The Tyler-Bryan-Weems House

on Wednesday, September, 01 2010 @ 09:19:00 pm (1591 words)
In Brazoria County history [ 104556 views ]


Long known as the Bryan-Weems home, the historic residence which stands on lots 45 and 49, facing Main Street, in East Columbia, Texas (628 County Road 703), was completed in about 1872 or '73, as indicated by deed and tax records of Brazoria County. The lots were owned at that time by Ariadne O. (Gautier) Tyler, the widow (respectively) of Clinton Lucretius Terry and William Tyler. Deed records show that on 2 September 1871 Mrs. Arie G. Tyler purchased for $200 gold from John R. Sloan of Brazoria County, lots 45 and 49, block 9, ?according to the Gaw and Durant map of the said town.? Though not shown on the county tax rolls for 1872, the property appears on the 1873 tax list, assessed at $3,000, a considerable increase in value, indicating the construction of a substantial structure.

Born in Marion County, Florida on 24 July 1834, Ariadne O. Gautier was the second of four children (three daughters and one son) of Peter William Gautier, Jr., M. D., and Lucy Ann (Holmes) Gautier. The Gautier family had come to Texas in 1841, and Dr. Gautier was among those Texans who marched to turn back Mexican invading armies in 1842. Dr. Gautier died in Velasco in August 1850. Arie's mother, Lucy, died 23 November 1853 onboard the steamer Mexico, enroute from New Orleans. Shortly before her death, Mrs. Gautier and Arie were said to have gone to spend the summer in Mississippi. Arie's grandfather, the Reverend Peter William Gautier, Sr., accompanied his two sons (Peter and William J., the latter also an M. D.) to Brazoria County, where he died on 12 June 1842. On 6 September 1855, Ariadne married Clinton Lucretius Terry (born 30 June 1831 in Clinton, Hinds County, Mississippi), son of Joseph R. Terry and Sarah D. Smith.

Clinton Terry, an attorney, was the partner of John Austin Wharton (son of William and Sarah Wharton, owners of Eagle Island Plantation) in the law firm of Wharton and Terry. They established their firm in the town of Brazoria where Clinton, who had planned to build a home, instead, purchased the residence of Edward Purcell. Clinton was a good friend of Elisha Marshall Pease (a resident of Brazoria when elected governor in 1853), and named one of his sons Aurelius Pease Terry. He also was a partner with his brother Aurelius Josiah Terry in running Willow Lake Plantation near Sandy Point. Clinton and Arie had the following four children: Aurelius Pease (11 July 1856, died in infancy), Annie Lucy (5 June 1858 - 14 November 1943), John Wharton (8 April 1860 - 25 August 1936), and Clinton (a daughter, 9 May 1862 - 13 November 1951). Clinton L. Terry, the brother of Benjamin Franklin Terry, was killed at Shiloh on 6 April 1862. He is buried at Sandy Point Cemetery, Brazoria County, Texas.

In 1868, Mrs. A. G. Terry and William Tyler were married in Harris County, Texas. William may have been a relative of the Jordan Tyler who was enumerated with the Terry family at the time of the 1860 census, when the Terrys were residents of Brazoria. In 1870, Arie Tyler was listed as the head of a household, which consisted of herself and her three surviving Terry children, in or near the town of Velasco. (Living next door was her sister Lucy Ann Terry, widow of Aurelius J., who had died in 1869, and her son Sessums.) On 8 July 1871, John R. Sloan bought from John Adriance and William Jenkins lots 45, 47, and 49, block 9, in the town of East Columbia. As stated, on 2 September of the same year Arie bought lots 45 and 49 for two-hundred dollars.

In Brazoria County, on 20 January 1875, Arie G. Tyler married Henry H. Swymmer who was born in Kentucky in the 1820's (one source estimates 1827). Henry married Margaret Whitman on 26 October 1853 in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia. Their daughter, Margaret Alexa, was born in 1854 in Louisville, Kentucky. Margaret Alexa died in 1869 in Galveston, Texas. (Presumably she is buried there.) In the 1870's, he had business dealings with a William S. Swymmer of Chicago, Illinois, who in the 1890's was a resident of Galveston and a partner in the firm of Williams and Swymmer, with Boling Williams. Henry was deceased by the 1880 census.

The years 1897 to 1902 were very active years for transactions involving the home and lots in question. On 6 April 1897, Arie G. Swymmer sold to F. B. Chilton for $1,500 "that certain place, premises and improvements hitherto owned by the said Arie G. Swymmer, fronting on the street generally known as the Brazoria Road, leading out of the town of [East] Columbia, which street bounds the said tract on the South, the said tract is bounded on the East by the homestead place of Travis L. Smith, and on the West by the place generally known as the Old Rhodes place, on the North by the pasture of Said T. L. Smith...." The property was further described as "...being lots 45 and 49, block 9, in the town of Columbia." On the 24th of the same month, "J. W. Terry of the County of Galveston State of Texas Annie Terry of the County of Galveston and Mrs. Clinton Terry Duff joined by her husband F. J. Duff both of the County of Brazoria State of Texas for and in consideration of the Sum of Ten Dollars cash to us in hand paid and for other good and Valuable considerations...paid by F. B. Chilton" sold their interests in the home and lots. Arie Swymmer died in Beaumont, Texas, on 29 April 1910 (her headstone says April 26).

