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Love Letters of John Warren Bryant & Elvira Harmon         
  1843 to 1853

Submitted by Cheryl Harmon Bills


Doris Vivienne (DeRodes) Garza wrote:

In 1979, many years after Mom died, I ran across a small bundle of old love letters among her possessions, and in looking further, discovered they were written in 1848-1853 by my great-grandparents, John Warren Bryant and Elvira Harmon, before and after they were married. There were 12 letters written by John to Elvira, and only one written by Elvira to John.

The letters were somewhat difficult to read, because of the fancy writing in those days, done with a quill pen dipped in ink. The sentiments expressed were flowery and filled with affection, sometimes with a bit of a poem thrown in. In order to make them easier to read, I typed a copy of each letter to keep with my records. It seems that John traveled quite a bit, whether looking for work or out of restlessness, it's hard to say, and it's not really fair to speculate. Most of his letters were written from hotel rooms in various cities, from southern Ohio to states in the deep South, were he speaks of the Mississippi River, modes of transportation, i.e., the steamboat, the stage coach, and the "cars" (railroad) just beginning; and, finally, his move to Indiana in 1853. You can get a pretty good picture of what was going on between him and Elvira. It was obvious that her father, Horatio Harmon, disapproved of John. Why? I don't know. Her mother, Lucy (Clark) Harmon, died on Aug. 15, 1846. Horatio died on March 4, 1848. John and Elvira were married on Oct. 15, 1848 in Pittsfield, Lorain County, Ohio, where she and her siblings lived. I have no idea where John was born, or who his parents were. Census records give New Hampshire as his birth place.

There is one letter dated Jan. 27, 1850, from John to Elvira, addressed to her in Findlay, Ohio. I have no idea why she was there, since it seems that she spent most of her time in Pittsfield.

John and Elvira's first-born son was named Warren C. Bryant. I have no data on him, except that he was born in Pittsfield, Lorain County, Ohio. It's possible that he may have died in infancy

According to the letters, from wherever he was at the time, John went to Warsaw, Indiana in May 1853 as a pioneer, cleared the land, and built a log house, and was planning on sending for Elvira, after their second son, Edward S. Bryant, was born on July 12, 1853, in Pittsfield, Ohio.

John Warren Bryant was written up in the history of Noble County, as one of the early settlers of that area. I have a couple of interesting articles which I received about him from the Kendallville Public Library, Kendallville, Indiana. These were taken from biographical sketch books of "Alvord's History of Noble County." It was stated that John bought a printing press and became the editor and printer of a controversial Democratic newspaper, which he took from Warsaw to Albion, Indiana. The director of the library in Kendallville, wrote that she was not able to find any listing in their tombstone record books, marriage records, census, or any obituary index.

Elvira was very close with her siblings, so it was understandable that she would want to have her baby born in Pittsfield, Ohio, near her family. Besides, her husband John was just trying to get established in Warsaw, Indiana, after being one of the first settlers.

Since there were no more letters after the one in May 1853, I can only speculate that Elvira and her baby, Edward, and son Warren (if he was living) went to live with John in their log house in Warsaw, Indiana. It's questionable, however, since their third son, Charles H. Bryant (my mother's father and my grandfather) was also born in Pittsfield, Lorain County, Ohio.

I have no data after that, until John Warren Bryant’s death in Albion, Noble County, Indiana, in 1857. He was buried there, but I have no information on the exact date, or cemetery where he was buried

If Elvira went to live with John in Warsaw, Indiana, in 1853, she would have to have traveled back to Pittsfield, Ohio, for the birth of her youngest son, Charles H. Bryant, born May 22, 1855 in Pittsfield. Perhaps she traveled back and forth. If she wasn't already living in Pittsfield, Ohio, she obviously moved back to Pittsfield, after John's death...unless she never moved to Warsaw in the first place. I wish I knew the missing pieces to this puzzle.

Their youngest son, Charles H. Bryant, b. 22 May 1855 in Pittsfield, Ohio; m. Eva E. Glynn; they had two daughters, Blanche S. and Erma L. Bryant (my mother). The family moved from Pittsfield to Bloomdale, Ohio, where my mother and her sister Blanche grew up. Charles, their father (my grandfather) died 9 March 1897 in Bloomdale, Ohio; Eva, (their mother, my grandmother) died 11 Sept. 1910 in Ohio.

The Letters

{On outside of letter is a tiny label that reads: "Tho’ lost to sight, to memory, dear.")

Letter addressed to: Miss Elvira Harmon, Pittsfield, Ohio

January 28th, 1848

Dearest Elvira,

Having found one idle hour, I have concluded to occupy it, by addressing unto you for the first time a silent communication.

You are aware that if I address you in any manner, I must do it with my pen; hence I have set myself at work. But if any person should have told me six months ago that such would now be the case, I should not have believed him. Indeed there was nothing then to make me believe it; but on the contrary, everything appeared bright and peaceable; nay more than this; even promising. Why should I believe it, when I never happened at your father’s house in those days without being cordially welcomed by all, and more especially by himself. I was very seldom there five minutes without receiving an invitation to "walk into the other room." And whenever I met Horace in the street, he took great pains to invite me to "call over." And indeed the first time I remember, of seeing him, was at a discussion in the school-house there, where he urged me to leave my company, and go home with him, and STAY ALL NIGHT. But Oh! Alas! Would he be heard to do so now? Would your father urge me to go into the other room now? Or would he be heard telling the boys to build a fire there, as he did the evening I was first introduced to yourself? No, never. The sides are turned now. But why? Perhaps you know, but I do not.

