The History of Florida: Past & Present
FL-GenWeb Digital Library and Archives
Tom M. Bryan
The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.
III, page 76, 1923.
BRYAN, TOM M. The history of Fort Lauderdale, now the county seat of Broward County, from
its very beginning resolved in an important degree around the name of the BRYAN family.
Capt. P. N. BRYAN, now living retired, was among the fist settlers there, and one of the
most thoroughly esteemed and honored pioneers. His son, TOM M. BRYAN, grew up in this
locality and since early manhood has been prominently identified with contracting of roads
and other heavy construction. He is one of the large individual property owners in that
section, an extensive orange and grape fruit grower.
The BRYAN family have been in Florida for eighty years. Capt. P. N. BRYAN was born in
Hamilton county, in 1844, his parents being native of North Carolina. P. N. BRYAN, in 1861,
at the age of sixteen volunteered in the Confederate service, and was with the Second Florida
Regiment four years. This regiment was attached to Lee's army of Northern Virginia. Soon
after the close of the war in January, 1866, he located in Volusia county, near New Smyrna.
There in August, 1867, he married LOUISA C. MURRAY, also a native of Florida, born at
Jacksonville. In 1880 they moved to the town of New Smyrna, where P. N. BRYAN was a merchant
and gradually extended his interests to the cattle industry and orange growing. He was
elected and served two terms as tax collector of Volusia County and represented that county
in the State Legislature. His business interests have become concentrated in orange growing
and the great freeze of 1894-95 destroyed practically all his accumulations in Volusia County.
After this disaster he came in 1895 to what is now Fort Lauderdale. A man of mature business
experience, he secured the contract for building the grade of the Florida East Coast Railway,
then being extended southward from West Palm Beach. This contract was for a distance of
ten miles north of Fort Lauderdale. When the town of Fort Lauderdale was started he moved
his family to that locality, and for nearly thirty years has made this delightful place his
home. From time to time he has made judicious investments in town property, and has also
engaged in constructive work. He built and still owns the New River Hotel. His home adjoins
that hotel, the grounds fronting on the New River, constituting one of the beautiful and
valuable sights in the city.
TOM M. BRYAN was born in 1882 while his parents were still residents of New Smyrna. He was
about thirteen years of age when the family removed to Fort Lauderdale. His higher education
was acquired in Emory College at Atlanta, where he was a member of the class of 1902. Since
leaving college he has been engaged in the contracting business, and at times has handled
very extensive construction enterprises. He was a factor in the building of the Hillsborough
Light House, and organized and built the first electric lighting plant in Fort Lauderdale.
For several years his capital and facilities have been employed in the highway construction
in Broward and Palm Beach County. He built thirty miles of sand road back of Lake Worth in
Palm Beach County, and about fifty miles of highway in Broward County. The Loxahatchee Road,
a modern highway from West Palm Beach westward to the twenty-one mile post, was a contract
completed by Mr. BRYAN in 1920. Then in April, 1922, he was awarded a contract to the amount
of $190,000 for building the cross-state highway westward through Palm Beach County, from
near the bend in the West Palm Beach Canal to Belle Glade, for a distance of twenty-one miles,
this being an extension of the Loxahatchee Road. Mr. BRYAN put his organization to work on
this contract in May, 1922. He also built and owns two modern business blocks in Fort Lauderdale.
He owns the local telephone company, the plant of which is in one of these buildings.
The largest and most successful citrus grove in Broward County is owned by Mr. BRYAN. It
comprises fifty acres of orange tree and fifty acres of grape fruit. Mr. BRYAN also organized
the First State Bank of Lauderdale, the first banking institution of the town.
Along with his exceptional business enterprise has always gone a free and liberal participation
in local affairs. He was one of the incorporators of the town, and was selected by local
citizens to represent Fort Lauderdale before the State Legislature in the session of 1915-16
for the purpose of affecting the organization of the new County of Broward with Fort Lauderdale
as the county seat. As a result of this effort the new county was organized in 1916. Mr.
BRYAN is a Mason and a life member of the Shrine.
He married Miss CAMILLE PERRY, a native of Covington, Georgia. They have one son, HARRY
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