Family Historian Robert Bryant’s passing

James Robert Bryant (1937-2023)

It is with a heavy heart that I report the passing of Robert Bryant who was an incredible contributor to our Family History here at Heycuz. Robert generously donated his time and resources to the histories of the Bryants, Gossetts, Harringtons, Sullivans, Allen, Beasley, Thornton, Duncans, and Parhams to name only a few. In 2002, we published a chapter of his book, “Life on Mill Creek, that continues to get feedback. I was so thrilled to finally meet him years ago when we held the Pioneers of Dickson County Reunion in Tennessee.

Unfortunately, we didn’t keep up except for the yearly exchange of Christmas cards and as been the case in recent years, a card came back from his lovely, beloved wife Sandy that he had passed away in September. You can view his obituary here.

Robert and I were kindred spirits in that we valued the role of the storyteller in preserving our histories. “To me,” Robert wrote, “doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but instead breathing life into the memory of all our flesh and blood who have gone before. We have been called as it were by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story, tell our story, so we do.”

To honor Robert, I’d like to share this poem he wrote:

Unlocking the Mysteries

(Author, Robert Bryant 2001)
When I was just a young man, with a heart full of glee
I wish I had started then , to work on my family tree
Could have asked the questions, of those who now are gone
And took with them the answers, for which I’ve searched so long

But little did I realize, the past was slipping away
I guess it didn’t matter then, at least it seems that way
My parents never mentioned, the ones that went before
Names, dates, places, which now I seek to explore

I know they didn’t realize, some day I’d like to know
From whom I came into this world, their stories all aglow
It would have been so easy, for them to pave the road
That I could travel back on, to where they once abode

I’ve struggled with the mysteries, but haven’t won the race
For each time one is conquered, another takes it’s place
And though some mysteries remain, until this very day
I’ve gained a lot of knowledge, of how they came my way

All things have a beginning, and so must have an end
My history now is finished, my story has been penned
All of my descendants, will know from whence they came
Births, deaths, places, they’ll even know the names

But now I’m old and tired, my eyes are growing weak
My days are surely numbered, a new world I must seek
When I cross over Jordan, I know He’ll guide my way
And loved ones left behind, I’ll meet again some day

I’ll have a lot of questions, for those of long ago
They’ll surely have the answers, that I still long to know
The mysteries that I struggled with, will be as open doors
And there we’ll all be happy, on that everlasting shore

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