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Bryant Family Collection (Princeton)


Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Box 1

Box 2

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Bryant Family Collection (Princeton), 1767-1966 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

Title: Bryant Family Collection (Princeton), 1767-1966

ID: RHC/RC/027

Extent: 2.0 Linear Feet

Date Acquired: 06/28/1967

Subjects: Bryant Family, Diaries-- 1820-1839, Family life--History, Princeton (Ill.), Travelers' writings

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Bryant Family Collection is a three generation chronicle of the Bryant Family and their migration from Massachusetts to Illinois and Kansas. The materials collected document the family history from 1767-1912.

Boxes one and two contain photostat, microfilm, and typescript copies of Bryant family letters and diaries assembled from various sources. Box one, folder one contains the family genealogy chart, prepared in the archives based on information available in the collection. Also included in box one is biographical data and letters of the Bryant family, 1767-1912; notes from the diary of Sylvia Drake, 1821-1824, a close friend of the Bryant family; a watercolor of the original J.H. Bryant cabin; typescript copies of Sylvia Drake’s Diary, 1821-1824; and Sylvia Drake’s letters, 1784-1868. Box one also contains 28 folders of the Bryant Family Research Project including publications, reprints, manuscripts and the general notes of Donald M. Murray and Robert M. Rodney, dating 1960-1966. Box two contains letter on microfilm from the New York Public Library; notecards on Julian Bryant; a book of poems by John H. Bryant and a cardfile index of the Bryant letters. Most of the material in the Bryant Collection is photocopies of the original. The material is typed copy, either whole or excerpted and some is simply handwritten notes on letters.

Collection Historical Note

Peter Bryant (1767-1820) was descended from one of the first members of the Plymouth Colony and was the father of the poet, William Cullen Bryant. He grew up in the North Bridgewater (now Brockton), Massachusetts. During his two years of apprenticeship, in the office of Dr. Lewis Lepritete, Bryant was trained in the medical field. He also fell in love with Sarah Snell (1768-1847) of Cummington, Massachusetts, and at this time, produced quite a quantity of poetry. Once licensed, Bryant started his own practice and in 1792 he married Sarah Snell. Their children were Austin (1793-1866); William Cullen, the famous poet (1794-1879); Cyrus (1799-1865); Sarah Snell (1802-1825); Peter Rush, later called Arthur (1803-1833); Louisa Charity (1807-1868); and John Howard (1807-1833)

Austin, Cyrus, Arthur, Louisa, John Howard, Sarah Snell and the matriarch of the family emigrated to Illinois in the early 1830’s, with the Hamshire colony from Cummington. The second son, the poet, William Cullen Bryant, remained in New England. Once in Illinois, the family settled in Princeton, Bureau County, in the 1830’s. Cyrus, Arthur and John Howard made a permanent home in Princeton as they took up claims in the township.

Peter Bryant (1837-1912) was the son of Cyrus Bryant and an original settler of Kansas territory and a citizen of Kansas during its first half century of statehood. Like his father, Peter caught the "westering" fever in 1859. He became a prosperous farmer on his land claim near Holtan in northeastern Kansas. Julian Bryant (1836-1865) was the son of Arthur Bryant and he was commissioned lieutenant of the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry. After serving his three years’ term, he re-enlisted and was appointed colonel of a colored regiment. He died in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Bryant Family has deep roots in America with ancestors from both sides of the family having come over from England on the Mayflower. Dr. Peter Bryant was the fourth generation from Stephen Bryant and Abigail Shaw, of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Sarah Snell Bryant was a descendant of Josiah Snell who married Anna Aldens, granddaughter of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, the couple immortalized by Longfellow.

Subject/Index Terms

Bryant Family
Diaries-- 1820-1839
Family life--History
Princeton (Ill.)
Travelers' writings

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on access to materials in the collection.

Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection belong to the Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.

Acquisition Source: Donald M. Murray and Robert M. Rodney

Acquisition Method: Donald M. Murray and Robert M. Rodney, professors of English at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, donated the Bryant Family Collection on June 28, 1967, to the Northern Illinois University Archives. University Archivist J. Joseph Bauxar transferred the collection to the Northern Illinois Regional History Center in May 1978.

Original/Copies Note: The original letters used in this collection are preserved in the Bureau County, Illinois Historical Society Museum at Princeton, Illinois, the New York Public Library and the Sheldon Historical Museum, Middlebury, Vermont.

Box and Folder Listing

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[Box 1],
[Box 2],

Box 2
Item 1: Letters on microfilm from the New York Public Library: Sarah S. Bryant,2 letters, 1836, 1840
Item 2: Justin Olds, 2 letters, 1836
Item 3: C.F. Eicheker, 3 letters, 1863-1864
Item 4: E.R. Brown, 2 letters, 1889, 1890
Item 5: Notecards on Julian Bryant
Item 6: Book of Poems by John Howard Bryant
Item 7: Cardfile index of Bryant letters included in boxfile: Newberry Library, New York Public Library and Allusions in Peter's letters

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