Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back, Looking Ahead


Twenty four hours does not seem like a particularly brief segment of time. But when you think how quickly that segment of time has slipped away—times three hundred sixty five—the feat borders on the amazing. Where did the time go?

It’s New Year’s Eve. Again. If you had asked me, this time last year, what the upcoming year would bring, I never would have guessed.

I certainly wouldn’t have thought I’d be taking my genealogical research “across the pond” to Ireland. But look at us: we’ve been there, done that, and are still sorting through the data and photographs. And have our intrepid college student back home from a wonderful semester in Cork to remind us that, yes, we went there!

Then, too, I wouldn't have guessed I’d be comparing DNA tests with a cousin I never knew I had—someone who, likewise, never knew this would be the connection for a child of the government’s closed adoption policies of the twentieth century. Musing over the possibilities has pushed me into philosophical mode, bordering on the ambience of late-night dorm room discussions from college years—that cozy but hazy “what-if” pondering of intellects wandering into too many nooks of possibilities.

On the pragmatic side, though, it has prompted me to spruce up one particular branch of my family tree—the one leading me directly toward D.A.R. membership. Those Broyles and Taliaferro connections are turning out to lead back to much more than that: coupled with some associated lines, I begin to see possibilities for Colonial Dames, descent from Mayflower passengers, and other temptations dangling before my eyes.

Before knowing what next steps to take—after all, what does the blogging future hold?—it helps to first know where one stands right now. To check the trajectory, I’ve taken a look back to review my vantage point on the cusp of a new year in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

It was an interesting exercise, taking in the past years of blogging. In 2011, I had not quite finished my first full year of blogging. My sentiments at that time infused a post that has turned out to be one of my own personal favorites at A Family Tapestry. Going back and reading it again, it reminded me how our family closed out the year and faced a new one in which a dear cousin would lose her battle with cancer. And it fueled my resolve to never succumb to the seasonal habit of forming New Year’s resolutions. Even so, I did cave somewhat, in composing what I called New Year’s Tentativities. You can see for yourself how well I did in accomplishing those—the main reason why I don’t engage in such exercises.

Still, reviewing that New Year’s Eve post reminded me of one thought on goal setting. That’s the kind of clarity I need to keep in mind while pursuing new ideas and projects:
I’ll take my dream inspiration from the type of star-following journey of some wise men long ago. They took their cue from a specific star: following it as long as it was moving, but having the good sense to stop when it hovered and to then seek further direction from details closer at hand.

A year later, at the end of 2012, I was again musing over the fleeting issues of life, reeling over the recent fact that an eager rush to the door for Christmas company was the fateful step that radically changed my aunt’s life. By the time of that year-end post, instead of following suit with the bloggers’ meme of that season—top ten lists of their own posts—I found an antidote to my melancholy mood by listing the more than ten bloggers who have been my all-time favorites. Thankfully, all of them are still at their craft for you to enjoy.

With the closing of another difficult year, come December 31, 2013, my mind turned to a simple statement of appreciation for you, my readers. After all, isn’t New Year’s Eve the time to recall “auld”acquaintances?

What’s left to say in closing out the year of 2014? While this one was a vastly improved flight of three hundred sixty five days—where did that time go?!—I still hold the same conclusions I mused over in the past three years:
·       This life is too tentative to fool ourselves into thinking goals are guarantees
·       Our life would not be the same, if it weren’t for the blessings others pour into it
·       Sharing our gratitude with those who’ve made a difference is what truly enriches us.

Oh, rest assured, I’ll have plans for the upcoming year. I’ve already uncovered enough research needs to keep me busy writing for months to come. But you know how genealogical research goes: you can sometimes fly like lightning, but other times, you can take a header into an immovable brick wall. I’ll take my cue from the three wise men and the star: follow the resources as far as they lead me, then stop and assess each next step. Maybe, just maybe, that will lead us all through another year of discoveries.



 Above: "Beneath the Snow Encumbered Branches," 1901 oil on canvas by Scotland's Joseph Farquharson; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Clean Up Crews and
Phantom Family Trees


All of us have been guilty of complaining when there is little we can find on a “brick wall” ancestor. When the opposite occurs—we have so many search results that we hardly can come up, gasping, for air—we make nary a peep.

And no wonder. We’re tap dancing as fast as we can, leaving records, notes, books, files, and other extraneous material strewn in our path as we chase the no-longer-elusive ancestor straight back to the lair where his or her full genealogical records are stashed.

I’ve had a lot of that good fortune this past fall and winter. From the looks of the disheveled stacks of notes left in the wake of this sprint toward genealogical serendipity, it’s high time I cleaned things up. That, however, is becoming part of this catch-all week’s domain: go back and see what was found but not followed through yet.

A reminder came in the form of an email yesterday, gently broaching the subject. In this particular case, in my tear across Ireland, then Canada, and finally trailing our Tully ancestors into the United States, a few possible distant cousins’ burial plots were located, thanks to Iggy, who, in addition to being a regular reader here, also happens to be one of the many volunteers who make Find A Grave the useful resource that it is.

It’s time for me to go back and round up the many memorials he set up on my behalf, and take them over as a volunteer, myself. This I’m tentatively beginning to do.

In addition, since I’m not yet certain about how—or if—some of these Tully people fit in our family’s bigger picture, I’ve decided to go back and construct an official family tree to connect the right ones with their own families. The best way to do this, I’ve concluded, is to set up a private family tree on Ancestry.com.

My thinking on this is relatively straightforward: I know how the parents and the children—and maybe a few siblings—connect, but I don’t know how they all plug into the bigger Tully picture, so why perpetrate errors? If I construct my phantom tree under cover of a “private tree” at Ancestry.com—where I’m already a subscriber—then my work won’t be out there for anyone to come by and snatch away, before I have the chance to warn my fellow researcher that, hey, I’m not entirely sure what I’ve posted is correct.

Perhaps this is no more efficient than leaving notes scribbled to myself on the back of scratch paper. But at least I’ll have all those notes gathered together in one place, and in a form that makes more sense—and maybe even gains some documentation, as well. The only place that would leave a mess, now, would be in a private file that only I can see—and the few brave passers-by who, as Ancestry suggests, ask me nicely for permission to gain access.

These two tasks alone may seem trifling, but when you consider all the photographs my husband has snapped of headstones in Ireland, coupled with Find A Grave entries set up for those Ontario and Michigan Tullys we’ve since found, that can add up to a sizeable chunk of work. Not that I’m going to get that all done in this brief hiatus between Christmas and New Year, either. But this is the lull between holidays when I can think these things over. And believe me, there is a lot of thinking to do to gather the many loose ends I’ve strewn all over the blogosphere in the last few months.

