Francis Bryan &
Phoebe Woodruff

Francis Bryan was born June 25, 1770, probably in Surry Co., NC, and died Feb. 10, 1863, in Alleghany Co., NC. He married Phoebe Woodruff, daughter of Moses WOODRUFF, Sr., & Phebe MARSH, Aug. 9, 1796, in Ashe Co., NC. She was born Aug. 22, 1777, in Surry Co., NC, and died Mar. 9, 1856, in Ashe (Alleghany) Co., NC. Francis and Phoebe Bryan are buried at the Francis Bryan Cemetery on Road 1444 (Glade Valley Road) about 1/2 mile southeast of Glade Valley, Alleghany Co., NC.

Children of Francis Bryan & Phoebe Woodruff:

  1. +Morgan Bryan, b. Aug. 9, 1795, Wilkes (Ashe) Co., NC; d. 1882, Alleghany Co., NC; m. Susan HALE, daughter of William HALE & Lucy STONE, abt. 1815 (b. Feb. 1, 1800; d. Dec. 20, 1881); bur. Morgan Bryan Cemetery, Rd. 1444, Alleghany Co., NC.
  2. Gideon Bryan, b. Jan. 5, 1798, Wilkes (Ashe) Co., NC; d. Aug. 29, 1878, Surry Co., NC; m. (1) Mary JOHNSON, daughter of Richard Henry JOHNSON & Mary THOMPSON, Aug. 5, 1818, Wilkes Co., NC; m. (2) Sarah __ (b. abt. 1805; d. 1860-1870).
  3. Thomas Bryan, b. Mar. 15, 1800, Ashe Co., NC; d. July 1863, Wilkes Co., NC; m. Nancy BAUGUS, daughter of Robert BAUGUS (BAUGUESS) & Mary SPARKS, July 27, 1818, Wilkes Co., NC (b. abt. 1802; d. ?).
  4. Jinnett (Jane) Bryan, b. Oct. 20, 1802, Ashe Co., NC; d. in infancy.
  5. Sampson Bryan, b. Apr. 4, 1805, Ashe Co., NC; d. in infancy.
  6. John Bryan, b. Nov. 20, 1807, Ashe Co., NC; d. 1869 in Illinois; m. (1) Nancy THOMPSON, daughter of Elijah THOMPSON & Mary POTTER, Dec. 22, 1826, Surry Co., NC (b. abt. 1807; d. 1845); (2nd) Lydia JEFFRIES.
  7. Solomon Bryan, b. Aug. 1, 1810, Ashe Co., NC; d. in infancy.
  8. William K. Bryan, b. Aug. 3, 1811, Ashe Co., NC; m. Charlotte WOODRUFF, daughter of Abner WOODRUFF & Nancy BURCH, Nov. 1, 1830, Surry Co., NC (b. Jan. 29, 1812). Children: Phebe Ann Bryan (c.1832), Nancy W. Bryan (c.1834), Thomas J. Bryan (c.1838), Henry C. Bryan (c.1843).
  9. Francis "Frank" Bryan, Jr., b. Oct. 6, 1814, Ashe Co., NC; d. Jan. 1, 1904, Alleghany Co., NC; m. (1st) Margaret CARSON, abt. 1840 (b. Feb. 7, 1815; d. Feb. 28, 1851); (2nd) Rose Ann CARSON, daughter of Andrew CARSON & Margaret JOHNSTON, Dec. 15, 1872, Alleghany Co., NC (her 1st husband was Wesley N. NAYLOR) (b. Feb. 23, 1828; d. July 10, 1913); bur. Francis Bryan Cemetery, Glade Valley, Alleghany Co., NC.
  10. Abraham M. Bryan, b. June 13, 1817, Ashe Co., NC; d. Feb. 18, 1877, Alleghany Co., NC; m. Celia CARTER, widow of Allen WOODRUFF, Sept. 21, 1852, Yadkin Co., NC (b. abt. 1819; d. aft. 1870); bur. Francis Bryan Cemetery, Glade Valley, Alleghany Co., NC. No children.
  11. Joseph Bryan, b. June 13, 1817, Ashe Co., NC; d. in infancy.
  12. Phebe Bryan, b. Dec. 30, 1819, Ashe Co., NC; d. July 11, 1888, Crook Co., OR; m. Hughes Woodson ROBERTS, son of John R. ROBERTS & Nancy COCKERHAM, abt. 1838 (b. Feb. 18, 1813; d. Feb. 5, 1902).  Listed in the census of Grayson Co., VA, 1850-1870 and Linn Co., OR, in 1880.  In 1900, H.W. Roberts, age 87, widower, was living in Crook Co., OR. 


