Objects in Time

One person’s junk may be another person’s treasure. We’ve asked Bryan residents to share their old “stuff” with us. Antique and vintage items do more than just look cool. They tell stories about daily life and have special meaning to individuals.

1890-1910 Texas stoneware whisky jug - Hanowich Fine Liquors, Bryan, Texas

Antique stoneware jug with Bryan, Texas location stamp

Circa 1880-1910
Jug reads: Hanowich Fine Liquors, Bryan, Texas.

Courtesy of Kenneth W. Smith Jr.


πŸŽ§β€ƒListen to Ken Smith share the history of this jug:

Harvey Mitchell’s surveying tools: Vernier compass and tripod

Circa 1840s
As the “Father of Brazos County,” Harvey Mitchell was a man who wore many hats. One of those was land surveyor. Mitchell drew a map in 1876 that was used by later councils in the planning and construction of city streets.

Courtesy of Carnegie History Center


πŸ“·  Read Harvey Mitchell’s Last Will and Testament

πŸ“·  See more information and a portrait of Harvey Mitchell

Harvey Mitchell's surveying equipment -- vernier compass.
Harvey Mitchell's surveying equipment -- tripod and vernier compass.
1858: Bill of sale in Brazos County, Texas, for "Loeza", a 15 year old slave girl.
1858: Back page of the bill of sale in Brazos County, Texas, for "Loeza", a 15 year old slave girl.

1858 bill of sale in Brazos County for a 15-year-old slave girl

Sept. 4, 1858
This document is a bill of sale for “Loeza.” Loeza was 15 years old when she was sold by W.A. Killough to James Walker of Bryan. She was noted to be β€œof sound mind and body” and was purchased as β€œa slave for life.” Currently, volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are trying to trace her genealogy to hopefully find her descendants.

Courtesy of Carnegie History Center

1854 bill of sale in New Orleans for a 13-year-old slave girl

Aug. 2, 1854
This document is a bill of sale for “Margaret,” a 13-year-old girl, sold by John Sharp of Columbia, S.C. to James Walker of Bryan. She was said to be β€œfree of all vices and maladies.” Margaret was sold in New Orleans, most likely a meeting point for both slave owners. She was purchased as β€œa slave for life.” Currently, volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are trying to trace her genealogy to hopefully find her descendants.

Courtesy of Carnegie History Center

1854: Bill of sale in the State of Louisiana for "Margaret", a 13 year old slave girl sold to James Walker of Bryan, Texas.
1854: Second page of bill of sale in the State of Louisiana for "Margaret", a 13 year old slave girl sold to James Walker of Bryan, Texas.

Manuel Rodriguez’s sombrero

Circa 1889
According to book Brazos County History: Rich Past, Bright Future, “In 1889, a 20-year-old Mexican named Manuel Rodriguez created quite a scene when he walked down Bryan’s Main Street for the first time. He drew a crowd of children who were intrigued by the large sombrero he wore.”

Rodriguez worked with road crews until he was able to save money for his dream – a restaurant which he opened behind Ben Knox Saloon near the train depot. His Mexican stew and other dishes were popular with both locals and train travelers. 

Rodriguez’s dream is still alive today in the form of Casa Rodriguez restaurant in Downtown Bryan.

Courtesy of the Rodriguez Family via Carnegie History Center

City of Bryan Utility System Bond Prospectus

1956
This prospectus was prepared by R.A. Underwood & Co., Inc., Investment Bankers, Dallas, Texas, for the issuance of $3,562,000 in municipal utility bonds. These bonds were sold to investors and investment bankers, and the proceeds generated from these bonds were to be used to “construct permanent improvements, additions, and extensions to the Electric, Water, and Sewer Systems.

The prospectus notes that “Bryan is known as the ‘Treasure Chest’ of Central Texas due to the great production of various agricultural projects, the livestock and other industries along with the stable income provided by the educational institutions and military installations. The Bryan Air Force Base is designated permanent.” Within three years of the issuance of these bonds, the Bryan Air Force Base would be phased out.

