Thursday, December 11, 2014

Charles—Alias Edward—
and the Rest of the Story

Before we can search through the rest of the Broyles family tree to determine which sibling might have sparked that match-making between my second great grandfather, Thomas Taliaferro Broyles, and his first wife, Mary, we can’t move on without considering the rest of the story for his brother Charles Edward.

As we’ve already seen, Charles Edward Broyles, Thomas’ older brother, had moved from the Broyles family home in South Carolina to set up housekeeping with his bride in Georgia. I had originally seen this as the possible link for Thomas to meet his own future bride, Mary, since she lived in Georgia as well. However, once I found the census records for Charles, I realized it would be quite a stretch for Thomas to have met her. Just being in the same state doesn’t always make the nexus obvious.

Before we go through the remainder of the Broyles family roster to see if there were any other likely connections, I need to tell you the rest of Charles’ story.

I had mentioned before that I discovered some online entries for a Charles Edward Broyles who had died not in Georgia, but out west in Colorado. While that seemed far-fetched for an established lawyer working in the city of Dalton, Georgia, I still had to check it out.

One of the first “hints” brought up by as I was working my way through the Broyles family tree was a link to Find A Grave. There seemed to be a man by the exact same name and year of birth—1826—who had been buried in Antonito Cemetery in Conejos County, Colorado.

As Find A Grave volunteers have been doing recently, someone had added hyperlinks to the burial information of this man's parents. The family links went back to Ozey Robert Broyles and Sarah Ann Taliaferro Broyles in South Carolina. All well and good; I was willing to consider the possibility that this Colorado mystery person was one and the same with our own Charles Edward Broyles.

When I came to the next detail on the Find A Grave page, though, I had to stop short in my tracks. Why? The wife’s name was totally wrong. Instead of Lucy Johnson, it was Nellie Armstrong. She wasn’t born in South Carolina. Or even Georgia. What was up with that?

Initially, I dismissed it out of hand as the work of a well-meaning but overzealous volunteer. Everyone can make a mistake.

When I continued working through all those shaky leaf hints on Ancestry, though, I started changing my tune. Maybe, just maybe, there was a story behind these mismatched details.

And there was. Bit by bit, each document added to the Ancestry page for Charles Edward Broyles flushed out a part of the story. It was the strangest thing to find his entry in the 1900 census—in Colorado, listed as “Broiles”—and see that he and this other wife, Nellie, had several children. The dead giveaway as to a connection was the name listed for the first son: Taliaferro. The significance of that name to this Broyles family was that it was Charles’ mother’s maiden name. In fact, that is where Charles’ brother Thomas got his middle name. Here it was again, in the household of a man I wasn’t certain actually belonged to our Broyles family. I had to think twice on that one.

It was strange to note the names of the other children. Two were repeats of the Georgia household of Charles Edward Broyles and his wife Lucy: John, and—eerily—Charles Edward Broyles. How could a man name two of his sons after himself, if the first of the sons was still living?

Lest you join me in doubting this Colorado find, let me mention that the 1900 census for Colorado mentioned that this Charles E. “Broiles” was a lawyer—same as the Charles E. Broyles we had left in Georgia. His year of birth matched other records, and he did give the detail that he was born in South Carolina (though he put his father’s birthplace as Tennessee, which didn’t conform to records I’d already gleaned). Besides, I could find no entry for a similarly-named lawyer back in Georgia, nor could I find any record of one for Lucy, either in Colorado or back home in Georgia.

That, though, was the key. The 1900 census indicated a marriage year of about 1885 for Colorado Charles and Nellie. What had become of Georgia Charles’ wife Lucy?

Though the family had been all together in Georgia for the 1870 census, as we saw yesterday, things were different by the time of the 1880 census. Lucy—though enumerated as “Lucia”—was still listed in Dalton with four of her now-adult children and a daughter-in-law. Charles E. was nowhere in sight.

Not long after that, though, Lucy died and was buried in the West Hill Cemetery, right in Dalton. That was on November 23, 1880.

And what about Colorado Charles? He apparently married Nellie Armstrong sometime in 1883, only three years later.

Had he been in Colorado or Georgia at the time of his wife Lucy’s death? It’s hard to say, but there is an entry for a C. E. Broyles in Conejos County, Colorado, in the 1880 census. Whoever this C. E. Broyles was, he was born in South Carolina about 1826, and happened to be an attorney.

If these two lawyers were one and the same, how did it come about that Charles left Georgia—his wife and family—to start life anew in Colorado? To provide that explanation, we’ll have to take a detour first, to pick up the back story.


  1. What's it going to be? A simple story of divorce? Or a seedy tale of a double-life?

  2. Just like a soap opera:) I bet he went on before the rest of his family and then his first wife died:(

    1. This one may take more digging before the full story comes to light. That sounds like a likely scenario--only he didn't head for the hills where the "gold" was...

  3. Speaking of FindAGrave...

    Check out someone left ya a photo....

    1. Lots of folks "went west" in the decade or two following the Civil War - times were really hard in the Georgia, Tennessee and SC hills.


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