Whatever may be the cause, I will not stop here to inquire; for as long as you remain unchanged in your determination, I cannot say that I care. Though truly it is not very agreeable to be placed in such circumstances; but notwithstanding, if others are determined to be enimies [sic], I will not object. But still after all that has been said and done, I am not an enimy [sic] to any, but shall ever remain a sincere friend to all.

Since I penned the foregoing, I have been down in town, and I saw Horace there. I was greatly surprised to see what a change had come over him since I saw him last. He addressed me warmly, we shook hands cordially and his own tenderness reminded me of days of yore. It looked to me like a return of pleasantry. His countenance was like a summer sunshiny day, and when contrasting him this evening, with the time I saw him before, I was forced to believe there was a change somewhere; for when I saw him before, he reminded me of what the Dutchman said of Elmira, he "had no countenance at all."

I have found by this time, that it is the intention of your father to separate us entirely forever. But his intention thus far has met with dreadfull [sic] success. Nay, it only served to make it worse; for the proposal which I made to yourself was very seldom perverted to my mind, until I heard of your father’s feelings. Then I often asked myself, if it could be possible that your brother thought that his opposition would cause me to abandon you. It appears to me that a man of his age should have known better. But if he does not perhaps he is not too old yet to learn. I wonder what he thinks I care for opposition as long as you remain unchanged by it? I thought by this time people had learned that I was so used to opposition, that I did not feel myself at home without it. Hence they might know that the opposition of one or two was not enough to make me forsake you. What! Forsake when in the midst of two who were my enimies [sic], you sacrificed your own pursuant happiness by granting to me your warmest affections? Or

Could I forsake you, who like an angel above,
Whispered into my ear the sweet accents of love.
Oh-- could I forsake you my affections to wean,
No never, from one I so highly esteem.
Oh could I forsake you, whose hand I’ve oft pressed,
Whose heart winning smiles kindled love in my breast.
Oh could I forsake you, for others to love,
Oh never! No never!! Whilst God reigns above.
Oh could I forsake you, who was unto me,
The dearest of all of earth’s treasures that be.
Oh could I forsake you, alone for to dwell
Such thoughts from thy bosom, forever dispell.[sic]
No I could not forsake you, while you are my friend
Hence I offered my heart with thine for to blend.
You’ve got it! Now keep it!! Oh keep it for me--
And though all should oppose, yet I’ll never forsake thee.

Excuse my rhyme. Horace wished me to go to the 22nd ball at Whitneys, when I saw him. I had concluded that New Years, had ended my balls for awhile, but I believe I shall go over there if they have one. Silas is coming over tomorrow to see about it, and I believe I shall risque this in his hands, for I think that he will convey safely to you. If you can place confidence enough in him, I should be glad to have the pleasure of receiving a letter from you at your earliest convenience, through the same medium. I do not think that Silas would place them into the hands of any one else, but yet you know best, as you are better acquainted with him. Write soon.

I remain your affectionate admirer, John W. Bryant

Letter addressed to: Miss Elvira, Pittsfield, Ohio

Orange, Ashland, Ohio
March 7, 1848

To my Dearest,

I had concluded when I wrote to you last, that that should be the last letter that you would ever receive from me; not because I do not wish to have a correspondence with you, but because there is nothing I dread so much as writing letters. But it depends something upon the nature of them which I have to write. Yes, I can assure you that if it was nothing but a common business letter that I am about to write, I would not be found writing it. But the impulse of my feelings, taken advantage of the moment, I find myself seated in my chamber, surrounded by the silent walls, with nothing to molest me, save the joyous requiem of the rest of the company below. You may think strange of my addressing you so soon, but supposing that this will be the last opportunity that I will have to send to you for a long while, I had concluded to occupy it. By the time that another chance should present itself, I would not know where to find you, and consequently could not send mail to you. I heard yesterday of the death of your father, while I was in Fitchville, and I have heard of it more than fifty times today and I suppose that it will not be long before you will leave the old mansion. I hope you will write to me as soon as you get this and let me know where you intend to go. You may direct on the back of your letter, Peyton on the Mississippi River, Mississippi, and then I will be sure and get it. You said when I saw you last, and Oh! What a meeting that was. I felt like death, and I know that you felt worse. Well, you said then that I must come back, and fulfill that contract with yourself. If you will write to me and let me know when you would rather I would come and do it, I will be sure and comply with your wishes.

I never was so lonesome in all my live as I have been the last week. It reminds me of the song of a poet:

"I’m lonesome, since I crossed the hills
And o’er the moor doth tire me,
With heavy thoughts my mind is filled
Since I have left Elvira."

But I hope the time will soon roll round when the pleasure of seeing her whom I love most dearly, will drive away those thoughts of loneliness. I know that there are some who will tell you that I have forgotten you nay together with numerous other tales, and I hope that you will give such all the weight they deserve. I suppose that some of those who are so fast in meddling with others business will make themselves quite busy now, since I am not there to defend myself.