I like to think of this exercise as my way of preventing myself, in the future, from reinventing my genealogical wheel—at least on this family line. Perhaps it will also be the device that keeps others from having to reinvent their research wheel, as well.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Scraping: The Bottom of the Barrel


Many of you who stop by regularly, here at A Family Tapestry, are also bloggers in your own right. You likely work hard to produce posts that will accurately represent your research—or share your latest discoveries in whatever topic you choose to discuss. Though you may not get paid for your efforts, you offer them in the sincere hope that your work will be of benefit to others.

In one way, as bloggers, we share and share alike.

That, however, is vastly different from the instance of those who freely offer on their own site, but unbeknownst to them, have had their work lifted and repackaged on another website—a place likely using that very content to make someone else a profit.

That little sleight of hand is called content scraping (or, in some cases, blog scraping) and it has occasionally become a topic of conversation amongst members of the genea-blogging community—usually in the form of outraged diatribes against such perpetrators by those personally wronged.

If you think you have never had that happen to you, dear blogger, think again. The mere effort of cutting and pasting the title, or an excerpt, from one of your recent blog posts into the search box at Google may reveal otherwise. I know it has done so for me.

Not only that, but there are tools available to such content scrapers to make their “job” even easier. When I googled the term to find relevant sites to support today’s post, the first item to come up was not an example or definition source, but an ad for software to facilitate content scraping. You see, you are not just up against a well-meaning but misguided zealous fellow-researcher, but a worldwide variety of people who see no problem in stealing your hard work.

I’ve been blogging for less than four years, but during that time, I’ve also been an avid genealogy blog reader. And I recall several of my fellow bloggers reporting how they encountered that loss on a personal basis.

The instance that stands out in my mind most vividly is when that occurred to GeneaBloggers originator, Thomas MacEntee. Thomas, blogging not only because of his fascination with genealogy but because, well, computer geeks can do this stuff blindfolded with one arm tied behind their backs, not only took this loss as the serious threat that it was to his business, but put his considerable computing knowledge to work in fighting back.

If you don’t recall Thomas’ frustration, back in 2012, dealing with “sploggers” who were stealing his content, you might find it helpful to check out how he went about combating the problem. He also shared his resource page of links on how to do this, which he posted on Pinterest.

In a different episode, another blogger—Heather Kuhn Roelker of Leaves for Trees—had commented, “I work too hard on writing my blog for it just to be stolen.” Heather found Thomas’ advice helpful. I’m sure a number of others have, too.

Content scrapers do not only target genealogy bloggers, of course. So it is no surprise to find blogs which offer generic advice for all sorts of bloggers in this predicament, such as this one for WordPress bloggers. In fact, it was a recent announcement about a new anti-scraping plug-in for WP bloggers that got me re-thinking this very issue.

In the past, my thoughts had ranged everywhere from “Who would copy my stuff?” to “So what if they copy my stuff; I have enough internal links to lead readers back to my own site.” I pretty much still hold to that latter thought. However, just because content scraping software likely doesn’t know how to differentiate between the rest of the post and a concluding sentence that essentially says, “Hey, if you didn’t find this post on my blog, come read it at my own site,” I’d like to start adding a sentence like that to the bottom of my posts. That way, when the scrapers scrape the rest of my content and lift it to their own site, they’ll also be lifting a sentence that tells readers where to go to get the rest of the story.

Of course, for you who are reading my posts here on my own blog site, it will seem redundant. But humor me. It can take me anywhere from ninety minutes to three or four hours to complete the research and writing for just one of my posts. I’m with Heather: I don’t want to do all that work for someone else’s online profit-making machine, either. However, I don’t want to add another several hours to that tally, just to fight my way through all the hoops necessary to get those people to cease and desist.

I just want to spend my time doing what I feel would be my best contribution: doing the research and writing for my own posts. For you—my regular readers who stop by here at A Family Tapestry to spend a moment every day, and perhaps share a few words of comment as well. It's for a readership community and to further our mutual research interests that I do this. I'd like to keep it that way. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Steep Learning Curve of DNA Testing


If you’ve been an avid genealogy researcher for any amount of time, you’ve no doubt at least wondered about how available DNA tests could boost your research efforts—if not actually tried them, yourself.

For me, living within a six hour drive from a primo genetic genealogy conference—and better yet, only an hour’s drive from one of the founders of ISOGG and one of her annual seminar locations—it’s no problem to avail myself of ample learning opportunities.

Even so, when I had a surprise email visit from someone who announced an exact match to my mtDNA results, I still found it hard to put that head knowledge to use.

The goal, of course, is to take test results for both parties and then examine how we connect on our family trees. That may sound like a relatively straightforward proposition. But it isn’t. At least not for a family like ours. On the one side, there’s the handicap of the closed adoption process—granted, alleviated to a small extent by the capable help and support of the many members of ALMA.

On the other side, there’s that difficult issue of not being able to determine the parents of one of my direct female line—specifically, the Georgia-born Mary who married Thomas Taliaferro Broyles, brother of the Charles Broyles we’ve been learning more about lately. That’s why I’ve been pursuing whatever information I can find on her: unless I uncover more of her identity, she will remain my brick wall ancestor who keeps me and my new mystery cousin match from discovering our ancestral nexus.

You may remember when I first met this mystery cousin online. (If you don’t, you can pick up on that brief story here.) Since then, we’ve both been doing some work, lots of emailing back and forth, and discussing ideas for breaking out of this tight loop. And, thanks to a sale going on at Family Tree DNA, I took a different kind of DNA test, to help us see how closely we might be related.

You see, between us and whatever common female ancestor we both share, we have an exact match—meaning no mutations from that generation down to ours. That could be three or four generations. Or three or four hundred years. Or maybe a thousand years. It’s hard to tell—especially without both parties’ family tree paper trails to assist us.

Even so, there is another way to test for relationships up to the distance of sixth cousin. At Family Tree DNA, that test is dubbed the “Family Finder” test. I took it. And just before Christmas, I got my results back.

Though we were both hoping the results would shed some more light—especially for someone who is an adoptee wishing to discover more about birth parents—but unfortunately, in this case, the test didn’t lead us closer to any truth on our connection. We did not show up as matches—even at sixth cousin to remote level—on each other’s pages at the testing company.

Of course, that doesn’t negate the results from my previous mtDNA test. I firmly believe those still stand. It’s just that our relationship likely is more remote than the level of sixth cousin. And think about it—with my brick wall firmly ensconced at the second great grandmother level, I can’t even begin to document anything beyond the point of third cousins. So either I have to break through my research brick wall, or we need to find a way to examine the data below the seven centiMorgan cutoff level set by the testing company for their listing of matches. (If all this is Greek to you, you may find ISOGG’s explanation of autosomal testing results and their definition of centiMorgans helpful to review.)

