Home > Uncategorized > Frederick County, Virginia: Settlement and Some First Families of Back Creek Valley 1730-1830

Frederick County, Virginia: Settlement and Some First Families of Back Creek Valley 1730-1830

Source: Wilmer L. Kerns, Frederick County, Virginia: Settlement and Some First Families of Back Creek Valley 1730-1830 (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1995), page 561.

[page 561]

Morgan BRYAN:
Opequon Settlement Leader

The BRYAN family pioneered some of the major settlements in colonial America.  In 1730, Morgan BRYAN and his partner in Pennsylvania, Alexander ROSS, paved the way for the Opequon Settlement in the northern Valley of Virginia.  In 1748, the BRYAN clan established a settlement in Yadkin Valley, North Carolina, after losing a dispute with Lord FAIRFAX in Virginia.  During the 1770s, members of the BRYAN family opened Kentucky for settlement, and later Missouri.  Several of Morgan BRYAN’s children were Tories.  By 1805, the BRYAN surname had disappeared from Rowan County, N.C.

By most accounts, Morgan BRYAN1 was born in Denmark, about 1671, of English-Irish parentage, and came to America from northern Ireland in 1695 at the age of 24 years.  The earliest known record on BRYAN is the listing of his name on the 1719 tax roll for Birmingham Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.  His name appears at the end of the tax roll, after the manner of an unmarried taxable, and genealogists have assumed that he married no earlier than that year.  However, recorded activities of some of his children suggest that BRYAN was married earlier than 1717.  In that year, Morgan BRYAN was 46 years old and his wife, Martha STRODE (1697-1762) was 20 years old.

Martha STRODE had probably just completed a term of indentured service.  According to a brief genealogy written by a grandson, she and her two brothers were “bound out” upon arriving in America, their parents having died at sea.  The STRODE family was probably English, although they seem to have sailed from Holland or elsewhere on the Continent in the company of Hugenot refugees.


1. This is an abstract of a paper written by J.K. BRYAN of Scotia, New York.  In 1985, Mr. BRYAN submitted the paper to the writer for consideration as a chapter in a book that was proposed to be titled Settlements and Settlers of Old Frederick County, Virginia.  The book was too broad in scope, and had to be redefined.  This is an important part of local history.  Mr. BRYAN has made a careful search of primary records and reviewed literature on the BRYAN family.  This article corrects many errors that have been passed along on this family surname.

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