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Mary Emily Bryan (1834-1921)

Mary Emily Bryan

Mary Emily Bryan was born on July 27, 1834, at the Femme Osage farm home of her parents, Elijah and Lydia Ann McClenney Bryan. The home acreage, located one mile west of the (historic) Daniel Boone home, was a Spanish land grant tract awarded to James Bryan, passed down through his son Jonathan, to his grandson Elijah.

The Missouri Bryan line began with James, a brother of Rebecca Bryan Boone, wife of Daniel Boone. James followed Daniel and Rebecca to the Upper Louisiana Territory in 1800; bringing with him his six motherless children. Jonathan Bryan was one of those early pioneer children. He later married Mary Hughes Coshow and fathered ten children. Elijah Bryan was their fourth born child.

Elijah married Lydia Ann McClenney and fathered five children; William Smith, Mary Emily, Sarah Jane, Melvina, and Maligned Bryan. In 1876, William Smith Bryan co-authored "A History of Pioneer Families of Missouri"; considered to be a seminal reference work on early Missouri History.

"Miss Emily" first began teaching at a county one-room school in the early 1850's.In 1864, she became "assistant teacher" at Lewis Howell's Mechanicsville Seminary and boarding school. This school was "…carried on for five sessions (after 1864), the last two or three mostly by the young lady before mentioned as [Lewis Howell's] health had failed."

In the fall of 1874, with the help of Hiram Beverly Castlio and Fortunatus Boone Castlio, Miss Emily opened her own school; the Mechanicsville Village School.

Described as "…stern and erect," and "…typically attired in a black dress with a tight-fitting waist and a full sweeping skirt;" Miss Emily was known as a taskmaster who taught "…the three Rs - often to the tune of the hick'ry stick."

Miss Emily remained at the Mechanicsville School until May of 1881. She then taught at Peruque School No. 41 from 1881-82, and at Wentzville School No. 43 from 1882-84.

In 1904, both the village of Mechanicsville and Miss Emily's one room school were renamed "Howell" to honor Col. Francis Howell Jr. and Schoolmaster Lewis Howell.

Miss Emily died on November 27, 1921, and was interred at the Linn Cemetery in Wentzville, Missouri.

Dr. Daniel T. Brown
June, 1998

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