Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A Faithful Heart : A Second Look


The publication of Emmala Reed's Civil War era journal may be appreciated for the glimpse it affords of post-war Reconstruction in South Carolina, but I have another reason to take a second look at this book. Even the title affixed to the 2004 publication, A Faithful Heart, takes on a different meaning, once we take a step back and look through the multi-generational lens of family history.

When Emmala agonized over the lost love she once shared with the son named after my third great-grandfather, Dr. Ozey Robert Broyles, her diary didn't offer any explanation for why her former beau returned from war with a changed heart. Though the book's editor, Robert T. Oliver, mentioned in his notes that Emmala's prominent father, Judge Jacob Pinckney Reed, had been an illegitimate son of a woman named Sally Reed White, the introductory biographical sketch inaccurately described the relationship between the judge and his next door neighbors, the family of Ozey Robert Broyles.

When I first read the book, I could not find documentation to piece together the story of how the families might have been connected. Now, however, with the addition of Cathi Clore Frost's recently published The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations, I see the connection.

In the biographical sketch leading up to the opening pages of Emmala's journal, editor Robert Oliver stated that Dr. Broyles' brother Aaron was father of Jacob Pinckney Reed, providing the possible wrinkle in the relationship between the doctor's son and the judge's daughter. While Robert Oliver had slated Dr. Broyles and Aaron Broyles as brothers, that is not the case. Since Aaron Broyles died intestate in 1845, we don't have a will to use to confirm names of his children, but from other research, it seems fairly clear that he had no son whom he named after himself. It would have been Ozey's father Aaron who was also father of J. P. Reed.

Cathi Clore Frost is more blunt about the delicate situation. She stated that, in addition to the nine children borne to Aaron Broyles and his wife Frances Reed, he had one more—if not two—by his wife's sister Sallie. That one other child she referred to was Jacob Pinckney Reed, born in 1814, and possibly named after his maternal grandfather.

Thus, if tracing a family tree based on the descendants of the two Reed sisters, the doctor and the judge would have been first cousins, making their respective, lovelorn children second cousins—not an unusual marriage situation in that era. However, considering that Aaron himself was father of both lines, that would make the doctor and the judge half-brothers, thus rendering their children half first cousins.

Likely, neither parent wanted to divulge to the community at large their true relationship, nor perhaps even admit to their own children their ancestors' indiscretions. In whatever way the two sets of parents ultimately diffused the situation, young Ozey Robert junior, grandson of Aaron, eventually married Ella Wilkinson Keith, and poor Emmala went on to find a faithful heart in George Washington Miller, whom she married not long after the close of her diary.

In turn, those two had descendants several generations later who eventually decided to test their DNA. Just out of curiosity, yes, I did look to see whether I had any matches with her line, and I do: two, so far. Now I can say that, despite unrequited love, Emmala did turn out to be someone to whom I'm actually related, making the reading of her story even more of a treasure to me than when I first found it.       

Monday, January 30, 2023

Into More Familiar Territory


As the calendar winds down to the last few days of January, we're doing the same with this month's research project: wrapping up what we can discover on the family of Adam and Mary Broyles. Thanks to help from the recently published—and thoroughly researched—book from the Germanna Foundation, The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations, we've been able to trace the pertinent details on the seven children of my fifth great-grandparents.

The one child I left for last is my own fourth great-grandfather, Aaron Broyles. Since this means moving into more familiar research territory, I've already been working on this generation for quite some time. Thus, my goal in using the Broyles Family book in this instance was to double-check my previous work, as well as follow the many footnotes author Cathi Clore Frost interjected into her narrative. Fortunately, I can see how this process is paying off in answering some research questions I had not previously been able to pinpoint on my own.

Simply put, Aaron Broyles left his father's choice of home in later life—Washington County in what eventually became the state of Tennessee—to settle in what was then known as the Pendleton District of South Carolina. The move was likely done along with his younger brother Joshua, whom we've already reviewed.

While in South Carolina, Aaron married Frances, daughter of Jacob Reed, in 1787. Together, the couple had at least nine children, beginning with the oldest, Cain Broyles, born in 1788.

After naming a son Cain, one would expect the other shoe to drop, allowing us to see a listing for a son named Abel—and this apparently did happen. However, the only references found on this other son are notes in biographical material on the family, informing us that Abel died in childhood.

In addition to Cain and Abel, Aaron and Frances Broyles had daughters Jemima, Sarah, Mary (also called Polly), Edna, and Temperance. Some of the daughters died young—in particular, daughter Sarah, who died within one year of marrying Joshua Halbert—but most lived to see many descendants. Since my personal research goal, because of DNA testing, is to trace the families of collateral lines, I've been steadily adding those lines to my family tree for quite some time now.

As for the Broyles sons, Aaron and Frances were parents of three who lived to adulthood.  These included my direct line, Ozey Robert Broyles, his eldest brother whom we've already mentioned—Cain—and youngest child John Taylor Broyles.