Well one consolation presents itself, and that is I shall be no more trouble to them; and I hope they will not be to me. But I must draw to a close for Mr. Coon is now ready to start. But let these few lines be a token that I have not forgotten you.

O think not less I love you
That our paths are parted now
For the stars that burn above you
Are not truer than my own.
Earth with all her golden treasure
Ne’er can win my heart from thee
Though she offers without measure
Yet united may we be.

But I have no time now to write poetry, nor anything else I want to, so I will close. But be sure and write to me. Direct it to Peyton, on the Mississippi River, Mississippi.

I remain your affectionate lover,  John W. Bryant

Vicksburg, Miss.
April 13th, 1848

Dearest Elvira,

I have set aside my usual evening’s walk this evening; and have resolved to occupy it in using my old favorite pen to address unto you a few lines, that you may know that I am enjoying good health, and have not forgotten you. This is the first time that I have had an opportunity to use my favorite pen since the first time I wrote to you; hence it appears somewhat awkward and yet natural, to wield it, especially when wielding it for the same purpose, that I did when I used it last in Ohio. When first I addressed you in this manner, I did so, not because I had rather, address you so, than personnaly [sic], but because the latter privelige [sic] was denied me by the interference of others. And now that difficulty being removed, another sill more formidable, though not so disagreeable, presents itself, compelling me to address you with my pen, again, if in any manner at all.

That difficulty is the distance which separates us. I am now about fifteen hundred miles from you, and four hundred further than I told you I was going.

I did not stop with the rest of the Company; but came on to Vicksburg and went to work in a tin shop. I had made up my mind that I would not write to you; for I did not think that I should stay here more than two months, but I can make about twenty-six dollars a month, besides my board here, and I am to work for a man that learned his trade where I did in Buffalo and we being old acquaintances, he wanted me to work for him all summer, to which I agreed today that I would do. This then is the reason why I am writing to you in preference to walking out. During the daytime here it is very warm, and the evenings are cool and beautiful, that it makes it extremely pleasant to spend the evening in walking, though not so pleasant as it would be, if you were here to accompany me. This beautiful evening, to look out of my chamber window and see the crowd of young folks mingling together, talking over, they best know what, really brings me upon the border of homesickness, though not so much so, but that I will get over it. I think.

You thought that I would be back again in two months from the time I saw you, I wish that ir was so, but fifteen hundred miles cannot be traveled over every day, and you know I told you that I should not return until next fall, and when I make up my mind to do any thing, all the universe cannot change it, though I never will make it up to do wrong. I had made up my mind after I had given you an invitation to last New Years ball, that I would before leaving you on New Years morning, give you an invitation to become my bride; and if all the mud in creation had been piled up between Overlin and Pittsfield, it should not have prevented me from doing so. And that morning I shall ever remember, when I made you the proposition I did, I did not expect from you an answer; because of the opposition of your friends; but then I had resolved upon doing so, and all the opposition, or advice of friends or enimies [sic] could not alter my determination. And now having carried my determination thus far successfully, I have resolved to carry it still farther, but here I must admit that it lies in your power to thwart my design and yours only. But you have told me that I must come back and fulfill that contract, but you have never told me when I should come, consequently I shall have to wait untill [sic] I hear from you before I shall know, but I shall come whenever you set the time. Tis true that we are a great ways apart at present, yet it shall not allways [sic] be so. Though a long distance lies between us, yet you remain as near to me now as you did when we lived near together, and now be assured that though you are far away, yet I will ever remember you with sincerest affection.

That kiss that thine own lips have left
Shall never part from mine
Till happier hours restore the gift
Untainted back to thine
The parting glance that fondly gleams
An equal love may see,
The tear that from the eyelid beams
Can make no change in me.
I ask no pledge to make me blest
In crying when alone
No one memmorial [sic] for a breast
Whose thoughts were all thine own
By day or night, in weal or no
My heart no longer free
Must bear the love it cannot show,
And silent ache for thee.

The letter that I asked you to direct to Peyton I will not get if you have written one, for I am 400 miles from there. Remember me with affection, and write soon.

I remain your affectionate lover, John Warren Bryant

I shall direct this to Mr. Jones in Windsor, and ask him to direct it to you if you are not there, for I do not know where you are.

Letter addressed to: Miss Elvira Harmon, Pittsfield, Lorain Co., Ohio

Buckeye Hotel, Springfield, Ohio
June 28th, 1848

Dearest Elvira,

I hope that you will pardon my presumption in thus attempting to address you again at so early a period.

You will see by the date above that it has been but about 8 days since I mailed you a letter at Memphis, stating that I was going to Orleans. But you will see that instead of going south, I have changed my residence to this beautiful little city about 900 miles north of Memphis, and within 150 of you. The reason for my doing so would not be interesting to you; hence I will not waste paper by writing it.

I left Memphis a week ago today, and arrived here day before yesterday at noon, so you will see that I came 900 miles in four days and a half, which was pretty fast getting through the world.

We found the steamboat that had the mail, in which my last letter was, aground in the Ohio River. We took off the passengers and the mail, and brought them to Cincinnatti [sic], hence you will see that by my taking the Railroad from Cincinnatti [sic], I arrived here ahead of that letter. But enough about that, only I will add that in it I asked you to direct me a letter to Memphis, which of course you will not do if you receive this soon enough, which I hope you will.