Courtesy of City of Bryan

Harvey Mitchell’s Last Will and Testament

July 6, 1899
The State of Texas
Brazos County

I, Harvey Mitchell, of the state and county aforesaid, being of sound, disposing mind and memory, do hereby make and ordain this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all others I may have heretofore made.

1st.       It is my desire that my executor, herein after named, shall pay all my just debts that I may owe at the date of my death, including expenses of last sickness and funeral and for that purpose, my said executor is hereby fully authorized to sell, at public or private sale and make legal, conveyance thereof, any property I may own at my death, either for cash or on time as he may deem best for the interest of my estate (save and except my residence, Lots 9 & 10 in Block 22 in the City of Bryan in Brazos County, Texas and my American Encyclopedia).

2nd.      After all my debts are so paid I give and bequeath to my son Jeff P. Mitchell one dollar and no more, he having already received from me a larger portion of my estate than any other of my children can obtain of the remainder thereof, and the remainder of my estate I bequeath to my four children, Jennie Weddington and Alice Dean of Bryan, Fannie B. Nash of Waco and James E. Mitchell of Ft. Worth, Texas, to be equally divided among them if living at the date of my death, and if dead, then to their offspring, and should it not be practicable to divide my estate into four equal shares in kind then some portion thereof to be sold and the shares equalized with the proceeds of said sale, so that all four shares may be equal in value.

3rd.       To my daughter Alice Dean I give and bequeath as additional and extra to her equal share of my estate, my home in Bryan (Lots No. 9 & 10 in Block 22) also my household goods, except my said American Encyclopedia.  This extra share is intended as compensation for her ministrations to me for any comfort during the last years of my life, but in the event that my said daughter, Alice Dean, should die before the date of my death, then this extra bequest shall revert back to my estate and be equally divided between her offspring and my other children or their offspring.

4th.       To my son, James. E. Mitchell, I give and bequeath my American Encyclopedia as extra and additional to his equal share with the other children, and to my oldest grandson, Harvey Weddington of Waco, Texas, I give and bequeath my watch.

5th.       I hereby nominate and appoint my true and tried friend, Guy M. Bryan of the City of Bryan, my executor, without bond, to execute and carry out the provisions of this will and it is my desire that no action be had in regard to the same in my court further than the probate of this will and the filing of an inventory and appraisement of the property comprising my estate, and for compensation of the services to be rendered by my paid executor I desire that the reserve the sum of two hundred dollars before any division of my effects shall be made among my said children as above provided, and in the event of his death or refusal to act I then desire that my son James E. Mitchell be appointed administrator of my estate with this will annexed with authority to appoint an attorney in fact to carry out the provisions of this will.

Given under my hand this 6th day of July A.D. 1899.

Witness:
H.O. Boatwright

Piece of sandstone exterior from the 1892 Brazos County Courthouse -- built in 1892 and demolished in 1954.

Piece of sandstone from the exterior of the 1892 Brazos County Courthouse

1892-1954
The 1892 Brazos County Courthouse was constructed in 1892 and demolished in 1954, when it was replaced in the same location in Bryan by the current courthouse. The courthouse is seen here in 1937 after a snowfall.

Courtesy of Randy Haynes; Photo courtesy of Carnegie History Center

Brazos County Courthouse 1937.
Bryan College Interurban Railway circa 1910-1923.

Tickets for the Bryan-College Interurban Railway

Circa 1910-1923
The Bryan-College Interurban Railway was a trolley line that connected Bryan to Texas A&M College, four miles to the southeast, from 1910 until 1923. The trip from Bryan took 30 minutes, and the cost to ride was 15 cents roundtrip. Its reliability was often called into question, particularly in its early years when it was propelled along its tracks by an underpowered gasoline engine.  

When difficulties occurred (and they often did), the accepted cry was “Ladies, keep your seats; Profs, get out and walk; and Cadets, get out and push!”  