That, apparently, does not completely round out the descendants of Aaron Broyles. I've had an inkling that that might have been the case, ever since reading the published Civil War era diary of a young woman named Emmala Reed—but I never could put my finger on the exact connection. As it turns out, Cathi Clore Frost broaches the subject in her own book, a detail we'll explore tomorrow.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Life, Genealogy, and the
Evolution of my Family Trees


A comment on my post from several days ago raises some questions which I'd like to take the time to answer. Ideally, I would have responded right after the comment appeared, but for some reason I'm once again having difficulties signing in to my own blog to reply to reader comments. There is, however, another reason for not simply doing so then: it would have made for a long answer.

The comment followed one of my customary biweekly counts, in which I track progress on each of my family trees. Being a new follower of A Family Tapestry, this reader wanted to know whether I saved each of my family trees as a separate file within the same database management program I use. Of course, the logical follow-up question was concerning which program I actually use. Finally, what do I see as the pluses and minuses of using such an approach?

Well, to answer those questions, I need to rewind to dates long before I started this blog almost twelve years ago. Like, in the early 1990s. Back then, I began my computer-assisted foray into genealogy using an early version of Family Tree Maker. No particular reason for this choice; it was for sale on an end-cap at Costco around Christmas time and I was tired of keeping everything on paper. I had been using personal computers—albeit in their most primitive form—for work and for launching the first of my businesses for several years by that point, so switching to a database management program for genealogy made sense.

I started with lumping all my family into one big tree—ancestors, siblings, in-laws, outlaws, the whole shebang. But I ran into a problem.

Back then, family history fans had ways to gather together online, mostly through ListServs or online bulletin boards, or the genealogy forums which soon followed. We'd all be sharing online what we had found in our research, exchanging resources to help each other. Once two or more of us would discover a family connection, the inevitable follow-up question would be, "Could you send me a GEDCOM?" 

Not long after complying with those requests for sharing, I'd often get a response like, "Well, I only wanted the info on your maternal line." That instigated my decision to split my one gigantic mess of a tree into four separate trees—one tree for each of my child's grandparents.

That worked...for a while. Along came another disrupter to the scene: DNA testing. By then, I had migrated my four trees onto Ancestry.com, which I found more convenient for attaching documentation to specific ancestors. But when I tested various members of my extended family and wanted to link their DNA results to "the tree," I found myself having to choose between using my mother's extensive, American roots tree, or my father's brick wall stub of a tree (which also happened to need the most help from DNA matches). Rather than have to make that choice, I decided to combine my mother's tree with my father's tree, and likewise for the trees of each of my in-laws.

In the end, having started from one tree and morphed to four trees, I then shrunk down to two. So, to translate that sloppy explanation about how to choose the number of trees into a succinct response, I have to say: it depends. Whether for me or for you, that answer will always depend on your goals in creating a family tree in the first place.

Who knows what changes will come our way with subsequent technological developments. Whatever you start with, make sure it makes sense to you and suits your purposes—currently. But just know that you may find reasons to make a switch in the future. Sure, a transition can be a lot of work, but if your decision is backed by reasons which fit your emerging situation, then do it.  

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Another Match With Moses


DNA matches can provide a helpful way to draw connections in one's family tree, but when the relationships become as distant as that of Adam Broyles, my fifth great-grandfather, I'm preferring the route of researching documentation first. Still, we're taking a peek at what can be found through those matches.

Right now, my focus has been on Adam and Mary Broyles' oldest son, Moses, for whom I have three descendants who match my DNA test at Ancestry.com. According to their ThruLines readout, I have one DNA match with Moses' son William, which we took a look at yesterday, and two DNA matches through Moses' son James. We'll see what we can learn about James and his family today.

Unlike his brother William, who within five years of marriage moved his family from Virginia to Kentucky, James seemed to follow more firmly in his father's footsteps. The middle child of five for Moses Broyles and Barbara Carpenter, James remained in the county where his parents had raised him, Madison County in Virginia.

James Broyles was married twice, not an unusual situation during a time when childbirth took the lives of a significant number of mothers. James first married Nancy Taylor, daughter of Littleton Taylor and Ann Hensley, whose brother Humphrey later became husband of James' baby sister Nancy.

James' wife Nancy bore him five children, but her death in about 1820 must have left James with some young children still at home, for he subsequently married Anne Wilhoite, who gave him at least two more children.

Apparently, James' son John was the descendant from whom my two remaining DNA matches claim our connection. Besides the observation, now that I've been dabbling in Broyles genealogy, that John is becoming a frequent choice for naming a son, his birth before his mother's 1820 death put me squarely back in that same research conundrum: record sets not as easily accessed online.

I cheated. Turning to Arthur Leslie Keith's unpublished manuscript, now digitized and available online at FamilySearch.org, I noticed that unlike his father James, John chose to move westward. According to the Keith manuscript (page 273, or page view 275 for the online version), John likely moved to Ohio, maybe around Fairfield County. The Keith manuscript records the names of ten children, but only a few have any notations of where they were born or lived, despite adequate mention of the spouses married by these Broyles descendants and the grandchildren born.

Between John Broyles' generation and that of my DNA matches, there are sandwiched three other generations. Time to check the paper trail for each of those steps in the tree. Fortunately, moving to this side of the 1850 census divide provides more records I can work with, so tracking the assertion on the ThruLines report for these two DNA matches will be much easier to do.