Francis Bryan of Ashe (Alleghany) County, NC, was born in 1770 either in North Carolina (according to census records) or Virginia (according to some published accounts).  He was a prosperous farmer in the Glade Creek area and represented Ashe County in the State Legislature in 1818.  He lived to be 93 years old.  Although there is debate about Francis Bryan's origins, it's possible that he was a grandson or great-grandson of the famous frontiersman Morgan Bryan, Sr., (1671-1763), a Pennsylvania Quaker who blazed a trail from Virginia to the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina in 1748.  The first names "Francis" and "Morgan" were very common in this family.  Unfortunately, the exact relationship between Morgan Bryan, Sr. (1671) and Francis (1770) is unknown.  Some researchers do not believe that Francis (1770) was a direct descendant of Morgan Sr., but think he was from a branch of the family who remained in Virginia when Morgan Sr. went to North Carolina.  Regardless, some background information about Morgan Sr. and his family may be useful for purposes of further research.

1833 Map of Surry/Yakdin Co., NC

Location of the Bryan Settlement
now Davie & Yadkin Co., NC
from an 1833 map

The Bryan Settlement lay near a well-used crossing of the North Yadkin River known as Shallow Ford.  Morgan Bryan Sr. obtained over 5,000 acres of land, more than anyone else in the backcountry, extending from Dutchman's Creek in what is now Davie County, north to the Yadkin River and Deep Creek in what is now Yadkin County.  (See Daniel Boone by John Mack Faragher (1992), p.42; also NC Archives land grant records.)  According to History of Surry County by J.G. Hollingsworth (1935), pp.51-52, "The most extensive land holder [in Surry County] prior to the coming of the Moravians was Morgan BRYANT (BRYAN) who according to records obtained a grant under date of August 20, 1752 and other places under date of October 28 of the same year.  As yet the full grant of this man has not been unearthed but there is sufficient evidence to state the holdings were very extensive and well chosen."

The Bryans' close neighbors included Squire Boone, father of the famed Daniel Boone.  Daniel Boone married Morgan Bryan Sr.'s granddaughter Rebecca Bryan, and three of Morgan Bryan's sons accompanied Daniel Boone on his expedition to Kentucky, where they founded the settlement called Bryan's Station.  According to The Life of Daniel Boone by Lyman C. Draper (Stakepole Books, 1998), p.139:

"The BRYAN family deserves special notice, alike from their intimate association with the Boones and early connection with the Kentucky story.  Morgan BRYAN, a native of Ireland, emigrated to America and seems to have settled in the area of York County, Pennsylvania.  Marrying Martha STRODE, they raised eight strong and healthy children, whose names in order were—Joseph, Eleanor, Morgan, Samuel, John, James, William, and Thomas.  In the year 1731 Joist HITE and Robert MCCOY of Pennsylvania obtained a grant for one hundred and forty thousand acres of land in the valley of Virginia, on condition of settling on it their own and a hundred other families … Among these families appears to have been Morgan BRYAN's, who, together with HITE, settled on Opeckon Creek, a few miles from Winchester [in what is now Frederick Co., VA, previously Orange Co., VA].  Not many years after, the BRYAN family removed up the Virginia Valley a hundred and seventy-five miles to the Big Lick near the head of Roanoke, in then Augusta, now Roanoke County, evidently bent on occupying the out-skirts of civilization … Still desirous of keeping in advance of others, the BRYANS migrated to the Yadkin Valley probably as early as 1746; several of their children were then married and had large families.  The Bryan Settlement in the forks of the Yadkin was certainly made years before Squire BOONE located in the same region."

