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Joseph Bryan to His Brothers, 1856

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Joseph Bryan (1845-1908), Eagle Point, Gloucester County, to Pat and Ran Bryan, 11 June 1856.

Letters written by children of any era are not frequently found among manuscript collections. Ten-year-old Joe Bryan penned this letter to his brothers "Pat" (presumably his next-older brother, St. George Tucker Coalter Bryan, generally called Saint) and "Ran" (Saint's next-older brother, John Randolph Bryan) from the family's property in Gloucester County, giving a report of his activities. He proudly told of catching a muskrat, "the largest I ever saw," and informed his brothers that he could now "swim quite well." Despite these diversions, Joe missed his brothers and felt isolated in the country. He reported a rare visit from a young friend, with whom he "had a fine time as you may imagine for I have been so lonesome anybody would suit me."

Joseph Bryan later attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria and the University of Virginia. During the Civil War, he served with Mosby's Rangers. After 1865, he became a prominent Richmond industrialist, newspaper publisher, and philanthropist. He and other members of his family were influential leaders for generations in Virginia's civic and political affairs. The Library acquired the Bryan Family Papers in 1952. The collection includes correspondence, genealogical materials, business and legal papers, addresses, essays, diaries, and ephemera related to the Bryan family of Virginia and Georgia. Represented in the papers are John Randolph of Roanoke (1773-1833), Joseph Bryan (1773-1812), John Randolph Bryan (1806- 1887), Joseph Bryan (1845-1908), and John Stewart Bryan (1871-1944).

Location: Bryan Family Papers, 1679-1943, Box 4, Acc. 24882