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About the year 1828 John Bryan removed with his family to the western portion of Virginia, in what is now West Virginia. His last residence was near Point Pleasant, where both he and his wife died, the latter in 1834, the former in 1836.

Silas, then but a boy, went West and made his home a part of the time with his sister, Nancy Baltzell, and a part of the time with his brother, William. He was ambitious to obtain an education, and after making his way through the public schools, entered McKendree College, at Lebanon, Illinois, where he completed his course, graduating with honors, in 1849. Owing to lack of means he was occasionally compelled to drop out of college for a time and earn enough to continue his studies. At first he spent these vacations working as a farm hand, but later, when sufficiently advanced in his studies, taught school. After graduation he studied law, was admitted to the bar, and began the practice at Salem, Illinois, at the age of twenty-nine. On November 4th, 1852, he married Mariah Elizabeth Jennings. During the same year he was elected to the State Senate and served in that body for eight years. In 1860 he was elected to the circuit bench, and served twelve years. In 1872 he was nominated for Congress upon the Democratic ticket, receiving the endorsement of the Greenback party. He was defeated by a plurality of 240 by General James Martin, Republican candidate. As a member of the convention of 1872, which framed the present Constitution of Illinois, he introduced a resolution declaring it to be the sense of the convention that all offices, legislative, executive and judicial, provided for by the new Constitution, should be filled by elections by the people. Before his election to the bench, and after his retirement therefrom, he practiced law in Marion and the adjoining counties. He was a member of the Baptist Church, the church to which his parents belonged, and was a very devout man. He prayed at morning, noon and night, and was a firm believer in providential direction in the affairs of life. He was a man of strong character, stern integrity and high purpose. He took rank among the best lawyers in Southern Illinois, and was a fluent, graceful and forcible speaker. His mind was philosophical and his speeches argumentative. In politics he was a Democrat in the broadest sense of the word and had an abiding faith in republican institutions and in the capacity of the people for self-government. He was a staunch defender of higher education and gave financial as well as moral support to various institutions of learning. He regarded the science of government as highly honorable and used to say that the guest cham

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ber of his home was reserved for "politicians and divines." broad and tolerant in his religious views. It was his custom, after he removed to the farm, to send a load of hay at harvest time to each preacher and priest in Salem. While a public man during a large part of his life, he was eminently domestic. He died March 30, 1880, and was buried in the cemetery at Salem. His will provided that all of his children should be encouraged to secure "the highest education which the generation affords."

The Jennings Family.

The Jennings family has lived so long in America that the descendants do not know the date of the immigration of the ancestors to the colonies nor is it known positively from what country they came, but they are believed to have been English.

Israel Jennings, who was born about 1774, is the first known ancestor. He was married to Mary Waters about the year 1799, and lived in Mason County, Kentucky. In 1818 he moved with his family to Walnut Hill, Marion County, Illinois, where his wife died in 1844 and he in 1860. He was the father of eight children: Israel Jr., and George, now deceased; Charles Waters, of whom I shall speak later; William W., now living in Texas; Elizabeth, who married William Davidson; America, who married George Davidson; Mary, who married Edward White; and Ann, who married Rufus McElwain. All of the daughters are deceased.

Charles Waters Jennings was married to Maria Woods Davidson, December 14th, 1826, and established a home adjoining the Israel Jennings homestead. He died in 1872, and his wife in 1885. To this pair were born eight sons and two daughters: Josephus Waters, deceased, who lived near the home of his father; Harriet, who married B. F. Marshall, and lives at Salem, Illinois; Sarah, who married Robert D. Noleman, of Centralia, Illinois, both deceased; Mariah Elizabeth, the mother of William Jennings Bryan; America, deceased, who married William C. Stites, then of Marion County, Illinois; Nancy, who married Dr. James A. Davenport and lives at Salem, Illinois; Docia, who married A. Van Antwerp, and lives at Sedalia, Missouri; and Zadock, who lives near Walnut Hill.

Mariah Elizabeth Jennings was born near Walnut Hill, Illinois, May 24th, 1834. She attended the public schools of the neighborhood, and when nearly grown was the pupil of Silas L. Bryan, who was nearly twelve years her senior. At an early age she connected herself with the Methodist Episcopal Church, which was the church of her

parents, and remained a member until about 1877, when she united with the Baptist Church, at Salem, to which her husband belonged. She was a woman of excellent sense and superior management. Her husband's frequent absence from home threw upon her a large portion of the responsibility for the care and discipline of the family, and for some years after his death her entire time was given to the nurture and education of the five minor children. When the boys were grown she removed from the farm to Salem, and became an active worker in her church and in societies for social improvement. She always took a deep interest in the political fortunes of her son William, and he has always felt indebted to her equally with his father for counsel and instruction. She lived during the later years of her life in a home which William bought for her use with the first savings from his Congressional salary. After a lingering illness, which she bore with great patience, she died on the 27th of June, 1896, and was laid to rest by the side of her husband.

