Bryan – farmhand, ball player

Mary Evans Horsthemke is only one of the many interesting people I have met while undergoing treatments for breast cancer.
I had known who she was for years, because Mary was the head cook at Vandalia High School and a familiar face.
During one of our conversations, I learned that it was Mary who introduced peanut butter and honey sandwiches to the school menu using federal commodities, and it was she who put it with chili. To this day I cannot have a bowl of chili without a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
One day, Mary pulled a picture from her purse and handed it to me. She pointed to the boy in the back row holding the catchers mitt aloft and said that her father, Charles Bryan.
She also said that there was a mystery around him. Charles Bryan was born and raised in Kentucky, but wound up in Fayette County when he was barely a teenager.
The story in the family was that he “sort of” ran away from home.
Mary thought the postcard photo had been taken in the county, and from the looks of it, her dad appears to be a member of a baseball team. The initials B.R.S. are stitched on the jersey of one of the boys and appear also on a pennant held by a boy in the front row.
Mary knew that her father was born in April 1894, in Campbell County, Kentucky, and that his father was named Alonzo.
To look into this, I first checked the 1910 Federal Census for Fayette County and discovered that Charlie Bryan, age 14, was a farmhand for Byron Snyder of Shafter Township.
The Snyders had a good start on a ball team, having four sons between the ages of 19 and 26 – Charlie, Edward Perry, Albert and Russell – and having a farmhand who could also play the game was a plus. Their eldest child was a daughter, Florence.
At the same time, I looked at the 1910 census for Campbell County, Ky., and found that Alonzo Bryan had started a new family and was father of a 2-year old son. This could have been among the reasons Charlie left home.
My friend, Charles Dailey, who was born and raised in Shafter Township, told me that many of the bigger farmers in the area sponsored baseball teams. The competition was good, plain fun.
The teams would travel from farm to farm, and I was told by another old ballplayer that the home team had to provide the ball.
The B.R.S. team was fortunate in that it appears that some of the boys, maybe Snyder boys, have uniforms, and the team has three bats. Most of the teams were lucky to have any equipment at all.
Charlie liked the area and found a wife after meeting Wilma H. Lawler, whose parents, Alexander and Mary Little Lawler, are counted among the early residents of Shafter Township. He stayed in the township and they raised their family here.
I wonder, did Charlie Bryan know that his great-great-grandmother, Mary Bryan, was Daniel Boone’s sister?
I’m not so sure he did, and that it would be Mary’s son, Eldon Evans, who would uncover this historical family connection while working on family genealogy.
I later learned that the William Bryan family had established Bryan’s Station, in what would become Rowan County in North Carolina as early as 1750. Squire Boone brought his family to Bryan’s Station in 1753, and two years later, the Squire’s daughter, Mary was betrothed to William Bryan.
In the fall of 1779, William Bryan and his brother-in-law, Daniel Boone, co-led their families through the Cumberland Gap and over the Wilderness Road to Boonesborough and Bryan Settlement.
William was known as “Captain Billy” and was the leader of the settlement.
They soon discovered the land on which the station was built was not theirs and owned by a Virginia absentee owner. William was appointed to return east to Virginia to seek to obtain title to the land.
Mary and William’s son, William, was killed by Indians in March 1780, soon after his father left to go back east. A second son died of fever the following month, and in May 1780, a month after William had returned, he was mortally wounded by Indians while out hunting. He lived eight days, dying on May 30, 1780.
Sons Samuel and Daniel Bryan took their mother back to Bryan’s Station, N.C., following his death. Two years later, Mary brought her family back to Kentucky, settling on land in Fayette County owned by her brother, Daniel Boone.
By 1790, Mary was living with son, Samuel, in Campbell County, Ky., although she spent time visiting between members of her large family. Following Mary’s death in July 1819, her body was brought back for burial on Samuel’s farm in a cemetery named for her.
Mary’s Bible, published in 1791, was handed down through her family until it was donated to the family home, “Waveland.”
This historic home, located six miles south of downtown Lexington, Ky., was built on land owned by Mary’s son, Daniel Boone Bryan.
To commemorate the event, a ceremony was held at “Waveland” on Sept. 18, 2010, where the Bible was ceremoniously placed in a beautiful handmade wooden stand with hinged glass box crafted for this purpose by Eldon Bryan Evans.
Eldon’s mother, Mary Evans Horsthemke, was also present for the event. A lot had been learned about Charlie Bryan since she had first pulled his photo from her purse.

The only boy identified in this photo from about 1910 is Charlie Bryan, who is holding his mitt up.