While those recent DNA test results proved disappointing for my newly-found adopted cousin and me, the experience called me back to not only review all my own matches, but those of the other family members I had tested as well. It turns out I am finding several other cousin matches between the three individuals whose test results I am currently overseeing.

The process of DNA testing is just that, a process—not just a swab-the-cheek-and-that’s-it approach, but a sequence in which test results are determined, then matched up to other individuals who have also tested. More results get added to the person’s database as more individuals test and show up as matches. From that point, the information does little without our input and follow-through to seek out and confirm known matches, and puzzle over the others indicated.

For the most part, in the past, I couldn’t find any connections. But with perseverance and hard work, bit by bit, I’m seeing some connections and working to confirm relationships. With every connection I find, I also find that nebulous “head knowledge” transformed into a real working knowledge of what is being documented before my eyes. The terms seem to make more sense. The puzzle pieces seem to fit together in a way that I can get my hands on. That head knowledge becomes a working knowledge, and the science begins to work for me.

With each relationship confirmed by both parties in agreement, our feedback helps science hone in more carefully to fine-tune their predictions about genetic matches. This is where citizen scientists and crowdsourcing can once again aid scientific progress. While it means a steep learning curve for those unaccustomed to the statistics—or even the definitions—of the field of genetics, genealogists are demonstrating that we are capable of grasping enough to at least step on the field as players who can make a difference in confirming a body of knowledge for the common good.

Better yet, I’m getting my hands on a way to confirm my genealogical paper trail that I’m learning to make work for me in interesting ways. Hopefully, at some point, that will include helping a mystery cousin find those roots as well.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Perpetual Craft of Blogging


I don’t know how your Christmas went this year, but mine was actually…somewhat melancholy. In an unexpected way.

It didn’t help, first of all, to come down with some sort of fever on Tuesday—which hit right after meeting a friend for lunch, leaving me to spread some Christmas “cheer” throughout the community as I unwittingly powered on through my day, despite flagging energy. By sundown, I was flat out. Ditto Wednesday. Yes, Christmas Eve.

Christmas day, therefore, was barely more than a foggy-headed attempt at going through the motions—not, incidentally, the way I prefer celebrating the day. If you’d been wondering why I didn’t have much to say in the last few days, now you know why.

In the relative quiet of the evening, after a wonderful dinner (courtesy of my talented husband, who, in addition to everything else well done, is an excellent chef), just about the time I would be calling relatives with Christmas greetings, I got to thinking about all the family members I wouldn’t be calling this year. My father would be first on that list; at twenty years my mother’s senior, he has been gone for decades. Likewise, my maternal grandparents, who joined him within the next fifteen years. Then came my own mother. And most recently, my aunt.

It’s been barely a year since my aunt’s passing, back in Ohio. It’s courtesy of her careful preservation of family trivia that I have the letters, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera from the lives of my grandparents and even her childhood and early adult years with my mother to share with you here on posts at A Family Tapestry.

My aunt used to be a Home Economics teacher, back in the day when it was not frowned upon to think that teaching someone how to cook or sew would be a useful thing. While I was not keen on taking “Home Ec” when I reached those junior high school years, it was somehow different to know my very own special sewing teacher was coming to New York for a family visit. I remember asking her to take me to the local fabric shop to buy material to make a stuffed animal when I was quite young. That was what a doting aunt would do. And I loved it.

Going through all my aunt’s belongings in preparation to sell her home after her passing, it was interesting to see what she felt was important enough to save. Of course, there were the obligatory legal documents, important papers, to do lists, and other records. But in addition to the files of warranties for machines and equipment records she meticulously kept—everything from bi-annual furnace-cleaning records to receipts for her newest computer purchase—she had some files that I have to say only she would have seen as worthy of saving.

One of those files was an entire book of Jack Frost knitting instructions.

I can’t say I’ve ever seen my aunt knitting, nor do I remember her wearing any knit apparel that she, herself, had made, but there it was, perfectly preserved for now over sixty years—at her fingertips, just as if, on a whim, she might start up a project.

Knitting has never been my thing. In fact, I’m not much of a crafter at all. If there were anything creative I'd do on a regular basis, I’d have to say it was blogging. So, perhaps blogging is my craft.

How different a craft blogging is from knitting, though. Knitting has a precise beginning and a specific end. It involves counting and keeping track of patterns. It calls for lots of repetition. And a known quantity of material. Not a one of those details do I favor.

Writing, on the other hand, starts with a blank page. From there, the world is wide open. I like that.

Everything is different—or at least can be different—when it comes to writing. And merging that with a blog format? Letter-writing on steroids.

So it is that, while the knitting fashionista can at some point hold up her creation and proclaim VoilĂ ! C’est fini! the blogger plods along with the next idea always in development.

And that is just concerning the craft of writing the post. As with the content—always in development—so the process of blogging.

It’s that process of blogging I wish to tinker with this week. I’ve been toying with some ideas for change. Some I’ll likely implement soon. Some I’ll keep thinking about, but may not apply for a long time—if ever. Some others? Well, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings any if you’d like to add your two cents to my musings this week.

I do a lot of reading about blogging. There are actually blogs about blogging. Some are highly respected. Some have advice which may not apply as well in the microcosm of genea-blogging—for instance, a recent discussion on one blog about the seeming lack of usefulness of widgets like Linkwithin, a conclusion reached by others with which I happen to disagree.

I like my little spot, here on Blogspot, but feel the need for some graphic-design house-cleaning. I want to add a little, take away some, re-arrange some. But somehow keep it all basically the same. Oh, I know there are some duties I’ve long neglected, like adding a copyright statement—though, if I understand it correctly, if I wrote it, the copyright is mine, statement or not. Still, I’d like to make that official.

Useful would be some static pages like a welcome page with explanation of what to expect for those who, unwittingly, stumbled upon this corner of the blogosphere, courtesy of a favored search engine. And a list of surnames and geographic placements, dished up in an organized fashion, might help as well.

Static pages call for navigational devices—like tabs, for instance—but those can mess up the streamlined flow of appearances. I wonder about the busyness of too much coming at a first-time reader, all on the front page, and recoil at the thought of adding much without subtracting anything.

But what to give up? Sometimes, I wonder if showing a Blog Archive listing is even worth the digital real estate it takes up—would substituting buttons for the page tabs I need, in place of the long details of the listed archives, be the zero sum game I’m after?

One thing I know: much as it seems to be a convenient resolution to the dilemma, I’d rather have this quandary than the one-two-three step instructions of the Jack Frost knitting book of my aunt’s era. While at the end, she could hold up a sweater and be done with it, I’m free to tweak and tinker to my heart’s content, changing as the need arises and the craft evolves. Blogging may have advanced out of its pioneer years, it’s true, but it still interfaces with a wide open world of possibilities yet to explore.



Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas is Over—Now What?


