Bryan, Silas L.

Born: 1822-11-04 Culpeper County, Virginia

Died: 1888-03-30 Jacksonville, Illinois

Silas L. Bryan was a farm laborer, teacher, school superintendent, lawyer, state legislator, judge, and father of William Jennings Bryan. Bryan resided in his native Culpepper County, Virginia until 1840, when he emigrated west to Lincoln County, Missouri, where he engaged in a farm business with his brother. In 1842, he moved to Marion County, Illinois, where he received a common school education and labored on a farm until he could receive enough education to teach school. He began teaching in 1844, and a year later he matriculated to McKendree College, graduating in 1849. Soon after graduating, he became superintendent of schools for Marion County, serving in that position from 1850 to 1852. In 1850, he owned real property valued at $120. In addition to teaching, Bryan read law and in 1851, he earned admission to the Illinois bar, and in 1852, commenced practicing law in Salem, Illinois. In November 1852, he married Mariah E. Jennings, with whom he had nine children. Bryan won election, as a Democrat, to the Illinois Senate, representing Marion County in that body from January 1853 to February 1859. In 1860, he was practicing law and owned real property valued at $2,000 and had a personal estate of $1,000. In 1861, Bryan won election as judge of the Second Illinois Judicial District, serving in that capacity until his retirement in 1873. He was a lifelong Baptist.

The United States Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self-Made Men: Illinois Volume (Chicago and New York: American Biographical, 1876), 622-23; Portrait and Biographical Record of Clinton, Washington, Marion and Jefferson Counties, Illinois (Chicago: Chapman, 1894), 551; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Marion County, IL, 29; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Marion County, 3 November 1852, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 218, 220, 221; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Marion County, IL, 122; Marion County Herald (Salem, IL), 2 April 1880, 1:2; Gravestone, East Lawn Cemetery, Salem, IL.