Anderson Bryant Among Earliest Settlers On Lookout Mountain

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Anderson Bryant was one of the earliest settlers on Lookout Mountain, and his daughter
was the first black female dentist in the South. 

Another Bryant here was McDonald Bryant, who fought for the Union in the Civil War and whose
tenant lands at Hixson were plundered by soldiers of that same army.

Anderson Bryant was born in Georgia in 1845 and he lived in Walker County prior to moving to the mountain soon after the Civil War. He settled at Sunset Park near Sunset Rock, where several black families resided. He married Louisa Smith on Sept. 23, 1869. She had been born March 14, 1849, on the farm of her owner, Wright Smith, in Rhea County. During the war, she was taken to Jonesboro. After attaining her freedom and learning that her mother had gone to Chattanooga, she went there in 1866. She met Anderson Bryant while working for a family on the mountain.

Anderson Bryant was described as "one of the most industrious and worthy citizens of Hamilton County.'' Louisa "was no ordinary woman. Born a slave and without the knowledge acquired from books and in the schools, she was in the best sense educated for usefulness in life and had those sterling qualities which make up that finest of human possessions which the world calls character. She was truthful, honest, a tireless worker, had excellent business judgment, was faithful to friend, family and God. As a wife and mother she had no superior, and contributed largely by her labors and sound advice to the acquirement of the very respectable estate which her husband owns.''

Anderson Bryant acquired three acres, including a spring, at Summertown, in 1878. He gained another parcel from Alexander Hunt. When the Broad Gauge Railroad was built up the mountain in the late 1880s, the Anderson Bryants transferred part of their property for the right of way. The couple gave property for the AME Church.

The Bryants had three daughters -  Laura, Ollie and Minnie. The couple determined that each of these should be well educated. All three graduated from Fiske University at Nashville. Ollie married a Davis, and she trained as a dentist. Her first office was at 122/4 E. Ninth St. However, she soon left Chattanooga.

Laura married a Speight. The Speights were among several black families who moved to Lookout Mountain from Livingston, Ala. John T. Speight operated a grocery store from a fine two-story frame home he occupied on East and West Road. It stood where the Daniel K. Friersons later resided. Laura became ill and died Feb. 4, 1905, at her parents' residence at Sunset Park. She was 33.

Minnie married B.C. McAuley, who worked as a guide on the mountain.

Louisa became ill with cancer and suffered for many years. She died July 4, 1904, and was
buried at Forest Hills Cemetery at the foot of the mountain.

McDONALD BRYANT was born Jan. 10, 1822, in Roane County. He was apparently the son of
Joseph Bryant who married Patsy Hart at Roane County in 1819.

McDonald Bryant came to Hamilton County in February 1847, settling near North Chickamauga Creek. He was opposed to secession, voting and talking against it. He assisted a number of
Union men who were headed to Kentucky to reach Walden's Ridge safely. Bryant said "a Rebel named William McGill wanted me to let him have my gun for the Rebel cause, but I had already sent it to Col. William Clift for the Union service. McGill disputed my word and intimated he would have me arrested. This threat hastened me off to the Federal army.'' Bryant left home on Feb. 27, 1862, and went to Barboursville, Ky., where he joined Co. C of the Fifth Tennessee Infantry. He was in a convalescent camp near Nashville at the end of 1863. He was transferred to the invalid corps (the Veterans Reserve Corps) on Feb. 28, 1864, and remained on its rolls until being mustered out at
the end of July 1865. His brother, Jesse, was in the Union's Fourth Tennessee Cavalry. He later
settled at Murfreesboro. McDonald Bryant also had an uncle and two cousins with the Federal
forces. A half brother, Calloway Chesser, fought with the Confederacy in the 19th Tennessee Infantry, then he was taken prisoner and went into the U.S. Navy.

McDonald Bryant voted for Abraham Lincoln for president in the fall of 1864, casting his ballot while he was home on furlough. He put in a crop of corn at Hixson in 1864 on 11 acres of the land of Robert Clift, with the agreement that Clift was to get a third of the crop. It was rich river bottom land and the crop that year was an especially fine one. Corn then was worth a dollar a bushel and the land produced about 60 bushels an acre. When the Federal soldiers were facing dire shortages at Chattanooga after the battle of Chickamauga, they went out on foraging expeditions in the vicinity of Hixson. On one of these, they stripped the ripe ears of corn on McDonald Bryant's 11 acres, tossing
them in wagons for transport back to town. They also took his 12 hogs and dug up his potato patch.

Ezekiel Henry, who moved north of the river to try to avoid the Confederate conscription, often spent time at the Bryant home during the war. He said when McDonald Bryant came home he "was very bad, and when he started back to his command I thought he was not able to get there, but he stood it.''

Bryant's wife died in September 1864, leaving him with two young children, Eliza and Fannie. Two months later, he took Sarah Newton as his second wife. Their son, born in 1866, was named Elijah Sherman Bryant. A daughter was Mary Elizabeth. Fannie Bryant married Daniel McDowell Priddy.

McDonald Bryant in 1872 bought 120 acres from Rufus Hall, and he settled at Tyner. The government allowed him $158 for his losses to the army during the war.

McDonald Bryant lived until 1890. Sarah Newton Bryant died in 1900. Both are buried at the
Concord Cemetery in East Brainerd.

JOHN BRYANT was an early settler, arriving near Daisy before the Indian removal. He had
several daughters. These apparently included Elizabeth who married Allen Varner and Mary
E. who married Samuel Poe.


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