Gas cars, which had to be pushed up the Hillcrest incline on Saturday afternoons when the trolley was crowded, were converted to electric power in 1915. With plans for the construction of Highway 6, service was terminated. The tracks and wires were sold for scrap in 1930. The station in Bryan was converted into a home in 1957.

Courtesy of Carnegie History Center

Tickets for the Bryan College Interurban Railway circa 1910-1923.
1890-1910 Texas stoneware mini jug with advertising for Chance Brothers in Bryan Texas on it.

Antique stoneware mini liquor jug with Bryan, Texas location named on it (3 inches tall)

Circa 1880-1900
Jug reads: Old Nelson County for sale by Chance Bros. Bryan, Tex.

Courtesy of Kenneth W. Smith Jr.


πŸŽ§β€ƒListen to Ken Smith share the history of this jug:

1891 Souvenir Program/Bookmark from the Grand Opera House in Bryan, Texas

Antique linen souvenir bookmark / program for the Grand Opera House in Bryan

Thursday, Sept. 24, 1891
This bookmark for the performance of “A Breezy Time” is made of linen, and was used as an advertising and marketing tool the same as items like this are used today. It was provided to patrons “with compliments of the proprietors of the The Brazos Pilot,” a local newspaper published from 1877-1909.

Courtesy of Kenneth W. Smith Jr.


πŸŽ§β€ƒListen to Ken Smith share the history of this item:

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!
The news in early Bryan

Nov. 9, 1870
The Weekly Bryan Appeal

The Appeal was one of the earliest newspapers in Brazos County. Some sources record that the Bryan News-Letter was the first newspaper in our community in 1868. The Appeal began publishing in 1869 and ceased publication in 1877.

Courtesy of Carnegie History Center

The Weekly Bryan Appeal newspaper - Nov. 9, 1870.
The Brazos Pilot newspaper. July 1, 1881.

July 1, 1881
The Brazos Pilot
The Pilot was a another weekly paper that began publishing in 1877, the same year The Weekly Bryan Appeal closed. The Pilot would publish independently until 1909 when it merged with The Bryan Daily Eagle which had formed in 1895. From 1909-1918, the Eagle was published as The Bryan Daily Eagle and Pilot, before dropping the Pilot name in 1918.

Courtesy of the Carnegie History Center

Municipal Building Construction Specifications

February 1929
These construction specifications, created by Giesecke and Harris Architects (Austin and Houston, Texas) defined what the roles each party would play and how the new Bryan Municipal Building was to be constructed. A formal ground-breaking ceremony was held later in 1929 with the mayor, several council members, the city manager, city engineer and other local dignitaries present.

Courtesy of City of Bryan

Front and back of Postcard showing the Bryan Municipal Building and Park - Dated May 3, 1946

Vintage Bryan, Texas postcard showing “Municipal Building and Park”

May 3, 1946
This classic postcard, dated May 3, 1946 on the back, is typical of artist-drawn postcards in the first half of the 20th century. This postcard was published by McKay News Agency, Bryan, Texas. Back in the day, postcards weren’t just for travelers and tourist destinations. They often showed typical, everyday scenes from a town or city, as seen here.

Courtesy of Kristen Waggener

1951 Historical Reprint of the program from the Oct. 4, 1876 Inauguration of the State Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.
1951 Historical Reprint of the program from the Oct. 4, 1876 Inauguration of the State Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.

Historical Reprint of the program from the Oct. 4, 1876 Inauguration of the State Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas 

Circa 1951
This historical reprint of the original program was printed for the 75th anniversary of Texas A&M University in 1951. It includes the text of the speeches of Gov. Richard Coke and College President Thomas S. Gathright, as well as text of an article about the event that ran in the Galveston News on Oct. 5, 1876.

Courtesy of City of Bryan

1951 Historical Reprint of the program from the Oct. 4, 1876 Inauguration of the State Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.

Bryan School for Colored / E. A. Kemp Junior-Senior High School letter sweater

Circa 1931
This letter sweater belonged to William Howell Hall who was a star football player for Bryan School for Colored and E. A. Kemp Junior-Senior High School. Mr. Hall graduated in 1931 and continued his education, and his football exploits, at Prairie View A&M University. In 1995 he was honored as the oldest active graduate of BSFC and Kemp High at the All-School Reunion in Bryan.

