D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives

Solon H. Bryan Collection

Summary Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives
Solon H. Bryan Collection
Date [inclusive]
1.2 Linear feet  ; 3 boxes
Physical Description
Contains correspondence, notes for sermons, publicity materials, and photographs
Located in Special Collections, Row 8, Section 5

Preferred Citation

Solon H. Bryan Collection, D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804

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Biographical Note

Solon Hume Bryan was born June 13, 1868 in Tyro, Mississippi. In January 1901 Bryan married Mary Louise Conn of Milledgeville, Georgia, and they had two children, Thomas Conn Bryan and Virginia Bryan Schreiber. Bryan became a preacher in the Methodist church but, following a charge of immorality, he left the church and worked for the Alkahest Lyceum in Atlanta. In 1916, Byran moved his family to Asheville, where Bryan started, and managed, the Piedmont Lyceum Bureau which offered concerts, festivals and chautauqua programs to towns and schools throughout the South. One of his employees was the wife of Congressman William Upshaw and correspondence between Byran and Upshaw is included in the collection.

Both of his children went on to higher education. Thomas went to Duke and Chapel Hill, and Virginia to Due West, SC and Columbia, before teaching at Buncombe County Junior College (now UNC Asheville). Like many other businesses, Bryan’s suffered badly in the Great Depression and Virginia ended up supporting the family.

Bryan was also a newspaper columnist in the both the West Asheville News and the Asheville Times , writing “Highway House” under his own name and "Front Porch Philosophy” under the pseudonym “Andy Tucker.” A large number of these columns are included in the collection.

He died in Asheville on August 29, 1943 of coronary thrombosis.

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Scope and Contents

The collection comprises two acquisitions. The first was miscellaneous clippings and printed material relating to Bryan's work as director of the Piedmont Bureau, plus a scrapbook of newspaper columns. The second acquisition was acquired at auction and donated by Wayne Caldwell and contained personal papers, letters to his wife and children, and assorted documents related to Bryan's work with the church and the Chautauquas. All the documents have been arranged to give a streamlined narrative within the broad categorizations of business related, church related and personal, as these correspond to the key areas of Bryan’s life covered by the materials.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives

Ramsey Library, CPO # 1500
One University Heights
Asheville, North Carolina, 28804-8504


No restrictions. Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.


Solon Hume Bryan ; Virginia Bryan Schreiber ; Wayne Caldwell

Processing Note

Processed by Special Collections staff, 1978, 2001, 2004 and 2011. New finding aid by Colin Reeve, May 2016

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Collection Inventory

Box 1: Business materials & journalism 

File 1: Journalism 

Piece commencing "I've let the cat out of the sack" ; seems to be a continuation from another (missing?) page 

Mixed pickles ; visit of preachers to Indian Spring GA 

Mixed pickles : history of Indian Spring GA 

Front Porch Philosophy column published in The West Ashville News ; undated but topic suggests pre 1932 ; handwritten annotation by Virginia Bryan Schreiber 

Front Porch Philosophy column published in The West Ashville News ; undated but handwritten annotation by Virginia Bryan Schreiber 

Article from "The Platform World" in which Bryan recalls his first ILCA convention in 1912 

Article from "The Platform World" in which Bryan recalls life as field representative in Georgia 

File 2: Business - Correspondence 

Testimonal for Bryan from W W Brockman, YMCA, Madison Hall, University of Virginia ; 3/16/1911 

Letter to J S Talley, sent from Hotel Guilford, Greensboro NC in response to an apparent complaint about charges levied ; 5/2/1911 

Incorporates testimonial for Bryan from Edwin Kettle, YMCA general secretary, Danville VA ; 1/20/1913 

Letter from Parlette, sent on United States Hotel, Boston letterhead praising Bryan for circular that he produced ; refers to Chicago Orchestra and Bryan's plans for the future ; 3/29/13 

Letter to Parlette on the role of the chautauquas and a refute of Parlette's claim that they are doing more good than the church ; 11/13/1913 

