UPDATED 04/28/2020: See Ancestry DNA updates below this story.
1840 Bryant Family CensusHarriet was born, to parents unknown, in what was likely in the area of Chenango, Broome County, New York on the 06 Feb 1802.1 This is where she eventually marries a widowed William Bryant around 1821 in Broome county.2
William was a veteran of the New York Militia and had been severely wounded in the first major battle of the War of 1812 at Queenston Heights. His injuries left him permanently disabled in some regard and prevented him from earning a living through his only means of income, which was manual labor. We can verify all of this through William's pension record.
We don't have an exact count of the step-children, but we know William brought about 5 children from his previous marriage into the new family. We know two of them by name: John Whitney and William Joseph.
William and Harriet's only known son Benjamin Franklin Bryant was born 15 Jul 18223, followed by four daughters: Harriet M. Bryant born about 1823-4,4 Jane Elizabeth Bryant born 30 Sep 1827,5 Sarah C. Bryant born 2 Apr 1829,6 Frances Amelia Bryant born 23 May 1832,7 and Helen Augusta Bryant born Oct 1834.8
By early April 1834, the Bryant family picked up, left residence in Chenango, Broome, New York and moved to what we believe is the Chardon area of Geauga County, Ohio (future censuses report that Helen was born in Ohio & her son Charles notes she was born in Petersberg, Mahoning, Ohio.9, E I believe this is an incorrect assumption however, as the family wouldn't appear in Mahoning until the 1850s.)
William Bryant dies only a few months after the family's arrival in Ohio on 22 Aug 1834. Currently, there's no evidence to confirm this, but it's believed he passed away in Chardon, Geauga, Ohio... (no record or grave has been found for the Bryant family in Chardon or Warren after communication with Trumbull county genealogical society). By the time the 1840 census rolls around, Harriet and the family have relocated a little further south to Warren in Trumbull County. The Harriet Bryant family is now made up of Harriet as head of household, an eldest son 20-29 yrs. (probably 20-21), 2 sons 15-19 yrs., 1 daughter 5-9 yrs., 3 daughters 10-14 yrs., and 1 daughter 15-19 yrs. (It appear Frances Amelia was incorrectly listed as being at least 10 instead of her actual age of 8).10
[Below is me getting side-tracked with Harriet's daughter, yet feel it's relevant in case your research is getting the two Harriet Bryants confused.]
Bryant-Platt Marriage (1843)On 25 Sept 1840 a man named Comfort Starr Husted completes the application for intended marriage to Harriet's daughter, Harriet M. Bryant in Warren. The document states that Harriet M. is 17 years old and that her mother has given permission to marry (He signs the application Comfort S. Husted).4 On 31 Dec 1840 Comfort and Harriet are married by a Justice of the Peace in Warren (which leads me to believe they were probably at the county courthouse).11
Comfort Husted and Harriet M. had a son together named William H. Husted (middle name believed to be Hart) in 1841, probably still in Trumbull County, Ohio (OH is noted on 1850 census). What happens to Mr. Husted is unknown but it's believed he dies within a year or two. It's not know for certain, but a Harriet Husted marries a William Fowler in 1844 (an intention to marry is found on 18 Apr, but no record of marriage).12 This is the last record for both a Harriet Husted or Fowler and William Fowler. I have found no trace of them after this date. A William Fowler is in the company of Col. T.S. Paddock and considering Col. Paddock applied for William's marriage license it's reasonable to believe they are one and the same, but no further records are found. If Fowler dies, it's possible Harriet remarries again to a Richard Worth Smith in Trumbull on 24 Aug 1852 (again, no other records seem to exist, and Harriet's tracks seem to end).13
[OK. Getting back on track.]
Mother Harriet will remarry Melzar Platt in 1843. An intention to marry is filed 31 Jan 1843 in Trumbull County, Ohio14 and Harriet and Melzar are wed in Rome, Ashtabula, Ohio on 04 Feb 1843 (Rome is 26 miles north, a straight shot along the main road out of Warren).15
1850 Platt Family CensusAfter marriage, probably in late 1843 or early 1844, Melzer and Harriet move to Pulaski, Lawrence, Pennsylvania (still along the OH-PA border) where we find them on the 1850 census.16 I believe this time frame because an old (sadly unsourced) family tree notes that Sarah C. Bryant marries her husband Rufus Dodge in Sharon, Mercer, Pennsylvania on 11 Jun 1844. What's most telling about this note is that the center of town for Sharon is only 10 miles north of Pulaski.
