Vital Records
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Confederate Veteran Honored by Descendants

(Berrian Clark Bryan)

Story as appeared in the Lumpkin Nugget on June 6, 2001: by: Sharon Hall


Under gray, threatening skies a troop of men, some in Confederate gray, some in butternut brown, marched up the hill. The men bore flags and muskets and kept time to the sound of a drum as they marched along. Behind them came several ladies, dressed all in black with flowing skirts that touched the ground and hats with veils designed to hide the sorrow and pain of loss. Together, they trooped up the hill to the cemetery at Cane Creek Church.

The scene is not one from the past. Waiting at the gravesite were women, men and children dressed in suits, slacks and shirts and Sunday-go-to-meeting dresses. Cameras flashed and people holding video recorders jostled for a better vantage among the headstones on the uneven ground.

About 60 descendants of Berrian Clark Bryan had gathered to honor the Lumpkin county Civil War veteran in a headstone dedication ceremony organized by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, 52nd Georgia Regiment, Camp #1418. (Ted Brooke and Brad Faulkner, members of the 52nd Georgia Regiment, Camp #1418, were part of the headstone dedication ceremony for Berrian Clark Bryan, Lumpkin county Civil War veteran.) Berrian Clark Bryan served as a private in Dahlonega's Blue Ridge Rangers, enlisting in December 1862 at the age of 37. Three of the 15 children he had with his wife, Barilla Free Bryan, also served during the war between the states: Josiah, Calloway and Ransom. B. C., as Bryan was known, must have been proud of his service to the south during the Civil War: Ila Stargel Jones, great-granddaughter of B. C., said she remembers him walking to town "to any meeting of Civil War veterans, and to get his pension once a month."

(Great-great-great grandson Clinton Bryan leads the way as a band of Sons of Confederate Veterans march to a dedication service in honor of Lumpkin County Civil War veteran Berrian Clark Bryan. About 60 descendents attended the service held at his graveside in Cane Creek Church cemetery June 3rd ) In the Jan. 25, 1914 edition of The Dahlonega Echo it was reported B. C. was "unable to attend the exercises on Lee's birthday on account of serious sickness." He was 94 years of age at the time. The article also noted B. C. had walked to town Nov. 1st "to be present at the bestowal of the Southern Crosses of Honor."

Another direct descendent, Carroll Ross of Tennessee, has a photograph of B. C. with his Civil War medals. In a letter Ross stated B. C. "wore the medals whenever a photograph was taken." B.C. died in January, 1923 at the age of 99. "He was quiet, hospitable and unassuming and Lumpkin County has lost one of her best citizens," an article in The Dahlonega Nugget reporting his death stated. Jones's uncle, Colie Stargel and a Mr. Lance made B.C.'s coffin. Jones herself "put cotton in it to make it soft, covered the cotton with new white sateen, cut decorations out of new black sateen and decorated it. We covered the outside and lid with black. The total cost was a few planks and the sateen. "My grandmother's family bathed him after he died, they put an old door on the bed and covered it with a sheet, closed his eyes and put silver coins on them to keep them closed. After they finished they put him in the coffin. His funeral was preached at our little church (Cane Creek Church) near where he was to be buried."

The new headstone laid at B.C.'s grave Sunday, June 3rd and the dedication service that accompanied it was the project of great-great-great grandson Clinton Bryan. Clinton is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, 52nd Georgia Regiment, Camp #1418. He became aware of his Confederate veteran forebear after an article appeared in The Dahlonega Nugget about a visit to Cane Creek Church by Jeanne Bryan Insalaco in search of her Bryan ancestors. Clinton knew there were graves in the cemetery with the same last name as his, he said, "But that's really all I knew until I saw the article in The Nugget." After reading the article Clinton emailed Insalaco and she shared her discoveries about the Bryans with him.

This is not the first headstone dedication Clinton has taken part in. "We've done a lot of them," he says, "at any time we will place a marker on a Civil War veteran's grave. We did four on Confederate Memorial Day." (Muskets fired a 21-gun salute during the graveside service for Berrian Clark Bryan, Lumpkin County Civil War veteran.)

The United Daughters of the Confederacy usually help in the dedication ceremonies. The ladies dress in authentic mourning attire of the period. They give the invocation, and read the memorial and dedication. The Sons of Confederate Veterans give a 21-gun salute with ball and powder muskets, and "taps" is played by the company bugler: A direct descendent of the veteran usually lays a wreath, made of whatever greenery is available in the area, and undrapes the headstone.

Several out-of-state descendents attended the dedication, including Insalaco, who laid the wreath on B.C.'s grave. "Clinton told me about the memorial service he was planning to honor B.C. and asked me if I was planning on coming back last fall," Insalaco said. "I only come to Lumpkin County once a year; so he asked if I'd be interested in attending, and if so he would wait until then to do the service. So that's how it came about."

Jeanne Insalaco began researching her Bryan line in 1992. "What I didn't realize was that researching your family is an addiction," she said. "Until I became interested in family history I never thought about my ancestors, although my mother tells me that when I was young I always asked where our family came from. Now I wish I had never given up that question as I grew up. I would have had the opportunity to talk more to my grandparents on that issue and hear their family stories."

(Jeanne Bryan-Insalaco, a great-great-great granddaughter of Berrian Clark Bryan, lays a wreath on his grave at Cane Creek Church cemetery during the dedication of a headstone for the Civil War veteran. Patricia Pugh, president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Habersham Chapter #1237, looks on. Insalaco, from Connecticut, began the research that led to the dedication ceremony.) 1


If anyone has a copy of the photo that went with this artical, we would like to place it here.