Rev. N. A. D. Bryant was born in Moore County, N.C., in 1816, in which State his father, Elisha Bryant, was born in 1792. The Bryants, or Bryan as the name originally was called, are among the oldest and most honored families in the South. They are of Welsh origin; the ancestors immigrated to America about 1675, and settled on the Roanoke River, in North Carolina and Virginia. They are connected by marriage and intermarriage with the Whitfields and Boones; Daniel Boone, of historical fame, being a member of the latter mentioned family. The grandfather, Michael Bryant, about 1785 visited Moore County, N.C., where he wedded Miss Leah Graham, a woman of rare beauty and fine attainments.
The subject of this sketch, in company with an older brother, M. A. Bryant, who was a civil engineer, came to Montgomery, Tenn., in 1837. During a portion of that and the ensuing year, they both worked on a farm, the brother surveying, and our subject teaching school. In 1839 they went to Arkansas, visiting the famous “fountains of health,” the Hot Springs. At that day no elegant hotel or palatial bath house was to be seen; the only improvement was five rude pole pens, partly covered, and one spring was boxed with rough boards, at the base of the hill. A few miles northwest, on Cane Creek, they found a colony of people, some of whom had been there for forty years.
Our subject taught, on the Sabine River; M. A. was employed at Iron Sulphur Springs, both receiving large salaries. It soon became known that the Rev. N. A. D. was licensed to preach the gospel; and on Cane Creek, beneath a large brush arbor, the whole colony assembled to hear the maiden sermon of the youthful and earnest “boy preacher.” So gratified were the people, that by their unanimous request he delivered two more sermons later on. He returned to Tennessee, and entered the traveling ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church. At the annual conference, he was put on the North Alabama Circuit His first appointment was at Decatur, the seat of wealth and refinement. He was met in that large and elegant house of worship, by a vast and cultivated congregation, all anxious to hear the young, new minister. He disarmed the critic, and made such an impression upon his listeners, and so widespread became his reputation for sincerity and eloquence, that whenever it became known that he would fill the pulpit, he was greeted by an enthusiastic and mighty assemblage. Mr. Bryant is one of the most able and influential ministers of the Methodist Church. He is of so earnest, firm and yet sympathetic a nature, that he has the power of calling back to the fold the most hardened sinner, of comforting the afflicted, and guiding the young into the paths of truth and morality.
In 1845 our subject was united in marriage to Susan E. Joshin, of Dickson County, Tenn., a granddaughter of Benjamin Joslin of Davidson County. The fruits of this union was John Clarke, who died in infancy; William S., now a resident of Hardeman County; Thomas Lafayette, a well known divine, now living in Texas, and James Hart, who is connected with the United States mail service in Cincinnati. In 1854 Mrs. Bryant departed this life at Durhamville, Tenn. Mr. Bryant, in 1856, wedded Miss Virginia C. Ingram, a daughter of the late W. P. Ingram of Hardeman County. To this marriage five children were born: Nannie Taylor, wife of Rev. A. T. Hendrix, now in Hopkins County, Tex.; Charles Wesley, also resident of same State and county; Mattie McNeil, who died in infancy; Joseph Johnson, living at home, and Sue Idella, who is in Texas, with Mrs. Hendrix.
In 1855 Mr. Bryant purchased the Person farm, in Hardeman County, where, in 1857, he moved his family this being the first time that wife, children, servants and chattels were all in one place. Two years later Mr. Bryant bought the homestead of the late Rev. D. W. Hullenn. This is a beautiful place, highly cultivated and improved, in a healthful locality in sight of Grand Junction. January 1, 1860, the family took possession of their new home, where they have since resided. In 1870 Mr. Bryant formally withdrew from the traveling ministry, since which time he has been a local minister, having no special pastorate. In connection with the religious duties, he has been engaged in agricultural pursuits. In 1883 he made an extensive tour through Texas, and in 1885, accompanied by Mrs. Bryant and their infant child, again visited the Lone Star State.
Transcribed by David Donahue
Source: Goodspeed Pub. Co. History of Tennessee: From the Earliest Time to the Present ; Together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Fayette and Hardeman Counties, Besides a Valuable Fund of Notes, Original Observations, Reminiscences, Etc., Etc. Nashville: Goodspeed Pub. Co, 1887.