Once I complete that process, the next task—and the final work on this month's research goal—will be to revisit my work on my own fourth great-grandfather, Aaron Broyles. There has been a question percolating in the back of my mind ever since discovering the Civil War diaries of some other distant Broyles cousins and their kin, and I believe I've found my answer in the Broyles Family book I bought from the Germanna Foundation this month. It is always encouraging to see how families fit together.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Moses Broyles:
Matching DNA and Paper Trails


Three DNA matches, two ancestral lines, one double relationship: all this plays out over two different states as the British colonies emerge into the nascent United States. From my Broyles connection—my fifth great-grandparents Adam and Mary Broyles—it turns out those three DNA matches all descend from their son Moses and his wife Barbara Carpenter. In turn, for the next generation, one of the DNA matches belongs to the line of Moses' son William. The other two descend from William's brother James. And while James remained in the Virginia hometown where his parents raised him, William moved far from it. 

Though it may be more difficult to prove the line of descent for William's side—he moved from Virginia to Kentucky, home of courthouse fires bemoaned by so many genealogists—that is exactly the line we'll focus on today. And that is for one reason: William's children owe their double relationships to their father's choice of a bride.

William married Elizabeth Wilhoit in January of 1800 in their home county of Madison in Virginia. If you remember, we've run across that Wilhoit surname before, in realizing that William's mother, Barbara Carpenter, was herself a daughter of another Wilhoit woman.

That, however, was not the only way Elizabeth and her husband were related. Elizabeth also descended from the Broyles line through her grandmother Catherine Broyles, Adam Broyles' aunt who married a Wilhoit man.

William and Elizabeth left Virginia about five years after their wedding. An 1805 transaction in which they sold land in Madison County probably signaled completion of their last bit of business before moving to Jefferson County, Kentucky. Tax records in that Kentucky county picked up William's name by 1807.

The difficulty in researching William lies mainly in his death in the mid-1820s, likely in Jefferson County. His wife Elizabeth, fortunately, lived until the early 1850s, according to Cathi Clore Frost's recent book, The Broyles Family: the First Four Generations, though I have yet to pinpoint her in the 1850 census. Because Elizabeth was part of the first four generations of Broyles settlers at the Germanna colony, she has her own entry in Frost's book, including the listing of all the children of Elizabeth and William.

Frost lists seven children for William and Elizabeth, with one—daughter Lucy, the fifth entry—marked as a "probably child." The others, in likely birth order, were Malinda, Washington, John, Catharine, Madison, and Mary Elizabeth. 

As for my DNA matches, the one lining up with William Broyles supposedly connects through his son John, according to projections by Ancestry.com's ThruLines program. Yet John is a hard one to trace through documentation. I can find mention of him through records for which his siblings are the primary focus, such as this 1822 marriage bond concerning his sister Malinda and her intended, Thomas Grant. It will take a bit more work before I gather all the documents to assure myself that this is the right connection.

And that is merely for one DNA match. We'll see what can be learned about the other matches descending from Moses Broyles, son of Adam, next. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Adam's Oldest Son


Perhaps it may seem odd in reviewing a family's genealogy to save the oldest child for the last entry, but for Moses Broyles, the son mentioned first in Adam Broyles' own will, his early dates of birth and death are buried deep within documents not as easily accessible to an online researcher like me.

Moses Broyles was likely born in the place where his parents, Adam and Mary, had settled in Virginia: Culpeper County. In her book, The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations, researcher Cathi Clore Frost estimated Moses' birth to occur about 1755-1760, based on the date of his confirmation listed in records of the Hebron Lutheran Church.

While Moses' father Adam later moved from Culpeper County to the region which eventually became Washington County, Tennessee, it appears that Moses chose to remain in Virginia. This, despite his being named as executor in his father's 1782 will in Tennessee. At his own death, about 1804, an inventory of Moses Broyles' possessions was presented in court in Madison County, as noted in the unpublished manuscript of Arthur Leslie Keith (see page view 52 in the online version).

Moses Broyles married Barbara Carpenter some time after 1776, another estimate based on Hebron church records. Barbara had connections to another family I've seen intertwined with the extended Broyles family, as her mother was a Wilhoit. Together and individually, this couple was mentioned often in records of the Hebron Lutheran Church, as well as governmental documents in Culpeper County and Madison County, and Moses was even mentioned in property records as far away as Kentucky.

There are five children listed for Moses and Barbara in the Frost book, although the Keith manuscript notes that one of their daughters may have died before her father, based on information drawn from his will. In the order listed in the Frost book, those children were William, Elizabeth, James, Anna, and Nancy.