To Silas Lillard and Mariah Elizabeth Bryan were born nine children. Of these Virginia, John and Hiram died in infancy. Russell Jones, born June 12th, 1864, died at the age of 17, on the eve of his departure for college. Five children are now living, namely:

Francis Mariah, born March 18th, 1858.
William Jennings, born March 19th, 1860.
Charles Wayland, born February 10th, 1867.
Nancy Lillard, born November 4th, 1869.
Mary Elizabeth, born May 14th, 1872.

Francis M. Bryan (now Baird), lives at Salem, Illinois, and Charles W., in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Bryan, Lillard, Jennings and Davidson families all belonged to the middle classes. They were industrious, law-abiding, God-fearing people. No member of the family ever became very rich, and none were ever abjectly poor. Farming has been the occupation of the majority, while others have followed the legal and medical professions and mercantile pursuits.


William Jennings Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois, March 19, 1860. He was sturdy, round-limbed and fond of play. There is a tradition that his appetite, which has since been a constant companion, developed very early. The pockets of his first trousers were always filled with bread, which he kept for an emergency. One of the memories belonging to this period was his ambition to be a minister, but

this soon gave place to determination to become a lawyer "like father." This purpose was a lasting one, and his education was directed toward that end.

His father purchased a farm of five hundred acres, one mile from the village, and when William was six years old the family removed to their new home. Here he studied, worked and played, until ten years of age, his mother being his teacher. He learned to read quite early; after committing his lessons to memory, he stood upon a little table and spoke them to his mother. This was his first recorded effort at speechmaking. His work was feeding the deer, which his father kept in a small park, helping care for the pigs and chickens, in short the variety of work known as "doing chores." His favorite sport was rabbit hunting with dogs. I am not sure that these expeditions were harmful to the game, but they have furnished his only fund of adventure for the amusement of our children.

At the age of ten, William entered the public school at Salem, and during his five years' attendance, was not an especially brilliant pupil, though he never failed in an examination. In connection with his school, he developed an interest in the work of literary and debating societies.

His father's Congressional campaign in 1872 was his first political awakening, and from that time on he always cherished the thought of entering public life. His idea was to first win a reputation and secure a competency at the bar, but he seized the unexpected opportunity which came to him in 1890.

At fourteen he became a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. Later, he joined the First Presbyterian church at Jacksonville, Illinois, and, upon our removal to Nebraska, brought his letter to the First Presbyterian church of Lincoln, to which he still belongs. It may not be amiss at this point to quote from an eulogy which Mr. Bryan delivered upon a colleague in the Fifty-third Congress. This extract will serve a double purpose, in that it gives his views upon immortality, and, at the same time, presents a passage which I think may without impropriety be called a finished bit of English.

I shall not believe that even now his light is extinguished. If the Father deigns to touch with divine power the cold and pulseless heart of the buried acorn, and make it burst forth from its prison walls, will He leave neglected in the earth the soul of man, who was made in the image of his Creator? If He stoops to give to the rosebush, whose withered blossoms float upon the breeze, the sweet assurance of another springtime, will He withhold the words of hope from the sons of men when the frosts of winter come? If Matter, mute and inanimate, though changed by the forces of Nature into a multitude of forms,

can never die, will the imperial spirit of man suffer annihilation after it has paid a brief visit, like a royal guest, to this tenement of clay?

Rather let us believe that He who, in His apparent prodigality, wastes not the raindrop, the blade of grass, or the evening's sighing zephyr, but makes them all to carry out His eternal plans, has given immortality to the mortal, and gathered to Himself the generous spirit of our friend.

Instead of mourning, let us look up and address him in the words of the


"Thy day has come, not gone;

Thy sun has risen, not set;

Thy life is now beyond

The reach of death or change,

Not ended-but begun.

O, noble soul! O, gentle heart! Hail, and farewell."

College Life.

At fifteen he entered Whipple Academy, the preparatory department of Illinois College, at Jacksonville, Illinois, and with this step a changed life began. Vacations found him at home, but for eight years he led the life of a student, and then took up the work of his profession. Six years of his school life were spent in Jacksonville, in the home of Dr. Hiram K. Jones, a relative. The atmosphere of this home had its influence upon the growing lad. Dr. Jones is a man of strong character, of scholarly tastes, and of high ideals, and during the existence of the Concord school was a lecturer upon Platonic Philosophy. His wife, too, was a woman of rare attainments, and having no children, they gave the youth a home in the fullest sense of that word.

His parents wished him to take a classical course and while sometimes grumbling over his Latin and Greek, he has since recognized the wisdom of their choice. Of these two languages, Latin was his favorite. He had a strong preference for mathematics, and especially for geometry, and has believed that the mental discipline acquired in this study has since been useful in argument. He was, too, an earnest student of political economy. This entrance into college life brings to mind an incident which shows both the young man's rapid growth and his father's practical views. During the first year of his absence, he discovered, as holidays drew near, that his trousers were becoming too short, and wrote home for money to buy a new pair. His father responded that as it was so near vacation he need not make any purchase until he reached home, and added: "My son, you may as well learn now, that people will measure you by the length of your head, rather than by the length of your breeches."

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