Now that the Big Day has finally come—and gone—that seasonal holiday let-down may now begin. For some, the celebration comes with lots of noise and commotion as people try to cram an entire family reunion into one brief day. For others, well, it was a lot of work to get here…now, it’s time for a break!

No matter what kind of day yours turned out to be—and I hope it was everything you hoped for—you undoubtedly have plans for the days in what seems to be the lull between Christmas and New Year.

That week between the two holidays has always been special to me. I rather like the quiet of it. Back where I grew up—on the east coast, where one actually could enjoy a white Christmas—everything naturally looked so Christmasy that people didn’t mind carrying on the holiday spirit just one more week. It was a chance to settle down and enjoy all the decorations we’d worked so hard to put up, both inside and outside—instead of tossing the haggard old tree out at curbside for the refuse collection the very next day, California style.

At work—at least back when people still used paper calendars—during the years when I didn’t get to take off for the week, I took the opportunity of the relative peace in the office to settle down and set up my upcoming year’s calendar. I removed the old year—carefully binding up the records and setting them aside for future reference, just in case there ever was a question leading me back to the documents—and installed the fresh page-a-day calendar in its holder, and the month-at-a-glance poster on a nearby wall.

Then, I’d pull out my portable week-at-a-glance schedule book and color-code in all my regular meetings. By the time my upcoming year was marked, tabbed and documented, it was time to ring in that new year in earnest.

Perhaps you see that hiatus between Christmas and New Year in a different light. Let me assure you: I certainly don’t go through all that effort anymore, myself—I’m quite glad to succumb to the convenience of accessing a cloud-based calendar app on my iPad. But the practice did introduce me to the concept of taking some time for introspection and year-end review in the last week of December.

In this last week of the year, I’d like to do the same here on A Family Tapestry. We’ll take a breather from the story of Charles Broyles and the search for the matchmaker who connected his brother Thomas with his Georgia-born bride. I’ll share a few items from family collections that seemed too incidental to fit into any family series. At the same time, I’ll be adjusting some details on the blog that, well, I’ve just meant to do for such a long time. If there ever was a good time for housekeeping items like that, this would be the week.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Wishes


While the way you celebrate Christmas may not be the same way we celebrate ours, our culture has set out some specific traditions most people keep in mind for the “perfect” holiday.

However, it’s quite easy to see there are, for instance, many parts of our country which will not be seeing a White Christmas. Here in California, I won’t—not unless I hop in the car and take a three hour drive to the mountains.

It’s likely the same for the state of Florida, where our Sarah Ann Broyles went to marry Rupert Charles McClellan and settle, ultimately, in Tampa.

It seemed almost anticlimactic, then, to uncover a Christmas card from Sarah and Rupert among the family papers passed down to me from my aunt. The card certainly didn’t evoke any traditional holiday images—no chestnuts roasting by the fire, no sleigh bells jingling, and definitely no white Christmas.

The card didn’t even look Christmas-y. Instead of the traditional evergreens, the cover featured an orange grove—appropriate, in retrospect, as my great grandmother was an astute businesswoman in her own right, and owned some orange groves, herself.

The greeting on the card’s cover didn’t sound like a Christmas greeting, either. It announced, plain and simple:
Greetings from Florida.

Palm trees swaying by the balmy shore might not be your idea of the traditional Christmas greeting—well, unless you live in Florida, or perhaps “down under” in Australia or New Zealand. No matter where you spend your Christmas, though, I wish for you the same simple greeting sent years ago by “Daddy McClellan and Mama.”



Greeting you
With sincere good wishes
For a truly Merry Christmas
And a very Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Some Thoughts About Virginia—
Yes, That Virginia


With the most beloved holiday of the American calendar upon us, we need to set aside our puzzlement over one casualty of the Civil War and turn our attention to another story which has, as its prime player, another gentleman impacted by the devastating fallout of that episode of our history.

I’m speaking of New York State native, Francis Pharcellus Church, who served as a war correspondent during the Civil War. A time of great suffering, the war had been noted as ushering in a dearth of hope and faith throughout much of society.

Perhaps that ennui remained for the decades following the war, for by the time Francis had become lead editorial writer for the New York Sun, it provided the perfect recipe for resonance over one editorial written by Church.

The simple letter of an eight year old child, sent to—and responded by—the newspaper's editorial staff evoked a reception which, in its own right over the years, inspired everything from a cantata and an animated television special to mechanical toy displays at city department stores and annual memorial readings by well-known actors.

The original inquiry was simple. Laura Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter asked,
Dear Editor,
            I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says “If you see it in the Sun it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Francis Pharcellus Church’s response became the most reprinted editorial ever to run in any newspaper in the English language.

As witness of its beloved status, a clipping from an undated, unsourced newspaper—likely one published in 1980 in Columbus, Ohio—surfaced among those papers passed down to me after my aunt’s passing. My aunt had likely saved it from my grandmother’s papers—the very Rubie Broyles McClellan Davis with whose maternal line we are currently struggling.

Just to know Virginia’s story has been treasured all these years—even in newspaper clippings stored for its remembrance—speaks clearly to the universal human need to cling to the inspiration of hope. May this Christmas bring you a portion of that hope as well.

“Yes, Virginia” Note
Penned in 1897

NEW YORK (AP)—The question is famous, the answer more so.
            Eighty-three years ago 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon of New York City was concerned because “some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.”
            Her father told her, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so,” and she wrote a letter to the now-defunct New York newspaper.
            “Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus,” she asked. A writer for the paper, Francis Pharcellus Church, was assigned to answer.
            His editorial and its confident statement—“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”—is legendary.
            “He exists as certainly as love and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy,” Church wrote.
            “Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.”
            He wound up: “A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
            More than 60 years later, Virginia, by then Laura Virginia Douglas, a widowed New York City school principal, continued to visit orphanages at Christmas, spreading belief in Santa. She died in a nursing home at the age of 81 on May 14, 1971.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Meanwhile, Back in Colorado


Perhaps Charles Broyles can be excused for not recalling the moment of his wife’s November 28, 1880, death. After all, he was in Colorado, while she passed away in their residence back in Dalton, Georgia—a trifling matter of fourteen hundred miles between them at the time. I imagine news, back then, could travel slowly.

We can be sure, though, that he received the news well before the next event he documented in his journal.
In October 1882 while at San Luis Court I met Miss Nellie Armstrong, a highly respectable young woman, and fell in love with her. My love increased as I knew her the more and it was reciprocated and in April 1884 we were married at San Acacio, Costilla Co. Colorado. She was from Indiana and an intelligent highly esteemed lady. And at this writing the fruits the marriage are two smart promising boys.

Perhaps we can’t fault Charles for a few other not-quite-accurate details in this account. After all, according to Charles’ marriage record, at the time he married Miss Nellie Armstrong, he was fifty five—while she was twenty four.