Taking a peek at my DNA matches at Ancestry.com, specifically through the ThruLines program, I have three matches who descend from Moses and Barbara Broyles. We'll take a look tomorrow to see whether those are promising connections, based on their trees at Ancestry, as well as any documentation I can find to confirm the relationship.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Got Those Gotchers Now


Plodding through the listing of descendants of the Broyles family of the 1717 Germanna settlement, I've been comparing notes with various books—both an unpublished manuscript and a recent publication—and lining them up with my DNA matches through Ancestry.com's ThruLines program. While there are many dates and details to confirm with documentation, when I worked on the descendants of Adam Broyles daughter Anna, I thought I had run into some problems. It seemed that nearly one hundred other Ancestry subscribers had trees showing Anna as wife of someone named Gotcher. That, of course, would cause problems in aligning my records with those of my DNA matches, so rather than wrestle with that research wrinkle, I opted to move onward to another of Adam's children.

In fact, I've since reviewed the descendants of several of the seven children of Adam and Mary Broyles. As of this date, I've written about Demilia, Anne, and Joshua. Though I haven't posted much information on them, I also have dug deep into the descendants of Jemima Broyles and her husband Joseph Brown, progenitors of a political family in Georgia. And of course, over the years I have worked on the descendants of my fourth great-grandfather, Aaron Broyles of South Carolina.

As it turns out, I've unexpectedly bumped into that Gotcher name in my descent down the lines of two Broyles children—neither of them being Anne's line. As I worked on the subject of my post yesterday—Joshua Broyles' son Larkin—it wasn't long before that puzzling surname made its appearance. Larkin's daughter Permilia married a man in Missouri named John Franklin Gotcher.

But don't say "gotcha" just yet. There was another appearance of that surname yet to come. After researching Joshua Broyles' family line, I moved on to the very youngest of all Adam Broyles' children, Mary, who herself had married a Gotcher man, William Alfred. Unlike the other Gotcher connection in Missouri, though, this man's family was recorded for years in South Carolina, then back to Tennessee, and eventually to Alabama.

Of this second Gotcher, Mary Broyles' husband William, it is fairly easy to recognize the source of the names given to some of their children. As I noticed yesterday with the conundrum of sorting the identity of potential cousins with the same given name, the family of Mary and William included one son named after Mary's brother Joshua Broyles, and another son named after Mary's brother-in-law Hugh Brown, husband of her sister Anne.

Whether William Alfred Gotcher and John Franklin Gotcher are themselves related, I've yet to discover. And whatever happened to the Gotcher DNA matches designated by ThruLines as descendants of Anne—gone now; did my eye just catch a wrong name in error?—I can't tell. But I will save the search for answers on that count until after we wrap up our survey of the children of Adam and Mary Broyles. Next on our schedule will be the five children of Adam's eldest, Moses Broyles and his wife Barbara Carpenter. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

A Cousin Conundrum


Following those eighteenth century ancestors can be challenging. The paper trail sometimes leads us capably; other times, the records leave very little for us to go on—if we can find documentation at all. That's why, in researching all the children of my fifth great-grandparents, Adam and Mary Broyles, I opted to try my hand at researching the youngest of their children first. The more recent the documentation which mentioned their names, the more likely I am to find the details I need.

As we noticed yesterday, the youngest son of Adam and Mary Broyles, whom they named Joshua, married a woman for whom no records reveal her maiden name. All that is currently known by Broyles researchers is that her given name was Elizabeth.

Together, Joshua and Elizabeth Broyles had three children: Joel, Larkin, and Ada. Yesterday, using the Germanna Foundation publication The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations, we noted that Joshua's family could be traced from the old Pendleton District of South Carolina to Clay County, Missouri, by about 1830, thanks to records of property sales and census enumerations.

Since I have a secondary research goal of comparing documentation on this extended Broyles family with my DNA matches listed at Ancestry.com's ThruLines program, I peeked ahead to see if I had any DNA matches who share a Broyles connection with me, specifically through the line of Joshua and Elizabeth. Sure enough, there were three of my DNA matches claiming them as ancestors. And each one of these DNA matches descended through Joshua's son Larkin.

I took that as a clue regarding which relative to follow, and got to work on Larkin Broyles. Just like his parents had, Larkin apparently moved far from his home over the course of his lifetime. Born in South Carolina approximately in 1810, by 1830 he was living in Clay County, Missouri, along with the rest of his immediate family. By 1831, he claimed as his bride Melissa Job, another transplant to Missouri claiming the Tennessee roots where Larkin's Broyles predecessors had once lived.

Best I can tell—so far—Larkin and Melissa became the parents of at least nine children, all born in Missouri. Sometime after the 1860 enumeration, though, things began to change for the family. By 1870, Larkin was in Aurora, Oregon, with his son Samuel and Samuel's wife Emily, while Melissa was still in Missouri, living with their son William and his wife Ruth.

While I am still in the process of researching all the children of Larkin and Melissa, it appears that many of them did follow Larkin and Samuel to Oregon. That information will come all in good time, but in the meantime, I've been on the hunt to see which of Larkin's descendants would be the line to follow for my Broyles DNA matches.

I have a certain process I follow while adding the DNA-connected descendants of a Most Recent Common Ancestor. I start with the oldest child, add all the descendants of that child, then move on to the next. In Larkin's case, the oldest child was named Joel—same as Larkin's own older brother. Perhaps I should have taken that as a warning, but I just jumped right in to add information on Joel and his descendants.