Courtesy of Brazos Valley African American Museum

Bryan School for Colored / E. A. Kemp Junior-Senior High School letter sweater. Circa 1931.
Illustrated Press from July 7, 1966

Copy of the Illustrated Press

1966
This is a copy of the July 7, 1966 edition of the newspaper “Illustrated Press.” This edition of the newspaper features famous images from Bryan’s past.

Courtesy of Kathy Durst

Letter sweater with name Jack Marsh
Letter sweater with name Jack Marsh
Letter sweater with name Louise Marsh
Letter sweater with name Louise Marsh

Stephen F. Austin High School letter sweaters

Circa 1940-1944
These two letter sweaters from Stephen F. Austin High School in the 1940s were purchased at an auction of items belonging to the late Dr. John “Jack” Marsh, Jr. of Bryan in 2019. They have recently been donated to the Carnegie History Center for preservation.

Dr. Marsh, seen here in his 1940 senior yearbook photo, was an accomplished physician and avid outdoorsman who grew up literally on the Texas A&M campus as his father was a physician for the university and supervisor of the College Hospital.

Dr. John "Jack" Marsh, Jr. in 1940.

The green sweater dates to 1940 and has Dr. Marsh’s name stitched in it, indicating it was his sweater. The white sweater that says “Track Mgr.” has the name of Dr. Marsh’s sister, Louise Marsh, stitched in it. Although there is some question as to how that happened.

Sweaters courtesy of Matt Poling; 1940 Bronco yearbook photos courtesy of Elizabeth Buckley

Mrs. Louise Marsh Reeves is currently 93 years old and resides in Estes Park, Colo. She spoke with us over the phone about her time growing up in Bryan and about these two sweaters.

“I remember I had a sweater or two that belonged to some other people, you know, but I think I gave them all back…I don’t even remember wearing any sweater that belonged to a track manager, but that was a long time ago. There’s a lot that we don’t remember from back in those days.”


πŸŽ§β€ƒListen to Mrs. Louise Marsh Reeves share her story of these two sweaters and attending SFA High School:

“Hutch” soda bottle stamped
J.M. Lawrence & Co., Bryan, Tex.

Circa 1899-1911
Hutchinson or “hutch” bottles were made and used between 1880-1910. Charles G. Hutchinson invented and patented the Hutchinson Patent Stopper in 1879 as a replacement for cork bottle stoppers which were commonly being used as stoppers on soda water or pop bottles. His invention employed a wire spring attached to a rubber seal. Production of these stoppers was discontinued after 1912.

Courtesy of Dr. Sylvia Grider via Carnegie History Center

About J. M. Lawrence & Co.:
John M. Lawrence Sr. was a grocer and businessman in Bryan with newspaper clippings and advertisements mentioning J. M. Lawrence & Co. from 1899-1911. Later newspapers call the grocery the Lawrence Grocery Co. By 1923, their location was at 24th and Main streets in Downtown Bryan, and a 1929 advertisement lists them as “wholesale grocers” and “cotton factors.” By 1942, stock was being sold in the company and they had expanded with additional locations in Caldwell and Hearne.

About Mr. Lawrence:
John M. Lawrence Sr. was a grocer, businessman and former Mayor of Bryan. He was described as one of Bryan’s leading citizens. Upon his death in February 1938, Bryan Mayor E. E. Yeager issued a proclamation calling Lawrence “a determining force in the building and maintaining of our city and its government” and issuing an order that City Hall would close for one hour on Feb. 22, 1938, and it was requested that businesses also close during that time to pay their respects.

Source: The Eagle archives via Newspapers.com

Acceptance document of the donation of land to the City of Bryan for the establishment of Coulter Airfield

Sept. 24, 1938
This document/proclamation officially accepts the land donation by W. J. Coulter for the establishment of an airport in Bryan – Coulter Field. The document describes the ever-increasing need and necessity for an airport for Bryan, College Station and Texas A&M.

