Bryan, Hercules A. (1855-1942)
Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 6/14/2019 at 15:10:06
Hercules A. Bryan
(1855 – 1942)
Hart Bryan, 83, Tenant of Same Farm 41 Yrs., by D. L. B.
Indianola, Iowa, January 1938, p.1
Hart Bryan, the oldest man in Liberty Township, had a closing out sale last Tuesday. He didn’t close out because he needed the money, for he didn’t own anybody a dime. And he didn’t close out to go to California, for he is going to move across the road into a cottage on a small acreage adjoining Liberty Center on the south. He isn’t going to dry up. He is only going to take it a little easier.
Prize of a Dollar
For 41 years the first of next month, Mr. and Mrs. Bryan have been tenants on the same farm. With very little question it may be said that his is the longest continuous tenancy in the history of Warren County. The Record and Tribune [newspaper of Indianola, Iowa] will give a dollar bill to the first person who can produce evidence of a longer tenancy in this county.
Mrs. Bryan was a niece of Jesse Johnson, on whose farm the tenancy has continued. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson also lived on the farm until their deaths, Mr. Johnson in 1923 and Mrs. Johnson in 1936. It must have been a case of two men and two wives, all four with a spirit to be honest and fair and take an interest in each other’s welfare. It could not have happened any other way.
Mr. Bryan is now 83 years old, the oldest man, he thinks in Liberty Township. Right up to now he has been actively farming. Last summer he tended 42 acres of corn that made 70 bushels to the acre. Only a few years ago his seed corn led the entire county in yield in the county test plots. Monday evening, about sundown I found him at the barn doing his chores the same as any young man.
A Flower Home
Mr. Bryan was one of the first farmers in the county to succeed with alfalfa. I remember that 17 or 18 years ago next summer, when I was trying to get the Record [newspaper] on its feet, I stopped by the Bryan house to solicit a subscription (got it too) and noticed a dark green vine with feathery foliage twining up the corner of the house at the end of the porch. My curiosity was aroused. It was an alfalfa plant that had come up in the flower bed. Mrs. Bryan had protected it and secured a novel, and very beautiful result. The Bryan cottage is a flower home, as neatly cared for as if they owned it.
It is also a home of good books and magazines. I remember that Hart said he would be glad to have me nominate him for membership in the National Geographic Society, which he later joined for the pleasure he could get out of its magazine.
Move Here in 1870
Mr. Bryan was born in Winterset. When he was five years old his parents moved to Des Moines where they managed a hotel for 10 years. In 1870 they moved to Warren County and settled on the farm on the south side of South River, east of the Jefferson Highway, where Friend Caviness now lives. Mr. Bryan says the streams were high and they had to ferry a quarter mile across Coon River when they left Des Moines.
He has farmed all his mature life, except that he worked for a few years at the carpenter trade, but wanted to get back to the dirt.
After he had been on the Johnson farm a year he asked Uncle Jesse if he wanted him to move. The older man, in a deliberate manner characteristic of him, thought a bit and said, “I don’t suppose I could do any better. You may as well stay on.” Since that time, 40 years ago, there has been no lease nor written contract. When Hart had gotten up around 60 or 65 years old he thought his landlord might prefer a younger tenant, so he proposed to move, but, “No,” Uncle Jesse said, “I need you now, Hart, more than ever.” So Hart stayed.
Wouldn’t Let Him Go
And after Uncle Jesse’s death he thought Aunt Angeline and the heirs would surely want to make a change; but, like Uncle Jesse, Aunt Angeline said, “Hart, I can’t get along without you.” So again, Hart stood by the ship. But now, at 83, he has cut …. from the responsibility of a tenant. [page torn]
[Hercules A. Bryan married Cora Frances Graham on Oct 23, 1879 in Warren County. Cora was born in 1860 and died in 1890. Hercules married Mary G. Kennedy on Aug 7, 1895 in Warren County. Mary was born in 1866 and died in 1948].
Warren Biographies maintained by Karen S. Velau.
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