Native of Missouri. Member of prominent family who were Texas statesmen, planters, developers. Grandson of Moses Austin, who obtained from Mexico charter for American Colony in Texas, but died before making settlement. Nephew of Stephen F. Austin, "Father of Texas", who actually established the colony. Came to Texas with his mother, Emily Austin Bryan Perry, in 1831. During Texas Revolution, fought in Battle of Bexar, 1835. For 71 years was a planter on land near Peach Point, where the bachelor Stephen F. Austin had a room reserved for him in Perry Home. As eldest nephew, inherited family leadership when Stephen F. Austin died in 1836. Backed his brothers' careers, especially in the case of Guy M. Bryan, U.S. Congressman 1858-1860, and for many years a leader in Texas government. During the Civil War, cared for business interests of his 4 sons in the Confederate Army. At his own expense fed Confederate troops stationed near his plantation to defend the Texas coast. Backed construction of Deep Water Harbor at mouth of the Brazos. During building of Houston & Texas Central Railroad, donated site for Bryan, which in 1866 became county seat of Brazos County.
William Joel Bryan