William Joel Bryan Chapter History

The William Joel Bryan Chapter #14 was organized in the early 1950’s and named for William Joel Bryan, the founder of Bryan, Texas and a great grandson of Moses Austin.  His descendants were among the original members of the chapter and two continue to be members.  The chapter was inactive for several years, but was reactivated in 1977 with the existing members and several new ones.  George Edward Madeley was the primary force in the reorganization and served as President for the period 1977-79.  The chapter assisted in the organizing the William Mayfield Chapter #34 in Brenham.

The chapter hosted the 1980 Annual Meeting of the Sons of the Republic of Texas.  George E. Madeley was installed as a Knight of San Jacinto at that time.  In 1982, Joseph Milton Nance, Past President of the Chapter, was also installed as a Knight of San Jacinto.

In 2000, the chapter again hosted the Annual Meeting at the Hilton Hotel in College Station.  The Chapter President was Jeremiah M. ‘Jerry’ Nance and Charles Peter ‘Charlie’ Briggs III was installed as Knight of San Jacinto at that time.  The ceremony was held in the Rotunda of the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station.  Briggs was also installed as President General of the Sons of the Republic of Texas at that meeting.  Shortly thereafter the chapter became inactive and remained so until late 2010.

The Chapter has once again reorganized through the efforts of George Nelson, Charlie Briggs and Mervin Peters with a first meeting on February 23, 2011, the 175th Anniversary of the beginning of the Siege of the Alamo.   Through the end of 2013 seventeen meetings have been held with a wide variety of programs of topics relative to the Republic of Texas era.  Attendance has grown each year with the average attendance reaching just over 23 in 2013.

The Chapter has undertaken a number on meaningful projects steadily growing in size.  Started out with a Boonville Cemetery memorial service for identified and vetted local Citizens of the Republic of Texas at which Citizen Medallions were placed and unveiled for each of four Citizens buried there.  Next followed was the placement and dedication of a cenotaph memorializing the only known individual with ties to Brazos County to perish in the Battle of the Alamo…Richardson Perry.  At the present time the chapter is nearing reality in its efforts to relocate a fabulous and well preserved 1855 dogtrot log cabin to the Boonville Heritage Park adjoining Boonville Cemetery, a Republic of Texas era community asset.  Currently it appears the cabin will have been restored and reset in the park by summer 2014 and the finishing touches completed in time for an official dedication in March 2015.


Citizen of the Republic of Texas

BRYAN, WILLIAM JOEL (1815–1903). William Joel Bryan, son of James and Emily (Austin) Bryan (see PERRY, EMILY AUSTIN BRYAN), was born at Hazel Run in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, on December 14, 1815. He attended school at Potosi until 1830. In 1831 he moved to Texas with his mother and stepfather, James F. Perry. He lived in the eastern part of Brazoria County before moving in 1832 to Peach Point Plantation, where Bryan was instructed by a governess at home while his father looked after the plantation, cattle, and property of Stephen F. Austin.

Bryan served in the Texas Revolution in 1835 with the Brazoria County Volunteers and was with his uncle, Stephen F. Austin, during the Siege of Bexar. He was with Sam Houston in the retreat of the army across Texas, but was ill with measles at the time of the battle of San Jacinto. He served as an overseer at Peach Point between 1836 and 1839, for which he received $800. In April 1840 he married Lavinia Perry, his cousin by marriage, and settled at Durazno (Spanish for "peach") Plantation, an extension of Peach Point Plantation given to the couple on the occasion of their marriage. There the couple's seven children, four of whom later joined the Confederate Army, were born. The death of Bryan's daughter Eliza at the age of five or six occasioned the opening of Gulf Prairie Cemetery. Durazno Plantation raised cotton, cattle, and, by the 1850s, sugar, but made only a single sugar crop between 1852 and 1858. By 1860 Bryan had real property valued at $176,000, personal property valued at $62,320, and thirty-eight slaves. During the Civil War he fed Confederate troops stationed at the mouth of the Brazos at his own expense. In 1865 he granted the Houston and Texas Central a right-of-way through his land in Brazos County, and a projected townsite, later called Bryan, was named in his honor. Bryan gave the town financial assistance and helped to establish its bank. He dreamed of the development of a deepwater port at the mouth of the Brazos and was involved with George L. Hammeken in promoting the Brazos and Galveston Railroad from Galveston Bay to the Brazos River and in developing municipal real estate at Austinia, near the site of present Texas City. Emily M. Perry deeded fifty-five of the 122 blocks of the town to Bryan and Hammeken on January 16, 1839, and the remainder on February 1. Bryan was a member of the Texas Veterans Association and a Presbyterian after 1894. He died on March 3, 1903, and was buried in Gulf Prairie Cemetery at Peach Point.


Nanetta Key Burkholder, The 1860 Census of Brazoria County (Brazosport, Texas: Brazosport Genealogical Society, 1978). Abigail Curlee, "History of a Texas Slave Plantation," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 26 (October 1922). C. W. Raines, Year Book for Texas (2 vols., Austin: Gammel-Statesman, 1902, 1903). Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Texas Collection, July 1953.

Lillian Childress                                                                          Source:  The Handbook of Texas Online