Similarly, Robert W. Ramsey writes in Carolina Cradle (UNC Press, 1987), p.30:

"The most prominent of the settlers in northwestern Carolina before 1752 was Morgan BRYAN.  He was a member of the New Garden Quaker community in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1719, and accompanied by his brother William, he moved westward into the Pequea Creek district by 1724.  Bryan evidently prospered through the Indian trade, for in October, 1730, he and Alexander ROSS, another Quaker from New Garden, purchased from Virginia's Governor Gooch one hundred thousand acres of land on the waters of Opequon Creek upon which they settled a colony of Friends.  Bryan himself purchased a tract (in present-day Berkeley County, West Virginia) on a branch of Opequon Creek and settled there in 1734.  Fourteen years later, he removed with his large family to North Carolina, making his home on the south bank of Deep Creek four or five miles above 'shallow ford' on the Yadkin."

According to Ella Spraker, The Boone Family (Gen. Pub. Co., 1974) p.508, the Bryans' home in North Carolina was sixty miles from the nearest settlement.  In fact there were only three hundred taxable men in North Carolina west of the Haw River in 1749.  (John Crouch, Historical Sketches of Wilkes County, p.5.)  The Bryans' journey was long and difficult, as they had to cut a road for their wagons through the heavily wooded mountains.  In 1753, the Moravian Rev. Bernhard Adam Grube wrote:

"People had told us that this hill was most dangerous, and that we would scarcely be able to cross it, for Morgan BRYAN, the first to travel this way, had to take the wheels off his wagon and carry it piece-meal to the top, and had been three months on the journey from the Shanidore (Shenandoah) to the Etkin (Yadkin)."  (Quoted in Archibald Henderson, Conquest of the Old Southwest (1920) p.16.)

In later years, thousands of settlers followed "Morgan Bryan's Road" across the Blue Ridge Mountains through Maggoty Gap (near Boone's Mill) and across what is now Franklin and Henry Counties into North Carolina.  (An Abbreviated History of Pittsylvania Co., VA (1952) by Maud C. Clement, Ch. 5.)  The Moravians relied on the road to reach their settlement of Wachovia east of the Yadkin River.

Yadkin River

The Yadkin River

Morgan Bryan, Sr., died in 1763.  His will, dated Mar. 28, 1763, names his sons Joseph, Samuel, Morgan, John, William, James and Thomas, daughter Eleanor LINVILLE, and a granddaughter Mary FORBES.  (Rowan Co., NC, Will Book A, p.13.)  Thomas received the mansion house and plantation.  Morgan Bryan, Sr., is said to be buried at the Old Joppa Cemetery in Mocksville, Davie Co., NC.

A search for the name "Morgan Bryan" on Google Books provides dozens of references to the frontiersman and his family.  A selected bibliography appears at the end of this article.

Although Francis Bryan (b. 1770) was a notable person in the history of Ashe and Alleghany County, his origins are a bit obscure.  Several sources claim that he was born in Virginia, either Orange or Culpeper County, or the "eastern part of the state."  But census records indicate that Francis Bryan was actually born in North Carolina.  Francis' wife, Phoebe WOODRUFF, was from Surry (Yadkin) County, NC, where her father Moses WOODRUFF owned land near Fox Knob (now called Star Peak) on the headwaters of the South Fork of Deep Creek, not far from the Morgan Bryan Settlement.  There is also a possible connection between Moses Woodruff and Morgan Bryan, Sr.'s youngest son Thomas Bryan.  Two of Moses Woodruff's sons (i.e., Francis Bryan's brothers-in-law) married daughters of Abner PHILLIPS of Surry County, NC.  Abner Phillips was a cousin of Thomas Bryan's wife Sarah HUNT, the daughter of Col. Jonathan HUNT who was one of the founders of the "Jersey Settlement" on the Yadkin River.  The Phillips and the Hunts both came from the Hopewell Valley of New Jersey, where their families had close ties and many intermarriages going back several generations.