It is not necessary for me to write much this time, because I wrote enough in the preceding one, hence I shall be brief, and rest with patience untill [sic] I hear from you again.

You promised to write the news, as soon as you heard from me again. I hope you will for I expect there are strange things going on up there in Oberlin, and Pittsfield now. I will see you before long, and then I will tell you why I think so.

Ohio is much more like home to me than any of the southern states. I tried six of them, and I don’t think that I stayed in a town from the Gulf of Mexico to Cincinnatti [sic], where the manner, and customs of the people are half human. No - I would much rather live among white folks, and there are a few of them in Ohio.

I shall remain here untill [sic] I hear from you, and then perhaps I will return a short distance farther north, though not within 30 or 40 miles of Oberlin.

Perhaps I will remain here for three or four months and go to work. Though even if I do stay I will go up there and pay you a visit in about a month and a half.

You said the folks were all enimies [sic] to me up there, so I will go up and see what they are going to do about it.

I shall have nothing to do with them, more than to treat them with the warmest affection, with which my heart is capable, and I do not think that either of them will have the face to treat me any other way than friendly, or else let me remain alone; but even if they should, I do not care, for they only agravate [sic] themselves, and cause themselves many an unpleasant feeling.

But it is very late, and I have written enough too, so I will close. Write as soon as possible, and be assured I remain your 

Affectionate Lover, John Warren Bryant

P.S. Direct your letter, Springfield, Clark Co., Ohio

Letter addressed to: Miss Elvira Harmon, Pittsfield, Lorain Co. Ohio

July 16, 1848

Dear Ella,

I have just returned from Indiana, whither I went on the fourth of July to see the country, and pass away the time. I do not feel in exactly the right mood tonight, to write to any one, much less to you; but then, when I reflect, I know your generous heart, will pardon my unintended imperfections. Time was ere now, when I loved to write letters, and especially to the girls, but that was a freak of my childhood days, which constitutes no part of my present carachter [sic], for of late my toungue [sic] claims the superiority over my pen, and would much rather do its own work, than allow a silent agent, like a pen to interfere. But as polliticians [sic] say, "circumstances alter cases," and I find myself seated by the side of my table, surrounded by the silent walls of my chamber, with no sound to molest me, save the silent farewell notes of time, as it rolls on never to return. No sight to attract my eye, but the far off twinkling stars as they glitter in the azure sky, or the beautiful golden moon, that is now climbing over the summits of her eastern hills, shedding her magnificent rays, over the assembled groups of youthful gaiety. Oh! That I could mingle with them in their glee, and participate with them in their gaiety. But alas! Such pleasure I could not enjoy, unless your own sweet voice could mingle with the rest. But dearest, I will state my object in writing to you at present, with as much brevity as possible, because I have been very unwell, and at present am much too weak to be writing.

While in Indianapolis, I was taken suddenly with a very severe pain in the breast, which rendered it very unpleasant and almost impossible for me to return home to Springfield. I am much better though this evening, and anticipate going to work in a few days. I am now going to give you a discription [sic] of Springfield, and then I am going to ask you how you would like to come down here and live, for I have partly made an agreement to enter into business here; which agreement I shall conclude as soon as I hear from you, providing I have your consent. Springfield is a town of 4,000 inhabitants, beautifuly [sic] situated on the national road, leading from Columbus to Indianapolis in Indianna [sic], 40 miles from Columbus and 140 from Indianapolis. The Railroad runs through here from Cincinnati to Sandusky, which makes an immense travel here. The town is beautifully laid out, and is never muddy, even after the heaviest rains. But to cut a long narrative short, allow me to say that it is every way calculated to attract the admiration of every lover of all which nature can produce. During the last four months I have traveled over seven of the Southern States, and Illinois, and Indiana, and - Of all the towns in South, or West, I love the town of Springfield best.

But still I should like it much better, were you here, that I might participate with you the pleasures that they who live here cannot help but enjoy. Time as well as space prompt me to bring this part of my narrative to a close.

Buckey [sic] Hotel
July 23, 1848

Dear Ella,

One week has elapsed since the preceding part of this letter was written, and no letter from you yet. Oh how inconstant you are getting to be. The other letter you wrote to me, you received mine on Monday, and then waited untill [sic] Sunday came before you answered it, and then to cap the climax gave me a regular old fashioned scolding, I suppose by way of example, that I may know what to expect when you have a chance to do as you’re a mind to.

But I’ll pay you for all this when I see you again, which shall soon be, that is, if you answer this pretty soon; if you don’t, I shall never write to you again, and I don’t believe I shall ever come to see you.

I have not room for any more negative thot [sic]. I am again enjoying good health. Always to remain:

Forever thine!
When hills and seas divide; When storms combine;
When west winds sigh, or deserts part us wide–
Forever thine.
In the gay circle of the proud saloon, whose splendours shine,
In the lone stillness of the evening winds–
Forever thine.
And when the light of song that fires me now, Shall life resign;
My breaking heart shall breathe its last vow–
Forever thine!

John Warren Bryant

Write to me as soon as you can conveniently.