While I could see from the 1850 census record of the Larkin Broyles family that Joel was nineteen years of age and born in Missouri, I soon ran into difficulty working on Joel's history. It seemed there were two very similar people with the same details. If I followed one line, that person eventually added a middle initial T, which morphed in later life to become not just a middle name—Thomas—but exchanging places to become the first name. One Joel moved to Oregon—a reasonable expectation, given his parents' history. But there was another Joel who seemed to move from Missouri in the opposite direction. Which one was the right one?

The more I delve into the Broyles line, the more I realize the family liked to recycle names from prior generations. The more I saw that sign, the slower and more carefully I wanted to proceed. After a few generations of name-after descendants, we can create an echo chamber of cousins' names. And that may indeed be the case with this Joel Broyles, son of Larkin. One of those two Joels may be a cousin—but which one is which? Until I find more documentation, I can't be sure.

Of course, when I look at my ThruLines connections for the descendants of Joshua Broyles, guess which line all three of those matches claim? Time to pull out all the documentation I can find and take a close look at all the details. Wouldn't want to take the wrong turn down a different branch of the Broyles family tree.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Better Late Than . . .


If you find yourself repeating that little regret, "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get," you may also have adopted another oft-used phrase: "Better late than never." Our rush to get things done—especially more than can be contained in one twenty four hour segment—can run us into problems.

I want to take that concept, "Better late," and turn it into a thought which can work in our favor in researching our family's collateral lines. Right now, I'm stuck trying to piece together the many lines of descent from the Broyles immigrants to the Germanna settlement in colonial Virginia. I'm focusing on my fifth great-grandparents, Adam and Mary Broyles, using as my guide the recently published The Broyles Family: the First Four Generations, written by Cathi Clore Frost.

Fortunately, the children of Adam Broyles were part of that fourth generation researched for the Frost book. Included in the entries for each of that generation are the names of that final generation's children, as well, giving me a jumping off point to continue my own research.

The challenge, though, is that even the fourth generation had children born in the 1770s, requiring access to an entirely different set of records than those we'd normally use to research, say, our own great-grandparents. To help me out with such record challenges—and the inability right now to travel to major research centers in person—I've adopted a different strategy: don't start from the top; begin with the bottom.

In other words, better late than early. We may find more results if we wrestle with the later records now, rather than those earliest documents from the beginning of our national existence.

One of my research goals this month is to see if I can align my Broyles DNA matches with documentation of their ancestors, and add that information to my family tree. It's been somewhat challenging to grapple with details on Adam Broyles' older children. From the listing in Adam's 1782 will, we've already tried working on his daughters "Mille" and Anne, as well as my longstanding work on the descendants of my fourth great-grandfather, Aaron Broyles.

Still, my access to records has been hampered by what is available online. Earlier records are sometimes transcribed but not digitized in their original form. With that dilemma, I thought I'd switch to researching one of Adam Broyles' later children, so this week we'll start working on his youngest son, Joshua.

Joshua Broyles was likely born in Virginia around 1770. While there are many unanswered questions about his life story, his was a life supported by documentation in at least three different states. Besides a mention in his father's will, drawn up in the region which eventually became the state of Tennessee, Joshua and his older brother Aaron jointly had property holdings in South Carolina, warranting several documents tracing those financial transactions. Finally, upon his move to Missouri some time before 1830, Joshua appeared in census records in Clay County

Still, there are questions about Joshua Broyles' story. For one thing, although he left documentation noting his wife's given name, Elizabeth, no one to date has been able to find any record providing her maiden name. And concerning the children of Joshua and Elizabeth, both the Arthur Leslie Keith manuscript and the Frost book provide three names, but very little else.

The Keith manuscript notes three descendants: sons Joel and Larkin, and daughter Ada. (See page 52 of the original document, volume 1, or online at FamilySearch.org at page view 55.) Unfortunately, nothing more than his name is provided for firstborn Joel. As for daughter Ada, the only added information was that she was married. There is a paragraph of information on the middle child, Larkin, with a listing of his household members drawn from the 1850 census in Clay County, Missouri. While not much, it's a start.

The Frost publication provides a bit more on daughter Ada, including the names of her two husbands, Joseph Havens and Isaac Lance. The author provides a listing of documents where son Larkin Broyles was mentioned in contemporaneous records, mostly in Missouri, but also in two counties in Oregon, where Larkin and his family eventually settled.

Every little bit helps to piece together the story of these Broyles descendants. As they moved through the timeline of their lives—and documentation which bears later dates—we find more success in locating the details of this family's story.

That, as it turns out, is just what I need to complete the other research goal lined up for January: to find the right place in my family tree for my Broyles DNA matches showing in my ThruLines readout at Ancestry.com. We'll take a look, tomorrow, at the research boost helping us piece together the family tree descending from Joshua and Elizabeth Broyles. From there, we'll jump over to ThruLines to check out those DNA matches descending from Joshua's line.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Building a Broyles Tree, Line by Line


No matter how difficult it might be to find a way through the wilds of ancestor research—especially in the frontier regions my Broyles ancestors chose to wander—having a research goal helps build a family tree. That will be readily obvious as we check our biweekly progress.

