It wouldn't do to discuss the history of a home without beginning at the beginning of the building's story. Thus, the Ashtabula book—story not only of a building, but of the families who once called it home—set the stage by starting with the early settlers in Pendleton, South Carolina. That brought the story back to one of the "gentlemen of fortune and high respectability from the low-country" who moved his family to Pendleton District in the 1820s. That man was Lewis Ladson Gibbes, whose wife's uncle had been a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Lewis Ladson and Maria Drayton Gibbes brought their eight children to a "small farm surrounded by many acres of forest along the old road from Pendleton to Greenville," as the Ashtabula book's editor, Mary Stevenson, had noted in the second chapter.
Clear clean water flowed from several springs over to the Eighteen Mile Creek. From the hilltops one could see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and all the country around.
The vista, as enticing as it may have sounded, was not enough to keep the Gibbes' six sons home on the farm. One by one, each son, reaching adulthood and gaining the education—or sense of adventure—to strike out on his own, left the beautiful farm near Pendleton for more promising futures.
Among the other young men in this exodus from Pendleton was the son of Gibbes' neighbor, Samuel Maverick. His son Gus had left his hometown for the excitement of a young Texas. The elder Samuel Maverick had hoped to entice his son back home and, when hearing that the Gibbes property had been put up for sale in 1837, saw that as his opportunity—but, "all in vain."
Though the elder Samuel Maverick was unable to convince his son to return home, even with the promise of the gift of a lovely farm, another family sprang for the opportunity. John Gibbes, third son of the by-then-deceased Lewis Ladson Gibbes, had put the family farm on the market with the enticing tag line, "the most beautiful farm in the up country." Closing the transaction in the "up country"—the designation South Carolinians sometimes used to designate the parts of the state not along the Atlantic coastal plain (the low country)—in 1837, the Gibbes farm now became the property of Dr. Ozey R. Broyles.
The Broyles family—also large, with eight sons and two daughters—soon filled the home vacated by the descendants of the Gibbes family. Though the Broyles family was at Ashtabula for barely fourteen years, those years were filled with many events, thanks to intertwining connections with others in the community—many of which, thankfully, initiated letters, diary entries, and other preserved remembrances, and, once I find them, these will inform us more completely of the day-to-day life of those ancestors of mine whose activities once filled the rooms of Ashtabula, the "large house with wide piazzas."
Above: Section of a pen and ink tracing by B. Schelten of a map of Pendleton District, South Carolina, from Robert Mills' Atlas of the State of South Carolina, published in 1825; note Samuel Maverick's property labeled Montpellier on the stage route eastward from Pendleton through Pickensville to Greenville, along which Ashtabula was later built. Map courtesy Geography and Map Division, United States Library of Congress.