Daughter Jane Elizabeth Bryant marries in Warren, Trumbull, Ohio on 10 Jul 1847 to Sidney J. Smith.17 They have their first child here in 1848 and then relocate to Elyria, Lorain, Ohio.18 (Confirmation of Jane's relationship can be traced to the family photograph of Harriet Bryant labeled "Great Grandmother Platt").19
[Now onto this 1850 census I've referenced...] In 1850 we find Melzer and Harriet in Pulaski, Pennsylvania along with Harriet's children Helen Bryant and Frances Amelia Bryant. Harriet's grandson William H. Husted (written here as Houston) is also living with the family, which is why I'm lead to believe daughter Harriet M. died.16
Frances Amelia would leave home in about 1851 and marry another man unknown to the family, this one was Mr. Wilsdorf. Based on lack of records, this marriage likely occurred in Pulaski or Sharon, Pennsylvania. (I've been able to trace a Wilsdorf family to the Canfield, Ohio area and possibly a brother August was in the Civil War)
1860 Platt Family CensusAround 1853-1854, daughter Helen Augusta marries William S. Wallace, probably in Pulaski or Sharon, Pennsylvania as well (again based on inability to trace records), and the couple moves to North Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio by 1855 when their first child is born.20 In total, they raise a family of 3 sons and 4 daughters.
Sometime before 7 May 1856 the Platt-Bryant family moved to Springfield Township (sometime seen as Petersberg) in Mahoning County, Ohio when Melzer wins a contract bid to become Postmaster General. Melzer would run mail Tuesdays and Thursdays for the Petersberg-Columbiana route in a position he would hold for the next 5 years.21
On the 1860 Census, Melzer and Harriet Platt are living in Springfield, Mahoning, Ohio with nephew William H. Husted, now 19, (again under Houston). By this point, it seem Mr. Wilsdorf has passed away and daughter Frances Amelia and her two daughters Harriet A. and Frances J. Wilsdorf are also living with the family. (It should be noted, both of Harriet Platt's daughters Frances and Sarah named their first daughter Harriet A., and their second daughter Frances J., Sarah's children were Harriet Adaline and Frances Jane, I would expect the same for Frances Amelia's children.)22
And speaking of Sarah, about 13 houses down from Melzar & Harriet (on the 1860 census) daughter Sarah Bryant is living with husband Rufus Dodge and their daughter Harriet Adaline.23
1870 Harriet Platt CensusOn the 27 Apr 1867, Melzer Platt passes away (I would assume this is still in Mahoning County, but I have no proof yet).24 In the following years, the families have relocated to (North) Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio to join the Wallace family where they can all be found on the 1870 census. Here a widowed Harriet Platt is living next door to daughter Helen Wallace and 6 doors down from daughter Sarah Dodge & her family.25
I believe the relocation took place in mid 1867, because on 30 May 1868 daughter Frances Amelia (now a widowed Wilsdorf) marries George Franklin Judkins (Frank) in Lorain County (presumably North Ridgeville).26
Harriet Platt died in Elyria, Lorain, Ohio on 13 Mar 1876 at the age of 74 years, 1 month, 7 days.1 I believe since she died in Elyria, that she died under the care of daughter Helen Wallace who had moved to Elyria with her family between the 1870 and 1880 censuses.
After Harriet's passing, the girls would go their separate directions. Eldest daughter Sarah Dodge and her family would stay in North Ridgeville until Sarah's passing on 18 Jan 1897.27 Frances Amelia Judkins moved to Cleveland with her family shortly after Harriet's passing and lived there until her death on 26 Feb 1893.28 And youngest daughter Helen and her family would stay in Elyria until her passing on 10 Sep 1903.29
Nothing has been found of William H. Husted after leaving home (sometime after the 1860 census in Mahoning County). The only record to surface is of his death on 29 May 1869, and that was only found in family records believed to be complied by Sarah Dodge and daughter Frances Christian. Also noted on this list are all the Dodge daughters, Harriet & Melzar Platt, Frances Judkins, and Adela H. Wilford.30
Harriet Platt Death Record (1876)At this point you might be saying, You just weaved this lovely story of the daughters of Harriet Bryant, but you haven't made any mention of son Benjamin Franklin Bryant and you said he is related to the family! Well... you're right. I haven't made any direct mention of Benjamin, because there is no direct evidence (that I have found). Benjamin left home early and neither he, nor his family, ever left a census record or any obvious clues of his relation, not even in an obituary or death record... but his daughter did, and so did his niece!
Helen Lorina Bryant was born 14 April 184731 in what conflicting records believed to be Madison, Lake, Ohio (1850 census says OH, death record incorrectly says NY) to parents Benjamin Franklin Bryant and Elizabeth Gilbreath.