Letter from Ralph, sent on letterhead form The Gresham, Spartanburg NC regarding two articles written by Bryan for publication ; 2/20/1915 

From (J H Garnwell) sent from Spartenburg, SC to Atlanta, GA. Handwriting is difficult to decipher but covers lyceum issues ; 3/19/1915 

Letter to [S R] Bridges regarding arrangements for various lectures and events ; 6/2/1915 

Letter from (James Wilson). Sent from Warren, AK to Asheville Lyceum Bureau redirected to Charlotte, NC. Handwriting often difficult to decipher but generally covers Chautaugua matters ; 7/13/1915 

Letter from S R Bridges. Covers Bridges financial situation and a conversation that Bryan had with Mr Templeton [Note: S Russell Bridges was Alkahest president and H L Bridges was secretary and treasurer - see Alkahest letterhead] ; 7/13/1915 

Lyceum matters described by Bridges, President Alkahest Lyceum System ; 8/181915 

From S R Bridges describing Alkahest bookings and instructions to Bryan on how to proceed ; 9/30/1915 

Letter from Will Upshaw (as editor of "The Golden Age") regarding lecture dates and percentage cut for "Mrs Gray" ; 1/13/1916 

Letter from "Ye Olde New England Choir" regarding the issue of circulars and booking arrangements ; 1/15/1916 

Letter sent of letterhead from The Monte Visa Hotel, Big Stone Gap VA praising Bryan's work ; 4/26/1916 

Unavailibilty of Margaret (Mrs Upshaw) to work for Will Upshaw following his election ; 10/30/1918 

From Upshaw, handwritten on Southern Express Company letterhead in response to 10/30 letter ; 11/2/1918 

Work undertaken by Margaret Upshaw for Bryan and Will Upshaw's debts ; 11/7/1918 

Response to letter of 11/1/1918 refuting suggestion that Upshaw made "sacrfices" for Bryan (various drafts) ; 11/11/1918 

Sent to W E Beverly on the "perpexities" of Beverly's sister Mrs. Upshaw regarding her husband's desire that she move to Washington or Georgia with him ; 1/24/1919 

Sent to Charlie in which Bryan talks about working for Bridges for past 7 years ; 8/21/?? 

Typewritten notes regarding the role and "the organizing of the Alkahest respresentatives" ; nd 

Testimonals for Bryan from: Southern Railway YMCA dated 12/11/1913, including cover letter ; Winthrop Normal & Industrial College, Rock Hill SC dated 12/24/1913 ; Carrollion GA chautauqua committee dated 1/17/1914 ; Norfolk & Western Railway YMCA committe 

Blank sheets of Lyceum letterhead 

Addresses of Miss Margaret Gray McKee of Detroit and Los Angeles 

File 3: Business - Contracts 

Blank Alkahest talent contract 

List of attractions booked in NC and SC by Bryan ; includes locations, names and dollar amounts 

Blank Piedmont Lyceum Bureau contract 

Certificate of Health issued by the Board of Health of Dallas County. Provides details of Bryan's recent travel ; Sept. 1897 

Receipt for $28.64 from the Elna Life Insurance Company, Hartford CT for payment for policy on Bryan ; 11/26/1914 

Memorandum of agreement regarding the employment of Margaret Upshaw ; 1/7/1916 

File 4: Business - Publicity 

"Greetings from Bryan the lyceum man" for 1911-1912 season. Written on behalf of the Alkahest Lyceum to potential and former patrons and includes a testimonial for Bryan for the manager of Greensboro lyceum 

"Eugene Edwards among the schools" from "The Golden Age" ; 5/23/1907 & 5/30/1907 

Article (or possibly advertisement) about the Piedmont Bureau and Bryan from The Southern Tourist" ; May 1924 

Article (or possibly advertisement) about the Piedmont Bureau and Bryan from The Southern Tourist" 

Booklet explaining chautauquas written by Judge Roscoe Kiper and distributed by Alkahest 

Business card / circular of Solon H Bryan, "Premier representative of the south" 

