Will These World War I War Medals Make Their Way Home?
Can you help?
…..Peter Willcock began a search to locate the descendants of a World War I veteran in the hopes to restore the war medals to the John Bryson’s family ancestors. Beginning in Ontario, this mystery unravels with ancestral clues found overseas in Scotland, and continues with a search for descendants in Western Canada – Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It is hoped that the family of John Bryson can be located.
…..Willcock is helping a friend to track down the family. “When my friend was a boy, his family moved into a a rental house in what today is the Toronto area. That’s probably about 50 years ago now. There was a pile of junk in the basement which his mother asked him to clean out. In the process he found this WW1 medal, and he kept it all these years until maybe 5-6 years ago when he tried to start looking for some family member or descendant who might like to have the medal.”
…..Willcock came to his friend’s assistance as he had a computer whereas, his friend was not online. In the course of their online research they have delved into quite a lot of information. They feel that they may have possibly identified grand nieces or nephews in Scotland.
…..The veteran’s name is “John Bryson; Regimental Number 105984;“ who resided on a farm in Indian Head, Saskatchewan in the year 1921. He was single, and aged 38. He was born Eaglesham, Renfrewshire, Scotland in October 31, 1883. He reported an address of Palmer House, Regina, Saskatchewan when he enlisted April 4, 1916. James Bryson, of Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, Scotland was given as his next of kin – his father. John’s employment was recorded as teamster. A “teamster” originally “referred to a person who drove a team of draft animals, usually a wagon drawn by oxen, horses, or mules.”
…..In the book, Indian Head : history of Indian Head and district on page 165, the local history book committee state that James Bryson was wounded in World War I, and no other “Bryson” are listed in the World War I honour roll. There is another Bryson mentioned in the book, however, that of Jean Bryson who married James Harvey Francis (1859 Pakenham, Ontario-), namesake of the town of Francis. Miss Jean Craig Bryson (Mrs. Jean Francis) was the daughter of the Honourable Senator George Bryson of Fort Coulonge, Quebec, and together they had a son, Jonathon Francis. George Bryson, Sr. was the son of James Bryson and Jane Cochrane and arrived in 1814 to Ramsay, Lanark, Ontario. George married Robina Cobb in 1845, and had seven children – two of whom were George Bryson Junior, and Thomas Bryson. However, this book makes no mention of John Bryson at all, unless he went by a nick name of James Bryson. Nor is there any evidence that John Bryson was related to the aforementioned Jean Bryson and the notable Bryson figures from Quebec.
Alexander Sr. Bryson (Sandy)
…..It is believed that Alexander Sr. Bryson (Sandy) was John’s uncle, and that Alexander lived in Sintaluta, Saskatchewan. Alexander (1869-Sept 21, 1958) was born 1869 in Eaglesham, Scotland, and had five children after he married Jeanie Moffat (1867-1920). Sandy arrived in 1911, and his family followed in 1912. He lived on township 17 range 11 west of the second meridian. His children were (William) James (1893 – 1933), Alex Jr. (1895-1916 threshing accident), John (Jack) (1897- ), Tom (1900- ), and a daughter Jeanie aged 12 on the 1916 census. Jean went on to marry Mr. Boyd and reside in Vantage, Saskatchewan. Jack and Thomas themselves, relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba according to page 338 of the book, Sintaluta 1880-1984 / Tales of the Red Fox: Assiniboine Reserve, Town of Sintaluta, Districts of Allindale, Durham, Blackwood, Red Fox, and Spring Coulee.
…..The eldest of the family, listed as William in the local history book, and as James on the Canadian Census, enlisted July 28, 1915, recorded his occupation as a farmer at Sintaluta, and married. James Bryson 115055, lists Cambuslang, Scotland, as his place of birth on his enlistment record and went overseas with the 10th Canadian Mounted Rifles.
….Another brother, Corporal John Bryson 115056, born December 10, 1897, enlisted December 19, 1914, at Shorncliff and states that he is, at the time, an unmarried farmer. His next of kin listed was Alexander Bryson, of Sintaluta, Saskatchewan. He also was born in Cambuslang, Scotland. John was placed with the 10th Canadian Mounted Rifles.
….The youngest brother, SPR Thomas Bryson 2504238, enlisted with a birth date of June 9, 1899, and gave his mother, Jeanie Bryron, of Sintaluta, Saskatchewan as his next of kin. It was a practice for younger men to alter their birth dates in order to enlist and serve their country. Sapper (abbreviated Spr) is the Royal Engineers’ equivalent of Private He listed that he was a labourer when he signed up in Winnipeg, Manitoba on June 1, 1918. Tom recorded Glasgow, Scotland as his location of birth. He initially served with Regina Recruits Engineers.
…..According to Map quest Indian Head and Sintaluta are 18 kilometers (11 miles) apart, and both are currently located on the Trans – Canada 1 highway. In the era of horse and buggy or ox and cart this would enable relatives to help one another out during times of harvest. On average, a horse walks at approximately 4 miles per hour (6.5 km/hour) which would make it a three hour journey between Indian Head and Sintaluta. It was common that relatives would homestead and farm near one another to assist with homestead duties and harvest.
