Monday, February 6, 2023

About Zachariah


There is a story about Zachariah Taliaferro, one of the kind we stumble upon in those old published genealogies (sometimes lacking source information), concerning his marriage to Margaret Chew Carter. Zachariah, namesake son of his father and wife Mary Boutwell, had been born about 1760 in Caroline County, Virginia, but was raised in Amherst County where his father had land holdings.

After the Revolution, the younger Zachariah studied law and decided, by 1786, to leave Virginia and settle in what was then called the Pendleton District in South Carolina. By this time, Zachariah was nearing thirty years of age, yet still unmarried.

It wasn't until at least ten years later when, still unmarried, he decided to return to Virginia to visit family. He was just about to conclude his visit when a friend persuaded him to postpone his plans so he could attend a ball to be held nearby the next day.

According to a genealogy published concerning the Carter family of Virginia—alas, with no documentation concerning this anecdote—the story was shared that, on the eve of that dance, Zachariah had a dream of seeing a beautiful young woman at the ball, standing "at the head of the room tying her slipper." Next evening, attending the ball, that is exactly what happened. Zachariah sought an introduction to meet her, and eventually claimed the young Margaret Chew Carter as his bride.

The Carter genealogy, in sharing that story, portrayed Zachariah as "an old bachelor lawyer," and indeed, he was over forty years of age when they married. However, he apparently outlived her, his 1831 will indicating no mention of a wife, only daughters, sons-in-law and some of his grandchildren. 

One of the executors listed in his 1831 will was a man named Richard Taliaferro, most likely one of Zachariah's six brothers. In addition to those six brothers, Zachariah had at least three sisters. If our goal this month is to trace the branches of this Taliaferro family, with a sibling count of that size, we may as well get busy looking at what we can find on those other children of the senior Zachariah Taliaferro and his wife, Mary Boutwell. 

Sunday, February 5, 2023

An All-Time High for Understatements


The columnist for the local Society section of South Carolina's The Greenville News was fairly gushing when she penned her column for Sunday, December 11, 1949:

The photograph on the front page of today's society of particular interest here (an all-time high for understatements) for the bride is a Greenville girl...

As it turned out, I wouldn't have stumbled upon that newspaper clipping if it weren't for a few preceding details. The first on that list would be my dogged pursuit of all distant cousins descending from my Broyles ancestors, immigrants to the 1717 Germanna settlement in colonial Virginia.

By now in this plodding process, I had already run into anecdotes about the extended Brown family descending from my fifth great-grandfather Adam Broyles' daughter Jemima. I discovered my relationship to the real Georgia Brown immortalized by the 1925 hit tune, Sweet Georgia Brown. Yesterday, I realized I was related to an airline pilot determined enough to stare down the Cuban government and be the first to win the right to fly his passengers back home to the United States in the same hijacked airliner in which they had unexpectedly arrived.

Along this same family line of William Carroll Brown, direct ancestor of both those distant cousins I've mentioned, I ran across another story, the one referred to by the Society columnist above. The woman in question, the bride causing such breathless commentary, also descended from this same William Carroll Brown. Like some of William's other children, the bride's grandmother had also named her child after her father, William Carroll. Unfortunately, she only had one child, who in turn became a father of only daughters.

No matter; this man named one of his daughters by that same middle name, spelled as Carroll, instead of the more expected spelling for a woman's name. As I traced his daughter Carroll through life and added her to my Broyles family line, I ran into trouble when I started entering the name for her husband.

Unfased by the fact that anyone could have more than one middle name—after all, these are southern families I'm researching—I began entering the name of the groom. Alfonso...Antonio...Vicente...

When I was done recording the groom's name, I had taken up two full lines of print in his entry on my tree. Something was clearly up here. No one has a name that long.

So I googled it. Sure enough, the prospective groom had made a name for himself when, at the age of seventeen, he bet $500 that he could fly a plane under the Tower Bridge in London. He won. He went on to compete in horse races, bobsled teams, and, eventually, car races.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, he met—incredibly—and married my mother's fifth cousin, Helen Carroll McDaniel of Greenville, South Carolina. Hence, the Society editor's amazement that someone from a town the size of Greenville would become the wife of the Eleventh Marquess of Portago, Grandee, a Spanish aristocrat.