Document courtesy of City of Bryan; Background photo showing Andrew Andersson at Coulter Field in 1939 courtesy of Linda Andersson Hoch

Acceptance document of the donation of  land to the City of Bryan for the establishment of Coulter Airfield, dated Sept. 24, 1938.

Dr. L. O. Wilkerson’s medical instruments

Circa 1920-1940
These medical tools were used by Dr. L. O. Wilkerson in his medical practice in Bryan in the 1920s and 1930s. Dr. Wilkerson, a prominent surgeon and aviation pioneer in Bryan, was trained at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and opened a medical practice in Bryan in 1919.

In 1921, he and his wife, Edna, moved to China where he served as a medical missionary, studied surgery at the Rockefeller Foundation Hospital in Peking and later was put in charge of the Southern Baptist Hospital at Cheng Chow. The couple’s daughter, Sarah, was born while they lived abroad.

The family soon returned to the United States and in 1925 Dr. Wilkerson opened a medical practice in Downtown Bryan with Dr. C. A. Searcy. But that was just the beginning. Drs. Wilkerson and Searcy set about building a new hospital and clinic in Bryan at 27th and Regent streets. The new facility opened on Aug. 23, 1931 and was named the Wilkerson Memorial Clinic. (Dr. Searcy had died of heart complications during construction.)

Wilkerson Memorial Clinic was renamed Bryan Hospital in 1943 when the facility was sold to Dr. S. C. Richardson, but it continued to serve the residents of Bryan in that same location until 1974. The hospital changed hands and names several times, and moved buildings twice, eventually ending up as the College Station Medical Center – now known as CHI St. Joseph Health College Station Hospital.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Buckley

Dr. L. O. Wilkerson
Dr. L. O. Wilkerson


Bryan and College Station phonebooks from 1944 and 1946. Courtesy of Marcia Wenck.
1928 telephone book

Vintage phone books

October 1944 & March 1946
These two telephone directories show Bryan and College Station as only having a five-number phone number requirement at this time and also show advertisements for Hillier Funeral Home, J. Coulter Smith flowers (bonded member FTD), and Orr’s Food Center (“Be Wize, Buy Wize, Economize”).

Courtesy of Marcia Wenck

November 1928
This telephone directory shows Bryan, College Station and Kurten, with most numbers still only two or three digits. Some numbers on the inside show only a single digit or a letter.

Courtesy of Curtis Morgan

W. J. "Fuzzy" Douglass, Jr., Insurance Agency document box - circa 1940s-1960s

W. J. Douglas, Jr., Insurance Agency document box

Circa 1945-1970
This metal document box from W. J. “Fuzzy” Douglas’s insurance agency reads: “999 Times Out of 1000 You Will Need Some Type of Insurance.”

Courtesy of Kenneth W. Smith Jr.

About Mr. Douglas: William J. “Fuzzy” Douglas, Jr. was born in Trinity, Texas on March 5, 1911. He moved to Bryan in 1928 enrolling in Texas A&M College where he graduated in the class of 1932. He was a veteran of WW II serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Mr. Douglas began W.J. Douglas, Jr. Insurance Agency, retiring after 35 years. Mr. Douglas passed away in 2003 at the age of 92.

Source: The Eagle obituary, 2003

Court documents from Joshua Seale vs. R.M. Forbes dating from 1837

Circa 1837 and later
This court case was a land dispute involving over 4,400 acres. The earliest documentation for this case was 1837. However, this case was in litigation for over 20 years. Note that the town it was filed in was Boonville. Boonville was the one of three county seats for Brazos County since the 1830s. The county seat was moved to Bryan in 1866.