While it seems like it has been slow going this month, considering the lack of documentation for my branch of the Broyles settlers, I was surprised to see I had added 334 names to my family tree in the past two weeks. That tree is now up to 31,733 individuals, and growing fast.

Part of the reason for adding so many names is my secondary goal of finding a place on the family tree for my DNA matches. As we work through the Broyles history this month, I'm exploring where my DNA matches fit into the picture. That means bringing down those collateral lines—those children of my fifth great-grandfather, Adam Broyles—to their current day descendants.

While my focus this month is on the Broyles line, that doesn't mean I've completely neglected work on my in-laws' tree. In fact, just from incidental conversations, discovered obituaries and other random occurrences, I've managed to add fifty seven extra names to my in-laws' tree in the past two weeks. Right now, that tree has a total of 30,715 individuals. Once springtime hits and I shift from researching my maternal family lines, I'll start working on my mother-in-law's line again in earnest. Specifying a goal for the projects this spring will help grow that tree, as well.

In this last full week of the month, we'll concentrate on adding the collateral lines of all Adam Broyles' children, with an eye to seeing how many of the Broyles ThruLines DNA designations can actually be confirmed through documentation. While we've already spotted some inaccurate information on the trees of some matches, hopefully some of the other Broyles lines will match up more consistently.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

An Ode to the History of Paperwork


Genealogists of prior decades may have felt like they were drowning in a sea of paperwork, but it is to that paperwork we owe a great debt. Think about it: if it weren't for the long history of governmental and religious offices documenting the minute details of our ancestors' lives, how would we have known anything about those people lurking in our own bloodlines? 

It's to this history of paperwork that I want to tip my hat today. My inspiration—of late, at least—has been the endnotes in Cathi Clore Frost's thoroughly documented book, The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations. There, every significant move which was made by the children of my fifth great-grandparents, Adam and Mary Broyles, has helped that author and genealogist trace the life arc and whereabouts of those distant Broyles relatives. And every step was, in some way, connected to paperwork.

How else would we have known about them? Think about it: before the now widely accessible 1850 census—and these folks predated that revealing government document by half a century—the types of documents we could use to learn about our ancestors' lives were vastly different than those we use for our more recent relatives. This type of research requires poring over tax and property records, wills, and—with hopes that these were accurate—personal records kept in journals or the family Bible. Thus, we can celebrate the good fortune to discover that someone has already passed this way—and has taken care to record every step along that research pathway.

When I notice that the Broyles Family book includes a reference to an old history of Johnson County, Missouri, for instance, I can retrace those tracks to find the book, myself. It would have taken me long hours of research on my own to discover that Adam Broyles' daughter Anne and her husband Hugh Brown moved from the Broyles neighborhood in northeastern Tennessee to that Missouri location. But Cathi Clore Frost quotes a passage concerning Hugh Brown and his obvious F.A.N. Club (Friends, Associates, and Neighbors) who all went on a hunting expedition to Missouri and came back with 260 gallons of wild honey. Small wonder they eventually made the decision to move out west. (That passage, it turns out, was itself lifted from an earlier account published in the 1881 History of Johnson County, Missouri.)

That same approach—following the footnotes—will likely help as I begin the search next week for descendants of another Broyles child, Adam's son Joshua, and his wife-without-maiden-name, Elizabeth. Apparently they, too, became part of the F.A.N. Club migrating west to Missouri from Tennessee. And they, too, became founders of a Broyles line of descent yielding me some DNA matches, as well.  

Friday, January 20, 2023

Checking Another Line


We've been examining the DNA matches supposedly connected to my Broyles ancestry. Yesterday, we looked at my ThruLines results at Ancestry.com for one child of Adam and Mary Broyles, Demilia. Admittedly, that would be a difficult line to research, simply because of the many surname variants for Demilia's husband. But it also appeared that the DNA matches listed in ThruLines for that line of descent disagreed with the research presented in the recent Germanna Foundation publication, The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations. 

Sometimes, when I run into a research tangle like that, I jump to work on a collateral line. So let's do that with another line of descent from Adam and Mary Broyles, my fifth great-grandparents. Since two of the sisters had married brothers with the Brown surname, I thought I'd try my hand at checking out the DNA matches for Anne Broyles who married Hugh Brown.

Let's look first at what Cathi Clore Frost, author of the Germanna Broyles Family book, uncovered. There, we find a listing of nine children for Anne and Hugh, two sons and seven daughters. One son had the unremarkable name of Joseph, but his younger brother's name was a standout: Cicero. Likewise, complicating research on children of a surname as common as Brown, many of the daughters' names were plain: Mary, Nancy, Peggy, Ann, and Patsy. Only their sisters Violet and Athaliah offered an unusual twist to the mundane.

When I took those names to the ThruLines readout for my thirteen DNA matches with descendants of Anne Broyles and her husband Hugh Brown, I couldn't get very far at all. The reason: I was stuck on the very next generation. Every one of thirteen DNA matches linked to Anne Broyles had Anne married to someone with the surname Gotcher—not exactly a Brown there.