Of course, I wouldn't have uncovered a story like that if I didn't pursue those collateral lines to make it possible to connect distant cousin DNA matches to their rightful place in my family tree. True, it takes a lot of sifting through countless stories before discovering some of the ones I've shared over these few weeks since the beginning of the year. For instance, in the past two weeks alone, I've added 476 documented names to my tree, which now contains 32,209 people.

Granted, that focus on one line—driven by research goals outlined at the start of each year in my Twelve Most Wanted plan—means the other lines see no action. For my in-laws' tree, I made zero progress in the past two weeks, simply because I won't focus on that part of the family until this coming April. That tree still remains at 30,715—same as it was two weeks ago. But when I do shift to cover the research goals for my mother-in-law this spring, I'm sure I'll stumble upon a few fascinating stories there, too, as I work to plug those distant cousin DNA matches into their right places in her tree.

In the meantime, I'll keep adding those distant cousins and linking them to DNA matches, all the while on the lookout for another story about the extended family. 

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Discovering Some Broyles Cousins


Do you ever take the opportunity, in researching your DNA matches, to discover the stories of the distant cousins who link you to your matches? Although I've finished working on the Broyles family, my Twelve Most Wanted research goal for January, behind the scenes, I'm still working on bringing down the lines of descent in my family tree on the collateral lines of those Broyles ancestors. Sometimes, I run across stories which I just have to share. I'll take this weekend's two opportunities to tell you about a couple distant cousins I discovered along this research trail.

When you come across a distant cousin's story through research, do you ever get a strong feeling about that cousin? Sometimes, that feeling can be positive, but this past week, I worked on one Broyles descendant whom I have to admit stirred up some negative feelings. Take this as true confessions of a Genealogy Guinea Pig, but in the end, I'm happy I got to "meet" this cousin.

First, let's set the stage—at least, genealogically speaking. We'll begin with a man born in 1851 called Asbury Churchwell Latimer. With a name as distinguished-sounding as that, you might think he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

That was not exactly the case for this man. Born in Abbeville County, South Carolina, he was fourteen years of age when the Civil War drew to a close, leaving the entire South in an impoverished state, and his own family unable to provide him with a decent education. Thus, he chose the practical approach, threw himself into farming and business to make a success of himself.

Asbury Churchwell Latimer chose, despite these financial challenges, to marry early. He chose as his bride one of my distant cousins descending from the Broyles family of my fifth great-grandfather's daughter, Jemima.

This Broyles descendant, Sara Alice Brown, just happened to be a niece of Georgia governor Joseph Emerson Brown. Whether, in the midst of raising the family of five children which she bore to him, Asbury's wife ever talked politics, I can't be sure. But by 1890, when he was nearly forty years of age, Asbury Latimer decided to turn his attention to running for office, becoming a congressman for his state and eventually their senator. It is from the memorial remarks at his sudden passing while in office in 1908, still available to read online now, that I draw much of the information on his early life.

That, however, is not the cousin I wanted to talk about today. Remember, this is only setting the stage, genealogically, for the one I want to mention.

As I worked my way through the descendants of "A. C." and Alice Latimer, I started first with researching their oldest, their only son whom they named William Carroll, after Alice's father. Perhaps owing to his father's political influence, son William chose to go into the legal profession, moving to Atlanta, Georgia, to establish his own practice. He must have been quite successful, for he married a beautiful daughter of a socially prominent family of Paducah, Kentucky—think thoroughbred racing—and raised four children in Atlanta.

All went well until, like his father before him, William Carroll Latimer died in 1927 before reaching the age of fifty. His oldest child, whom he named after himself, lost a father when he was only seventeen.

Perhaps I should have gone more lightly in my judgment of this distant cousin. After all, that kind of loss can have repercussions throughout life. Besides, it didn't help my prejudiced position to accidentally assume that the two-year-long marriage I discovered between a woman and "William C. Carroll"—ending childless in divorce so soon afterwards—was a document belonging to William Carroll Latimer when it really should have belonged to William Craig Latimer. Not the right guy.

Like his father before him—perhaps because it was the thing a son was expected to do—the junior William Carroll Latimer went into the practice of law, and soon claimed a socially prominent bride from among his mother's circle of acquaintances back in Kentucky. While strikingly beautiful, and eventually the mother of his firstborn child, William's wife became, before the next ten years were up, his first wife. William married again, returning to the social scene in Kentucky for a second bride, and subsequently fathering another two children.

If it were only for chasing genealogical details through documentation, a story like that would have left me disappointed in this newly-discovered cousin due to my own point of view. Thankfully, though, there were ample newspaper reports and other resources to tell some of the rest of this man's story.

