Thursday, January 15, 2015

Second Thoughts
About That Confirmed Bachelor

Who says a confirmed bachelor couldn’t serve as matchmaker for others? I may have made that assumption in error, when I was first reviewing my records of Augustus T. Broyles.

My goal, as I’ve mentioned before, is to see who the likely person might have been to connect my second great grandfather, Thomas T. Broyles of South Carolina, with his first wife, Mary Rainey of Georgia.

Now, if you are familiar with the maps of South Carolina and Georgia, you will realize that the Broyles family’s home in Anderson County put them quite close to the Georgia border. So you may be wondering about me—like, “So what’s the big deal? These places are close together.”

On the contrary. The place where Thomas’ bride emerged was a city—Columbus—on the other side of the state of Georgia. It is on the border with Alabama, not South Carolina. That put a bit of distance between them—perhaps enough, in a time like 1870, to make the connection unlikely. Unless, of course, someone provided a bit of encouragement.

That’s where my hunch about the matchmaker comes in. And that’s why I’ve been going down the list of Thomas’ siblings: to find the likely suspect.

That, incidentally, was how we stumbled upon the story of Thomas’ brother, Charles Edward Broyles, and his two lives—one in Georgia, one in Colorado. I had so hoped Charles would have been the one who served as matchmaker. But if he did, nothing about his life story pointed me to that detail.

So, I started back at the top of the list. All siblings are now prime suspects—not just the one who moved to Georgia.

But Augustus, the brother who was at the head of the line, didn’t appear to be a likely candidate, either. A confirmed bachelor, he seemed to be such a marvel to his peers that his unmarried condition was mentioned—quite admiringly, it seemed—more than once in newspaper reports of his passing.

I may have been too hasty in dismissing Augustus out of hand. I had some second thoughts, just as I was wrapping up the rabbit trail about one of the partners in his law firm. That prompted me to go back and revisit the obituary mention of Augustus’ other business partner.
After the war he [Augustus] entered a partnership with Gen. J. W. Harrison and later with Col. R. W. Simpson, of Pendleton.

When I shared the November 8, 1904, obituary published in Charleston’s News and Courier, I had thought about hyperlinking the mention of partner J. W. Harrison to an online bio of the man. After all, he was said to have served as a General. Surely, I should be able to find something about the man.

But I couldn’t. So I let that one pass—until I remembered a comment from a 1923 obituary published in the Confederate Veteran Magazine for Augustus’ brother Thomas:
…He was twice married, first to Miss Reney, [sic] of Alabama, and his second wife was a daughter of General Harrison, of South Carolina, a distinguished jurist of his time.

Could it be that widower Thomas, desperate for someone to care for his young children upon his wife’s untimely passing, found in his “confirmed bachelor” oldest brother a sympathizing confidant? Could that same avowed bachelor have deigned it worth his while to emerge from his man cave long enough to notice who the marriageable women in town might have been?

Regardless of how it happened, the fact remains that Thomas’ second wife was Elisabeth Harrison, daughter of General James W. Harrison and Mary Benson Harrison. At least that’s according to her death certificate in South Carolina, where she as a widow, herself, had returned from Tennessee when she succumbed in 1924 from a ten day bout with influenza.

And that General James W. Harrison led me right back to Anderson County, his birthplace, according to his daughter’s death certificate. And it led me to not only an excerpt from his own obituary, courtesy of Find A Grave, but to the online source for the June 21, 1888, Anderson Intelligencer where the excerpt was obtained.

That, of course, becomes eye candy in my cache box. Now that I’ve found the source, I’m looking forward to digging up more tidbits on the Broyles family members who lived in Anderson County. Surely, this find will lead me to more hints about Thomas Broyles and his connection to the far side of Georgia.  


  1. Bread crumbs. Healthy bits of bread crumbs.

    1. Bit by bit, I'm certain I'll get there. Finding the Anderson newspaper digitized online at the Library of Congress Chronicling America collection was a stellar discovery. I'll be reading up on the latest in 19th century Anderson County news for a long time.

  2. I think they met somewhere on common ground - say, Atlanta. But that's just my hypothesis. :)

    1. Atlanta would be a reasonable hypothesis, given the family's proclivity to get involved in state politics. Well, at least that would hold firm from the 1868 date when the city became the state's new capital.


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