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Ruth Roland among Turner School's favored former teachers

Photo of Ruth Roland from a 1927 Turner School scrapbook, now in the possession of Sue Hart of Hannibal.

Ruth Roland Bryan taught first through fourth grades at Turner School during the 1927 and 1928 school years. The daughter of William Roy and Lenora Belle Smith Roland, she was born June 18, 1910, west of Hassard, Mo., a small town east of Monroe City. She went to Hannibal schools the first three years, then to Providence the next four years. She graduated from Palmyra High School, where she met her future husband, Tommy Bryan. She also attended Culver-Stockton College for three summers.

In an interview conducted by Mary Lou Montgomery and Robert Robinson Spaun in 1992, she recalled that Llewellyn Tarleton was a student at Turner when she taught there, and that his mother, Mary Lucy (Glascock) Tarleton was on the school board. George Abright and his sister were also students.

Ruth taught at the Suter School during the 1929-30 school year.

She married Tommy Bryan Aug. 9, 1930, at the Mount Zion Christian Church.

“On our honeymoon, we went to the Ozarks,” Ruth said. “The area wasn’t built up then; they were just starting to work on the dam. We had a tent and camped for a week. One night it was rainy so we went into Lebanon to stay. One day I was headed for the swimming hole and I saw a black snake. I ran away, then looked and saw another snake. We packed up and came home – I’m scared to death of snakes,” she said. “That happened sixty-two years ago. That’s a long time ago.”

Ruth taught private kindergarten for three years, worked at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for a year, and ultimately retired from Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Ill.

Her husband Tommy attended Suter School in Marion County, at Shelbyville, and graduated from Palmyra High School. He worked at Wendt Sonis in Hannibal and later for Firestone in Quincy, Ill. He died Nov 11, 1985. They are both buried in Greenwood Cemetery at Palmyra, near his parents.

Ruth was called home prior to the year 2000, after living well into her 80s.

Bryan family reunion

The following is a column I wrote while editor of the Hannibal Courier-Post, following a Bryan family reunion in 2001. Davilla Glascock, mentioned in the following story, was my grandmother’s sister, and Ruth Roland Bryan’s mother-in-law.

Aug. 22, 2001, Hannibal Courier-Post

Author: MARY LOU MONTGOMERY, Courier-Post Editor

Miss Davilla Glascock and Mr. Thomas Bryan were united in marriage 100 years ago this week at the pretty country home of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Glascock in Miller Township, just west of Hannibal.

A century almost to the day of this elegant country affair, the bride and bridegroom's descendants met for a gathering of family, food and shared stories at Hannibal's Riverview Park.

The organizers of this mid-August picnic invited my brother and me. Although we don't descend from this fine line of Bryans who count among their ancestors noble men and pioneer spirits, we do share a mutual line of blood. Davilla Glascock was my grandmother's sister. I met these fine folks back in 1992, while my brother and I were compiling one of three family history books. The matriarch of the family at that time, "Aunt" Ruth Bryan, led us on a fascinating trail of stories, history and photos that we wove into a chapter for our book, “Glascocks of Marion County, Missouri”. Although she's now departed, many of the cousins we met through the pages of our project live on. And they are the ones who sat spellbound on Sunday afternoon while we shared tales that were told to us by the people who remembered when the "history" was news of the day.

Gatherings such as these are essential for the survival of families. While we flipped through each page of our printed family archive at the picnic table in the park, I became quite aware of the evolution of the decades. When we visited with Aunt Ruth in 1992, the 80-something woman was surrounded by generations of her family who loved and respected her. But since her passing, the teens have turned into young adults and even parents, now curious about the generations that preceded them. Toddlers, fighting off sleepy tears at this afternoon outing, never knew the woman who told us the stories of the pioneer Palmyra farm family that became her inlaws. If it weren't for the stories we recorded in print, those toddlers in tears might never know that their great-grandmother taught at Turner School, or that their great-great grandmother died when a kerosene lamp caught her nightgown on fire.

It's ironic to me that these people would welcome me into their lives twice ­ once when my brother and I decided that a family history book was a good idea ­ and a second time when they gathered for a picnic on the centennial of the Glascock- Bryan nuptials. But I'm glad they opened the door to me, so that I can gain perspective from the experiences I've had.

I took a camera along with me on Sunday afternoon, and gathered the members of the Bryan clan together for a picture. There were Bill and Rita from Palmyra, their daughter Mary and her daughters; Kay and her family and brother Dick from Jefferson City; there were cousins from Peoria and Pike County, Ill., some from Quincy and a few from Hannibal. One of the tykes that Ruth would have loved to have known showed me how to make the flash on my throw-away camera work, then took off to take pictures on his own. Perhaps these images will serve as the artwork for the next generation's addition to our historic compilation.

The gentle breeze of the sunny afternoon made it a perfect day in the park for a centennial reunion. It was almost as if the gathering was a symbol of what once was, what now is, and what will one day be.

The newspaper of the day recorded the moment that took place 100 years ago. Our imaginations convert the words into a picture: "The bride ... is a young lady of many charms. The young gentleman who has won her heart and hand is to be sincerely congratulated."

On Sunday 100 years hence, we shared the stories that those little ones - when they're old - will one day tell their children. And thus the history of families continues.

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