7 million interactions from around the world put a spotlight on Byrnside Fort
By Sarah Richardson
In April 2019, area lawyer John H. Bryan and his wife purchased a home in Union with a fascinating reported history. Located just a mile outside of town, the massive home was suspected to actually be built around what used to be Byrnside’s Fort, built in 1770 by James Byrnside and five other families.
Bryan, who is also a history enthusiast and YouTuber, said that he had been researching frontier fort sites that had been lost to history prior to buying the property. A metal-detecting buddy of his had gotten permission to detect around the home previously and was finding interesting relics. Bryan joined him one day, and learned that the house and surrounding acreage had recently been sold to someone who was more interested in the farming the land than dealing with the huge home, and Bryan ended up purchasing the home and five surrounding acres.
The U.S. National Register of Historic Places has the site registered as the Byrnside-Beirne-Johnson House, also known as “Willowbrook,” and stated that it began as a pioneer log fort that was later built and enlarged into a home. The house was lived in consistently from 1770 all the way up to 2016, with the same family living there from 1869 through 2016.
“The narrative said that supposedly, this old fort was still believed to be part of the house or in the house, and I immediately believed that was the case just by looking at it,” said Bryan. “The walls were thick enough, it had these huge stone chimneys, and with items that had already been found in the yard, it just had to be it.”
His bet paid off, when on the day of closing he returned to the house and started tearing off plaster, revealing the original timber walls of Brynside’s Fort, and historical artifacts dating back through the Revolutionary War. Over the years, he has undertaken this passion project of restoring and revealing the details of the home as a labor of love, and has been sharing his findings online and with the community.
Bryan documented his restoration and renovation process on X, formerly known as Twitter, earlier this week in a series of posts with pictures of his findings. Within days it amassed nearly 7 million interactions from users around the globe. Hundreds of commenters from far and wide responded to the wealth of historical information housed in and around the site, and Bryan has continued to add content to the thread to keep up with requests for more information.
He has uploaded several videos to the thread detailing the process and outlining his findings, including one titled “I Found a Revolutionary War Log Fort Inside a House,” that quickly racked up 45,000 views within 24 hours.
To view the post on X (Twitter), visit his profile at @johnbryanesq, or view the thread “unrolled” at https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1744042901280104535?refresh=1704980178. The videos can be found on his YouTube channel at @thecivilrightslawyer.