Thursday, May 20, 2010

Margaret Nomie Church Bryant

 An AMH reader, Julie, provided me with this autobiography. It has some great information about the Church family whose LDS roots go back to 1841, the Shady Grove area of Tennessee where they lived, and Kelsey Texas, where many Tennessee saints moved.

Top row: Myron Early, Carl, Lelia
Bottom Row: Audrey, Margaret Nomie, Emmons, Robert Emmons, Laura

I, Margaret Nomie Church Bryant, was born on December 29, 1879. [Her parents were William Leonidas Lorenzo Church and Callie Dona Letsinger.]

We lived at Duck River in Tennessee and Pa fished. He always wanted me to paddle the boat for him. When I was five, my two younger brothers [William Ellis Church and John Bond Church] and I were blessed by Elder [John H.] Gibbs and [William S.] Berry. [see note #1 below] Both of these elders were killed by a mob the very next day. I was baptized when I was 14 [February 25, 1895]. I went to school until the fourth grade. I was the only Mormon girl and the other shunned Mormons.

I knew Bob [her husband Robert Emmons Bryant] all my life. He used to take me to school on his horse. One time he went to Idaho to visit his sister and while there he went to a carnival. He decided to give a man a dime to find out what his future wife would look like. When he got the dime out, he saw my face. He came back to Tennessee and started going with me and other girls. One day Bob told me that if I would marry him he would buy me lots of pretty dresses. A few days later when all the family was gone, I put on Ma's best dress and put her saddle on my horse and went to meet Bob.Ma saw me leave and when I crossed the bridge on Duck River, she guessed where I was going. Bob and I got the license and went back to his house and got married. He already had a house built to live in. We went home the next day and told my mother and father, but they didn't say much.

[Bob and Nomie were married on February 17, 1897. Their first child, Earley Belle Bryant was born at Duck River Tennessee on Dec 24, 1898.]

My father and mother moved to Texas about 1901 then to Oklahoma. Then we came to Oklahoma when Earley was three. It was a wild place with fine land and lots of cattle. We lived on an Indian man's place and he was good to us. We could just drive us a cow and milk all we wanted, and wild hogs were plentiful in the pecan bottoms, but there were no good houses to live in and no church or school close to go to. Our few neighbors didn't go anywhere, only visiting on Sunday. We had Father, Mother, brothers and sisters, but were not satisfied not to have a church.

[Liela Irene Bryant was born on March 5, 1903, while they were living in Oklahoma.]

One day when I going to get a bucket of water I looked down and picked up a little gold dollar. I had never seen a gold dollar before. On a little farther, I picked up a litle gold ring, so I ran back to the house. Bob was fixing to go to the little store and post office, so I wrapped up the little dollar and sent for the Deseret News. One came to us soon and there was a piece in the paper about Kelsey, a Mormon community in Texas. That was in 1904, I think, so it wasn't long before we came to Kesley and bought this place. We have left, but we always came back. We went to Oklahoma just before Carl was born. It took us three weeks to get there. We got there one day and Carl was born the next night.

[Carl Bryant was born on September 30, 1905. Back in Kelsey they had four more children; Myron B. Bryant was born January 15, 1905, Laura Pauline Bryant was born on October 4, 1911, Audrey Bryant was born on July 15, 1913, and Emmons Church Bryant was born on February 2, 1916. shows that Laura died when she was one month old. But she is clearly in the photo above. Mmmmmm.]

We went to the temple when Audrey was four months old and stayed in Salt Lake for a while. We went back to Tennessee, but it was so far for Earley and Leila to walk to school that they wanted to come back to Kelsey where thay could go to school here as they knew we had a good one here. The missionaries used to teach here and were teaching then.

We always had lots of missionaries. They always like to stay with us. When Emmons was a little boy, some elders were here and he told them he was always glad to have the elders come because he knew we were going to have a good dinner. This got away with Earley, but have had elders that would stay with us weeks at the time in Tennessee. My [grand]father [Isaac] Emmons Church, had a brother, Haden [Wells] Church, who joined the church and went to Nauvoo. He crossed the plains and settled in St. George. I have heard they lived at St. George and some ar still there. One of his great grandsons was here at Kelsey on a mission years ago when we first came here. When President Bennion was ission President, we sure had a good time with so many conferences. He always came here and stayed with us and would stay here and visit all the saints and have two or three-day conferences with lots of missionaries and good speaking.

