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Bryan, Jonathan

Planter and politician Jonathan Bryan was born in Pocotaligo, South Carolina in 1708. His first contact with Georgia came when James Oglethorpe and the first settlers arrived at Port Royal in early February 1733. While the colonists stayed in barracks at a Carolina Ranger outpost, Bryan accompanied Oglethorpe on an advance visit to the Savannah River to look for a place to settle. In 1740, he returned to Georgia as an officer in a South Carolina militia unit that accompanied Oglethorpe’s unsuccessful military expedition against the Spanish fort in St. Augustine. In 1751, Bryan received a land grant in Georgia and moved to the colony, where he began building rice plantations in the Savannah area. When Georgia became a royal colony in 1754, Bryan was asked to serve on the governor’s council. He also served as a justice of the general court, colonial treasurer, road commissioner, and captain of a militia unit. After the Stamp Act, however, Bryan became associated with the patriotic movement. During the American Revolution, Bryan was captured by the British and imprisoned for two years. Upon his release, he found that his wife had died and his Georgia plantations were in ruin. After the war, he worked diligently to regain his wealth. In 1788, he died near Savannah. Five years later, the General Assembly named newly created Bryan County in his honor.