John I. Bryant grave site

John I. Bryant (1850 – 1929)

A native of Bandon, County Cork, Ireland, John I. Bryant was the third-longest serving Selectman in town history, with a total of 24 years in non-consecutive terms beginning in 1887 to 1893. At a young age his family relocated to New Bedford where he worked in the Wamsutta Mill and as a farmhand. At 15 he enlisted in Battery B. 3d U.S. Heavy Artillery and rose to the rank of sergeant. After working throughout the South during the Reconstruction period, he located in Fairhaven in 1873. A stone mason by trade, he served as assistant Superintendent of Streets under Henry H. Rogers, who seems to have viewed Bryant as a kindred spirit with regard to bettering Fairhaven. Bryant was tree warden, a constable, a member of the Board of Health and served as a County Commissioner. He was employed as the Fairhaven Postmaster from 1895 to 1899. He also served on the town, county and state Democratic Committees.

When the Federal government put the historical Fort Phoenix property up for sale, Bryant wrote to the late Henry H. Roger’s daughter Cara Broughton in England and interested her in purchasing the fort in memory of her father. To help secure the property, Bryant made three trips to Washington DC. In 1928, at the age of 78, he won his last election to the Board of Selectmen, but missed the annual Town Meeting for the first time in 40 years due to illness. He died a year later in 1929.

A bronze plaque on Bryant’s grave stone has the words, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith.”

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