With her husband suddenly gone—and so soon after the start of the Civil War—Margaret Broyles Van Wyck faced multiple challenges. Though she had spent her entire childhood in Pendleton, South Carolina, following her husband's graduation from medical school, the young Van Wyck family had settled in Huntsville, Alabama, where Samuel set up his practice.
By the time of the 1860 census, the Van Wyck family included four year old son William, his three year old brother Samuel, two year old Oze, and an infant daughter, listed only as "Babe." Though Vandiver's Traditions and History of Anderson County reported that, when her husband was killed during the war, Margaret was left with "three little children, two boys and one girl," that was not entirely correct. That record, however, may have been in error for another unfortunate reason.
The oldest boy, William, born in 1856, was only seven years of age when he died in 1863. The Vandiver account doesn't mention him at all, though Margaret's daughter—the infant "Babe," likely named after her mother, or perhaps the other Broyles or Taliaferro elders of that same name—was poignantly woven into the passage on her widowed mother.
The little daughter soon followed her father to the grave, carrying a part of the mother's heart with her. Towards little girls Mrs. Van Wyck was always most tender.
Raising her two remaining children, Margaret Van Wyck either felt compelled to constantly be industrious, or to seek a way to provide financially for her family. Vandiver noted that "the young widow took up life as well as she could, and worked for her boys."
"Worked," as it turned out, was a word in that narrative meant most literally. Apparently, by 1881, a General Lewis M. Ayer moved from Barnwell County—original home of my McClellans who were the early settlers I've been researching in north Florida—to set up a school for girls in Anderson County. He called the school The Anderson Female Seminary. Included in the Vandiver history was a listing of all the teachers in the faculty of General Ayer's degree-granting institution, including "Mrs. Margaret Van Wyck, long one of Anderson's most honored citizens."
"Enthusiastic in everything that interested her," Margaret Broyles Van Wyck "impressed her vivid personality" on many of the women whom she taught. The Vandiver history—and its quoted passages in the Ashtabula book—noted that although Margaret lived "to be very old, and almost blind...her cheerfulness, enthusiasm and interest in life never failed."
That was Margaret Broyles Van Wyck's legacy in the community where she returned, after the death of her husband. As for her own family, her two remaining sons, Samuel and Oze, married and raised large families of their own in homes not far from that place of their later childhood.
Perhaps that return home, after the loss of her husband, was the wisest move for Margaret. Indeed, there were several relatives among the friends she had left behind in Pendleton when she and the grandson of her father's good friend and neighbor, Samuel Marverick, had married, back in 1855. Even embedded in her very name was the remembrance of those relatives intertwined not only in her family, but in her community, as well.