Cousin John, born April 6, 1853 to Colemen and Louise Bryson in North Carolina, lived a life that reads like an exciting western or an inspiring rags to riches tale. He was worth millions at his death on April 10, 1915 after his penniless start. He left North Carolina in 1873. He went to work as a day laborer as soon as he arrived in Texas. He had a dream and a strong back. He saved his money and began to buy land and cattle from his meager wages as a day laborer.
He married Eleanor Martin, the daughter of his former employer, on April 20, 1881. Cousin John and Eleanor raised nine children on their large Texas ranch.
Cousin John was murdered in his bed with three shots in the head with a 38. As a testimony of the strength of this pioneer, he didn’t realize he was shot until he felt the blood on his face. He left this world a few moments later. Kid Blackburn was convicted of the crime.
Cousin John was highly respected by his friends, employees, and family. What follows are some direct quotes of the folks that knew him.
John Bryson is widely known over the state. Most every one in this county is familiar with the history of his success. His greatest boast was that he had produced what belonged to him by hard and constant work. He was a producer of wealth, not one who takes the labor of others by manipulation. John Bryson never went into a business to profit by tearing down the other man, but by his clear foresight he produced wealth, made two grow where one had grown before, and in this way added to the wealth of the community and the county as well as his own.
Special thanks to cousin Gerald Bryson for the above information.
Ruby Mosley conducted this WPA interview in 1938 with Thomas Green Chaney. Cousins Charlie and John Bryson lived interesting lives.
Thomas Green Chaney was born in Hunt County in 1864. His family drifted from one section to another farming a year here and there until they settled in Comanche County. Here he met Miss [Donyanna?] Poynor and later married her. She was the daughter of W.J. (Bill) Poynor, an old Indian fighter. In later years he moved to the Concho County and has lived here since.
"I went up the trail three different years, says Thomas Green Chaney. "Each time we took cattle to Yellow House Canyon, out on the plains, near New Mexico to the X.I.T. outfit. This trail work was done for H. R. Martin and G. A. Beeman Company, Comanche County.
"One year, old Burley Taylor was boss of the trail outfit and Charlie Bryson , Jim [Doston?], John Bryson and I went with him. We had about 3,500 steers in the herd. We got everything ready and the chuck wagon started on ahead. About three days after we left Comanche County we got everything bedded down for the night. Two of the boys kept guard while we slept. I always liked to sleep under the wagon and got my bunk roll and tucked in before someone beat me to it.
"I had just stretched out when good an old cow gave a snort, [loap?] and bawl. The next thing I knew I was hugging the couplin' pole of the wagon while cattle played havoc with our camp. Some of the boys got to their horses and some climbed trees. It took about a week to get the cattle together and we never found them all; some were twenty miles away. This was the worst stampede I ever saw. We fellows were so worn out sometimes we would go to sleep on our horses and get behind. One time I went to sleep and my horse grazed along until we lost the trail gang. I found them easy enough by the tracks but a good cowhand never got off like that.