Elijah Bryan died eight years before their family home burned. Mr. Bryan had an overseer named James C. Land. Mr. Land's granddaughter found the 1860 census in the Milton Public Library which listed him as residing on the plantation. She visited in 1991 and brought us several interesting papers, including a statement of purchase of farm implements he had bought for the Bryans.
Mr. Bryan was very wise in the handling of his affairs. He had a well written will that appointed his wife, Penelope and his son, Hamilton as executors of his estate. We have a copy of this and may refer to it more as we go along. He wanted his estate kept together until his youngest child was of age 21.
lizabeth (Lizzie) was born in 1852, the year he died, so Hamilton had to report his affairs to the county judge for 21 years. It is in these reports that we have learned so much about the Bryan family.
We bought the house in 1961 and began the restoration that year. We first tore out all the plaster and lath and began leveling the house. It was five inches out of level. Then we started going around the house counter clock wise, beginning on the north side. I was a general contractor. At the beginning we had one crew, which consisted of me and four others. When the weather was bad or we had no other place to work, we came out to Great Oaks to work. I want to show you pictures of the progress, so this story will take three or four weeks. As our company grew we had more crews, so the work moved along a bit faster as the years went by. We finally decided in 1965 the children would not get to live there unless we completed it soon. We then put a fulltime crew on the job and completed the work in June 1966.
In our next article we will explain the purchase of the house and get you acquainted with the family from whom we bought it.
The house was used as a school twice, once when the Greenwood School House burned in 1918 and again in 1940. I know some of the people who attended. If you know anyone who did, please send me the name and year with any comments you wish to make.