Bryson Family History by Ethel Speer Updike (1899-19??)
Armstrong, Branyon, Bryson and Allied Families of the South by Ethel S. Updike, 1967. The Hobby Press, Salt Lake City.
Mrs. Updike's book is a good one and I highly recommend it. It is long out of print, so finding a copy will be difficult if not impossible. Even though the book is generally pretty good it does contain some some serious errors, mainly in the first two generations. Unfortunately many online genealogies parrot these errors and consider them gospel truth, mainly because if it is in print, it therefore it must be accurate. (A fatal way of thinking for a genealogist!)
Don't take these criticisms to reflect any hostility towards Mrs. Updike or her work, for that is not how they are intended. I highly respect what she accomplished, but like pretty much every genealogy work, hers contains errors that need to be addressed.
The material in question is pretty much the beginning section for the Brysons:
Mrs. Updike's book does contain a little bit of documentation, but not nearly enough to satisfy a picky researcher like myself. Much of the documentation is vague or merely a citation with no indication as to what information the source contained.
A summary of the larger problems:
Mrs. Updike apparently had access to the Telitha Bryson Allen History which correctly outlined the early Bryson family. Telitha (1811-1898) was personally acquainted with most of the early Brysons, so her history should be considered very accurate. For some reason Mrs. Updike chose to rearrange some of what Mrs. Allen had written and therein lies the basis for most of the problems.
Let me analyze the quoted text section by section:
Page 124 ... The Bryson family came from England to Scotland to County Antrim, Ireland; several brothers of the name came in the eighteenth century from Antrim, Ireland to Lancaster Co, PA.
This is believed to be true, but no direct evidence has yet been found that our Brysons made this exact migration. There is ample evidence that some Brysons did live in Antrim, and that many of them moved to Pennsylvania in the 1700's, and some later than that.
Page 124. WILLIAM BRYSON, b. ca 1700. He came from Antrim Co. Ireland and settled in Lancaster Co. Pa. with several bro.
Ms. Updike claims that our immigrant ancestor was named "William Bryson", and while this could be true, we have not found any evidence to support it. There was an older William Bryson in Pennsylvania (more than one in fact), but how do we know he was our ancestor? She provides no documentation for this statement. I personally don't know if our William (who married Isabella Holmes) was a son of a William Bryson or someone else. I've seen zero proof on that subject. The earliest Bryson histories never give the name of his parents.
The part about our Brysons becoming Baptists is true. Our early Brysons may have been Presbyterian as many of this name were.
Page 124. he md. Elizabeth Countryman, b. 14 Oct. 1716, West Camp, Albany Co. N. Y. (now Columbia Co. N. Y.), dtr. of Andreas Frantz and Sibylla (Scharrmann) Countryman of Germany. she lived to the ripe old age of one hundred eighteen years and rests on the old Bryson farm near Snyders Store in Beta, N. C. "In 1812, Daniel Granderson Bryson moved across the Balsam Mountain on a sled, bringing with him his wife, one child and his aged grandmother (gt. g. mother) nee Countryman, who survived to the unusual old age of one hundred eighteen years."
Here is a big problem. Mrs. Updike mixed up some people here. There was indeed a person named Elizabeth Countryman born 14 Oct 1716. She existed. (I am not a Countryman researcher myself, but some who are have shared information with me.) Elizabeth Countryman (1716) was a child of Andrew Countryman (c1696) and Sibylla Scharmann who married 1715 in New York. Mrs. Updike was correct about this person's name, birth date and parents. However, I have seen no data on who this Elizabeth Countryman married. Was it a William Bryson? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely for she was never in the same county with the Brysons, at least not at the right time, or so it seems to me.
Even if it turns out that this Elizabeth Countryman (1716) did marry a William Bryson, she is not the same person whom Mrs. Updike describes as living to 118 and being on the sled going across the mountains. That story applies to an entirely different person.
Elizabeth Countryman (1716) had a half brother Andrew Countryman (c1732-1773) who with his wife Elizabeth, were the parents of Sarah Countryman, proven wife of James Holmes Bryson (1740/50). You can see where the confusion arises. Two women named "Elizabeth Countryman" in the same family. They were sister-in-laws. Elizabeth, wife of Andrew, was the one who lived to be over 100, and she was indeed the grandmother of Daniel G. Bryson, as told in the story. (Mrs. Allen says grandmother, Mrs. Updike says Great Grandmother, which is wrong.)
Somehow Mrs. Updike confused these two in an effort to work in her Countryman ancestry somewhere. Tradition or something told her that she had a Countryman in her tree, so she tried to put that family into the wrong place. She didn't know that it was James Holmes Bryson's wife who was a Countryman. It appears that she rearranged Mrs. Allen's research to make it fit her way of thinking. (At least I believe this is how the mix-up happened, it is possible someone else provided her the information, already mixed up, it is difficult to know exactly what happened.)