According to Wilkes County Heritage, Vol. 1 (Wilkes Gen. Society, 1982), p.120, and Alleghany County Heritage (Alleghany Co. Hist-Gen. Society, 1983), p.96, Francis Bryan arrived in Grayson County, VA, as a young man and was hired or bound himself to work at Blair's Forge.  At the age of 21, he removed to what is now Alleghany County, NC, and settled on Glade Creek.  (Blair's Forge was on Chestnut Creek near the present-day town of Galax, VA.) 

John Preston Arthur, Western North Carolina: A History (1914), Ch. VIII, p.197, identifies Francis Bryan as one of the first settlers in the area that later became Alleghany County.

"It seems that there were no settlers in Alleghany prior to the Revolutionary War; but it had been visited by hunters both from Virginia and the central part of this State, among whom were three brothers named MAYNARD from what is now Surry, who crossed the Blue Ridge and built cabins along Glade creek.  This was about 1786, and they had lived there about six years when Francis BRYAN, from Orange county, in 1793, located within five miles of them."

It's not clear whether J.P. Arthur meant Orange County, Virginia, or Orange County, North Carolina.  Before coming to North Carolina, the frontiersman Morgan Bryan lived on Opequon Creek in what was then Orange (now Frederick) County, VA.

Dr. A.B. Cox states in Footprints in the Sands of Time (1900), Ch. VI:

"Francis BRYAN came to Alleghany County from Elk Creek, Va., but was originally from the eastern part of the state.  [Query: does this mean eastern Virginia or eastern North Carolina? -ed.]  He married Miss Phebe WOODRUFF and settled in the southeastern part of the county on the road leading from Grayson Old Town to Traphill, Wilkes County, where he and family lived to a good old age."

Similarly, B.F. Nuckolls writes in Pioneer Settlers of Grayson County Virginia (1914), Ch. VIII:

"In the early settlement of Southwest Virginia, Francis BRYAN and his sister, Elizabeth BRYAN, came to Fort Chiswell and the Lead Mines; from there they crossed the Iron Mountain and settled on Elk Creek.  Elizabeth Bryan married John SUTHERLAND, Sr., and brought up a family of sons and daughters.  Francis Bryan married Phoebe WOODRUFF, and moved from Elk Creek to Ashe county, North Carolina."

In a key passage, Nuckolls claims that Francis Bryan was related to the great 19th century statesman William Jennings Bryan.  Nuckolls cites a family history of William Jennings Bryan:

"In the history of the Bryan family, written by the wife of William Jennings Bryan, she states, 'The great grandfather of William Jennings Bryan had a brother, Francis BRYAN, and a sister, Elizabeth BRYAN, that moved west from Eastern Virginia, and the family has lost trace of them.'"

In his autobiography The First Battle (1896) p.33, William Jennings Bryan wrote that his great-grandfather William Bryan lived in Culpeper County, VA, and had five children: "James, who removed to Kentucky; John, who remained upon the homestead; Aquilla, who removed to Ohio; and Francis and Elizabeth, about whom nothing is known.  John Bryan, the second son, was born about 1790 …"  (References to "Eastern Virginia" in the context of William J. Bryan might mean the eastern half of the original state of Virginia, in contrast to the area that became the state of West Virginia.  Culpeper County is actually in western, but not West Virginia.)

Around the turn of the century, the descendants of Francis Bryan, Sr., of Ashe/Alleghany Co., NC, latched onto the idea that he was the Francis Bryan mentioned in William Jennings Bryan's autobiography.  But there is no evidence of a connection.  The dates are not even consistent: William J. Bryan says that his ancestor, John Bryan "the second son" was born in 1790, and Francis Bryan of Ashe/Allleghany Co., NC, was born twenty years earlier, in 1770.  Claims of relationship to famous people should always been taken with a grain of salt, and in his day, few Americans were as famous as William Jennings Bryan.

