In this column last month we wrote about the pioneer settlement of Pleasant Grove, started in the spring of 1835, and told about some of the early settlers, including the Bryant families who came into the county early in April of 1835. In this group of hardy pioneers were E.W. "Wayne" Bryant, Simeon Bryant, Samuel D. Bryant, David Bryant, all brothers; and a brother-in-law, David Agnew.
Wayne Bryant chose the name of Pleasant Grove for the area near the Jones School House on Hendricks St. David Agnew, who married Nancy Bryant, perished in the terrible snowstorm that same April 1835.
Simeon Bryant left Pleasant Grove about 1836 to settle near the village of "Indian Town," just south of Hebron. When he built his cabin his Indian neighbors were not well pleased, but after he showed his kindness and consideration, he gained their respect and trust.
In that same year, John W. Dinwiddie, with his father and his sister, stayed at the Simeon Bryant cabin while their own claim in Eagle Creek was being made ready for pioneer living. The Simeon Bryant home, built over 100 years ago, still stands south of Hebron on State Road 2. [Note from the author, Richard Schmal -- Although the home was standing in 1980 when this article was written, it is gone now, but there is a monument at the site. It is also the site of the first white child born in Boone Township, Porter County, her name being Margaret Bryant Blackstone.]
David Bryant, one of the group arriving in April 1835, stayed in Pleasant Grove until the spring of 1838. His wife died March 1836, and Ball's History of Lake County tells us she was buried in Morgan Prairie in Porter County.
David married again in December of 1837. His is the first recorded marriage in Lake County, although the license was obtained in Porter County. The marriage was performed by Justice of the Peace Solon Robinson of Crown Point on a very cold December 2nd, 1837.
In the spring of 1838 he moved to Bureau County, Ill., stayed some years, moved to Missouri and after a few adventurous years returned to Illinois. In 1853 he returned to Lake County, Ind., and settled on the Fisher Place.
In 1854 he went to Illinois to bring back more than a thousand sheep. He traveled between Indiana and Illinois many times before returning to the Eagle Creek home of his son-in-law, William Fisher. David was a very sociable, friendly man of religious principle.
E.W. "Wayne" Bryant was elected Justice of the Peace in 1837, when Lake County was organized. After a meeting at the home of Thomas Reed two miles south of Crown Point, the first Methodist class was organized at Pleasant Grove. Classes were held at the home of E. Wayne Bryant, who became the class leader in 1839. Rev. Robert Hyde, a preacher living in the area, presided, and membership grew. Indians in the area made friendly visits to Wayne's home often.
Elias Bryant joined his four brothers at Pleasant Grove in the fall of 1835. In the year 1840, Elias Bryant and Cyrus M. Mason were elected elders of the Presbyterian Church at Crown Point to serve for the first year of the church's organization. Rev. Brown of Valparaiso was the acting pastor.
With the appreciated help of John H. Bryant, Sr. and his wife Mary Edith, and John Jr. and his wife Kathleen, we are able to tell about the Samuel D. Bryant family. The Bryant families left England for the Netherlands then to New Amsterdam, later to New Jersey, then Pennsylvania, then to Ohio, and finally to Lake County, Ind. At one time in England, the family name was Briant.
Samuel D. Bryant settled first in April 1835, on what was later called the Henry Jones place, just north of the old Jones School House. Samuel returned to Ohio an in 1854 came back to Indiana to buy a farm near what is now I-65 and State Road 2. It is noted in one history book that at the age of 82 he was working in the field binding oats.
Rev. T.H. Ball made this comment in his History of Lake County 1872: "there are several descendants of these Bryant families in Lake and Porter Counties and in the West. They are enterprising, intelligent and prosperous."
In 1860 Samuel D. Bryant's son, Harvey Woodruff Bryant, married Lucretia Dowd, the daughter of Conner Dowd, who was an early settler in the area. Dowd's first home was just east of the Buckley Homestead near the stream.
In January 1854, Connor Dowd bought 240 acres in Eagle Creek Township under the Swampland Act. The state of Indiana sold the land for $1.25 an acre with the proceeds from the sale by the State to be used for draining the swamps. A good deal of the funds were later found to be embezzled.
Harvey W. Bryant was the schoolmaster at the Orchard Grove School located at the south end of the road now referred to as "the nine mile stretch." After Harvey and Lucretia were married, they moved to what is now the Bryant/Dowd farm. Because this farm can be traced back to January 1854 and has been owned continuously by the same family, it has been awarded the Hoosier Homestead Award by the Indiana Dept. of Commerce. The 800-acre farm is now jointly owned by members of the John H. Bryant family and is operated by John H. Bryant, Jr.
The John H. Bryant family has kept a very interesting geneology of their family containing names, places, stories and photos. From their book the following is the lineage of the Samuel D. Bryant family: Pioneer Samuel D. Bryant married Joanna Woodruff. They had two sons, Harvey Woodruff Bryant and Merritt Conner Bryant. Harvey W. married Lucretia Dowd and Merritt C. married Effie Wilson of Hebron.
Merritt and Effie's son, John Harvey Bryant, married Mary Edith Harcus. John H. and Mary Edith have three children. Their daughter. Cynthia Bryant, married Ed. W. Foster and the Foster's children are Richard Andrew Foster and Robert Bryant Foster.
Sons of John H. and Mary Edith are John Harvey Bryant, Jr. and James Matthew Bryant. John Harvey Bryant Jr. married Kathleen Louise Kaldahl and their children are Michael Conner Bryant, Lindsay Kathleen Bryant and Jessica Leone Bryant.
James Matthew Bryant married Jane Ellen Meyer and they have a son, Douglas Matthew Bryant. James "Matt" Bryant is one of Lowell's newest businessmen.
At least two of the men of the Bryant family served in the Civil War. They are Arthur and Isaac.