Well, actually, I should point out that Charles claimed he was fifty five. On May 7, 1884—the actual date in which they stood before the Justice of the Peace in Conejos County—Charles would have been fifty eight years of age.

So, perhaps by the time he was writing his memoirs, his memory was beginning to lose its youthful vigor.

The question remains: who was this young woman who caught Charles’ attention? According to a story given by Dryden Johnson Broyles, Charles’ and Nellie’s youngest son, to Montague Laffitte Boyd, compiler of the Broyles genealogy published in 1959, Nellie was born in Brooksburg, Indiana, on November 19, 1860. (Brooksburg, incidentally, had been founded by her maternal grandfather.)

According to the author, Dryden had told him,
She came to Colorado with two of her brothers, Charles and John Armstrong. They intended to homestead land in the San Luis Valley, but the land they wanted was under Spanish Grant.... Her brothers then went West and she got a job teaching school in the Spanish town of San Luis…. She was the first English speaking teacher in that town.

All told, Charles and Nellie had eight children of their own—six sons and two daughters. Seven of those children survived to adulthood, including one son whom Charles chose, inexplicably—awkwardly—to name Charles Edward Broyles. Keeping in mind that his own firstborn with first wife Lucy was also named Charles Edward Broyles, this beckons us to once again attempt reading through that nether land embedded between the lines of his journal. While he was quite pleased with himself to announce, “And at this writing the fruits of the marriage are two smart promising boys,” he had not represented his first family in such glowing terms.

In recapping—as you’ll no doubt remember—his marriage to Lucy, he had added one more assessment to that episode, which I had previously left out of his narrative. Returning to pick up the rest of Charles’ original statement there, it makes me wonder just why he could boast so proudly about his second family, while not sharing that sentiment regarding the children of the first wife he had so greatly revered.
And now four boys and two girls are left in Georgia as the fruit of our marriage. I am ashamed of none of them, yet might have been made to feel prouder.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Reflections, From a Distance


With such an abrupt departure on the part of Charles Edward Broyles, leaving home and family in Dalton, Georgia, for the Colorado Territory, you may be wondering how things were going for his wife Lucy and their seven children after his exit. Of course, we have no records available to discern what may have unfolded in the five years leading up to the next census in 1880—after all, who documents gossip?—but by then, it is clear that Charles had remained in Colorado while Lucy and some of her children still maintained a household in Dalton.

It was difficult, at first, to discern any signs of just how this husband and wife parted in 1875. Partly owing to the more flowery language of the times, partly owing to Charles’ circular approach to unfolding his life story in his brief journal, I wasn’t sure at first whether the two had parted on amicable terms.

You may remember I had shared a portion of Charles’ description of meeting and marrying his wife, along with his glowing statements about her character. We need to revisit those comments now—and, for those of you who didn’t take the opportunity to read ahead from the transcription of his full statement, to pick up the rest of his narrative. You see, in order to help myself piece together the story, I had omitted some of the details. We need to review them now, to try and fill in the blanks where Charles’ narrative left me with questions.

If you recall, Charles had explained,
I married Miss Lucy A. Johnson of Barnwell, S. C. and lived together some thirty years

What the entire sentence actually continued to say—and I’ll leave in the full detail of his choice of words here—was:
I married Miss Lucy A. Johnson of Barnwell, S. C. and lived together some thirty years and was finally divorced by Gods inerorable law. This occurred in 1881 while I was in Colorado and had been since March 1875.

Divorced? I thought nary a whisper was mentioned about the “D” word, back in that era. I decided to take that rendition in a more poetic sense, and was rewarded for my patience in seeking more explanation later in the text.
Then we parted as others with fond hope of meeting. But not so we never met again. And now four boys and two girls are left in Georgia as the fruit of our marriage.

As if feeling a twinge of guilt for leaving her for so long, Charles then added his defense (which I’ll include with word choices as he gave them):
I had not seen her for years as I was anxious to make a property before going back that would make her and children conforable and happy.

So, as he represented himself in his autobiographical notes, his intention was to strike it rich succeed in his endeavors to the extent of being able to return to Georgia, sweep his wife off her feet and have her, delightedly, return with him to his new life in the outback of Colorado.

Just in case a casual reader (such as we are, reading his private notes now, over one hundred years later) might misunderstand what he was saying, he affixed a more plainspoken recap of what happened:
In November 1881 my wife died at her home in Georgia. … I was thus deprived of that hope and as noble a woman as ever lived on this earth.

This may very well have been what happened—or at least what Charles dreamed would happen. With only one minor detail—Lucy died in 1880, not 1881—documentation seems to bear that out. (Well, at least the part about his wife dying before he could return home—as if he ever would have actually returned to Georgia, considering the circumstances in which he had departed.)

Meanwhile, another flowery composition gives us a picture of what was happening on the Georgia side of this drama’s stage, in the form of an obituary published in the North Georgia Citizen on December 2, 1880.
Death of an Estimable Lady.

            Death is a stern and impartial visitor, coming when we least expect, and bearing our loved and dearest from our sight.
            The many and warm friends of Mrs. Lucy Broyles were shocked to hear of her death, which sad event took place on Sunday morning, Nov. 28, at her home, the residence of Maj. C. E. Broyles. Mrs. Broyles was a native of Barnwell, S. C. Perhaps many of her old friends there remember her, as she appeared in her lovely girlhood, when Miss Lucy Johnson.
            Mrs. B. had resided in Dalton for many years, winning friends wherever she went by the sweetness of her disposition, her refined manners and sprightly and intelligent conversation. She was universally beloved. The poor, the sick and the afflicted have lost in her a warm friend and sympathizer, and her children, that she so fondly loved, the best of mothers. Indeed she was the very sunlight of their existence—her smiles, her love, her kind advice and tender counsels, made their home the abiding place of perfect love and peace.
            But she has gone. Her pure spirit has taken its flight to the heavenly land, and those who loved her so dearly have nothing to comfort them, in their sore bereavement, but the knowledge that she rests in peace, and the hope of meeting her in the eternal world. Her last words gave evidence of a bright and shining faith.
            When her eldest son (summoned from Atlanta to her dying bed) arrived and bent over her with the words, “O! mother this is a bitter cup for me,” she opened her eyes, lustrous with love and hope, and faintly murmured, “Yes, bitter now—but sweet in the hereafter for me.” Then with other half uttered words of love for “her boy” and her other loved ones, she sank into unconsciousness and finally into the last and eternal sleep.

At the time of her passing, Lucy Ann Johnson Broyles was three months shy of fifty years of age.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ensuing Difficulties


…on the 22nd day of March 1875, I left Georgia for the Territory of Colorado.
Ever since I discovered the journal of Charles Edward Broyles, older brother of my second great grandfather, I was puzzled by his apparently abrupt departure. Supposedly established in a prominent position in his community, Charles left career as well as home and family for the unknown possibilities of life alone in an outpost of the nation’s territorial claims.