Although William was well into his thirties—not to mention, married and a father—at the beginning of the second World War, he chose to leave his job to join the war effort. Gaining "duration leave" from the company where he was employed, he joined the Army Air Corps, as he had long since left his work as an attorney to train as an airline pilot.

One of those thoughtful but unnamed lovers of history who decided to archive an article from the news output of the old Brookley Field in Mobile, Alabama, was the first to help me see this distant cousin with a more three-dimensional view. From a news clipping there in Mobile from October 18, 1942, I learned that First Lieutenant W. Carroll Latimer spent his time as a test pilot, including running such World War II machines as the "Airacobra" for which his six-foot-two frame seemed an unlikely fit.

Back to his regular job with Eastern Airlines after the war, Carroll Latimer piloted such more decidedly docile routes as New York to Miami. However, if you remember the times during the late 1960s in which such routes ran the risk of sudden, unplanned itinerary changes to Cuba, such became the case for Captain Latimer.

Headlines in newspapers, such as this one from South Carolina, noted one such hijacking in February, 1969: "A fat man with a sick father in Havana hijacked a jetliner Monday." Pulling out a gun and informing a steward of his intentions, the man convinced the cabin crew of his argument and the pilot, our cousin Captain Latimer, complied.

That move, of course, brought complications—more than the kind we might assume. In such hijacking cases, according to one report on the incident, the Cuban government would allow the pilot and crew to return home on the "pirated" craft, but the Cuban policy was that all the passengers be retained in Cuba until another plane be sent from the United States to retrieve them. This involved busing the passengers to another airport location ninety miles away from Havana for their return flight home.

It wasn't until I found the story retold in his own obituary that I began wondering whether Carroll Latimer had decided, once on the ground in Havana, to trade his pilot's skill for his attorney's training in negotiations. As his family shared in his obituary

Once on the ground, he refused to leave his passengers and after much deliberation with the Cuban Government, became the first pilot to fly a hijacked plane, with all its passengers, out of Cuba and back to the United States.

I'm not sure why discovering stories like this helps me appreciate my distant cousins as the real human beings they are. But they do. They've convinced me to become a fan of searching the Internet for family names, checking newspaper archives in hopes of finding tidbits like these, looking in unexpected places for the kinds of details which range far from the traditional Birth-Marriage-Death routine we regularly document. Yes, that framework is important—after all, we need to make sure we've identified the right ancestor—but the joy of genealogy, in my opinion, still finds its spark in discovering the stories.


Friday, February 3, 2023

Daughtered Out


The line of Zachariah Taliaferro included four descendants, all of whom were daughters. Obviously, familiarity with that surname in subsequent generations was not owing to Zachariah's line, for he had no son to carry his name forward. In other words, as some in the world of genetic genealogy might put it, Zachariah Taliaferro "daughtered out."

Despite that misfortune in an age when sons were important for many reasons, we still need to get to know each of Zachariah's daughters, for in an era in which families often intermarried, we may see those names appear in future generations. We'll take a tour today of each of those four daughters of Zachariah Taliaferro and his wife Margaret Chew Carter, and include a brief note concerning the surnames each of the daughters adopted upon their own marriage.

The oldest of the four daughters was my direct line, my third great-grandmother Sarah Ann Taliaferro, whom we introduced yesterday. Following her 1803 birth in South Carolina was the 1805 arrival of her sister Lucy Hannah Taliaferro. After a brief break from the customary stairstep fashion, the next Taliaferro daughter, Mary Margaret, made her appearance in 1808. The youngest, Caroline Virginia Taliaferro, arrived another three and a half years later. If there were more children of this couple, I have yet to find them.

While we already are familiar with the name of Sarah's husband—we just spent the past month researching Ozey Robert Broyles' ancestry—it might be helpful to list the spouses of Sarah's sisters. While it is true that some of these southern lines from that earlier era did end up intermarrying over the generations, I have another reason for wanting to list these spouses' names: some of them turn up in local history anecdotes. Of course, during that time period, it is sometimes difficult to research a woman without keeping her in the context of family names.

Sarah's next-younger sister Lucy married a man in 1826 by the name of David Sloan Taylor, son of Joseph and Nancy Sloan Taylor of Pendleton. Theirs was a large family which grew to twelve children, though some which I cannot trace may have died in childhood. While David was said to have accumulated a large fortune before the Civil War, not only his fortunes but his health turned, shortly after the close of the war. He apparently died intestate.