Personally, I believe there is a good likelihood that Francis Bryan was one of the Bryans from the Bryan Settlement in Surry County, NC.  Therefore he could have been a descendant of Morgan Bryan, Sr., although it is also possible he was a cousin from a different branch of the family.  It is interesting to note that Morgan Bryan, Sr., had sons named Joseph, Morgan, Samuel, John, James, William, and Thomas.  The sons of Francis Bryan included Joseph, Morgan, John, William, and Thomas; leaving out Samuel who was a notorious Tory.  I believe Francis was born in North Carolina as indicated by the census records.  There is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the census records without additional evidence.  Francis Bryan presumably knew where he was born.  Francis' wife, Phebe Woodruff, growing up on Deep Creek, was practically the "girl next door."  Francis could certainly have traveled from Surry County, NC, to Elk Creek, Grayson County, VA, to find work, and then moved a few miles south to settle on Glade Creek in Ashe (Alleghany) County, NC, where land was available to support his new family.  Francis took over a land grant in the Bullhead Mountain area from a man named Morgan Bryan (Wilkes Land Entry Book No. 1613) – this might have been Morgan BRYAN, Jr., the son of Morgan Bryan Sr. (more evidence of a connection between Francis and the family of Morgan Bryan in Surry County).

A family document entitled Ingalls_genealogy.pdf posted on the internet by Richard S. Boswell, Jr., includes a transcription of a letter written in 1906 by Alexander C. Sutherland to Hon. William H. Bryan in which he speculates that his great-grandmother, Margaret Elizabeth Bryan (who married Alexander Sutherland of Grayson Co., VA), is the Elizabeth Bryan mentioned in The Last Battle.  The letter also states:

"My great grandfather's name was Alexander Sutherland, I am a namesake of his.  Francis Bryan, the brother of my great grandfather came and lived with them until he married.  The country was full of game then, and he became a great hunter.  I am not able to give the name of the lady he married.  After he married, he settled in Ashe County, N.C.  He raised a large family, I cannot state the number.  I have seen two of his sons Thomas and Morgan.  Morgan was a Methodist minister.  They were quick spoken, energetic, resolute men.  That is not surprising for old uncle Frank Bryan was the most through going __ man that lived in his day."

The Ingalls Genealogy document also has a letter dated July 16, 1956, by W.E. Cox, Sr., of Galax, Virginia, which provides further information about Francis Bryan.  Mr. Cox writes:

"The first part of this story was told me by my mother who was a grand daughter of Frank Bryan, Sr., and the story about Elizabeth Bryan, Frank Bryan's sister who came to live with him was told me by Frank Bryan, Jr., about the years 1895-1900, when I was making a trip through Alleghany County, N.C. and at the request of my mother I went to his home and spent the night with him.…
"About the year 1770 a family of Blairs came to this section and built a forge on Chestnut Creek just below the old town of Blair and just a few miles down the creek from the present site of Galax, for the purpose of smelting and working the iron ore that was found in that section.  They built a dam across Chestnut Creek and used the power from this dam to operate a trip hammer to hammer out the iron bars that were produced from the ore.
"I can remember as a boy seeing wagons that were tired with wagon tire that was forged in this forge, and the band iron and other types of irons used in the old Cox Mill on Chestnut Creek which was built just after the Civil War came from this forge.
"Sometime after this forge was built, my mother told me that Frank Bryan, Sr. as a boy came to this forge and hired (or bound) himself, whichever was the custom of that day was for minors to Mr. Blair, and stayed with him until he was 21 years old.
"When Frank Bryan, Sr., was 21 years old, Mr. Blair gave him a horse, bridle and saddle, so putting all his worldly belongings on the horse he mounted the horse and started out to establish a home for himself.  He turned his face toward the South and the Blue Ridge Mountains, and finally selected the place for a home at what is now Cherry Lane, which is located on U S Route 21 'Lakes to Florida Highway' about halfway between the town of Sparta, the county seat of Alleghany County, N C. and the present Blue Ridge Parkway.
"Here he erected a cabin out of chestnut saplings and for his eating table he bored holes in the logs of his cabin and drove in sticks on which he placed split puncheons, putting the flat side up to hold his plate and food.  I can't recall the other furnishings which he contrieved for his cabin, only I remember as my mother described it that it was very primitive.
"It is not known who Frank Bryan married, but there is a tradition that he married a sister of Daniel Boone's, but from the dates I have it seems that Daniel Boone was of an earlier generation than Frank Bryan, as the record states that Daniel Boone married Rebecca Bryan, from the Yadkin River settlement in 1756, which fact put him in an older generation. "

