Texas A&M University Kingsville, South Texas Archives

The James Bryden Family Collection Complied by John Rollo

Collection Summary

Creator John Rollo
Title The James Bryden Family Collection Complied by John Rollo
Dates: 1814-2016
Abstract: John Rollo complied genealogical information of the James Bryden Family, the Chapman Family, and background of the Chapman vs. King Ranch Inc. ligation over the Rincón de Santa Gertrudis property which James Bryden had a part in. The collection also has some nonrelated series about Chet Downs estate sale that includes King Ranch items, Australian sales catalogs from the King Ranch, a King Ranch 1950’s era slideshow and other materials on the King Ranch in Australia.
Identification A2017-038
Collection URL http://archives.tamuk.edu/ead.php?xml=Bryden%20EAD
Quantity: 427MB
Location: Born Digital Collection
Language: English

Historical Note

John Rollo has lived in the southeast of Queensland, Australia for most of his life and has spent most of his working life herding Brahman cattle in Queensland and the Northern Territory, Australia. Mr. Rollo has had a lifelong interest in cattle, their breeding, research and giving of that knowledge freely. He writes, “from as long as I can remember I have had a great interest in cattle and their breeding. King Ranch and their Santa Gertrudis cattle caught my interest from an early age. Early retirement has given me the extra time to further pursue this interest, research being an excellent activity to keep the mind active. Researching King Ranch and their livestock breeding methods along with the general history of the ranch and the area is still of great interest to me. It would please me greatly if someone reviewing this material were to find things of interest to add to their knowledge.” From South Texas Archives, we thank you for your work and sharing your research. James Bryden was born in Scotland on December 6th, 1819. He immigrated to the United States sometime around 1852. Records point to his arrival to New Orleans. He served in the Civil War for the Confederate States of America in the 29th Battalion Cavalry. James Bryden was the representative for Major William Warren Chapman who partnered with Richard King on the Rincón de Santa Gertrudis property. There would later be a dispute on this piece of property which is detailed in the Texas Monthly article “The Secret History” in December, 2002. James Bryden would later become a herd boss for the King Ranch. James Bryden would also have his own sheep company called, Bryden & Co. James and Janet Bryden lived in Centennial House (1870-1878). Centennial House was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1966. Forbes Britton had the house built in 1849 to 1850. Britton served from 1857-1861 in the Texas Senate as the Adjutant General and was the person emissary of Governor Sam Houston to U.S. President Buchanan in 1860. During the Civil War the house became a hospital. The Southern Mineral Corporation, Maston Nixon, president owned, restored, and preserved the house from 1936 to 1965. The Centennial House or the Britton-Evans House, is open to the public for tours in Corpus Christi, Texas. The collection also has the King Ranch presence in Australia. The King Ranch Pastoral Company bought the Brunette Downs Station lease in in 1958. The station has a reported area of 4,750 square miles. Charles Weiss introduced 1,200 Santa Gertrudis stud bulls to improve the stock in 1966. The Australian Agricultural Company acquired the lease in 1979. Chet Downs was a successful oil man and started Dos Amigos Publishing Company. He loved South Texas History and was born in Falfurrias Texas in 1939 and died in 2016. His estate sale included an extensive King Ranch collection, King Ranch marked Winchester, King Ranch saddle and saddle blankets, marked chaps, and equipment, Texas Ranger badges and guns, and a collection of rare King Ranch photographs.

Scope and Contents

The collection has extensive genealogical records on the Bryden Family and many of its branches. On James Bryden, there is information collected on his birth, immigration, Civil War, US Census records, Texas Voter’s list, various news articles from 1850 to 1881 and correspondence from James Bryden from 1873 to 1875. There are also academic articles and books that mention James Bryden and his role in the King Ranch, being a county commissioner, and business owner of Bryden & Co. There is also genealogical records of his wife, Janet C. Bryden that includes her obituary, burial information and will. Genealogical records were compiled for the James Bryden Jr. family branch, Jessie P. Bryden-Griffin, Margaret C. Bryden-Barnard and John Bryden branches. Genealogical records were compiled for the Chapman family that had the land dispute over the Rincón de Santa Gertrudis property. The family members included are: Helen B. Chapman, William Blair Chapman, William Warren Chapman and Jessie R. Chapman. William Warren and Helen B. Chapman was the husband and wife that had a part share in the Rincón de Santa Gertrudis property. Helen B. Chapman’s will is included in this collection along with the article by Texas Monthly, “The Secret History” that outlines the dispute of the Chapman decedents and the King Ranch Inc. The King Ranch had the Brunette Downs Station lease and John Rollo complied the King Rach Australia Sale Catalogs from 1952-1974 that consists of 90 images in 1 pdf. An article about Robert J. Kleberg’s visit to Australia entitled, “Texas Cattle-King Looks Australia Over” was included with the collection. 112 images from the Chet Downs 2016 Estate Auction were complied. Chet Downs was a collector of King Ranch memorabilia.


The James Bryden Family Collection Complied by John Rollo are arranged into twelve (8) series and several sub-series. Series I: James Bryden and Family Connections Timeline, 1819-12-09-1899 Sub-Series A: James Bryden (1819-1881) Genealogical Information, 1819-1881 Sub-Series B: Janet Bryden (1824-1899) Genealogical Information, 1824-1899 Sub-Series C: Various Bryden Family Genealogical Information, 1880-1963 Series II: Centennial House Series III: Chapman vs. King Ranch Inc. Ligation, Series IV: Chapman Family Genealogy., 1865-1920 Sub-Series A: Helen B Chapman Genealogical Information, 1817-1881 Sub-Series B: William Blair Chapman Genealogical Information, 1867-1900 Sub-Series C: William Warren Chapman Genealogical Information, 1814-1859 Sub-Series D: Jessie R. Chapman Genealogical Information, 1845-1920-08-05 Series V: Chet Downs 2016 Estate Auction, 2016 Series VI: King Ranch 1950's Era Slideshow, 1950-1959 Series VII: King Ranch Australia Sale Catalog Scans, 1952-1974 Series VIII: King Ranch in Australia, 1952

Index Terms

Bryden, James, 1819-1881
Bryden, Cairns Janet, 1824-1899
Bryden, James Jr., 1856-1921
Bryden (Griffin), Jessie, 1883- ?
Bryden (Staples), Margaret, 1857-1936
Bryden (Barnard), Mary, 1850-1910
Bryden, John, 1851-1863
Chapman, Helen Ellsworth Blair, 1817-1881
Chapman, William Blair, ca. 1841-?
Chapman, William Warren, 1814-1859
Chapman, Jessie R, 1845-1920
Chet Downs, 1939-2016
King, Richard, 1825-1885
King Ranch
Chapman Ranch
Centennial House
Bryden & Co.
Geographical Names
Corpus Christi (Tex.)
Kingsville (Tex.)
Falfurrias (Tex.)
Risdon, Australia
Brunette Downs Station, Northern Territory, Australia