The only possible reason for his decision to leave, as mentioned in his journal, might have been extrapolated from his comments about trying to set up his sons in business. One wonders whether he sold out at a loss. But would that have been enough to tip the scales in favor of vacating an entire life established in a community?

I cast about, searching for clues as to why Charles might have left. After all, though journals may be perceived as “tell all” documents, they often leave out significant segments of the rest of the story. One entry in a genealogy forum suggested a reason for his hasty departure: that, after the war, he had lost his plantation. Remembering Charles’ entry in the 1870 census where his real estate was valued at a comfortable amount yet his personal property was comparatively less than that of his neighbors, I considered that a possibility. After all, Charles had been a loyal player, when it came to giving his all to the Confederate cause. He did mention returning home, after the war, “poor, moneyless and…half clothed.”

To see if anything further could be gleaned from documentation, I went fishing on the various newspaper archives with holdings from the state of Georgia. Historic newspapers are always a wonderful resource—well, if you can locate any articles mentioning your specific ancestors, that is—for third party reports and (supposedly) impartial viewpoints. Thanks both to several holdings for the state of Georgia at GenealogyBank and for the local newspapers’ habit of sharing what other city papers in the state had already reported, news on Charles Edward Broyles was often repeated from his residence in Dalton in publications from several other Georgia cities.

During the difficult period of Reconstruction, when factions within the Republican party were bitterly opposing each other, Charles’ circumstances may well have become an unintended casualty of the disputes. One report, reprinted in the Macon Weekly Telegraph on an unlucky Friday the thirteenth for Charles—May 13, 1870—was attributed to the editor of the Atlanta Constitution, reporting from Dalton.

Portrayed by the editor as a tale “of a late Radical row, at Dalton,” it made gloating reference in those editorial comments to the Radical Republican faction, though the body of the report gave no such indication. Further, it was unclear from the proceedings whether Charles was considered part of the Radical faction, or one of those opposing it.

Regardless, things did not turn out well for Charles in either the proceedings or the outcome.
            Some little belligerent excitement has taken place for a day or two.
            Last term of the Superior Court, Harris and Agent Baker, of the State Road, were indicted for gambling. The cases were taken up by ex-officio Justice of the Peace, Col. Glenn, and the parties were fined. Judge Parrott refused to submit to this change of jurisdiction, and retained the cases on the Superior Court docket. The grand jury of the present court seemed to think that the Solicitor-General, Colonel C. E. Broyles, has not pushed these cases with proper vigilance, and in their presentments they reproved him. Mr. N. P. Harbin, a prominent Republican, was on the grand jury, and it is understood that the Solicitor ascribed the reproof to him, whereupon he sought to hold him to accountability and a difficulty ensued. The parties were separated.
            The Solicitor was tried before Col Glenn this morning, and fined two hundred dollars.
            The whole difficulty has been between Republicans.

While an unfortunate occurrence for Charles, it hardly seemed enough to be the last straw that would cause him to ditch it all and leave town. Yet, all other mentions of his name in the newspaper were routine listings of court cases and outcomes. Charles served out the remaining two years of his term as Solicitor General without any further outbreaks that I could find.

That rather unprofessional comportment, however, may have been our forewarning of trouble to come. By Friday, March 5, 1875—interestingly enough, only seventeen days before the date Charles specifically recorded as the point at which he left Dalton—the Marietta, Georgia, Journal came up with this brief report:
Homicide at Dalton.—We learn that a homicide occurred in Dalton on Saturday. Mr. C. E. Broyles, once Solicitor General of the Cherokee Circuit, is said to have attacked, while under the influence of liquor, without provocation, a crippled man named Davis, and stabbed him so severely that he died Sunday. Broyles was arrested and held to bail in the sum of $500 to answer the charge of stabbing.

Could it be? I checked every detail. Yes, it was Dalton. Yes, he was once Solicitor General. True, the paper didn’t label him as “Col.” Broyles, as reports often fashioned him. But while this entry included only his initials, rather than his name, everything else seemed unmistakably to point the finger at our Charles.

With everything else in his life seemingly spiraling out of place—loss of a war for which he had contributed not only his means but his devoted service, possible loss of property, loss of professional face, perhaps loss of respect of his own sons—perhaps this was the last episode that spurred him on to desperate action.

As the wheels of justice may grind slowly, I have my doubts that a decision on that unfortunate case was reached before Charles left town on March 22. While it may have been in a drunken stupor that he stumbled into this difficulty, it was assuredly with eyes wide open that he abruptly left it, three weeks later.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Heading West


The year of 1875 was a happening year for one particular place “out west.” The Territory of Colorado was about to have its status changed. With the passage, on March 3, 1875, of an enabling act detailing the requirements to be satisfied for statehood, the territory was on its way to becoming the thirty eighth state of the Union.

Interestingly enough—though I hesitate to say “coincidentally”—Charles Edward Broyles, former Solicitor General for the Cherokee Circuit in northwest Georgia, chose that very month to once again pull up stakes and move far from the place he had called home.
…on the 22nd day of March 1875, I left Georgia for the Territory of Colorado, I arrived in Denver Colo. About 28th of March, and about April 1st left for Del Norte Colo. Reaching that place on the 9th of April after a nine days journey by wagon and team.

What would draw him to Colorado? Wasn’t his well-established home and business in Georgia enough to satisfy him? This is not exactly the same stage of life in which he, the young attorney, had tried his hand at agriculture by moving, along with his new bride, from his home in South Carolina to Tennessee. Nor was it the youthful exuberance that led him to send all his earthly possessions down river to move his soon-to-be-expanding family from Tennessee to Georgia. By now, seasoned attorney and politician, experienced Civil War veteran, Charles was entering his fiftieth year of life—a turning point in more ways than one.

To be sure, Colorado did have its own attractions. Way back in 1850, just as Charles was settling in the outer reaches of the state of Georgia, another party’s westward expedition from Georgia to California had discovered gold in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, precipitating what later became known as the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. In 1864, another prospector had discovered silver. The possibility of more discoveries to come may have held an attraction for Charles.

What was unusual about this move, though, was that Charles embarked upon the journey by himself. The notes he left in his journal mentioned absolutely nothing about why he left his wife Lucy, and even his older sons, behind in Georgia. Admittedly, the prospector’s life would not be the kind of tableau in which one would expect to find a Southern lady portrayed. But that he left home, entirely alone, still surprised me—and made me wonder why.
My first year in Colo. was spent in mining and like thousands I did no good. I went to Lake City and helped build the sixth log cabin in that place. When it was a willow brush patch. In the fall of 1875 I came back to Del Norte. The next spring I opened a law office and had good success. I made money and put it in prospect holes from New Mexico to the Gunnison Country. In 1876 I went to Ouray, made money but could not collect my fees. In the fall I came back to the then Garland City. And here I had good success at law and when the railroad got to Alamosa I went on there with it and made money also.


