Identifying the sibling who might have served as matchmaker for my second great grandfather and his bride, Mary Rainey of Columbus, Georgia, has turned out to be a bit more of a challenge than I had hoped. The groom, Thomas Broyles, had been born in South Carolina in 1842, but by the time of his marriage, he lived across the state border in Tennessee. How did he meet up with a prospective bride all the way in Georgia?
While it turns out that his oldest brother, Augustus, may have been his connection to his second wife, years later, there is simply no way to tell whether that was so for this first wife in 1871. No way, that is, short of finding a diary or letter from either of the two men.
Thomas’ next oldest brother, Charles, seemed a promising prospect, mainly because he, himself, moved to Georgia. Not to Columbus, Georgia, admittedly, but at least he was closer to the western side of the state than Thomas was. There again, no evidence of any connection.
As we’ve already seen, Thomas’ next two brothers died young—one, a long time before Thomas was even born, the other dying just a year after Thomas’ birth.
The list of potential sibling matchmakers is dwindling. We are now left to consider the next brother, William Henry Broyles. Ten years Thomas’ senior, William was still in South Carolina by the time of the 1850 census. But not for long. Thankfully, a digitized copy of marriage records for the state of Georgia includes an entry for one W. H. Broyles, who was married in Coweta County on July 28, 1857. His bride was a young lady by the name of Rebecca Taliaferro.
Taliaferro? Does that name cause your ears to perk up? There may be a possibility here.
Admittedly, Coweta County is not the location of the city of Columbus, which is in Muscogee County. But at least we are now talking Georgia.
But not for long. By the time of the 1860 census, it appears he and his bride—and a two year old child listed only by initials “M. N. B.”—were now residing in the same county in Tennessee as his younger brother Thomas would soon be living. Perhaps this was at the same property that his older brother Charles had been farming in Washington County, per their father’s wishes.
Whatever happened to William and Rebecca in 1870 is difficult to say. The war was now over, and in its wake was an immense amount of upheaval—especially for those living in Georgia and parts of Tennessee. Whether that had a direct impact upon this Broyles couple is hard to say, but I can’t locate them in the 1870 census, so far.
However, by the time of the 1880 census, the family has somehow resurfaced. Not in South Carolina, William’s home state. Not in Tennessee, where he had moved. Not in Georgia, the birthplace of his wife. But in Alabama.
Somehow, I see my possibilities of finding a matchmaker in this couple to be fading fast. Alabama would hardly be the launching place for a Georgia romance. I feel the need to be moving on, down the list of siblings, once again.
But wait! A quick peek at Google Maps shows me that the 1880 residence of William Broyles—Girard, Alabama—happens to be right across the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, Georgia. Perhaps we are on the right trail, after all!
Of course, there is one other hint calling our names loudly: the fact that William’s wife’s maiden name happened to be Taliaferro. While that surname represents a large body of descendants from that original family in Virginia, there is the possibility that William might have married a relative from his mother’s side of the family.
To examine these possibilities, though, will require following yet another rabbit trail through some exploratory detours. These may—or may not—prove fruitful endeavors. Believe me, sometimes I am only one step ahead of you, watching the story unfold with each step I take.
To take that next step—and, hopefully, endure yet another rabbit trail—will take a few more days exploration. And explanation.