W.E. Cox then goes on to recount a story which he says was told to him by Frank Bryan, Jr., around the year 1895-1900.  During the Revolutionary War, Alex Sutherland and one other "it was either a Cox or Osborne" deserted from the British Army eventually settled in Elk Creek, Virginia, "only eight or ten miles from where Frank Bryan had pitched his cabin".  In time Frank Bryan's sister Elizabeth became the wife of Sutherland.  W.E. Cox comments that "I am anxious to know how this story fits into the missing two mentioned in William Jennings Bryan's family as given in the book 'The First Battle' … my recollection has been that Frank Bryan, Sr., and his sister Frances [sic] fit well into the vacant place in the William Jennings Bryan story." 

Based on all of the above sources, I think it is clear that the connection to William Jennings Bryan was little more than wishful thinking.  However, we can create a timeline of Francis Bryan's life.  Francis Bryan, born in 1770, came to Elk Creek in Grayson Co., VA, "as a boy" (say, 1775-1780).  His sister married Alexander Sutherland about 1784.  It's said that Francis worked at Blair's Forge on Chestnut Creek.  According to "Early Development and Growth of Galax, Virginia" by C.L. Martin, Thomas Blair settled on Chestnut Creek in 1782 and constructed the furnace and ironworks in 1788.  Francis would have been 18 years old, so he was probably hired, not bound out.  He left Grayson County at age 21 (about 1791) and settled on the Little River and Glade Creek in what is now Alleghany County, NC.  He married Phoebe Woodruff in 1796.  Her family was from Surry County, but her father Moses Woodruff and brother John Allen Woodruff obtained land grants in 1797-1798 on Glade Creek near Bull Head Mountain (now Alleghany County).

There is an interesting record of a man named John Bryan who apparently lived for a time in "the Hollows" of Surry Co., NC, the area around present-day Mount Airy.  In 1823, John Bryan gave a long statement about the local history which is preserved in the Walter Clark Manuscripts at the NC Archives.  Along with colorful descriptions of various local characters, John Bryan talks about Thomas Blair who built the ironworks in Grayson County.  He also describes the travels of a man named Mr. Miller from Augusta County, VA, who he says was a cousin of "the great Tory Samuel Bryan". (See NC Genealogical Soc. Journal, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Aug. 1977), pp. 165, 172, and Vol. V, No. 1 (Feb. 1979), p.2.)  The Tory Samuel Bryan, of course, was a son of Morgan Bryan, Sr.  In other words, this John Bryan seems to have been closely acquainted with both Thomas Blair of Blair's Forge, and with the family of Morgan Bryan, Sr.  Some researchers believe John Bryan was Francis Bryan's brother; he may be the John Bryan who purchased a parcel of land on the Little River (present-day Alleghany Co.) from Dabney HARRIS on May 30, 1796 (Wilkes Co., NC, Court Minutes).

Further research on the Bryan family of Surry County might help identify Francis Bryan's parents.  Morgan Bryan had seven sons.  Of these, Joseph, Morgan Jr., James, and William went to Kentucky with Daniel Boone.  (Joseph Bryan's daughter Rebecca was the wife of Daniel Boone, and William Bryan was married to Daniel Boone's sister.)  Samuel Bryan also went to Kentucky but came back and commanded a company of Tories (Loyalists) during the Revolution.  Some souces say he was killed at the Battle of Shallow Ford in 1780 and nothing is known of his descendants; other sources claim he and his family relocated to New York after the war.  That leaves John and Thomas.  John may have been killed in the Revolution or according to some researchers, he may be the John Bryan who lived on Bear Creek in Davie (formerly Rowan) Co., NC.  There is no indication that John had a son named Francis.  That leaves Thomas, who inherited Morgan Sr.'s house and plantation in the Bryan Settlement.  Thomas died intestate prior to 1778 and his widow, Sarah HUNT, later married the Baptist minister John GANO and moved with him to Lexington, Kentucky, with most of the children.  Unfortunately, published lists of Thomas Bryan's children do not include a son named Francis.  Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, there is a possible tie between Thomas Bryan and and Francis Bryan in that Francis Bryan's wife Phoebe Woodruff had two brothers who married daughters of Abner PHILLIPS, a cousin of Thomas Bryan's wife Sarah HUNT (daughter of Col. Jonathan HUNT).  At the very least, this suggests that Francis Bryan did have some connection to the Bryans of the Bryan Settlement in Surry County.