I was sick a long time with gall stones. We sold out and went to Arizona. Brother J. S. Ault drove me to town. I was sick the first time I rode in a car. Brother ans Sister Mcinty and family - Earl, Halley, and baby - went with us all on the train. Earley took care of Emmons since he was small. We got to Arizona and lived in Brother Aults's place close to Oscar Kay and Brother Ault. the father and mother. We went to Church at Gilbert, Arizona, and the children went there to school. There was a nice church there, but I had to go to the doctor at Mesa very often and got better. Brother Posey and family came to our place. They had the flu and most of us took the flu and after that the children had the measles. All were real sick except Myron. He went to bed and covered his head and was soon well.

We were there two years. We lived next to the railroad. Emmons was playing out close to the railroad and came dragging up a snake. It was dead, but that didn't keep it from scaring us all. He was just two years old then. All the children picked cotton. There was lots of it. Laura and Audrey decided they wouldn't pick, so Bob told them if they didn't pick, just quit eating. They did just one time, but soon fell in line. We were there two years and went to Utah in 1919. I did love to go to church at Gilbert. The church leaders were from Mexico and were good leaders.

[Nomie' daughter Earley wrote an almost daily log of their trip to Salt Lake. She stopped after 5 weeks, when the family was near Price, Utah. The family stayed at Price while Bob and Nomie went on to Salt Lake City]

Bob took me to the hospital [in Arizona]. There the doctors said he couldn't do anything. He wanted to send me to Salt Lake City, but we didn't know which one. We went the next day and when we got there [several weeks later] it was the L.D.S. They took me in and I had to be treated a week before I was able to be operated on. Bob had to leave me the next day after he made arrangements for me. He then had to go back to Price where the children were camped. The doctor didn't let him off until he could have some of the family to be with meand he sent Earley. She stayed about three weeks.

When she came back to Price, they all got ready to come back to [Kelsey,] Texas. She had a good place to stay. Brother and sister Berley Thompson took her in. We had known them a long time. They were in Kelsey when we came here in 1905, but now live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and work in the church there. Bob and the children chartered a [railroad] car for the teams and wagons. He came on it and the children on the train. My father and mother liver here [in Kelsey]. They had a good place to land, and I stayed on in the hospital 42 days and several weeks later came home alone and the train they were on.

I was in the Relief Society since we came to Kelsey in 1905. I was in the presidency for about two years. I went to all the church meetings and walked. I furnished the sacrament bread for 40 years. Early saw to the bread when I was gone.

[Nomie wrote this upon request for her granddaughter Nita Caldwell. Nita then typed it up for her. Nita is a daughter of Emmons]

Note #1: Elder Gibbs and Berry were never companions. They had not even served together until the day they were killed. They were both in Cane Creek, a full-day's journey from Shady Grove, the day before they were killed, but didn't even stay at the same home that night. According to Elder Berry's journal, he and Elder Thompson did visit Emmons Church Thursday July 29th, a few days before the massacre. He named Emmon's "two grand children [Earley] Bell and Bobby" as being there too. It is easy to see how this could evolve into a memory about Gibbs and Berry blessing them the day before they were killed.


Seth Adam Smith said...


BruceCrow said...

Glad you like it

Terry Woodside said...

My maiden name is Church and I was looking at this page and saw this picture. I have either the original or it is one of several originals of this photograph. I am a direct descendent of Isaac Emmons Church.

BruceCrow said...

Terry, email me off line at bruce_crow[at]yahoo[dot]com.
I'd like to ask you more about the photo.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


BruceCrow said...

Great to hear from you, Rosina. Do you live here in Tennessee?

Anonymous said...

I was named for Aunt Nomie. She was my Great-grandmother's Sister, (Hattie Belle Church McCaleb).I remember her and remember when her husband died. I was a very young child. We visited her children many time, with my grandmother.

BruceCrow said...

Thanks for sharing. That is really cool.