Something is clearly amiss here. Yet no less than ninety one Ancestry subscribers have Anne Broyles' descendants listed with a surname Gotcher, not Brown. Time to undertake a much closer reading of Cathi Clore Frost's many endnotes to see if I can find my way out of this tangle.

In the meantime, it's back to those collateral lines in search of more clues. After all, I have ThruLines connections to several other children of Adam and Mary Broyles to examine. I expect we'll continue this exploration for several more days to come.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

No Presumptions Here


It would be quite fortunate for us, as we cast about for the confirmed identity of this daughter of Adam Broyles alternately called Milla or Demilia, if we could find a matrilineal descendant who would be willing to take a mitochondrial DNA test. Thus, we'd have, in reverse, the line of that as-yet-unknown umpteenth great-granddaughter, through her mother, then maternal grandmother, all the way back through each successive mother's line to Demilia herself. Even better, we'd be able to peek beyond that point to hopefully find the true identity of her mother, as well.

That, however, is unlikely to happen, just looking at the children listed for Demilia and her husband Adam—whichever surname belonged to his true identity. As we noticed yesterday in the recently-published Broyles Family book written by Cathi Clore Frost, of Demilia's ten children listed in that genealogy, four were listed as "presumed child." Of the remaining six children who didn't have such a tag—hopefully, no presumptions there—only one of them was a daughter: their youngest child, Mary.

Whether this child Mary—who eventually married relative John Broyles in Greene County, Tennessee—had any daughters remains to be seen. That generation was beyond the scope of the Broyles Family book, and I have yet to explore that specific line. You know that I will eventually get there.

We can, however, move from the possibility of using mtDNA to using autosomal DNA, although the relationships revealed border on the tenuous. After all, the Most Recent Common Ancestor shared between my Broyles DNA matches and myself would be my fifth great-grandparents, Adam Broyles and his wife Mary, Demilia's parents. But let's take a look.

Using Ancestry.com's ThruLines as our shortcut, we can look at the listings for either Adam Broyles or his wife. At this point, my account shows seventy five Broyles matches which claim Adam as their ancestor. For his wife Mary, though, the number jacks up to one hundred matches. Worse, though author Arthur Leslie Keith in his unpublished manuscript on the Broyles generations explained his theory why Adam Broyles' wife was not a Wilhoit (as has been proposed in some genealogies), the ThruLines readout lists Adam's wife by that exact name: Mary Wilhoit.

Let's take a look at some other issues with using DNA on this distant ancestral couple. For this fifth great-grandfather, while Adam Broyles might show up on my genealogical tree, the likelihood that he'd show up on my genetic tree is much slimmer. Any matches to me, on an even generational relationship (i.e. not "removed"), could be no closer than sixth cousin. That, in autosomal DNA terms, is quite a stretch.

Still, I had to take a look. For my DNA matches linked to Demilia's line, I had three matches claiming her father Adam as MRCA. Two of those matches had only one slim segment in common with me, and the third match claimed two segments. If we add in the ThruLines listings based on Mary, Adam's wife, there was a fourth DNA match with one segment shared. But here's the kicker: the highest centiMorgan count of these matches was sixteen, for the person sharing two segments with me. All the others were lower than that count. Very slim possibilities here.

One interesting detail about these matches, though: every one of them came through the line of Demilia's son Ezekiel. Her first-born child—thankfully not marked as "presumed child" in the Frost book—Ezekiel was born in 1776, with his baptism documented at the Hebron Lutheran Church as "Heseckiel" Bender. Ezekiel, his surname later listed as Painter, served during the War of 1812, afterwards moving to Georgia, where he married Susan Hagood (or variants of Susannah) in 1825, and eventually died in Alabama in 1839.

Could DNA matches as distant as these four of mine be coincidental? Very possibly. However, before writing off those matches, I'd like to see what can be done about researching this line of descent. If documentation confirms the paper tree, the DNA could certainly augment that conclusion. This is definitely one line to trace further before I gain enough confidence to accept.

There are, however, other DNA matches to look at, too. Of the seven children born to my fifth great-grandfather, Adam Broyles, I have DNA matches listed at Ancestry's ThruLines for Moses, Anne, Jemima, and Joshua, in addition to the descendants of my fourth great-grandfather Aaron Broyles. We've got a lot more to confirm through documentation this month.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

What Happened to Demilia's Husband


While finding documentation on a woman in frontier America in the mid-1700s may be challenging, in the case of Demilia Broyles, I'm hard pressed to even find her husband.

As we saw yesterday, Adam Broyles' daughter "Milla"—or Demilia—married a man who attended the old Hebron Lutheran Church located then in Culpeper County, in part of Virginia now claimed by Madison County. His first name was most likely Adam, though at least one record showed his given name as Edom.

As for his surname, Adam was recorded under several names, both in Virginia and after his move to northeastern Tennessee. I listed several of those recorded versions yesterday, based on government documents spotted by Cathi Clore Frost, author of The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations.