Miss Elvira Harmon

Buckey [sic] Hotel
August 19th, 1848

My Dear Ella,

An idle moment has at length arrived, and nothing gives me more pleasure than to occupy it, in addressing to you a few lines concerning you and yours. I received your precious letter of the 19th of last month, the next day after I wrote my last. Had I known what was in it, one day sooner I would not have written, that which it appears by your last, has wounded the feelings of that heart, which in by-gone days I have so ardently sought after, and so fondly loved. Now dear Ella, do not think that I claim to have a perfect knowledg [sic] of the heart of woman, for indeed I have not; but still I will venture to say that you are well acquainted with the feelings produced upon the mind by doubts, which doubts are always its unwelcome visitor, when it suspects that the love it has cherished for another remains unreciprocated. Indeed I should judge by your last letter which I received last Monday, that while penning it you were experimenting in such doubts. I mean that your mind was overwhelmed, with feelings, produced by a single doubt, and that doubt was ringing itself upon your mind, prompting you to fear that my love for you was not sufficient to cause me to return and accept that gentle hand. But believe me Elvira such is not the case. No nor never will be; for as long as life exists; so long shall my heart cling to thee with a love that it can never–never–never bestow upon another.

Then dearest if I have not missjudged [sic], strive to banish those unwelcome feeling [sic] from your mind, for I know they make you unhappy. Yes, Ella, I do for it was under the influence of such doubts that I penned my last letter to you. Yes it was and though that letter appeared to be the lightest and most jovial of all I have written to you, I must be candid and say, that pen can never discribe [sic] the mentel [sic] agony I was undergoing while writing it. But your kind letter came to my relief, and all anticipated disappointments fled before it. Enough for the present, of this; but more anon.

I see you have left home. What does that mean? Though I need not inquire, for it is no more than I expected. I received a letter from some unknown upstart there, declaring that there would be a "fuss" before they would suffer your name to be changed to Elvira Bryant; and oh!! The threats–the awfull [sic] threats–the curses–the anathemas, and the maladictions [sic] that are in it, I would never have believed one sheet of paper would contain. But let him go for what he will fetch, suffice it to say that I would have thought much more of him, if he had been gentelman [sic] enough to have signed his name to it.

But now to our own particular affairs. You have at length "set the time;" But under the circumstances in which I am placed render it necessary that one of two ways should be adapted. I will name the reasons, and then name the ways, and being that it is "leap year" I will leave it to you to decide which way to prefer. Well the circumstances are these. Every hand has left the shop, and I am the only workman there is there, I have now three weeks work promised to be done immediately, besides what is constantly coming in, and if I leave, the shop will have to be closed for at least two weeks and the people disappointed, by their work being undone. This offer Harrison will not consent to at any rate whatever. Indeed I cannot blame him for it; for to say the least it would be an hundred dollars out of his pocket, which looks like a large pile to some men now days [sic]. Hence for this reason, I cannot promise to come up there under two months, then our hurry will begin to erase. But Dear, if it should meet with your approbation, I would prefer, for some reasons, to have you come down here. It would only take you one night and a day to come, and I can arrange it so that you can come without any trouble, by taking the stage at Oberlin or Elyria for Sandusky City, and then take the Rail Road [sic] for this place. You would leave Elyria in the afternoon, and arrive in Sandusky time enough for the Cars in the morning, which arrive here the same day at about Sundown. I have not time to write much more now; but if you will come, you will write to me and let me know as soon as you can, and I will send you another letter with directions to come by, and enclose every thing that it will be necessary for to bring you. If you would prefer it, I wish you would do it, for I do not know how to wait two months yet before I can see you. But then do not do it to please me, for I would rather you would decide as you think best. Should you come write to me as soon as you can and I will have every thing in readiness by the time you arrive even to Mr. Turner, the Universalist Preacher.

But I must close. I am quite well. Write soon now Dear, and be assured that

"The heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the Sunflower turns to its God when he sets,
The same looks that it turned when He rose."

– Z. Moore

With Love, Your affectionate, J. W. Bryant

Letter addressed to: My Dear Ella, Pittsfield, Ohio

August 26th, 1848

My Dear,

You will begin to think me an odd genious [sic] for writing so often; especially when I have so little to say. Well be that as it may, if you come down here, I think this will be the last time that I will have to write to you; and I am glad of it; for oh! how much more pleasure it will yield me, to see you, and enjoy the pleasent [sic] tones of your merry voice, than to be always writting [sic].

Yes dear it would, for of late it has become almost impossible for me to write to suit myself; but on the other hand, it would appear that it was perfectly natural for you; for I cannot read over your precious letters, without bring [sic] to my mind the many happy hours we have spent in each others [sic] company. But then what is dearer than all, is the anticipations of the many hours–days–months, yes and years to come that I shall spend happily with her and her only whom I car [sic].

Yes Ella, to use your own words "I know we shall live happy." Indeed there is nothing that I can conceive of to make us unhappy. I have but to think how time has fled unconsciously away, those many still remembered evenings; and compare it with the future, when I know it will pass much swifter, for time only makes you dearer.

But I must borrow a few words from your last letter and say "You must come, for on yourself, my happiness alone depends," Then Dear come and make me happy at onc [sic] for I shall never be really happy untill [sic] I can truly call you mine.