Frank Bowden Chilton was born in Marion, Perry County, Alabama on 26 or 27 February 1845 and died at Willis, Texas, 19 May 1926. He was the son of Rev. Thomas and Louisa Eleanor (Conklin) Chilton. During the early part of the War Between the States, Frank was a private in Company H, 4th Texas Volunteer Infantry, Hood's Texas Brigade. In 1862, it became known that he was too young to serve and was thus discahrged. Later he rejoined the army and became a 2nd Lt. in Col. George W. Baylor's Regiment, Texas Cavalry (2nd Regiment, Arizona Brigade). In a letter Chilton and H. T. Sapp wrote concerning Hood's Texas Brigade it is noted that Chilton "was promoted and served in many official capacities until disabled by wounds. He was Capt. and State ordinance officer with Gen. J. B. Robertson...when war ended." Chilton compiled information published in 1911 titled "Unveiling and Dedication of [a] Monument to Hood's Texas Brigade." He was married four times: 1st) Lelia Thornton 2nd) Emma Belle Preston 3rd) Ann Briscoe and 4th) Mabel Ione Bowers, born Quintana, Brazoria County, Texas, 17 June 1878, daughter of Albert Bowers and Emma Irene Seaburn, and grand daughter of Henry Peter Seaburn and Josephine Escher. Chilton was listed in directories in Austin, Texas, in 1889-1892 as the General Manager of the Southern Interstate Immigration Bureau and (in 1891 and '92) as manager of the (Texas) State Immigration Bureau. His name appears (possibly as the author of textual materials therein) on an 1888 pocket map entitled Latest Map of Texas Published by the Immigration Bureau of the State of Texas. Chilton transferred to his daughter Mary Louise Chilton, on 30 May 1900, the date of her marriage in Houston, Texas, to Austin Y. Bryan, "that certain, place, premises and improvements hitherto owned by Arie G. Swymmer and being the old Homestead of the said Arie G. Swymmer." Approximately one year later (10 May 1901), the Bryan couple sold the property back to F. B. Chilton, and on Christmas day 1902, the property was again transferred by Chilton to his daughter.

Austin Y. Bryan, the son of Moses Austin Bryan and Cora (Lewis) Bryan, was born in Independence, Texas, on 20 December 1863. He died on 1 January 1930 in Houston, Texas, where he was subsequently buried. Mary Louise (Chilton) Bryan died 25 October 1973 and was buried in the Briscoe Family Cemetery in Rosenberg, Fort Bend County, Texas. She had been born on a plantation in the same county on 23 September 1877, the daughter of Ann Briscoe, and granddaughter of James Montgomery and Susan (Mason) Briscoe. Austin and Mary Louise Bryan were the parents of two sons: Austin Y. Bryan, Jr., born on 7 August 1901, and Chilton Bryan, born on 27 August 1905.

On 3 February 1919, the home was purchased from the Bryans by Sands Smith Weems, Sr., who owned and ran general mercantile and hardware stores in West Columbia. Weems was a descendant of the famous Parson Weems, credited with the creation of the story of George Washinton chopping down the cherry tree. Only a part of lot 49, however, was included in the sale. The northwest one-hundred feet of that lot was sold by Louise Chilton Bryan to S. S. Weems on 9 April 1959. Weems, the son of Mason Locke Weems, III, M. D., and Anna Eliza (Smith) Weems, was born 11 October 1873 in East Columbia. He married Nan Pickett on 11 June 1902 at Union Springs, Alabama. They were the parents of twelve children, at least two of whom died before reaching their first birthday. It was during the residency of this large household that the former home of Ariadne Gautier was expanded with amenities which included four bathrooms. At age 76, Sands Weems, Sr., retired and sold his business to his oldest son, Sands S. Weems II. Sands, Sr., died on 25 July 1961 and was buried in West Columbia in Columbia Cemetery. Following his death, the house and several adjacent lots were transferred several times between Weems family members. In April 2000, the Weems family sold the home to Darriel and Donna Johnson. The Johnsons had the home restored, which entailed considerable expense. The home at the time they purchased it had not been lived in for thirty years.

I did the above deed and genealogical research. I also did the write up and documentation for the Brazoria County Historical Commission's application to the Texas Historical Commission to get a state historical marker for the site of what is now called the Tyler-Bryan-Weems House.



Comment from: James Kent Bracken [Visitor]  
James Kent BrackenMary Louis (Chilton) Bryan is the grandmother of my mothers first cousin, Briscoe Bryan of Galveston Texas. Briscoe's mother, Marjorie Allen of Port Gibson, Mississippi married Chilton Bryan of Houston, who was the son of Mary Louis Bryan and Austin Bryan. Marjorie had two children, Chilton Bryan of Houston (deceased), and Briscoe Bryan, still living in Galveston.
06/10/12 @ 01:29
Comment from: Cassandra Martindale [Visitor]  
Cassandra MartindaleI guess I was surprised that while speaking of the Terry Family you did not mention that these were the Terrys of the Terry's Texas Rangers. My son did a Texas History project last year on Terry's Rangers. We also visited the Sandy Point Cemetery. It was very interesting, lots of old graves there.
07/27/12 @ 10:58
Comment from: Sherry Shaw [Visitor]  
Sherry ShawWas excited to find and read your blog on the old Weems home. This was my childhood home. Charles (Pete) and JoAnn Meador lived in this home and raised five children from 1965 until the home had been lived in and filled with love in the years prior to the Johnson's restoration....many, many happy memories here! Thank you for sharing your research!
01/14/13 @ 22:09
Comment from: Marcus A. Weems, Jr. [Visitor]
Marcus A. Weems, Jr.This was my paternal grandparents' home. In addition to spending every Christmas there with the ENTIRE family for years, we visited almost daily as my father stopped by while we were on our way to school, to give my grandmother her diabetes shot. The house is beautiful. You have done a wonderful job. The balcony used to be screened in. That "sleeping porch" is where they would wrangle us together for nap time. Many fond memories. Thanks for taking such good care of it.
08/18/13 @ 20:24

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