Helen Lorina married William Henry Harrison Bryner in Lake county 25 Dec 1869.32 On the 1870 census we find Harrison and Helen living with Harrison's mother and siblings 3 doors down from Helen's grandmother Harriet Platt in North Ridgeville (Their last name was written Briner here & also 2 doors from aunt Helen Bryant-Wallace & 9 doors from aunt Sarah Bryant-Dodge).33
Bryant Family Vital Records PaperHarrison and Helen then move back to Painesville to be near Helen's family. Sadly, Harrison Bryner dies there 23 Nov 1879,34 a month after Helen gives birth to their daughter Mary E. Bryner.35 On the 1880 census Helen is listed as the owner of her farm, living with daughter Mary Bryner, parents "Frank & Elizabeth Bryant", and brother Edward.36
Helen Lorina would marry a 2nd time to Patrick Burns on 28 Jun 1893 in Lake County.37
Helen's daughter Mary E. Bryner would grow up and wed Willard H. Morse (a nephew of step-father Patrick Burns) on 1 Jan 1901 in Lake County.38 We find Mary and Willard living in Cleveland on the 1910 census with none other than mother Helen L. Burns, uncle George F. Judkins (husband of Frances Amelia Bryant, Benjamin's sister) and cousin Frank G. Judkins and his family.39
Finally, Benjamin Franklin Bryant was a stage coach driver (a rare profession). The same can be said for Sarah Bryant's husband Rufus Dodge. It's possible that either he and Benjamin were drivers together and he introduced Rufus to his sister Sarah or, the more likely scenario based on census records, Rufus and Sarah married and sometime later Benjamin convinced Rufus it was a good line of work to get into or when times got hard, Benjamin provided some guidance that Rufus could fall back on and he took up the occupation.
UPDATE: Ancestry DNA has provided leads on Harris relatives via their ThruLines™ program. This program combines DNA results with family tree data to suggest ancestors you might not otherwise have direct evidence of (note: this is dependent on the accuracy of other peoples' family trees and works best with multiple DNA matches from different lines providing similar results). ThruLines™ has made the connection to a possible father and grandfather of Harriet, both named Evan Harris.
Evan Junior was born in Connecticut about 1771 and died 10 Apr 1847 in Chenango, Broome, New York (exactly the same town we knew Harriet to be from). Evan had two siblings, John Israel Harris and Nancy Harris. Both of these siblings have descendants whom we share a DNA match with, providing 2 completely separate results pointing to the same conclusion.
While this in itself is not proof, it's about as close as you can get with the minimal number of resources in the area from the early 1800s. The only hope right now is that a document is uncovered or more descendants of the Harris family provide further proof to this connection.
Evan Harris, Jr. (suggested - see update above)
William Bryant, abt 1787 - 1834
- Benjamin Franklin 'Frank' Bryant, 15 Jul 1822 – 27 Oct 1904
- Harriet M. Bryant, 1823 – ?
- Sarah C. Bryant, 2 Apr 1827 – 18 Jan 1897
- Jane Elizabeth Bryant, 30 Sep 1827 – 25 Jul 1863
- Frances Amelia 'Fanny' Bryant, 23 May 1832 – 26 Feb 1893
- Helen Augusta Bryant, Oct 1834 – 10 Sep 1903
Melzar Platt, 16 Jul 1802 - 27 Apr 1867
- William Hart Husted, abt 1841 – 29 May 1869 (grandson)
A There are two additional unknown sons of William Bryant
and Harriet Harris. On the 1840 census, it's stated that Harriet was housing a man in his 20's and a second unknown son somewhere between the ages of 15-19 in addition to Frank. It's likely these boys were 19 & 21 years old, born about 1820 & 1818 respectively.
New evidence has been provided that Harriet could have been William Bryant's 2nd wife, married about 1821. Appearing to have children when she was roughly 16 would make sense if the children were instead from her husband's previous marriage. This would also account for records of a George Bryant and William Joseph Bryant appearing near the family.)
B Portrait of Harriet Harris is courtesy William King, descendant of Harriet's daughter, Jane Elizabeth Bryant. The photograph is labeled "Great Grandmother Platt". Photo was likely taken at a studio in Elyria, where similar photos of Harriet's grandchildren were taken (who were living in the neighboring houses).
C William H. Husted was the son of daughter Harriet M. Bryant but raised by Harriet & second husband Melzar after it appears daughter Harriet and her husband die... it's pure speculation, but also a possibly that daughter Harriet remarried and her new husband refused to accept a son that wasn't his into the family, however I've found no records prove any of this (not even daughter Harriet's death).
D An obituary for Helen Bryant-Wallace's son Lewis from 16 Feb 1893 in page 5 of the Elyria Weekly Republican mentions in attendance "Uncle Frank Judkins, and family, of Cleveland" confirming the family relations and marriages I've slowly pieced together are accurate.
E It should be noted that Mahoning County did not exist until 1846 when it was formed from Trumbull & Columbiana Counties (so any records prior to 1846 would not be in Mahoning).