…..On an historical railway map of 1925, it can be see that Indian Head and Sintaluta were both on the Canadian Pacific Transcontinental Railway (West). Indian Head, the closer of the two locations to the provincial capital of Regina is 70 kilomters (44 miles) from that city. Indian Head locates at the legal land location of section 24- township 18- range 13-West of the second meridian at Latitude – Longitude (DMS) 50° 32′ 1″ N, 103° 40′ 3″ W, and Sintaluta at section 33- township 17 – range 11-West of the 2nd meridian or Latitude – Longitude (DMS) 50° 28′ 37″ N, 103° 26′ 59″ W.
…..It is interesting to note that the “The Bryson Maur School Dist No 3312 historical one room school house was located on the SE quarter of section 29 township 24 range 19 W2″. Bill Barry gives the spelling of this same school house as Bryn Mawr school 33312 at the same location; SE 29 24 19 W2. Barry attributes the name to a settler from Wales who named it after Brynmawr in Wales, so it is not likely that the first name Bryson Maur had any roots in this Bryson family.
Can you help?
…..It is with heartfelt wishes that some kind reader recognizes the family, and can come forward as an ancestor of John Bryson, the holder of these World War One Medals. Perhaps the The Royal Canadian Legion may be able to help out. They even have a Sintaluta branch, and an Indian Head branch and so they may even know this John Bryson. “Legion members care deeply about supporting the men and women who serve this country and want to make a difference in the lives of Veterans, contribute to our communities, and Remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country…The Royal Canadian Legion [members] …. make a difference in the lives of Veterans and their families, provide essential services within our communities, and Remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country.”
…..Perhaps the Indian Head townspeople can know of the family and can pinpoint the relations of John Bryson, or similarly, Sintaluta historians may remember the family of Alexander Bryson. In this way, the relatives can contact Willcock. The Winnipeg library or archives may have information about John (Jack) Bryson or Tom Bryson in an Henderson’s Directory. The hamlet of or “designated place” of Vantage is considered a ghost town. It may be that the Rural Municipality No. 103 – SUTTON would have information about the residents, and Mrs. Jeanie (nee Bryson) Boyd who took residence there.
….. Trying to identify the family of John Bryson presents a mystery, indeed, to Willcock, and his friend. With a few key details, they are trying to locate the rightful owner of the military medals. By furthering their enquiry online and receiving tips, Willcock searched outside of the province of Ontario. to seek out the rightful owner.
…..In Australia and New Zealand, the Purple Hearts Reunited are groups of researchers have come together to return lost medals to veterans or to their families. With success stories such as lost war medals returned after facebook post, it is hoped, that these war medals, too, may make their way back to John Bryson’s ancestors.
…..These precious mementos bestowed upon a Canadian military veteran, would come home at last if they could be restored. Medals “connect recipients to a time in their lives when serving our nation took precedence over all else. ” As the centenary of the First World War (1914-1918) is being commemorated and remembered, what fitting tribute, that to find the home of a distinctive, original, valuable, irreplaceable medal. This would provide the family with an ancestral connection to their family member who served, and who fought for our country. The medals themselves, honour the man, John Bryson, and the sacrifices he made for this country of Canada.
Posting a query on Ancestry.com posting boards, ELLinSpain, replied that the following may be the family on the census of 1891 and 1901 respectively.
If the issue of John Bryson, born Eaglesham, Renfrewshire, Scotland on October 31, 1883 and settled in Saskatchewan, CA, cannot be found, (moving forward in time), then perhaps the sisters or brothers of John Bryson may have living family to whom the medals could be restored.
James Bryson 50
James Bryson 24
Jane Bryson 22
Adam Bryson 20
Robert Bryson 14
Elizabeth Bryson 12
Isabella Bryson 10
John Bryson 8
Nathaniel Bryson 6
Mark Bryson 3
Paisley High Church
Address: 2 West Campbell St
James Bryson 60
Robert Bryson 24
Lizzie Bryson 22
Nathaniel Bryson 16
Mark Bryson 13
Name: Mark Bryson
Age in 1911: 24
Estimated birth year: abt 1887
Birth Place: Paisley
Military Unit: 1st Battlion Seaport Highlanders
Registration District Number: 641
ED, institution, or vessel: India
Geographic Names of Saskatchewan
Barry, Bill. Centax Books, A Division of PrintWest Communications Ltd. 2005. ISBN 1-897020-19-2
Indian Head: History of Indian Head and District.
The History Book Committee
Indian Head, Saskatchewan The History Book Committee 1984
ISBN Number 0919781268 / 9780919781269
Sintaluta 1880-1984 / Tales of the Red Fox
Assiniboine Reserve, Town of Sintaluta, Districts of Allindale, Durham, Blackwood, Red Fox, and Spring Coulee
Published 1985 by Sintaluta & District History Book Committee .
ISBN 10 0889254982
All online sources are embedded in the text of the story as hyper links.
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