Thursday, September 28, 2017

Heading Backwards in Time From Ozey

Tracing the line of my third great grandfather, Ozey Robert Broyles, backwards to the point at which I can find any connection between his South Carolina family and land in the northeastern corner of the brand new state of Tennessee takes a story spanning two additional generations. Bottom line: my second great grandfather, Thomas Taliaferro Broyles, didn't just happen to decide to skip town and settle in an unrelated place when he moved to Washington County, Tennessee; he knew where he was going when he headed there in the early 1870s.

Before we can track that path through time, we need a bit more detail about Thomas' father Ozey and the generations which preceded him. I've already mentioned that Ozey was born in South Carolina in 1798. He was the son of Aaron Broyles and his wife, Frances Reid or Reed.

There are a number of resources reprinted and posted online about Aaron Broyles' arrival in the Pendleton District of what eventually became part of Anderson County, South Carolina. Some of these, of course, include errors which subsequent research has rectified. Still, they provide useful tools from the point of view of following a genealogical trailblazer, so I'll share what I discovered here.

One article was a reprint in a Broyles family website, originally written in 1928 by Louise Ayer Vandiver and excerpted from the book, Traditions and History of Anderson County. According to that author, Ozey's father Aaron was considered one of the "builder families" of Anderson County, who started out life with his bride in a "log cabin with a dirt floor."

This seems to be the stuff that family legends are made of, so I'll reserve any comment as to authenticity of these circumstances until I can sniff out any hint of a romance factor.

Despite that promising start, the article didn't provide much more to explain just where Ozey's father came from to become one of the first settlers in the area, other than acknowledging he was "of German descent." Still, there are more resources to glean what others have written on the family elsewhere.

The main resource for this Broyles line, of course, is the Arthur Keith manuscript. Admittedly, this, too, is rife with errors, but taking that volume (and its updated, annotated revision by John K. Broyles) and running the author's assertions through their paces on online sites available to us today, we can eventually determine what, if anything, is corroborated by documentation from that era.

That latter version of the manuscript offers the following for Ozey's father Aaron Broyles: that he was born on June 7, 1767, and died October 5, 1845. What is curious is that the annotated manuscript, on page 59, states that Aaron arrived in South Carolina before the end of 1791, having arrived there from Washington County, Tennessee.

Washington County, Tennessee? What was he doing there? According to commonly held tradition, Aaron Broyles was born in Culpeper, Virginia. Like my Tilson ancestors, moving through Virginia on their extended migration pathway from the colony of Massachusetts to the new state of Tennessee, Aaron must have had some reason for this detour through Tennessee. And I expected it, just like I had for the Tilsons' journey, to somehow be supported by land records.  


  1. I have found really good info on my Culpepper & TN families in publications from the site Mountain Press. They actually have a preview of surnames listed in their books, which is really helpful.
    it's mountain

    1. Thanks for that tip. I am wondering, though, if you might mean The Overmountain Press, which has published several books of interest to those researching their roots in northeastern Tennessee. Still, it would be great to find a way to peek at the index for surnames listed in the books, no matter which publisher it is!

    2. It's called Mountain Press, based in TN but covers a number of states. They have a great newsletter and I use their surname "peeks" often. The newsletter is worth subscribing to. Winnie

  2. Culpeper features prominently for my Thornhill, Read, Freeman and Perkins lines too. Have you looked at the Library of Virginia Chancery Records? There is a Rappahannock County (neighboring Culpeper) chancery case involving the Slaughter family which mentions Broyles and Thornhill in the index but they don't yet have a copy of the contents.


    1. Thanks for mentioning that, Patrick. I have a feeling I'm going to get to know the website for the Library of Virginia really well in the next few months! There were a lot of Broyles family members in that area during that time period, so job one for me is to sort out a Broyles "score card" so I don't get my Aarons and Adams mixed up!


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