born c1736

Unfortunately for me, Morgan and Martha Bryan had many more sons than daughters. Rebecca (MNU) Alberty was born c1783 in North Carolina, which means she might be a grandchild of Morgan Bryan or even a great grandchild.

In a place where vital records are not widely in existence, proving my goal is going to be difficult. Next, I will take a look at Morgan’s sons – Joseph, Samuel, Morgan Jr., John, William, James and Thomas.

One thought on “Bryan Life in Rowan County, North Carolina and Beyond”

  1. William Carl Wilkinson I married Lucy Bryan in Rowan County, North Carolina circa 1797.
    A son of William Carl Wilkinson I was John Batley Wilkinson I who married Frances “Frankie” Beryman/Berryman. Her parents were Benjamin and Ann Bryan Beryman/Berryman.
    I am wondering if Frances and Ann were related.

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