Monday, December 15, 2014

Pulling Up Stakes

…And not satisfied, on the 18th day of December 1849 I pulled up stakes and moved to Spring Place Murray Co. Georgia.
Young and ambitious, Charles Edward Broyles was understandably impatient with his paternally-imposed agricultural lot in life. After all, he had devoted his time to the study of law, not farming. The bucolic ambience of northeastern Tennessee was not the scene where his preferred type of action was happening. Thus, in his journal, he noted the challenge of moving from Washington County, Tennessee, to a new beginning in a place called Murray County in Georgia.
Most of my effects was boated down the river in tide water to Chattanooga Tenn. This Before a Rail Road ever reached that now flourishing city. In 1850 I commenced the practice of law. But unfortunately I had a…farm which made me careless of my profession. And independent of it for support.

Why, though, would Charles have chosen the destination he did: the northwestern corner of the state of Georgia—a place seemingly as remote as the one he so gladly was forsaking?

At first, I had wondered if the Georgia Land Lotteries played a role in enticing Charles to move farther south. The time frame, however, did not lend itself well to that theory. Not even the last of the lotteries—in 1833—could have been stretched out long enough to play a part in Charles’ 1849 decision to move.

Why, also, did Charles select Murray County? There, too, I was clueless—until I located information that reported that Spring Place had, at that time and until a 1912 referendum, served as the county seat. In this region—then a jurisdiction of approximately six hundred square miles—of the twelve to fourteen thousand residents of the county, eleven served as attorneys, including Charles E. Broyles. Also practicing law in the county seat was one J. A. W. Johnson—causing me to wonder if this Johnson might have been a brother-in-law as well as a colleague. In addition, exploring relationships from previous generations helped, as I believe I found some Taliaferro relatives (brother of Charles’ mother Sarah Ann Taliaferro Broyles) also in the area.

Shortly after Charles and Lucy Ann Johnson Broyles arrival in Murray County, the expansive jurisdiction was subdivided, carving from it the newly-created Whitfield County and establishing the new county’s seat at Dalton. Though Murray County had been growing in population, perhaps the new county’s opportunities were more appealing to Charles, for he soon left a promising position in Murray County to re-establish himself in Dalton.
I stayed in Murray Co. Georgia three years and was elected County Judge over a good man John Bell. I resigned the office and moved twelve miles west to Dalton Georgia. Here I practiced my profession with success but impeded by the same causes that injured me at Spring Place….

Though Charles and his wife Lucy were catalogued in the 1850 census in Murray County—along with their firstborn, also named Charles, who arrived on the first of May in that same year—by the time their second child, Laura, arrived in November of 1852, the family had already moved to Dalton.

Since the 1860 census also showed the Broyles family residing in Dalton, it might seem from that documentation that Charles had finally found his niche and had settled down. What might at first have appeared to be youthful ambition, however, now seemed to indicate a permanent restless spirit, for while he kept up his law practice, new opportunities had presented themselves. 1858 I was appointed on the staff of Governor [Joseph E.] Brown one of his aids with the rank of Colonel. And the same fall was elected to the Legislature from Whitfield Co. Ga. I served on the judiciary and other important committees and was one of five from the House with three from the Senate to revise and report the present Code of laws for the State of Georgia. I was a member in the stormy days of Secession and opposed separate State action.

...I continued the practice until the war.


  1. Spring Place wasn't all that far from Dalton - it might have seemed like home to him.

    1. Hmm.. he voted against Secession... that might have made him unpopular once the Civil War started...and might have encouraged him to move west...afterwards.

    2. Those who voted against secession were indeed in the minority in the South. As I'm sure you've seen, though, there were many different reasons for such votes, and once the issue was passed, what actions were taken next spoke much louder than the vote itself.

  2. In the past year I have come across a number of ancestors in Virginia who were Unionists. I wonder what it was like living day to day in an area that was officially Confederate. So far Charles seems to have achieved exactly what he felt he was born for -- some fame and influence.

    1. Well, it sure makes me wish he had written even more extensive journal notes than he did. On the other hand, who knows how fast the news might have traveled. It isn't like our instant-access era now, when anyone can find out how a representative voted on specific bills.

      As you'll see, Charles' ambitions didn't let him stop there with an unpopular vote. He still intended to be in the thick of the action.

  3. He has what I would call itchy feet or maybe an adventurous spirit! :)


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