In December 1865, the eldest of six children, Mary Crawford Bryan was born to Jasper Newton Bryan St. and Amanda Fitzpatrick in Marshallville, Macon County, Georgia. She decided to stay and teach school in Kissimmee while visiting two of her brothers, Nathan Colbert “Bert” and Conrad in about 1890.
Bert and his wife, the former Annie Oliver welcomed Mary into their home and she lived with them for many years. Mary taught 3rd grade from 1892 to 1932, sometimes having as many as thirty to forty students in a classroom. Even as her former students moved on with their lives, she corresponded with many, writing letters of encouragement and providing scholarship funds to those in need.
Mary shared her love of music by offering musical programs and lessons to students. Also a nature lover, she cultivated many varieties of coleus and caladium and became an avid bird watcher.
For the first seven months Mary taught, August 1892 to February 1893, she received a salary of $25 a month. The next year, her pay increased to $30 but there was only a five month term. A $5 increase in pay came the third year, again for a five month term. At the end of that third year of teaching, she was offered the position of assistant to the primary teacher, who at that time was teaching 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades. She received no increase in pay but was later given the 2nd and 3rd grades entirely, with a raise to $40.
Mary died on June 14, 1950 and on October 23 1951, the new elementary school, Mary C. Bryan Elementary School was dedicated in her honor. Over the years, additions and modifications were made to the original structure when it became Beaumont Middle School.
Photo Courtesy: Osceola County Historical Society Photo Collection
Sources: Centennial Book and newspaper articles