Bryan Thomas Barry, legislator and mayor of Dallas, son of Augustus and Margaret Eleanor (Younger) Barry, was born on a farm near Dresden, Navarro County, Texas, on October 26, 1851. He lived there until 1870 when he moved with his family to Tehuacana in Limestone County. Barry’s formal education began at a variety of local schools and was completed at Trinity University in Tehuacana from 1870 to 1872. He then read law at the office of Stewart and Barziza in Houston, received his license to practice law in 1873, and moved to Navarro County, where he acquired 300 acres of land ten miles northwest of Corsicana; his property eventually became the community called Barry.
Barry married Odora Elizabeth Williams in Robertson County on May 1, 1874. The couple had two children. Following the death of his first wife in 1914, he married Ellen Sophie Hermany Stone.
Barry began his career in public life as a Democrat from Navarro County in the House of Representatives of the Seventeenth Texas Legislature from 1881 to 1883. In the legislature, he served as chair of the School Claims Committee. Later that decade when he was out of office, he twice served as chair of the State Democratic Executive Committee.
Barry moved to Dallas in 1888 and became a partner in the law firm of Barry and Etheridge. He was active in promoting the local economy and served as secretary/treasurer for Texas Savings and Trust. Within a few years of his arrival in Dallas, Barry became involved in politics. He ran for mayor of the city in 1893 and won the office only after the Texas Supreme Court ruled in his favor in a suit contesting the election results. He was re-elected in 1894 and, after losing in 1895, was elected again and served from 1897 to 1898 for another one-year term. His final term as mayor came after a victorious contest in 1904. One of Barry’s main achievements as mayor was the building of a dam on the Trinity River to provide a water supply for Dallas. He also played a major role in making Fair Park into a city-owned property, and he appointed the first Dallas Park Board.
Bryan Thomas Barry died at his home on Live Oak Street in Dallas on March 5, 1919. Alexander C. Garrett, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, conducted the funeral service at Barry’s home, and he was buried in Oakland Cemetery. In 1934 his remains, along with those of his first wife, were reinterred at the Grove Hill Cemetery in Dallas.