As noted, some researchers believe that Francis Bryan, Sr., came from Virginia.  Descendant Larry Bryan, who has spent many years researching the Bryan family, thinks that Francis was the son of a Thomas Bryan of Culpeper County, VA.  This Thomas Bryan was probably related to Morgan Bryan, Sr., but from a branch of the family that remained in Virgina when Morgan left for North Carolina.  So, for now, the hunt for Francis Bryan's origins will have to continue.

Francis Bryan is not listed in the 1790 census of Surry County (he would have been 20 years old) and, unfortunately, the 1790 census of Virginia does not exist.  There was a Francis Bryan in Rowan County, NC in 1790, in a household consisting of 1 white male over 16 and 2 white females.  This Francis Bryan does not appear in any further census records in Rowan County or Davie County (created from Rowan in 1836).  It's not known if this is the same Francis Bryan who settled in settled permanently in Ashe (Alleghany) County by 1800 — but probably not if Francis was still in Grayson County, VA, in 1790.  Francis Bryan died intestate in 1863 and was buried in a family cemetery on his land, now on Road 1444 (Glade Valley Road) a half mile southeast of Glade Valley, Alleghany Co., NC.


Feb. 10, 1780. Joel STAMPER entered 250 acres on the path that goes from Bullhead to Jacob MINER's on south side of Chestnut Ridge near the spring on Little River. (Joel STAMPER and Morgan BRYANT marked out, Francis BRYANT written in.) (Wilkes Land Entry Book No. 1613.)

Note: This land entry was originally made by Joel STAMPER in 1780 and later taken over by Morgan BRYAN, then by Francis BRYAN.  This could not have been Morgan BRYAN, Sr., who died in 1763, but it might have been his son Morgan Jr., or a grandson.  The reference to Bullhead Mountain and the Little River proves that this parcel was located in the Blue Ridge in what today is the southeastern part of Alleghany County.  The area was part of Wilkes County until 1799 and Ashe County until 1859.  Other land records confirm that Francis Bryan lived in the Blue Ridge in the vicinity of Bullhead Mountain.  See, e.g., Alleghany DB 5:155 (describing land on Bullhead & Little Glade Creek on top of the Blue Ridge adj. Francis BRYAN, Sr.)

May 30, 1796. A deed from Dabney HARRIS to John BRYAN, parcel of land on the Little River, proven by oath of Richard WILLIAMS, Esq. (Wilkes Co., NC, Court Minutes.)

Note: In 1785, Dabney Harris obtained a land grant for 150 acres on both sides of Glade Creek and the Little River. This was probably the parcel that he sold to John Bryan in 1796. It was in the same area that Francis Bryan, Sr., lived. The relationship between Francis Bryan and John Bryan is unknown; there are no further records of this John Bryan in Ashe/Alleghany County. Some researchers believe he was Francis Bryan's brother.

1800 Census, Ashe Co., NC: FRANCIS BRYAN
3 w/m under 10 1 w/f over 45
1 w/m 26-45  

Nov. 1806, Francis BRYAN and others ordered to view and lay off a road "from HAPPERSON's [HOPPPERS?] road between little river and Glad [Glade] creek the most convenient way by MAXWELL's Mill into the road from Elk Spur to the furnace & make report &c." (Ashe Court Minutes.)

May 1807, Francis BRYAN and others ordered to view and lay off a road from Richard WILLIAMS to Joseph DAMSONS. (Ashe Court Minutes.)