Courtesy of Carnegie History Center

Joshua Seale vs. R.M. Forbes, 1837. This court case was a land dispute involving over 4,400 acres. The earliest documentation for this case was 1837. However, this case was in litigation for over 20 years. Note that the town it was filed in was Boonville. Boonville was the one of three county seats for Brazos County since the 1830’s.
Joshua Seale vs. R.M. Forbes, 1837. This court case was a land dispute involving over 4,400 acres. The earliest documentation for this case was 1837. However, this case was in litigation for over 20 years. Note that the town it was filed in was Boonville. Boonville was the one of three county seats for Brazos County since the 1830’s.
Joshua Seale vs. R.M. Forbes, 1837. This court case was a land dispute involving over 4,400 acres. The earliest documentation for this case was 1837. However, this case was in litigation for over 20 years. Note that the town it was filed in was Boonville. Boonville was the one of three county seats for Brazos County since the 1830’s.
Joshua Seale vs. R.M. Forbes, 1837. This court case was a land dispute involving over 4,400 acres. The earliest documentation for this case was 1837. However, this case was in litigation for over 20 years. Note that the town it was filed in was Boonville. Boonville was the one of three county seats for Brazos County since the 1830’s.

Early Bryan High School diploma

1884
This is a copy of a diploma from Bryan High School dated June 20, 1884. The diploma grants Miss Flora Thomas her graduation from Bryan High School and is signed by Mayor J.W. Tabor and City Clerk A.G. Garbers.

Courtesy of Bryan ISD

E. A. Kemp Junior-Senior High School diploma and graduation information

1931
This is a copy of a diploma from E. A. Kemp Junior-Senior High School dated May 28, 1931. The diploma grants Milton Bertand Evans graduation from high school. 

Even though the diploma says “Bryan High School” the school that Mr. Evans attended was the high school for African Americans during segregation. A new junior-senior high school was built for African American students in 1930 and the former Bryan School for Colored was renamed Washington Elementary. This new junior-senior high school was named for E. A. Kemp, the longtime African American educator who died in 1929. 

This diploma contains four signatures, one of which is Robert C. Neal, who served as principal of Kemp Junior-Senior High for nearly 30 years, and for whom R. C. Neal Elementary School is named today. 

Courtesy of Brazos Valley African American Museum

This is a copy of a diploma from E. A. Kemp Junior-Senior High School dated May 28, 1931.
This information, likely from a program of the 1931 graduation ceremony, lists the class flower, class colors and class motto of the Kemp class of 1931. Despite the official name of the segregated high school for African Americans being E. A. Kemp Junior-Senior High School, the program still refers to it as Bryan High School.
This page, likely from a 1931 graduation program, still refers to Kemp as Bryan High School.
This copy of the class roll, likely from a program of the 1931 graduation ceremony, lists the Kemp class of 1931.
This copy of the class roll, likely from 1931 graduation program, lists the Kemp class of 1931.

The Hitching Post: SFA High School student directory 

1960-61
The Hitching Post, the SFA High School student directory for the 1960-61 school year, listed all students with their home addresses and telephone numbers. As you can see, there are still several students whose families do not have home telephones at this point in time.

Courtesy of Linda Andersson Hoch

Bryan High School football program 1973 vs. Temple.

Vintage Bryan High School football program

Nov. 9, 1973
This program shows the Vikings preparing to take on their rivals, Temple, at Viking Stadium.

Courtesy of JoBeth Williams Thompson via Bryan ISD

1974 Bryan High musical program Bye Bye Birdie

Vintage Bryan High School musical program

Circa 1973-1974
This program is from the production of “Bye Bye Birdie” put on by the Bryan High School Choral Music and Drama Departments.

Courtesy of JoBeth Williams Thompson via Bryan ISD

A quilt that marked 125 years, and the women who made it

1996
This group of photos from 1996 show the quilters who created the commemorative quilt for Bryan’s 125th anniversary celebration. Members of the Brazos Bluebonnet Quilt Guild met with Mayor Andrew Nelson in May 2021 to mark the 25th anniversary of the commemorative quilt. The quilt is on display in the Bryan Municipal Office Building lobby.

Framed photos courtesy of Carol Wilson, Jane Waldrop and the Brazos Bluebonnet Quilt Guild; Background photo from May 2021 courtesy of City of Bryan