Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A May Party

The Broyles family lived at their home outside Pendleton, South Carolina—later dubbed Ashtabula—from 1837 until sometime in 1851. During that time, not all effort was solely devoted to farming or even to the types of activities which might be of more interest to the family's eight sons. A few times noted in the Ashtabula book seemed to be more for the honor of the women associated with Ozey Broyles or his wife, Sarah Taliaferro Broyles.

One of those specific events noted happened just as the family was preparing to leave for a more modest home in town—and we'll talk about that event tomorrow—but an earlier event, in 1844, may also have been hosted at the Broyles home. Sarah's youngest sister, Caroline Taliaferro, orphaned by the loss of her mother in 1822 and her father in 1831, had, by that point in 1844, reached the age of thirty two—in that era, far exceeding the typical marriage age of most young women.

The Ashtabula book notes that Caroline had had "many suitors" including one whose later demise would certainly have been cause for great alarm in the family. That suitor, a recent graduate of South Carolina College by the name of Turner Bynum, happened to be an excellent shot, fitting in well with the plans of political opponents of Benjamin F. Perry, a strong Union supporter who was not shy about making his political opinions known through publication of his newspaper in Greenville.

Perry's opponents, as we've lately seen was customary in the south during that era, planned to entice the man into entering into a duel as a result of a perceived quarrel over the rightness and honor of his position. Unfortunately for those opponents of Perry—an attorney who later went on to become governor of the state of South Carolina—the man they selected, Turner Bynum, despite being a good shot, almost immediately lost the contest.

At that point in 1832, Caroline Taliaferro would have been twenty years of age. Whether she had considered the attention of Turner Bynum seriously, we have no way of knowing. That she remained single for the next twelve years may have spoken volumes.

However, on May 1, 1844, Caroline was wed to Henry Campbell Miller, a South Carolina doctor. It is unclear where the youngest Taliaferro daughter had actually been living at the time leading up to her wedding, as pre-1850 census enumerations do not provide names of all household members. Caroline's name did appear as a separate entry in the 1840 census, just below the entry for R. Simpson, likely her brother-in-law, but the entry only indicated one single woman, alone.

Even if Caroline had become the sole possessor of her parents' vacated home, it would not be unlikely that she spent much time at the home of her oldest sister, Sarah Taliaferro Broyles. Thus, the Ashtabula book's supposition—"It is said that Caroline's wedding party was given at Ashtabula"—may indeed have been correct.   


  1. I had never heard the story of the duel between Bynum and Perry. What a vivid description in the article to which you linked. I had read about Perry before, from the reluctant newspaper editors in SC right after the war - who saw him as the "best we will probably get" for governor. The duel is a fascinating detail of his early life.

    1. Of course, no matter how spectacular that newspaper article might have been, always keep in mind my caveat for reporters and their editors: they are so often bound to get one detail or another totally wrong.


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