The Valley of Heart's Delight

COLONEL D. H. BRYANT
Founder of the Army & Navy League
Republican Club of California


HISTORY OF SANTA CLARA COUNTY 442

SURNAMES:  Gardner, Pierce, Woolridge, Russ, Clapp, Rose, Linn,

COLONEL D. H. BRYANT.--Well known, particularly in Santa Clara county, where he has appeared on the rostrum of every city, village and hamlet in his various campaigns as a public-spirited citizen, and enjoying an enviable popularity
throughout the state as the honored and ever-welcome head of one of the most efficient army and navy political organizations in the world. Co. D.H. Bryant lives in well-earned retirement at his home at 286 West San Carlos Street, San Jose. 

He was born in Richmond, Chittenden County, Vt., on December 29, 1842, the son of Calvin Bryant, who came across the great plains in 1849 with his brother, Rolla Bryant, and for awhile mined at Downieville. Later, he removed to Humboldt County and there acquired a large acreage of land upon which he farmed. He lived to be eighty-eight years old, and died in Humboldt County. He married Miss Carolina Gardner, a native of Bennington, Vt. of Scotch parentage.

The youngest of a family of four children, our subject had only common school advantages; but being naturally observing and inclined to reflection, he has since then acquired both information and experience, and he has steadily risen to postions where he has not only succeeded himself, but he has been able to be of the greatest service to others. At the outbreak of the Civil War he volunteered in defense of the Union, and so came to get his real schooling in the Army. He enlisted early as a member of Company K, Fifth Vermont Volunteer Infantry, but when the war continued, he asked to be transferred to the regular army. He was therefore made a member of Company C, Fifth U.S.Cavalry, commanded by Captian Gleason, who in turn was under General Merritt, and he under General George Stoneman.  Later he was in William Woods Averell's brigade in Stoneman's famous raids in Virginia, around Richmond, and on September 15, 1861, he crossed the famous old chain bridge over the Potomac River, and thus reached Virginia, where he weathered many terrific engagements. On July 21, 1863, while following Lee's rear, he received a severe wound in the right forearm, torn almost the entire length by the ball, the occasion being one month to the day after he had carried to the rear an injured comrade; and strange to say, when he was stricken down, he was sent to Lincoln Hospital on Capitol Hill, and without knowing it, was placed in a bed next to that same comrade. He suffered eleven days of agony from his wound, with only dirty underclothes to cover his body, and most of the time he was unconscious. One day he heard a voice at his side calling, "My God! oh, my God!" and looking up, he saw for the first time, his comrade. He was cared for by the nurses and Sisters of Mrecy as best they could in such trying emergencies. Such an experience as this of the two comrades, Colonel Bryant says, still cements the old Grand Army of the Republic in such a solid body. After his wounds had healed the intrepid soldier was discharged with honor.

On July 8, 1864, he sailed for California from New York via Panama, and on August 8 he landed in San Francisco.
On arriving at the Bay City he worked for his uncle, Solomon Pierce, at Point Reyes in Marin County; the latter owned a part of the old Shafter Ranch, and there maintained two dairies, and he was one of the wealthiest earlier California ranchers. He then went to Sonoma County and clerked in a store at stewart's Point, on Fisherman's Bay, owned by Andrew Fisk; and the job was sufficiently satisfactory to hold him there for fifteen months. Then, with a Matt Eugley, he took a contract to cut, haul and deliver logs to Platt's Mill; and for a season they worked about forty men and forty head of horses.

On July 18, 1868, Mr. Byant was married at Ferndale, in Humboldt County, to Miss Dora Woolridge, after which he bought land which he farmed for awhile. He then accepted a position as general manager and superintendent of a large ranch owned by the Hon. Joseph Russ, his brother-in-law, a wealthy and influential Humboldt citizen, who was at one time a candidate for the governship of California. He owned from 18,000 to 20,000 head of cattle, and about 60,000 head of sheep, and he had an enormous acreage of timber land on the Eel River, and some land in Trinity County. He had his local office in Eureka, Cal., while his main office was at 10 California Street, San Francisco. He was a large meat exporter, and had five large schooners and two saw mills. When his health gave out under the strain of such a responsibility, Mr. Bryant succeeded him in the management of the estates. Mr. Russ finally passed away, at the age of eighty-nine, and the estate was then divided.

Mr. Bryant then removed to Santa Clara County, in 1895, and engaged in the raising of fruit; and within a period of five years he owned seven orchards and fruit-driers, and was rated high among fruit men. In 1895, he bought a home at 286 West San Carlos Avenue, San Jose, and there he has made his home ever since.

In addition to attending to his extensive and increasing orchard business, Mr. Bryant has kept in constant touch with men of affairs. He was political advisor to, and investigator for, Governor Gage, and later for Governor Pardee and also the Hon. Geo. C. Perkins; and he still has in his files some two hundred letters from Governor Pardee. Through the earnest solicitations of men of the state, Colonel Bryant was appointed agent by Governor Gillette, for the Southern District, to see that the provisions for guarding against the bubonic plague were carried out, and so he came to be interested, for years, in public health work. His chief work was to compel the boards of supervisors to do their duty in using the money appropriated for that prupose, and he operated so fearlessly that the most salutary results were obtained. In this campaigning, as well as in the discharge of other public services, Colonel Bryant visited every section of California, from San Francisco south, and so became one of the best-known Californians of this section. The Normal School at San Jose and its great work he interested himself in, and on several occasions has appeared there as the chief speaker.

To Colonel Bryant is to be given, also, the chief credit for the organization of the Army & Navy League, a Republican club of California, of which he was the president and commander for several years. This association is comprised of forty-four clubs, was organized in 1878, and has an active membreship of 32,000 men. It was as the poplular head of this Army and Navy League that our subject was christened "Colonel", a title he bears with becoming dignity. He belongs to the Pioneers of Santa Clara County and the Grand Army of the Republic. Colonel Bryant has been a valued contributor for a number of years to the local press on important topics of interest to the general public.

Eight children have been born to Colonel and Mrs. Bryant, and all have been fortunate in their lives never to have needed a physician. Frederick Carlos is an orcharist in Washington. Anna is the wife of Robt. P. Clapp,. the secretary of the A.L. Jones Motor Company of Denver. Etta is the wife of J. L Rose, the well-known attorney of Oakland. Lylia is the wife of Irving Linn, an electrician of San Jose. Arthur is in the lumber business in Portland, Ore. Frank, of San Jose, is a successful concrete bridge builder and also road builder, and among other contracts built the Alum Rock Highway. Arleigh is in the Philippines; and Ralph is consulting and construction engineer in the employ of the Souothern Pacific. Colonel Bryant has owned various ranches, and their several locations are not without interest. They have been on Williams Road, Kembe Road, Mountain View Road, and Pierce Road; and the last ranch he had sold about five years ago---was on Fleming Avenue.


Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,
 published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 442

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