I told you in my last that if you would come I would send you direction [sic] and so forth, But why should I wait, and defer the time by so many letters. No I will not. I will send directions now, for I think you will come; and by the time you arrive all will be in readiness to make us one. First then; you can take the stage at Oberlin early in the morning, for Elyria; from Elyria by stage to Sandusky city 20 miles. If you stop at a tavern in Elyria, have the Landlady inform the Landlord that you wish to take the stage for Sandusky, and he will have it call there for you. But perhaps you know more about Elyria than I do hence I will say no more of it.

When you arrive in Sandusky, you can ask the gentleman who will help you out of the stage what time the cars leave for Springfield, for I do not know exactly, though it is very early in the morning; and tell him at the same time that you wish to leave on them; and if you stop at the Townsend house, which is the best house, an omnibus will be in readiness at the door before the cars start.

Before you start it would be best to write your name and place of destination on a piece of paper and tack it on the end of your trunk. When you leave Sandusky they will give you a check for your trunk, which you must keep untill [sic] you get here. I have said all now that is necessary, for you will find no difficulty at any rate.

Enclosed you will find a fifty dollar bill which you can get changed at Pettons, or in Elyria. Use it as you think best. It will require seven or eight dollars to bring you here. Perhaps you can get some one to get it changed for you, you know better who than I do. Silas or some one else. I could not send smaller bills well, they make up so much bulk, that some one might have the curiosity to open the letter to see what is in it. It may be possible that the railroad will not be finished here when you come, but if it is not, there will be plenty of stages standing around the cars when you stop in Urbanna [sic], and all you have to do is get into one of them, and they will bring you through free of charge. Do not get in a stage that goes another direction, for then I would lose my Ella alltogether [sic]. You need not say anything about your trunk there, for that will come on safe. But I think the railroad will be finished, they intend to have it done this week.

If you will write me a line as soon as you get this and tell me when you intend to start, I will meet you at the railroad and conduct you Home. Answer all inquiries as best pleases yourself, and be assured I will ever remain truly–Sincerely–Affectionately, and fondly thine own,

J. Warren Bryant

Come as soon as possible.

Letter addressed to: Ella, Pittsfield, Ohio

Sept. 11th, 1848

Dear Ella,

It is a moment of disappointment. It is a moment, which three weeks ago my organ of hope taught me to anticipate the participation of each others [sic] company. It is a moment, which I had flattered myself fully to believe that we should sit by each others [sic] side, chatting over the past; conversing over the future; or perhaps traveling the banks of the beautiful Lagonda, reviewing her sparkling waters, as they wind themselves on through hill and dale, untill [sic] buried in the rapid waters of the well-known river of the vale. But alas! weeks have yet to pass, ere such bright vision can enrapture the anxious heart, with pleasing reality. Oh!! that I could call them, merely days or hours. But, then notwithstanding, the disappointment, it is not so great but that I will most willingly yieald [sic] to your wishes and think like you, that they are preferable to my own.

You seem to imply that our nuptials are to be celebrated in the house occupied by Horrace [sic]. Then is it true that he, who has been pleased to bestow upon my self the ignominious appellation of "fuss," "mischief maker," and so forth; and heap upon my head, malignant abuse, in whatever covert or unfair manner his inventions have favoured [sic] him with, has granted his house to be the theatre [sic] of a scene, which he but a few weeks ago looked upon with such horrid contempt. My Elvira, I hope that you will allow me to implore of you for once, not to calculate for our marriage to be celebrated in your brothers house, unless that house be freely granted. No never–never–never! While one spark of the crimson current remains to strengthen me, will I ask of him a favor. But if you will pardon me I will say no more upon this subject, for I have said too much already.

I wish you would write to me as soon as possible, and inform me if my return on the third Sunday in October, which I believe is the fifteenth, would be acceptable to you, and if it should be, tell me also where I will find you, for you speak of going to Windsor, and unless you do write I will not know whether to go down to Windsor or go on to Sandusky and Elyria.

Now Dear I hope you will have the guests invited, and things in readiness, being that you have engaged to set that part of the play. If you can Ella, while you are giving invitations, I wish you would engage some of the invited to obtain our license, for I shall be under the necassaty [sic] of being in great haste; as I cannot be spared from here long. But do as you think best about that, and let me know accordingly so that I can make my calculations aright.

Do not invite any one untill [sic] the day previous, for if you do it will be all over Lorain County, and there will be many there that I do not wish to see, and whom I know you would not invite; especially some from Oberlin.

Give Elmira and Silas my best respects. You may tell them that I approve of their courage and determination in venturing out on lifes [sic] rugged deep in the barque of rural felicity, which I might call union.

May united friendships serve as sails to re [sic] waft them gently on before the breezze; [sic]
and when surrounded by the storms of adversity;
may love prove to be a faithful ballast to their ship,
then rendering their voyage one of unmingled pleasure.

Write to me as soon as you can; and allow me to remain

Your most affectionate Warren

Letter addressed to: Mr. John Warren Bryant, Springfield, Clark Co., Ohio
(This letter was postmarked Oberlin, O.)
Sept. 26th, 1848

Most dear and affectionate Warren,

Once more I take my pen to write a few lines to one that I prize above all earthly beings, and the time not being far distant when I can enjoy the company of that Dear one never to be seperated [sic] again, when I can meet you with the same happy smiles that I used too [sic] do, and not only myself but all of my relatives will greet you also which will make it much pleasanter [sic] for you and for myself, too. I have seen them all and conversed freely on the subject with them. They will all be here the 15th as that is the day that you have set for to excep [sic] my hand and heart. I will gladly consent to it, you wish me to have every thing in readiness which I will; even to the License and the Minister.