Mrs. Updike placed her ancestor Isabella Bryson (wife of John Armstrong) among the children of William Bryson and Isabella Holmes. This is one generation too old. Mrs. Allen had Isabella in the right place, as a child of James H. Bryson and Ms. Countryman. Either Mrs. Updike didn't see this, or didn't believe it to be correct. Mrs. Allen also clearly said that James was married to a Countryman. Problem solved right? Should have been, but apparently it wasn't enough.
There is a deed in York Co., SC (1797) wherein Elizabeth Countryman deeded property to her daughter (so stated) Sarah Bryson, wife of James Bryson. This proves it quite well, James Holmes Bryson was married to Sarah Countryman. When this family moved into western NC, they took grandmother Elizabeth (---) Countryman with her. That is the source of the "sled across the mountain" story, for she was quite elderly then.
Mrs. Allen's history and the 1797 deed prove that James Holmes Bryson was married to Sarah Countryman daughter of Elizabeth (---) Countryman. Other researchers show that this Elizabeth was a widow of Andrew Countryman. Her maiden name isn't known. This is beyond debate now, the evidence is quite solid. Mrs. Updike was simply mistaken about where the Countryman connection came in.
Page 124. They had seven sons, four of whom migrated between 1750 and 1760 to Rowan Co. N. C. Shortly thereafter, because of the Indian menace, they settled temporarily in 96th Dist. and lived near Cowpens and Kings Mountain. Several of the sons served in the Rev. and it is said Elizabeth Countryman Bryson carried water all day long to the men who fought at Kings Mountain 7 Oct. 1780 and Cowpens 17 Jan. 1781, ref. N. C.; Rebuilding An Ancient Commonwealth, by Robert Diggs Wimberly Conner Vol. 4, p. 89, 543; Book of Names by MacWethy p. 33; The Sylva Herald, Aug 30, 1951.
It seems more likely that the family moved to NC in the early 1760's rather than the 1750's, but this a nitpick, not a real error.
Who were the seven sons? In her report section she listed: William, John, Hugh, Daniel, Samuel, Elisha and James Bryson. More on them below.
She appears to be mixing up generations here, referring to those who settled near Cowpens, etc. are actually part of the next generation, sons of William Bryson and Isabella Holmes. She mentions a story of Elizabeth Countryman Bryson carrying water to the men at Kings Mountain and Cowpens. This story probably refers to Mrs. Elizabeth (---) Countryman, or perhaps even to Sarah Countryman Bryson instead. I don't know, for it could be either one.
Page 124, 125. Issue born Pa.
2* WILLIAM BRYSON, b. ca. 1732; md. Isabella Holmes
3* JOHN BRYSON, b. ca 1734
4* HUGH BRYSON, b. ca. 1745; md. Nancy Davidson.
5 DANIEL BRYSON
6 SAMUEL BRYSON
7 ELISHA BRYSON
8 JAMES BRYSON. He was living in Surry Co, N. C. in 1780. In 1790 he had eight sons and three dtrs., two sons over sixteen.
Mrs. Updike puts these seven together as siblings, son of William & Elizabeth. Where did she get this list? What ties them together?
William Bryson (married Isabella Holmes) and Hugh Bryson may be brothers, but I've seen no compelling evidence of that. Hugh settled in Mecklenburg Co, NC. John Bryson (c1734) is unknown. She states this is probably the John of Surry County, but he is not a brother to our William (married Isabella Holmes).
I have no data on Daniel, Samuel or Elisha Bryson. There was a Daniel in Lancaster Co, PA in the 1750's and 1760's.
James Bryson of Surry is a proven son of John of Surry, so clearly not a brother to our William (md Isabella Holmes). I can understand why she tried to tie William, John, James and Hugh together though, for many (myself included) still believe there is some sort of connection between them (though not the John of Surry, but another John Bryson instead) .
Page 128. (James Holmes Bryson 1740/50)
"Since three gr. sons were given the name "Byers," he probably md. a Miss Byers, ..."
This is a logical conclusion, but it is wrong. There is ample evidence (mentioned earlier) that James Holmes Bryson was married to Sarah Countryman. This is proven by a 1797 deed and by the Telitha Bryson Allen Family History. (She knew both James and Sarah personally!) There may be some sort of Byers connection to the family, but the name does not appear in the family until the early 1820's, and in different branches (not just James Holmes Bryson's descendants). It was a common enough name, so there is no need for a relationship to the Byers to explain the name.
This statement by Mrs. Updike about the possible Byers connection caused myself and some others to theorize that perhaps there was a Byers ancestor in the tree somewhere. We knew it wasn't here at this generation, so perhaps it was William's wife Elizabeth instead, the one incorrectly identified by Mrs. Updike as a Countryman. I put this theory on my website, and now many swear it is correct, based only on the fact that it is in print, so it must be correct! (Back to that again!)
Their may be some other minor errors in the book, but I'll not discuss them here.
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