Though the information regarding Thomas Taliaferro Broyles’ burial remains hidden—at least for now—his obituary contains a number of other hints for me to follow. These details, hopefully, will paint a clearer picture of the man.
Proceeding from where we last left the narrative published in the Confederate Veteran in its January 1923 issue, the very next sentence provides enough for two days’ postings:
Thomas Broyles graduated from the University of North Carolina at eighteen years of age, and three days later was in the saddle as a member of Heiskell's Cavalry.
Let’s break that sentence into two parts. I have ulterior reasons for that. First, I’ll have to mount a new learning curve in researching Civil War veterans of that other side of the conflict. I’ve already made the attempt at researching Union veterans when I was working on my husband’s Tully line, coming up with grand family legend but nothing substantiated. In addition, my first foray into searching for the referred-to “Heiskell’s Cavalry” has not proved promising. This, I assure you, will take me time.
As to that first point—regarding educational background—I also hesitate. Today, I think just about everyone knows that the state’s university system is identified by city of campus location. The first thing I thought of when reading this part of Thomas’ obituary was “University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.” But was Thomas’ campus the one at Chapel Hill? At which campus would I begin my search?
Some people might balk at the statement that Thomas graduated from college at the age of eighteen. I’m aware, however, of several historic figures from the colonial period who had attended such institutions as Yale, for instance, at now-unheard-of early ages. Perhaps even in the 1800s, that accomplishment would not be such an anomaly.
And yet, as if to hedge my bets, I thought I’d take a look to see if the University also hosted a preparatory school. While I didn’t find mention of such an arrangement on campus, in reviewing the state’s history of providing public higher education, it appears that the first campus—and the only one at the time of Thomas’ graduation—was that at Chapel Hill.
That is not all there is, as far as Thomas’ education goes. Thanks to one of the readers here—Leah, whose comment included this helpful link—I now have a clue as to where the good doctor obtained his medical credentials: the University of Nashville Medical School, now merged with the better-known Vanderbilt University.
I’m beginning to wonder whether my great-great-grandfather had an obstinate streak to him, though. When I scanned through the online resources for the med school's alumni listings of that time period, once again I’ve had to face up to that “unable to locate” conclusion. For the time being, Thomas Taliaferro Broyles’ academic credentials are as well-hidden as his headstone.