Sarah's second sister, Mary Margaret, married a local attorney destined to be not only a local office holder, but also a three-term American congressman prior to the Civil War. Richard Franklin Simpson's interest in local history likely was passed down to his son, Richard Wright Simpson, whose History of Old Pendleton District provides some guidance on the families he was closely related to in that region.

The youngest daughter of Zachariah Taliaferro and Margaret Chew Carter was Caroline Virginia Taliaferro. Like her older sisters, Caroline married and spent the rest of her life in the Pendleton area of South Carolina's upcountry, where she raised at least four children. Her husband, Henry Campbell Miller, was said in all the census records from 1850 through 1880—the last enumeration before his 1899 death—to have been a farmer, but according to his wife's obituary, he was listed as Dr. H. C. Miller. Caroline predeceased him by several years, dying in 1877 by what her obituary referred to as a "painful accident."

It is interesting to note, in examining the record of American Revolutionary War patriot Zachariah Taliaferro, these four sisters' paternal grandfather, that three of the sisters were named in the genealogical listings in applications for membership to the Daughters of the American Revolution. For some reason, descendants of Lucy Hannah Taliaferro, wife of David Sloan Taylor, do not show among the DAR applications for membership, at least that I can find.

No matter. Even if they couldn't pass down the specific surname of their father, every one of these daughters passed down a Taliaferro legacy to their descendants.

That, however, is not what we are pursuing this month. We want to continue our research journey by pressing further into the past. With that, our next step in the process will be to examine the daughters' father, Zachariah, and what we know about his own siblings.  



Thursday, February 2, 2023

Starting With Sarah


Our research goal this month is to explore what can be found about my family's connection with the Taliaferros of colonial Virginia. The best way to get started on that goal is simply to begin with what we know. Today, we'll discuss a brief overview of my third great-grandmother, Sarah Ann Taliaferro.

We first crossed her path while finishing up our research project for last month, exploring my connection with the Broyles family of the second Germanna settlement in colonial Virginia, of which Sarah's husband was a descendant. Of course, Sarah's husband was far removed from that 1717 immigrant arrival, not only in time but in generations. Her husband, Ozey Robert Broyles, would have been a great-great-grandchild of the founding immigrant, John Broyles.

Sarah, herself, had deep roots reaching far into our nation's past, thanks to her Taliaferro connections. I already know that in a general way; this month is my opportunity to clean up those inferences with the appropriate documentation.

Sarah lived a life spanning most of the nineteenth century, from her birth in 1803 until her death in 1888. That lifetime was interrupted by a war which ruptured a unique political union forged barely one generation before her birth, when the role which many of her immediate relatives played in birthing that new republic combined with the efforts of so many others. 

Despite her family's traditional Virginia roots, Sarah was born, raised, married, and died in South Carolina. Her family lived in the "up country" around what was once called the Pendleton District, now part of Anderson County. Married to physician Ozey Robert Broyles barely a year after her mother's death in 1822, Sarah was a teenaged bride who eventually bore ten children, eight of whom survived long past their childhood.

Sarah's mother was Margaret Chew Carter, part of the extensive Carter family of colonial Virginia. That family, in and of itself, deserves a month of study, perhaps something to save for next year's Twelve Most Wanted. Margaret likely married Sarah's father, Zachariah Taliaferro, before the two moved from Virginia to South Carolina. Together, Margaret and Zachariah had four daughters, of whom Sarah was the firstborn.

In exploring this Taliaferro line, we'll begin tomorrow with the four daughter of Margaret Chew Carter and Zachariah Taliaferro.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

A New Month, Another Research Goal


With one month now behind us, exploring the extended Broyles family thanks to both old, unpublished manuscripts and the newly-released edition from the Germanna Foundation, The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations, we have made the journey from my fifth great-grandfather, Adam Broyles, to my fourth great-grandfather, Aaron Broyles. It is only one small step to the next generation and Aaron's son, Ozey Robert Broyles, my third great-grandfather, to connect with the line we'll be focusing on for this month's family history research goal.

It was Ozey Robert Broyles who married into another old Virginia family line which has, over the generations, generated a number of distant cousins whom I've met online or in person as I visit with fellow genealogists at institutes or conferences. Just like the Broyles family—a surname which, possibly thanks to that differentiating extra letter "r," makes it easy to spot on name tags—the Taliaferro surname is just that side of unusual to be one I seldom run across. When I spot a name like that, I know its owner just has to be a distant cousin.