Above: Pike's Peak, painting by Albert Bierstadt; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Into Business,
Out of Business


Returning to the practice of law in Dalton, Georgia, after the turmoil and upheaval of war must have been a difficult change for Charles E. Broyles. True, he spent the next several, transitional years involved in the public arena, concerned over the practical implications of Reconstruction in the South. His efforts were rewarded—as best they could be under the circumstances—by a modest political appointment, leaving him close to home. There was, after all, some reconstruction of a more domestic sort that needed attention, as well.

A small insertion in the Macon, Georgia, Weekly Telegraph, under the heading, “Confirmed by the Senate,” listed several such appointments occurring just before the publication date of Friday, August 21, 1868. Among the names:
Charles E. Broyles to be Solicitor General of the Superior Court in the Cherokee Circuit, for the term of four years.

So, it was just as Charles had said in his journal. He served from 1868 through 1872.

By the time of the 1870 census, midway through his term as Solicitor General, Charles and his wife Lucy were parents of eight children, including two—Price and John—born after the war. Their oldest, named after his father, was now twenty years of age. Daughter Laura was now seventeen, followed by Sarah at fifteen, Joe Frank at twelve, and Robert, who was then ten. With the exception of Charles junior, who now was employed as a railroad conductor, all the others were either attending school or remaining at home with their mother.

In his journal, the elder Charles had made some mentions indicating the possibility of money problems. It is hard, looking solely at the 1870 census, to determine if that were so. Just eyeing the two pages the Broyles family spanned in the census record, for those families including information on value of real estate, Charles’ $6,300 far and away exceeded that of the other reports. Yet, for value of personal estate, his paltry $300 entry seemed scant in comparison to neighbor (and dry goods merchant) Charles B. Lyle’s $2,800, or neighboring hardware merchant Edward D. Wood’s $4,500. Even Charles’ own son reported more: $550. It is hard to think of a father being in the position of needing to borrow from his own son. Perhaps the senior Broyles was cash poor but property rich.

The trouble with returning to town and re-starting a client-based business was that it could take time to develop a practice that actually would support a lifestyle—no matter how austere. Perhaps that is when Charles’ wife felt the need to step in and offer some helpful advice. Sometimes, though, that can be the most disastrous time to attempt desperate moves.  
My term ended in 1872. And I assumed my profession. But was induced by my wife to buy a stock of goods and put the boys to merchantizeing as rail roading was more trying and hazardous. I did so. They neglected the business and went back to railroading. So I gave my attention to this until in March 1875 I sold out, and on the 22nd day of March 1875, I left Georgia for the Territory of Colorado.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Too Poor For Public Life


Charles Edward Broyles’ money woes followed him from the last days of the Civil War to the early days of Reconstruction.

At first, that lack of funds didn’t seem to curb his determination to follow his perceived lifelong mandate from his father to pursue “the glories of victories won upon the arena of public life.”

Given his endeavors up to this point hardly qualified as victories, perhaps Charles keenly felt the need of something to balance the tally. Not long after his return home to Dalton, Georgia, Charles was back in that public arena, according to a news report issued on September 26, 1866, in the Macon, Georgia, Telegraph. You may notice a couple familiar names in this excerpt.
            …a large and respectable portion of the citizens of North Georgia, assembled at Dalton on Saturday the 15th instant, for the purpose of taking action upon the proceedings of the late Constitutional Union Convention, held in Philadelphia on the 12th of August.
            On motion of Col. J. A Glenn, Col. H. L. Sims was chosen President of the day…
            On motion of the Rev. J. M. Richardson, a committee of five, consisting of the Rev. J. M. Richardson, Col. C. E. Broyles, Col. R. W. Jones, Rev. H. C. Carter and H. McHan, were appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting.
            The committee retired and during a portion of their absence the meeting was addressed by Cols. J. A Glenn and C. E. Broyles, upon the political issues of the day, strongly denouncing all hostility to the President as dangerous to our Republican institutions, sectional in their character, and in the end calculated to widen, instead of healing, the wounds of the Union.

Given the indefatigable political drive of our subject, it is no surprise to learn that, penniless though he may have been after the war, he would not let that lack present any barrier to his continued participation in the political process. I’ll let Charles explain his involvement of the next few years in his own words below and in tomorrow’s post. Then we’ll go back and revisit this episode from the lens of newspaper reports around the state of Georgia from that same time period. You know there will always be at least two sides to every story.
In 1868 I borrowed money to go as a delegate to the reconstruction convention in Atlanta. I made the 2nd ratification speech in favor of R. B. Bullock for Governor and he came up to me at the time and promised me that if he was elected Governor “he would remember me.” That fall the Republican Convention to nominate a candidate for Congress was unanimously for me. I had the nomination but declined it because I was too poor to make the canvas. I was then appointed Solicitor General of the Circuit. I preferred it to the Judgeship. And with this office which I filled four years, I relieved my family of much of their want and suffering. My term ended in 1872. And I assumed my profession.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Money Woes


…I was disabled and had neither horse nor money to regain my command.

When examining the timeline and narrative of Charles Edward Broyles in his service to the Confederate Army during the Civil War, there are a few places where we need to stop and take a long, hard look between the lines of his narrative. I believe examining those unexplained blank spots will ultimately help us discern the reasons behind his abrupt move from his home in Dalton, Georgia, to the apparent second life he lived, once he arrived in Colorado territory.

Going back to the entries in Charles’ journal that I had mentioned yesterday, there were a couple sentences we need to look at another time.

The first one, above, mentions how the loss of his horse and money hampered him from returning to service in the Confederate army. While I can’t find any confirmation of this online—and if you are well versed in Civil War era military requirements, please add to the conversation in the comments below—there were apparently requirements beyond that of military skill or leadership qualities, in becoming a person of rank. I had seen hints of that when researching my second great grandfather, Charles’ younger brother Thomas, who had obtained a horse so he could serve in the cavalry rather than as a foot soldier in the infantry. The newly-formed Confederate government was apparently unable to provide mounts for these men; they had to obtain their own.

Again, though I haven’t been able to find confirmation of this, Charles’ journal entry seems to indicate that it was incumbent upon the officer himself to provide financial backing in order to “raise a regiment,” as Charles did along with Colonel Jesse A. Glenn of the 36th Georgia Infantry.