Flyer for James Francis O'Donnell, monologue actor 

Description of the role and purpose of the lyceum and chautauqua movement, written by Bryan 

Description of how Bryan successfully launched the lyceum in Greensboro, NC. Includes details of the city and photographs of Bryan and W C Jackson 

Newspaper advertisement for book covering the history of Chautauqua 

"The Pioneer" publicity pamphlet for The Piedmont Bureau (2 copies) 

Photograph of group of workers in the lyceum, Solon H Bryan, front center ; no date or location information 

Talent magazine, August 1952 

Review of the interpretation of "The sign of the cross" by James Francis O'Donnell published in the Marlboro Daily Enterprise, Malboro MA ; 3/23/1915 

Review of James Francis O'Donnell at the Catholic Club, published in the Saint Cloud Daily Times, St Cloud MN ; 4/15/1915 

Publicity pamphlet for James Scott company ' handwritten annotation, identifying one artist as Edna Lundberg 

Publicity poster for "The Copley Quintet" 


Collection of columns written by Bryan and published in the Ashville Citizen-Times and West Asheville News. Often undated but seem to date from 1936 to 1939 

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Box 2: Church materials 

File: 1: "Current anecdotes and methods of church work", August 1902, filled with handwritten and typed sermons and notes 

File 2: Typed and handwritten sermon notes and outlines. Many have note of when and where the sermon was delivered. Generally circa 1901-1903 but some undated 

File 3: Notebooks 

Ruled notepad containing two and a half hanwritten pages on "Our labors" 

Hard cover notebook primarily including hand written sermons and outlines on the men Jesus met 

File 4: Notebook of religious subject and themes (for sermons?) ; includes copy of "Twelve reasons why I stand identified with the people known as disciples of Christ" by H T Morrison and typed comments from Bryan regarding "article of Brother Myers published in" 

File 5: Materials related to charges of immorality against Bryan ; 1906-1931 

File 6: Clippings 

Clippings of religious prose and verse. A number are from "The Epworth Era" dated 1899 to 1901, but most are undated and unattributed 

File 7: Sermons and religious writings 

Sermons, notes and outlines, some placed in "Current anecdotes and methods of church work", March 1901. Handwritten schedule of sermons. 

File 8: Correspondence 

Certificate appointing Bryan as a deacon in the Methodist Episcopal Church South ; 1902 

Sent on Methodist Episcopal Church South letterhead in which Bryan offers to serve in the Ft Smith mission ; 9/15/1903 

Letter to Sister Davant regarding repairs to church in Guyton GA ; 2/15/1884 

Request to Harry Chew for household effects to be shipped from the parsonage in Millen GA to Bryan in Milledgeville GA ; 9/4/1907 

Sent from K Read in Columbus OH to "my dear brother and friend" thanking Bryan for his friendship ; 2/7/1925 

Personal letter to Bryan from C R Jenkins, joint pastor of St Lukes methodist church, Columbus OH ; 12/25/1925 

Handwritten in pencil from Lake Wales FL to "my dear old friend" (Bryan?) ; difficult to decipher or identify author ; 12/30/192(8) 

Letter from J A Seals, May 14, 1904 

Letter to J H Seals, May 13, 1904 [In envelope] 

Letter from Seals, May 16, 1904, with typed addendum (by Bryan?) [In envelope with Seals letter of May 13] 

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Box 3: Personal Materials 

File 1: Biographic Materials 

Biographic notes for Solon Bryan and the Jjames Scotts, written by Virginia Bryan Schreiber 

Letter of condolence on death of Solon Bryan written by George McCoy to Mrs. Bryan, 1943 

File 2: Correspondence with children, 1913-1930 

File 3: Correspondence with Mary Bryan [wife], 1906-1907 

File 4: Correspondence with friends & other family, 1898-1929 

File 5: Miscellaneous 

Due West Woman's College, commencement program, 1921 

Photograph of unidentified man and woman, nd 

Photograph of unidentified woman, nd 

Photograph of unidentified man, nd 

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