Friday, December 12, 2014

The Beginning of a Grand Detour

How Charles Edward Broyles—son of respected resident of Anderson County, South Carolina, Ozey Robert Broyles—ended up in Colorado is a long story. In order to tell it fully, I’ll have to take a detour from the dates of the 1880 and 1900 census records in Colorado, back beyond the 1870 census records with his wife Lucy Ann Johnson Broyles and family in Dalton, Georgia, to another era of both his and our country’s history.

Before we visit even that part of the tale, though, we need to visit some recollections provided by the man himself in a self-styled “autobiography” written, apparently, from his home in Colorado, beginning in 1887.

I first found this gem in a typewritten form on The subscriber who included it in her list of source documents had noted that it was transcribed, but never provided the original source. You know me—I was instantly concerned that I get not only the source, but the original version, to check against the transcript. After all, people can make a mistake, as we’ve already discussed.

I wrote to that member, hoping to receive the answer to my question. It’s been about a week now—not a long time, true, but too long for someone as impatient as I am—with, so far, no answer. Remembering what Wendy had said a while back about liking to find her distant cousins actively working on their genealogical research, I took a peek to see how recently this member had been online: a month ago. This may take a while.

What to do next? I really wanted to talk about this discovery! I tried my hand at that oft-used simple check for plagiarism: cut and paste a large chunk of the text right into Google, adorned by quote marks flanking each end of the passage. Voilà! A freely-accessible, albeit still typewritten, copy was found online—which you can read in its entirety here if you, too, get impatient and want to cut to the chase.

Since this resource didn’t provide me an original source for these “transcribed” notes, either, I decided to look in one more place. I returned to the genealogy published by the distant cousin of my grandmother: The Broyles, Laffitte and Boyd Relatives and Ancestors of Montague Laffitte Boyd, Jr., M.D. There, on page 22 of the online version at Hathi Trust, was a copy of a small section of the same document. This time, the author included the source:
The excerpt below is from his [Charles Edward Broyles] diary; it was sent to me by his daughter, my aunt, Sarah Ann Taliaferro Broyles…[which is] now, 1959, in my possession.

So how does Charles Edward Broyles explain himself? Like many others, in telling his own story, he started from the beginning. He must have had the genealogy gene, himself, for that “beginning” began with a brief outline of his family.
My father Dr. O. R. Broyles of South Carolina was a poor young man, but studied medicine, greatly to his chagrin in after life for being ambitious and high spirited

That, of course, agreed thoroughly with the records we’ve already seen from elsewhere—confirming that this Charles Edward Broyles in Colorado was likely one and the same as the Charles Edward Broyles who came from South Carolina and had lived in Georgia.

To insure that we didn’t doubt that, he continued with a brief mention of his mother.
My father Dr. O. R. Broyles was born raised married and died in Anderson Co. South Carolina. My mother was a Toliaferro [sic] called Toliver was a Virginian and now at this writing is alive and well in her 85 year.

With Sarah Taliaferro Broyles having been born in June of 1803, and with this “autobiography” having been composed beginning in 1887, that would be correct. While several sources give her place of birth as South Carolina, she did indeed come from a Virginia family.

In reviewing his own life, Charles’ remembrances drifted from reciting the facts, to story-telling, to waxing almost unbearably eloquent. He would get mired in the mundane, yet turn around suddenly and drop an insightful sentence into the midst of the narrative. While mentioning his father’s “chagrin in after life” for having chosen the profession of medicine, he provided the predictable explanation, detailing
…the filth and stench of a [physicans’] life, [t]o say nothing of the labors of a [physician] ever ready to be called from his bed by patients, whether responsible or not.

The good doctor, Ozey R. Broyles, must have been somewhat of a storyteller, for his son observed, “He was naturally fluent in conversation.” He must have coupled his abhorrence for his selected profession with his oratory skill in seeking to influence his sons’ choice of future profession. Charles recounted,
And to avoid his sons falling into the same error, he spent hours at a time extolling to his boys the glories of victories won upon the arena of public life.

That the more one learns the more he sees the broad field of ignorance spread out before him.

With that re-direction away from medicine and toward “public life,” it was no surprise that at least two of O. R. Broyles’ sons—one of them being Charles—“commenced the study of law.”

That discipline, coupled with the tumultuous timeline fast approaching the young college student, did indeed put him in “the arena of public life.”


  1. Very good work in finding the source! And aren't we grateful that Charles wrote his memoirs? They certainly help to lessen all that ignorance spread out before us.

    1. He did have a way with words, didn't he?!

      Finding that brief journal makes me wonder how many other such short documents are tucked away in local archives or private family collections, unknown to the rest of us--who would really like to find them!

  2. That was a good read...I read parts of it aloud to my husband, especially the last paragraph! He had a way with words for sure! What a great find:)

    1. Yes, it was quite a fortunate find. In reading the entire explanation, I sometimes wondered how much to take with a grain of salt--and then sometimes I wondered how much I should read between the lines, in addition to what he said. Whichever way it was, he certainly had quite the personality. For some of his claims, I wish there was a way to research the background more thoroughly. Either someone was out to get him, or he was just plain paranoid!

  3. They don't talk (or write) like that anymore! You've quite a gem with this find!

    1. Yes, I'm glad to have found it. It was quite an accidental discovery. Wish I could locate the original, though, to check the transcription for accuracy. Wonder if the original is even still in existence.


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