The Stitches We Leave Behind – Mary Katherine Bryant, Gone Fishin’

My father is the child. He is being held by his great-grandmother Mary Katherine Martin Bryant. His grandmother, Cecelia Pearl Bryant is standing directly behind him and beside his mother, Katherine Clara Wirrig Smith, the young woman in the photo. The man in the photo is Mary Katherine's husband, Ulysses Grant Bryant, born during the Civil War in Kentucky. (Circa 1934 in Piqua, Ohio)

My father’s mother’s grandmother was Mary Katherine Bryant. She was born September 12, 1869 in Washington County, Kentucky, the fifth of twelve children.  She married Ulysses Grant Bryant, February 15, 1885, in Washington County.  They subsequently moved to Piqua, Ohio in Miami County, where I was eventually born four generations later.

Mary Katherine’s granddaughter, my great aunt Agnes Wirrig, said her grandmother was illiterate, and that she used a lot of country terms and “Kentucky twang.”  Aunt Agnes said, “I’d go to the house and she’d say things that I didn’t understand at all.  If she’d want me to get out of the way, she’d say, ‘Tik ere’ (for ‘take care,’ or ‘get out of the way’).”  Agnes also said that her grandmother had an old-fashioned way of doing things, and she was a hard worker, but she never seemed to be an overburdened person.

Mary Katherine took her great-grandson, my father, fishing one time.  He remembers that they didn’t catch anything, but someone there gave them three large carp.  He said that she cleaned them and evidently cooked them, although I think as an adult he didn’t consider carp particularly appetizing.  He was about 10 years old at the time.  Mary Katherine Martin outlived her husband.  She lost the property their home was on after he died because, although I don’t completely understand it, according to my great-uncle Ben they were on old-age pension.  She spent her last years going from one of her children’s homes to the next to stay for a while until she died at the age of 78.

The story of needlework in my family, from my father’s side, undoubtedly goes back well beyond the days of Mary Katherine Martin Bryant, but she is the oldest link that I have specific information on through the memories of my father who was about 14 years old when she died, and my great aunt and uncles.  She certainly must have taught her daughters how to sew.

I have never seen anything that she might have made.

For other posts in this series see The Stitches We Leave Behind.

16 thoughts on “The Stitches We Leave Behind – Mary Katherine Bryant, Gone Fishin’”

    1. Thanks. Old pictures capture a lot, don’t they? I never knew Mary Katherine Martin, but I do have a few memories of her daughter, my great-grandmother Cecelia, and of course of my grandmother.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. About 20 years ago I was deep into genealogy. I collected photos, interviewed relatives, and researched information. I put everything into several large books I bound at Kinkos. I would like to get back to it someday. It’s fun and interesting work.

  1. What a story, thanks for sharing with the rest of your friends….finding your roots in the family is a lot of history, and from all of that, you came out of this….what a family! like you said, Beautiful stitches in time…… You can see the hardship on there faces… we have it so much easier these days… thanks to them!

    1. I’m trying to get to the place in the story where I actually have photos of items to show, but that won’t happen until next week or later. I don’t want to post only about this.

      Have you ever done any genealogy?

  2. I’m enjoying the family stories. I also appreciate your honesty in the things you don’t know. I have the same problem, but if I don’t write what I do know, nothing will get recorded.


    1. It does seem kind of other-worldly, doesn’t it. It’s odd to think about. One day I’ll be gone and someone will be looking at my picture thinking how primitive we were.


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