Monday, May 6, 2019
For those interested in history and the objects that tell its story, the idea of provenance—tracing the earliest known history of the item under consideration—is a valuable concept. As we trace the story contained in the publication I refer to as the Ashtabula book, we've already learned just how the home by that name originated, and the house history of all who owned the property from its original builder up until it was donated by the Mead Corporation to the Foundation for Historic Restoration in Pendleton Area in 1961.
As for the thin sliver of the home's history when my third great grandparents, Ozey R. and Sarah Taliaferro Broyles, lived there, that story is mostly told before the close of the second chapter in the book. The main purpose of the book—the part we have yet to cover—was to include the diary of Clarissa Adger Bowen, whose family likely were the people who originally dubbed the plantation by that name, Ashtabula.
Furthermore, the significance of the diary—to me, at least, in this juncture in my family history research—is to report, from an eyewitness perspective, those tenuous days immediately following the close of the Civil War in Pendleton and the larger Anderson County area. This, I hoped to find, would open my own eyes to the broader perspectives of that era which I saw as puzzling, to say the least, when researching another set of third great grandparents from my southern family lines, the McClellans in Florida.
One other perspective that is turning out to be helpful in that research quest also has to do with provenance, as well—only not the type of provenance one usually thinks of, when hearing that word. This time, the provenance I'm appreciating is that of the mention of the many resources the book's compiler is crediting as she quotes liberally from a wide variety of sources. Mary Stevenson was careful to provide titles and author's names for several books from that era, as well as sourcing the passages from letters held in various archives and collections—all of which I'd be hard pressed to locate on my own, without knowledge of who might be the likeliest candidate to write such material. Let's say I have come to see that tedious bane of the writer—footnotes and bibliographies—in a different light now; the next time you grimace at the thought of getting the format right when writing up footnotes, just think of them as providing provenance for an idea.
From that listing provided by Mary Stevenson in the Ashtabula book, I'm able to retrace the compiler's steps while taking the liberty to look around at the rest of the contents for my own purposes, an invaluable gift to a researcher, indeed. While from this point forward, it may seem as if we are leaving behind the specific story of the Broyles family—after all, they moved away from Pendleton long before the start of the Civil War—but even in the body of the remainder of the book, the reprint of the diary of Clarissa Adger Bowen and the compiler's introductory commentary, we still can find mentions of the extended Broyles family members. Thus, the value of finding so many resources where the compiler provides the provenance, so to speak, of the information she has included in the Ashtabula book.
With that said, tomorrow, we'll move on to look at the disturbing events that rocked the town of Pendleton and the entire Anderson County area of South Carolina at the close of the Civil War in 1865.