So my great grandfather W.F. Bryant hit a nerve. Since I heard his stories about how he abandoned his family, and left his wife and child, I must confess his family stories did not interest me. I held this man in quiet contempt and tried to ignore his existence. Still, as I researched and discovered hidden gems about my great-grandmother, Annie, I could not skirt around this man, for his life began to unfold before me.
He did remarry, and he had a son that was born on February 13, 1912. According to the Federal Census, the family lived in Sycamore, Montgomery, Kansas in 1920. His son, Clifford, was eight years old. By 1930, the family moved to Fresno, California. In the 1940 census, Frank listed farming as his occupation. My aunt thought he had an almond farm. My mom mentioned there was also an airplane runway on the land. After researching, I did discover that Clifford was a pilot, and I learned that he worked for the Fresno Sheriff Department and did fly planes as part of his job as a deputy sheriff. Later, he was a pilot for Pan American Airways.
In 1966, Frank died and, he was buried at the Fresno Memorial Gardens. His wife, Lena, died ten years later and was buried next to her husband. In 1986, Clifford also died in Fresno.
Many questions still have yet to be answered. What I have found to be true is that we are indeed related; DNA testing clearly showed that he was my grandmother’s father. But he was a father in name only. In later years when my grandmother moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, she discovered that her father lived nearby in Fresno, California. Family members drove grandma to the city in which he lived. When grandma talked with him, he denied that he had a daughter. My aunt was present for this meeting. She said he came to the car and talked to my grandmother and said he did not have a daughter. I asked her if he were unkind to my grandmother. She stated that he was not unfriendly, and it appeared that he could not remember. He died in 1966, and they must have visited with him shortly before his death because they moved to Alameda about 1965.
For me, I have had a hard time understanding how he could not find Annie or my grandmother, for they all lived in the same area in Montgomery County, Kansas. I will always wonder why Annie left him the day after they were married, if this fact really is true. I will always wonder how he could he not know about his daughter when she was born in the same area in which he lived. Anna and Frank were married in Independence, Kansas on March 18, 1908, and my grandmother was born there, just four months later on July 10, 1908. I guess I will never know the answers to this strange puzzle. Since my own father left my family without a second thought, I most likely will always question how a man could ever deny or abandon his own child.