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Missing grave site a puzzle
Prominent Stafford citizen Charles Adams Bryan is missing--85 years after his death.

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Date published: 6/4/2003


EVERYONE loves trying to solve a good mystery. But if you don't have some success after a while, the puzzle can become as annoying as a pebble in your shoe.

And after 10 years--the length of time that Charles Price has been looking for C.A. Bryan--that pebble feels about as big as a block of Aquia stone.

Price is 79 and has lived in Stafford for more than 50 years. He has a keen interest in history and has spent much of his time exploring the county's nooks and crannies in an effort to identify and preserve old cemeteries.

That's why Price was approached in the early 1990s by descendants of Charles Adams Bryan and asked if he knew where Bryan was buried. Bryan died on Sunday, Feb. 24, 1918.

Price said he would help. And true to his word, he's still looking for Bryan's grave site.

"It's curious," Price said. "I've been working on this off and on for about 10 years. And it's still a mystery.

"But I don't quit when I get started on something like this. I hate not to see it through."

The irony in all of this is that during his lifetime, C.A Bryan was a very public figure. He served as clerk of circuit court in Stafford for 29 years and as deputy clerk for 11 years, according to his obituary.

Thousands of Stafford residents have walked past his portrait, which still hangs in the hallway just outside the clerk's office at the courthouse.

The obituary describes him as "a well-known and popular citizen," who also served as commissioner of revenue. It says he was a "consistent member of the Methodist church and a staunch Republican."

The list of pallbearers includes many prominent Stafford names, such as Moncure, Chichester, Waller, Fitzhugh, Gordon and Payne.

"Bryan was quite a character," according to county historian Barbara Kirby. "He was a mover and a shaker. And he was involved in a lot of things going on in Stafford.

"His name shows up in the court records as a trustee for lots of properties. He was in a position to know who was doing what to whom, and who was buying and selling property around the county."

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