Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Can Charles Be Edward?

One frustrating aspect of tracing genealogical roots is the way ancestors dealt with their loved—or hated—given names. Some—as we’ve already seen with my own maternal grandmother—absolutely hated their given name, and changed it in whatever way they could, even without benefit of legal authority to do so.

Others, though, took the less obvious route of choosing which of their given names they preferred to use as a working name: their first name or their middle name. Given that this particular extended family has priors for using the middle name as the working name, this may well be a possible scenario for the case of Charles Edward Broyles, son of Ozey Robert and Sarah Taliaferro Broyles.

That was so easy. See? Charles is really Edward.

At least that’s what it seems to be, at face value. On the other end of the spectrum, when it came to trying to confirm his parents’ identity working from the angle of end-of-life documentation, it almost seemed like I was researching two entirely different people. That story, however, we’ll examine at a later date.

For now, as Charles Edward Broyles seems to be a likely candidate for Georgia-residing relative of my great grandfather Thomas Taliaferro Broyles, let’s take a look at what we can find of Charles Edward’s earlier census records.

As we’ve already noted, Charles was not included in the household of his father for the 1850 census. We also uncovered some confirmation that he had married Lucy Ann Johnson in 1848, so they had already set up housekeeping on their own.

But where? The wedding had apparently taken place—or at least was announced—in the same location as that of the elder Broyles’ household: Pendleton in Anderson County, South Carolina.

Yet in 1850, we find Charles and Lucy in the census for Murray County in Georgia, just to the east of the city of Dalton, and south of the Tennessee border near Chattanooga—almost immediately south of the Tennessee city of Cleveland, which we’ll note again when we examine the rest of this Broyles line.

County of Murray in Georgia to the east of the city of Dalton

In that 1850 snapshot of the Broyles household in Georgia, we find Charles E. Broyles, then age twenty four, listed with his wife, Lucy A., and their four month old son, Edward L. Broyles. The family had evidently been in the state for at least the last few months, as Edward was born that same year in Georgia. His proud papa was listed as an attorney at law.

As befitting his profession, Charles next appeared in the 1860 census record in the city of Dalton, rather than in the unincorporated county region where we had found him in the 1850 census. His family had grown to include eight year old Laura, six year old Sarah A. (likely named after her paternal grandmother, Sarah Ann), three year old son Joseph F., and one year old Robert. The oldest son was now listed as Charles E. Broyles, Jr., though I suspect he, too, was more likely called Edward than Charles by those who knew him well.

The City of Dalton was where attorney Charles E. Broyles was listed again in the 1870 census, now at the age of forty four. Though his eldest son was no longer listed in the household, the family had still grown with the addition of four year old Price and two year old John.

If this was the Broyles relative who lured my great grandfather, Thomas T. Broyles, from Pendleton, South Carolina, to meet his future bride in Georgia, it would be quite a stretch. With Thomas’ brother’s household firmly established in Dalton during the decade in which Thomas might have gone courting—he and Mary were married early in 1871, if we can believe the veracity of the one likely document already found—they weren’t really close to the residence of Thomas’ future fiancée. The marriage license was issued in Muscogee County, Georgia. Other records confirm her residence in the Muscogee county seat, Columbus.

For Thomas to have met his future bride while visiting his brother Charles at his home in Dalton, Georgia, he would have had to socialize in a circle wide enough to take in a city which, in today’s world, would take nearly three hours driving to reach. While I suppose this could still be a possibility, I think it would be rather slim.

Was there another Broyles relative who also moved from South Carolina to Georgia? Or, if Mary was the supposed adopted one in our family line, could this mean her family was really from another Georgia location? We’ll have to consider each of those possibilities, as well as look for other clues for how Thomas met Mary in Georgia.


  1. My 2X great-grandfather married a girl who lived 86 miles away, an hour and a half on today's interstate. I doubt I'll ever know how he managed that. My best guess is perhaps he was an itinerant carpenter.

    1. Wendy, your story makes me wonder how many other such examples like that there might be. I can understand students meeting in college, or couples meeting at a work place. But those are tokens of our more modern era. Your itinerant carpenter might be a possible story--as would railroad workers traveling across the country, in many of my families' history. But for this established Southern family in pre-war years, I'm not sure about the dynamics. It sure requires looking into local history, tracing opportunities (like land offerings), seeing who knew whom. Somehow, there had to have been a connection.

  2. I still cannot figure out how my grandparents met and they only lived a mile apart. My Dad and his sister say such things were not talked about. :)

    1. Interesting that such things weren't discussed then, Far Side. I wonder how many marriages in the first half of the 1800s might have been arranged marriages. I don't think those would come off as romantic stories to pass down for generations. They sound more like business transactions, and who talks about those?!

  3. The context of the times might offer some hints - Columbus, Georgia was largely burned down after the "last battle" of the Civil War - (April 1865), how "displaced" the folks were, I couldn't tell you. Dalton was also ravaged by war - as was Atlanta and Macon. The railroads were repaired pretty quickly - and linked Dalton to Atlanta/Macon and Columbus to Atlanta via Macon. Perhaps the lawyer had to go to the state capital "for business" and met someone there....?

    1. P.s., My dad goes by his middle name - His dad goes by his first name - and that kept it easier to keep who - is who since they shared first names as did their grandfather and his father (too many Harry's!!)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...