It is the Taliaferro line which granted me entrance into the Daughters of the American Revolution, thanks to the grandfather of Ozey's bride, Sarah Ann Taliaferro. That Patriot was Zachariah Taliaferro, a Williamsburg native who, as the war wore on, was nearing his fifties. Knowing that, it was no surprise to see Zachariah listed among the Patriots, not because he served in active duty, but because this Virginian furnished supplies as a member of the Committee of Safety.

The Taliaferro family, from that point forward, claimed a family tree filled with notables. Taliaferro County in Georgia, for instance, is named for Sarah's uncle, Benjamin Taliaferro. Another uncle, Warren Taliaferro, married Mary Meriwether Gilmer, related to the longstanding Meriwether family of early American history, as well as the same Gilmer family which produced one of Georgia's governors.

Thankfully, just as we found when researching my Broyles line, there has been much written about the Taliaferro genealogy. Of course, as we consult those reference works, we'll pair that with a careful examination of digitized records now available to us. The main goal this month is to push backwards from the time of Sarah's father and grandfather to the generations preceding those men—all the better to help find those distant cousins I keep bumping into.

There is, however, also a forward-looking goal to this month's research. We'll keep an eye on DNA matches to confirm connections through the paper trail for my many Taliaferro cousins confirmed through that research method, as well.

Tomorrow, we'll start with what we know: some details on the life of Sarah Taliaferro, my third great-grandmother, and work our way backwards in time from that generation. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A Faithful Heart : A Second Look


The publication of Emmala Reed's Civil War era journal may be appreciated for the glimpse it affords of post-war Reconstruction in South Carolina, but I have another reason to take a second look at this book. Even the title affixed to the 2004 publication, A Faithful Heart, takes on a different meaning, once we take a step back and look through the multi-generational lens of family history.

When Emmala agonized over the lost love she once shared with the son named after my third great-grandfather, Dr. Ozey Robert Broyles, her diary didn't offer any explanation for why her former beau returned from war with a changed heart. Though the book's editor, Robert T. Oliver, mentioned in his notes that Emmala's prominent father, Judge Jacob Pinckney Reed, had been an illegitimate son of a woman named Sally Reed White, the introductory biographical sketch inaccurately described the relationship between the judge and his next door neighbors, the family of Ozey Robert Broyles.

When I first read the book, I could not find documentation to piece together the story of how the families might have been connected. Now, however, with the addition of Cathi Clore Frost's recently published The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations, I see the connection.

In the biographical sketch leading up to the opening pages of Emmala's journal, editor Robert Oliver stated that Dr. Broyles' brother Aaron was father of Jacob Pinckney Reed, providing the possible wrinkle in the relationship between the doctor's son and the judge's daughter. While Robert Oliver had slated Dr. Broyles and Aaron Broyles as brothers, that is not the case. Since Aaron Broyles died intestate in 1845, we don't have a will to use to confirm names of his children, but from other research, it seems fairly clear that he had no son whom he named after himself. It would have been Ozey's father Aaron who was also father of J. P. Reed.

Cathi Clore Frost is more blunt about the delicate situation. She stated that, in addition to the nine children borne to Aaron Broyles and his wife Frances Reed, he had one more—if not two—by his wife's sister Sallie. That one other child she referred to was Jacob Pinckney Reed, born in 1814, and possibly named after his maternal grandfather.

Thus, if tracing a family tree based on the descendants of the two Reed sisters, the doctor and the judge would have been first cousins, making their respective, lovelorn children second cousins—not an unusual marriage situation in that era. However, considering that Aaron himself was father of both lines, that would make the doctor and the judge half-brothers, thus rendering their children half first cousins.

Likely, neither parent wanted to divulge to the community at large their true relationship, nor perhaps even admit to their own children their ancestors' indiscretions. In whatever way the two sets of parents ultimately diffused the situation, young Ozey Robert junior, grandson of Aaron, eventually married Ella Wilkinson Keith, and poor Emmala went on to find a faithful heart in George Washington Miller, whom she married not long after the close of her diary.

In turn, those two had descendants several generations later who eventually decided to test their DNA. Just out of curiosity, yes, I did look to see whether I had any matches with her line, and I do: two, so far. Now I can say that, despite unrequited love, Emmala did turn out to be someone to whom I'm actually related, making the reading of her story even more of a treasure to me than when I first found it.       

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