While I am not familiar with the aspects of achieving a rank of command in that era of military history, it seems Charles’ journal entries are implying such requirements. Because of his prior injury to his feet during his first tour of duty (as “a foot”), and also possibly because of his history of having had typhoid fever in his youth (“that so crippled my limbs”), his only possibility of continued service may well have been mounted upon a horse.

Then on its way to North Carolina I was paroled at Anderson Court House S. C. and in the fall of 1865 returned with my family to Dalton Ga.

The journal narrative here enters a murky phase in Charles’ description of his final days of service. He was “furloughed…on the 5th day of February 1865, on account of rheumatism” in Augusta, Georgia, yet not paroled until the unit reached “Anderson Court House S. C.” And while the war officially ended on April 9, 1865, with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee in Virginia, conclusions of hostilities were obtained more as a rolling date, as department after department of the fallen Confederacy yielded to the reality of their losses.

It is hard, from the overview of history, to determine exactly where Charles Broyles might have been during this range of surrender dates. He likely was still considered part of the armies of General Joseph E. Johnston and, due to the rolling dates of surrender even within these companies, may have been—since Charles mentions “on its way to North Carolina”—released as the company made its way to Greensboro by May 4, 1865.

Granted, it seems as if there is an unexplained gap between the date of surrender—wherever and whenever it was for Charles’ company—and his return to his home in Dalton, Georgia in “the fall of 1865.”

This, however, is another example of the gaps in narrative for which we’ve got to read between the lines. Notice he says “returned with my family to Dalton.” This brings up another question: while he was away from home, serving in the Confederate army, where was his family? By the start of the war, he and his wife, Lucy, had had five children. This is a difficult position in which to put a family of such size, especially considering the long absence of the family’s traditional breadwinner.

Not to mention, what about their safety while the Union army was ravaging a significant swath of land across the state of Georgia? We need to remember that neither Charles nor Lucy had close relatives in the area; both had been born and raised in South Carolina.

It is interesting to note that Charles was paroled at “Anderson Court House S. C.” A little geography lesson is in order here. If you remember, Charles’ childhood home was in a place in South Carolina that had once been called Pendleton District. The term “district,” if you follow a geo-political timeline, had been used alternately with that of “county” in South Carolina.

Up until 1826, the Pendleton District included a large area of land in upstate South Carolina which claimed as its county seat the town—logically—of Pendleton. However, in 1826, it was determined that the area needed to be subdivided, and two new districts were formed: one named Pickens, the other named Anderson. Because the town of Pendleton was considered to be too close to the border of the new Pickens District, a courthouse was established at the center of the new Anderson District—named, appropriately, Anderson Courthouse.

If you’ve been following the saga of Charles Broyles for the past several days, you are probably realizing that Anderson Courthouse was simply the new digs for the county seat of what once was considered the home district of the Broyles household. In other words, though the boundaries had changed, for Charles to head to Anderson Courthouse was for him to return to the area of his old family home.

Why would Charles return to South Carolina instead of his own home in Dalton, Georgia? It is likely that his wife and children rode out the turmoil of war, living either with Lucy’s own family in Barnwell or with Charles’ family in the old Pendleton District of South Carolina.

Keep in mind that the overarching purpose of exploring this line of my second great grandfather’s brother is to explore the possible network and connections that led my own ancestor to meet his bride, who was also a Georgia resident, at least before and after the war. The question of where these women and children went to avoid becoming casualties of battles—or at least to mitigate their suffering during the hardship of war times—may help lead us to explanations of how future familial connections were made.


Above: Dalton looking east to Cohutta Mountains; pencil, Chinese white and black ink wash on green paper by Alfred Rudolph Waud, labeled "Battle of Dalton" and dated October 13, 1864; courtesy Library of Congress; in the public domain.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Horrors of War


I don’t think I could do the narrative justice for the action seen during the Civil War as well as could the brief comments Charles Edward Broyles entered in his journal years later. So much was packed into those few years; Charles repeatedly mentioned “the horrors of war” and “the destruction of human life.” While he endured some personal suffering as well, the totality of the scenes his eyes took in, during those few years, left an indelible impact upon him.

As his narrative so briefly touched on so many battles, and included so many names mentioned, for as many as I could find, I’ve hyperlinked to further explanations in entries found at Wikipedia, if you’d like further details on the events mentioned in Charles’ notes. Other than that, I’ve left much of Charles’ spelling variations as I found it in the typewritten transcription of his original document.
In 1861 I went to Virginia a private in the 11th Ga. regiment commanded by Col. G. T. Anderson. And was with the army of General Joseph E. Johnson at Winchester Va. that made the great march to reinforce Beauregard at Bull Run. I was a foot [soldier] and not being accustomed to walking I suffered much while my feet bled freely. We did not get to the Bull Run fight. As being new troops the older was shipped from Piedmont Franquier Co. Va. in advance of us. We got there after the battle was over, but in time to witness the destruction of life and property with the horrors of war.

In the fall I returned home and commenced to help raise a regiment with Col. J. A. Glenn. We succeeded and I was commissioned Major of it in 1862. I served under Kirby Smith in Kentucky in that year and in the winter came out Braggs Army. We were then soon sent to Middle Tenn. and remained there until the day before Christmas 1863 when our regiment with Stepenson’s division was ordered to Vicksburg Miss. We garrisoned this place until the Federal fleet passed Vicksburg and we then moved out on Big Black. And fought the battle of Champion Hill or Bakers Creek. This was a hard battle, I was holding my horse in the thickest of it when he was shot. I let him go to die and suppose he did. We fell back to Vicksburg and the seige commenced. It was not in my front Grant made his attack but in the Brigade to my left. I stood and witnessed the whole battle and the destruction of human life.

We surrendered after 48 days and nights. During which time we suffered for food and ate mule meat. And anything we could get. We surrendered on the 4th of July 1863. Was paroled on the 9th and left on the 12th. The troops all went home. And in October of was exchanged...at Chichamauga. We followed General Burnside to London and after the battle of Chickymauga we were relieved by Longstreet and occupied missionary Ridge, while Sherman was in Chattanooga.

I was commissioned Colonel of my regiment in Spring of 1864. I was in front of Sherman to Atlanta in the battles of Resacca, New Hope Church, Luss Mountain, Kennesaw, Pouder Springs, Chattahooche, and many skirmishes, and all around Atlanta I turned back with Hood and was in...Nashville Tennessee, In the two days fighting there and returned on his retreat with him to Augusta Ga.

At this place I was furloughed by General Beauregard on the 5th day of February 1865, on account of rheumatism. This ended my service of the Confederacy as I was disabled and had neither horse nor money to regain my command. Then on its way to North Carolina I was paroled at Anderson Court House S. C. and in the fall of 1865 returned with my family to Dalton Ga. poor moneyless and I may say, half clothed. We worked hard and our troubles were great and many. But bourn as best we could.
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