Brother Dudley or Smith either of them will assist me. It seems to be the minds of my Brothers and sisters that we should be united at our home it being just as much our home as it has been.

Or I mean Horace has no more liberty here than any of the rest of us could take if we felt disposed to although he calculated to dwell here. I have not said any thing to Horace about your return, but I told brother Wm. He said (he) would talk with him which he did. Horace says if (he) cant [sic] treat you like a Brother, he will leave home. I don’t think you need fear him so doing as we have the majority on our side.

Fayette was at home two weeks ago and wished me to write to you a little for him. He wants to leave Sullivan and go some where where he can do better. He says he is a friend to yourself and never been otherwise. He says if he can get into any kind of buseness [sic] there he would be very happy to acompany [sic] us to Springfield; will you be so kind as to write and let him know what you think about it. I have not been to Windsor yet. I can not go there before your return.

Elmira has been very sick which has put my work back so I that I cannot get time to go, and brother Horace was married yesterday which made the work very hard there being no one to do it except myself to wait on his company. Him [sic] and his wife have gone South on a visit now; I attended the wedding with Silas, the only ones that went from here. No more at present.

But will remain your kind and loveing, [sic] Elvira

Excuse my poor writing.

Letter addressed to: Mrs. Elvira Bryant, Findlay, Ohio

Urbana, Ohio
Jan 27th, 1850

My Dearest Ella,

About the 7th of the present month I addressed to you a letter. On the 15th I received one, which said nothing of your receiving the above mentioned one from me. I took it for granted that it had miscarried, and immediately addressed another, similer [sic] to the first, to you, and to which I expected an answer last week. Last week came–but with it no letter. Another week has commenced, and my mind is now led to believe that some prying miscreant has made use of my letters before they reached you.

But I hope such will not be the case with this, as I shall adapt means to avoid it.

I’ll repeat now what I have written before; that with your consent we will settle in Urbana, as long as I shall have to work as a Journeyman. It is a pleasant place, in a pleasant country, and I do not know as I can do better than nine dollars a week and stay here. And now if you will write me immediately, stating that you will get on the cars and come down here, without my going after you, what money you require at once, and you will thereby curtail our moving expenses $12.00, and that we can dispose of profitably after you arrive.

I wish you would enquire of Mrs. Mariem what she charges per month for those rooms. Mr. Beach says $3.00 per month; but that is more than she charged for the other part, and is too much.

I have purchased a new suit of black, and am playing the genteel at present as well as I know how. The young ladies are falling in love with me, and I am afraid if you do not come erelong [sic] to allay the excitement, that I shall be abducted by some of them.

Since writing the foregoing page, I have been over to a pond on the east side of town, to witness the baptism of eight new converts. I saw while there Mr. and Mrs. McKinney, and two eldest daughters, formally [sic] of Lima; they are residing here at present.

Now Dear Ella in closing allow me to implore you to write soon and tell me that you are coming down here for I long to see you, and our little boy. If it is not necessary for me to return to Findlay, I will get Mr. Beach to hire a man to pack up the things and put them on the cars for you. My health is good and I am growing fat. No more now. Good bye. But

Ever your affectionate J. W. Bryant 

Mrs. Elvira Bryant, Findlay

Amor Forever

On the back page of this letter, John wrote:  I direct this to Mr. Beach because I think he will be sure to get it. J.W.B.

(There was no envelope or address with this letter.)
Postmarked Warsaw, Indiana
May 2nd, 1853

Dear Wife,

I, having a few spare moments have concluded to occupy them by addressing a few lines to yourself. The last letter I wrote, was written in moments of different days, and consequently contained nothing relative to the country in which I live, and in which we expect to make our future home. In the first place the country is a very pleasant one, the timbered land being broken by vast Prairies, and interspersed with beautifull [sic] lakes, containing excellent fish, and affording a rendesvous [sic] for all kinds of game such as deer, wild geese, ducks, etc. We have prairies north of us ten miles in length and from four to five in width, and better land never received the plow.

Our timbered lands are of two kinds, viz, oak openings, or barrens and heavy timber, the latter is far the best land, although it is not so easy to clear and cultivate for the first time, for the trees are so scattering on the former that a man need not clear it at all, but build him a house and go to plowing, the land I bought is in the heavy timbered section of country, and is a most excelent [sic] piece of land as far as the soil is concerned, but it will be somewhat expensive clearing up. I have about as much cleared and fenced as Williams’s whole farm. I have a house, a barn, smoke house, milk house, and every thing convenient to live, but cannot get possession now, Finley’s agent here rented the place for three years from March 1852, but I expect he will give it up as soon as he gets his crops of that he now has in. I shall make Finly [sic] pay me the damages that the loss of the place will be to me up to that time.

The people hear [sic] are nearly all Buckeyes, and are a very clever lot of folks. Alfred Rough from Windsor lives within half a mile of our place, and is farming and blacksmithing together. They are a working on the Rail Road [sic] here now which runs from Mansfield to Chicago. It will be done though in about one and a half years, and then we can go from here to Mansfield in a few [h]ours.

