Bryan, Patrick

Patrick Bryan, son of John O’Brien and Mary Carroll, was born in Millom, England on November 12, 1876.  He married Eva Dixon in Beaconsfield, Cape Province.  He was an Iron Ore miner who owned several mines in Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia), Africa. He had interests in the Pangali, PioneerA, PioneerB, and Morsel mines (Claims).

The first South African gold rush followed the first diamond strikes by only a few years. Mining started in earnest in 1887, and the new township of Johannesburg began to fill with settlers. The first results were astonishing, and by the end of the year it was clear that the Rand mines were fabulously rich.  Many of the Kimberley diamond millionaires moved to new headquarters in Johannesburg, which quickly became the largest city in southern Africa, a position it still holds. However, the logistics of gold mining on the Rand are frightening. At a depth of 3000 m, rocks are at 50° C, and huge quantities of water have to be pumped out of the workings every day. This is high-cost gold-mining.

He died on August 7, 1944 in Bulaway, Zimbabwe after a long illness.  His son John William Bryan wrote the following letter to tell her of his death.

X6317 Sgt. JW Bryan

C/O The Drill Hall


SR (Southern Rhodesia)


Dear Aunt Kit:

It has been many ears since I last wrote you a letter, and now I write to give you bad news.

My dear old Dad passed away on the 7th of this month after a long and very painful illness.  He died as he lived, a very fine gentleman, not a word of complaint passed his lips.  If I could only be half the man he was, I would be happy.  How great a loss we have suffered.  I need not tell you my mother is heart-broken and I have suffered a terrible loss.  My dad, my families, and my great ??? had he passed quietly ?????it would have been bad enough that he suffered terribly and for once I was helpless to help him.

He had a host of friends, everyone who knew him liked him, many loved him, as we did and do.  I am enclosing a photo of his grave in Bulawayo cemetery, taken the day he was buried.  It is a mass of wreaths as you can see.

For four days and nights before he died, mother or my wife and myself never left him.  I spent those horrible 8 nights at the foot of his bed and two chairs.  He died at 4 o’clock in the afternoon of the 7th of August.  I managed to get two months family leave from the army to be with him.  He was in hospital over 3 months and I used to go up there three and four times a day.

Well Aunt, that is all.  I know this letter will upset you, but I had to let you know.  It was not a bit of use sending a cable.  You will realize that.  Write to me c/o The Drill Hall, if I happen to be away, they will forward it to me.  Love to you all from all of us here.

Your nephew,


His obituary was published in The Bulawayo Chronicle, 11, August 1944

Mr. Patrick Bryan

The death occurred on August 7 in Bulawayo of Mr. Patrick Bryan, a well-known smallworker.  He was the husband of Mrs. E. Bryan and the father of Sergt. Jack Bryan.

The funeral took place in Bulawayo on August 8, and the service was conducted by the Rev. Father Odllo.  The pallbearers were Mr. F. Milton Cole, Mr. Liewellyn Davies, Mr. J. Frost, Mr. J. Lyon, Mr. H. Parr and Mr. F. Withers.


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