May 1809, Francis BRYAN and others ordered to view and lay off a road from Elk Spur Road to the North Carolina line in a direction to Point Hope Furnance, turn off at Frank BRYAN's then the nearest and best way to the Virginia line to go to the furnace on Peach Bottom. (Ashe Court Minutes.)

1810 Census, Ashe Co., NC: F. BRYAN
1 w/m under 10 1 w/f 26-45
3 w/m 10-15  
1 w/m 26-45  
1 slave  

1815 Tax List, Ashe Co., NC, Capt. Williams Dist.: FRANCIS BRYAN, 1500 acres, $750, 1 white poll, 1 black poll

1820 Census, Ashe Co., NC, p.4: FRANCES BRYANT
3 w/m under 10 1 w/f under 10
1 w/m 10-15 1 w/f over 45
1 w/m over 45  

July 24, 1822. Francis BRYAN witnessed a deed from John MCBRIDE of Lawrence Co., IN, to William CARSON of Mecklenburg Co., NC, for 3 tracts of land in Ashe Co., NC, on Little River & Glade Creek. The deed was proved on Mar. 20, 1897, by Francis BRYAN from the handwriting of his father, Francis BRYAN, who was deceased. (Alleghany DB 11:160.)

1830 Census, Ashe Co., NC, p.31: FRANCIS BRYAN
1 w/m 10-14 1 w/f 10-14
2 w/m 15-19 1 w/f 50-59
1 w/m 60-69  

1850 Census, Ashe Co., NC, p.251:
A.M. BRYAN, 33, farmer, $1,000, NC
-- Lewis, 22, NC
-- Nancy, 20, NC
-- Martha, 10, NC
-- Francis, 80, NC
-- Phebe, 75, NC

Oct. 17, 1853. State of NC to Francis BRYAN, 100 acres in Ashe County on Glade Creek. Entered Sept. 11, 1851. (NC Archives Land Warrants & Plats, File No. 4350, Folder No., Grant No. 6001, Book 157:399.)

1860 Census, Alleghany Co., NC (HH#615):
A.M. BRYANT, 43, farmer, $7,000, $6,400, NC
-- Celia, 42, NC
MCBRIDE, Martha, 25, NC
BRYANT, Francis, 91, farmer, NC


  1. Armstrong, Zella, Notable Southern Families Vol. II (The Lookout Pub. Co., 1922), pp.33-37.
  2. Arthur, John Preston, Western North Carolina: A History (1914), Ch. VIII, p.197.
  3. Boone, Nathan, My Father Daniel Boone: The Draper Interviews with Nathan Boone (Univ. of Ky. Press, 1999).
  4. Bryan, Charles W., Jr., "Morgan Bryan, Pioneer on the Opequon and Yadkin," Virginia Magazine of History & Biography, Vol. 70 (Jan. 1962).
  5. Bryan, J.D., "The Boone Records," Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society Vol. 14 (1916), p.28.
  6. Casey, Robert & Bernice, Bryan Family History (self-published, 2007).
  7. Cooper, J.R., "Bryan Families" Lexington (KY) Herald, Feb. 17, 1927, and March 1927.
  8. Cox, A.B., Footprints in the Sands of Time (1900), Ch. VI.
  9. Draper, Lyman C., The Life of Daniel Boone (Stakepole Books, 1998), p.139.
  10. Faragher, John Mack, Daniel Boone (Macmillan, 1993), p.42.
  11. Henderson, Archibald, Conquest of the Old Southwest (Univ. of Mich., 1920), p.16.
  12. Hollingsworth, J.G., History of Surry County, or, Annals of Northwest North Carolina, (W.H. Fisher Co., 1935), pp.51-52.
  13. Hofstra, Warren R., The Planting of New Virginia (John Hopkins Univ. Press, 2004), p.23
  14. Nuckolls, B.F., Pioneer Settlers of Grayson County Virginia (1914), Ch. VIII.
  15. Ramsey, Robert W., Carolina Cradle (Univ. of NC Press, 1987), p.30.
  16. Spraker, Ella, The Boone Family (Gen. Pub. Co., 1974), p.508.
  17. Wall, James W., History of Davie County in the Forks of the Yadkin, (Reprint Co., 1985), pp.24-25.

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