I suppose you will be preparing to go to Pittsfield and Elyria when you receive this which I would advise you to do, I will furnish you with money to do up your visiting this summer whenever you want it, so you had better embrace the opportunity for you may not have an opportunity again for a few years; but do not make your visits to [sic] long in a place, for your folks think nothing of you I am sure, and should you see fitt [sic] to make it your home a while with any of them make a bargain with, and pay them for it.

I shall be down there in July or sooner if you want I should, but I do not want to be gone long, as I wish to retain my place here, which I can for one....two or a half a dozen years if I see propper [sic] and am not away so as to make it necessary for to hire another hand to fill my place. I design when I move you up here to get some boy to work what land I have improved and take care of the things, and to work in the shop myself, so that I can make something of the place, and with my hands too.

If you should find any boy that would like too [sic] come out here and live with us next spring, that will be satisfied if they are paid for it, and not get homesick, tell them they can have a chance.

I would send you some more money, but I want to hear that you have got that last I sent first, and then I will if you will tell me where to send it too.

I think I have written a plenty this time, try and get along the best you can untill [sic] I come down and I will make arrangements for the future so good-bye.

Yours affectionately, J.W. Bryant

Letter addressed to: Mrs. Elvira Bryant, Oberlin, Lorain Co., Ohio
(This letter was postmarked Warsaw, Ind.)

Aug 10th, 1853

Dear Ella,

Yours of last Sunday, I just received, and hasten to write to let you know that I am well, and am glad to hear that you are pretty nearly so.

I did not calculate to write untill [sic] I could send you some more money, which I have failed to get, on account of the absence of Mr. Chapman, longer than I expected. He went to LaPorte last week, and has not returned yet, but I am looking for him dayly; [sic] and I think that you can look for more money the first part of next week. I have some of his money by me now but do not like to use it without his knowing it. We have had three of the warmest days of weather here that I ever saw any where [sic]. Today the thermometer stood 106 in our shop, so you may guess we had a comfortable time of it. If it should continue so long I am afraid it will make it unhealthy. I will write again on Sunday if not sooner. So good-bye.

Your affectionate, J.W. Bryant


The following information was added by Cheryl Harmon Bills who has compiled and submitted these letters online at the request of Doris Garza.

The 1880 census shows Elvira, a widow, living in Pittsfield, Lorain, Ohio. With her is her youngest son, Charles, his wife and infant daughter. According to census records, Charles was born in Indiana (which differs from the family records that Doris Garza has) and his father (who would be John Warren Bryant) was born in New Hampshire.

1880 Census Place: Pittsfield, Lorain, Ohio

Source: FHL Film 1255042 National Archives Film T9-1042 Page 549B

Relation Sex Marr Race Age Birthplace
Elvira Bryant Self F W W 55 Ohio
Occ: Housekeeper Fa: VT Mo: ---
Charles Bryant Son M M W 24 Indiana
Occ: Farm Laborer Fa: NH Mo: ---
Eva Bryant DauL F M W 19 Ohio
Fa: Mass Mo: ---
Blanch Bryant GDau F S W 1 Ohio
Fa: Indiana Mo: Ohio

Harmon family records may be found at:

1882 History of Noble County by Goodspeed and Blanchard, pages 82 and 83:
"From this time {March 1853} until the summer of 1854, there was no paper published in Albion; but at the latter date, John W. Bryant came from Warsaw, Kosciusko county, with an old fashioned Franklin press and old printing material, and commenced the publication of the Albion Palladium, a Democratic paper.  Shortly afterward, Theodore F. Tidball became a partner with Bryant in the publication and editorship of the Palladium, and the paper was issued from an office then located just east of the present site of R.L. Stone's drugstore.  The building belonged to William M. Clapp.  In the spring of 1855, the press and types were seized under a writ of replevin or attachment from Kosciusko county.  Deprived of his press, Bryant went to Columbia City, Whitley County, with his compositors, where by doubling teams the Palladium and the Democratic paper of Whitley county were both issued weekly from one press.  The Palladium was folded and addressed and brought over to Albion in a buggy every week, and published and distributed there.  S.E. Alvord accompanied Bryant, and graciously gave his services as assistant editor during the Whitley county episode, which lasted until the autumn of 1855, Tidball being in the meantime engaged in organizing a stock company of Democrats for the purchase of a new press and materials.  This was accomplished, and in the fall of 1855, the paper was re-established in Albion under the name of the Noble County Palladium, Tidball and Bryant, editors and publishers.  It was a decidedly Democratic sheet, and engaged with great activity and vim in the somewhat bitter partisan discussion of that time.  The Palladium lived through the campaign of 1856, and stopped near the close of that year.  The press and types of the Palladium were purchased of the stockholders by S.E. Alvord, and in February, 1857, was commenced the publication of the Noble County Democrat.  The proprietor, S.E. Alvord, was editor, and at first associated with himself, as publisher, G.I.Z. Rayhouser, of Fort Wayne. The Noble County Democrat, under the successive foremanship and management of W.T. Kimsey, George W. Roof and John W. Bryant, and under the editorship of S.E. Alvord, completed two volumes and then discontinued until September, 1859."

John W. Bryant's association with the paper ended with his death in 1857.

See also Samuel E. Alvord's History of Noble County, Indiana.