Complicating matters in trying to pursue this Adam Bender—or Painter, or Panther—was that even he didn't know his own date of birth. For this last discrepancy, however, he had a good reason. That reason, it turns out, perhaps illustrates what many families pressing the frontier boundaries in that era risked facing.

It was during the French and Indian War, when Adam lived with his parents in the Shenandoah Valley, that the family's home was attacked and burned. A news report, carried by The New York Mercury on July 31, 1758 (see here for one version), and shared in the Broyles book, seemed to refer to this same  attack:

Last night a messenger arrived from Augusta County, with advice that the Indians had lately killed and captivated 16 people between Winchester and Augusta Court House; and that a large body of the inhabitants, to the number of 300, were removing into Culpepper [sic], and the other counties on this side the Blue Ridge.

Among those killed, apparently, was Adam's father. According to his pension application filed many years afterwards, his family's home was burned in that attack, destroying Adam's only record of his birth. Added to that in the pension application was the mention that Adam, himself, was among the captives held for two years after that attack.

After his release—and, presumably, that of his mother and sisters, who were also captured—Adam settled in Culpeper County. Eventually, under either the name Addam or Adam, and either Panter or Painter, Adam was selected as a draft to serve in the Revolutionary War.

When it came time for Adam to file his pension application for his service, even then he was plagued with unexplained name variations. Receiving his certificate of pension on January 23, 1830, it was incorrectly reported on a list of pensioners as "Edom" Panter. Although the Fold3.com website now shows his Revolutionary War pension file labeled as VA S.1923 under the name Adam Panter, cross-checking that information with the National Daughters of the Revolution Ancestor listing shows nothing under that Panter surname. However, the entry for Adam Painter does produce the same pension number—with caveats.

In bold capital letters across the DAR entry is the warning that "problems have been discovered." That, however, is not our only challenge. Looking further down the DAR website entry, it is clear that neither of the two women listed as this Adam's wives was our Demilia Broyles. There is, indeed, a problem here.

A further note on the DAR website reports: "Unable to [identify] correct mother of children." Looking back to the entry for Demilia and Adam in Cathi Clore Frost's Broyles book, there were entries for ten children: Ezekiel, John, William, Adam, David, Sarah (Sally), Philip, Jesse, Samuel, and Mary. Looking more closely, however, for four of those children listed in the Frost book, their entry was followed by a parenthetical note, "presumed child."

With that ominous note, it seems time to move more cautiously in this pursuit of Adam Broyles' grandchildren—or, at least, the ones descending from his daughter Demilia. We have, fortunately, one other avenue to consult as we dig deeper into the Frost book's endnotes. Remember, I have Broyles family DNA matches, and a few of them claim to descend from Demilia Broyles. We'll see whether those Broyles matches will be of any help to us tomorrow as we try to untangle this messy knot in the Broyles family line.


Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The Many Names for Mille


She may have been born in 1760, but she could have arrived earlier—or later. All I can say for sure about her is that she was married by the time she was mentioned in her father's 1782 will. Such is the problem of researching the women who make up our earliest recorded ancestors: they weren't always clearly documented. At least, that is the case for the daughter of Adam and Mary Broyles of the Germanna settlement in Virginia whose name—at least, as I read it—looked like Mille.

Checking page eighteen of the unpublished Broyles manuscript drawn up by researcher Arthur Leslie Keith, this daughter's name was rendered as Milla. But could she have gone by any other versions of that admittedly unusual given name? Checking the well-documented research of a newer publication, the Germanna Foundation's year-old release of Cathi Clore Frost's The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations, it reveals that Adam's daughter was listed under at least three versions of her name: Milla, Milly, and—likely the closest version of her true name—Demilia.

Where tracing documentation becomes even more of a problem is in determining her actual married surname. Of course, the handwriting in her father's will does not help in this situation:

Could that surname actually be Panther? Parther? Or should we read that first vowel as an "o" rather than an "a"?

Since author Cathi Clore Frost examined all the documents in which this Broyles daughter was mentioned, she offered several options for her married surname. It could have been Panther. Then again, it could have been Painter. Incredibly, the author also felt that the name might have been Bender. 

Looking through all the references and endnotes on this section of the Broyles book, I could see she demonstrated that Demilia was entered in records as Bender as well as the other two surname variants. For instance, in a 1776 entry at her church, Hebron Lutheran, for Pentecost Sunday, the record mentioned both Demilia and her husband Adam Bender in the same entry.

Still, reviewing all the documents found by the author in her Broyles research, we can add even more surname variants: Pander, Panter, Penter and Penther, Pinter, and even Parker. Most of those records, of course, pertained specifically to Demilia's husband, Adam, rather than to Demilia, herself. Among the records referenced were tax records, land grants and purchases.

Part of the reason behind the number of variants for the surname might be owing to liberties taken in spelling during that time. After all, if Demilia and her husband were not able to read—a likely circumstance during that era in the American frontier—they would have had no way of knowing whether a clerk or government official recorded their surname correctly.

Another possibility to keep in mind is that though Adam Broyles, Demilia's father, was the fourth generation removed from the original immigrant settlers to the Germanna colony, many such colonists continued the everyday use of their native language long after arrival in Virginia. Perhaps even Adam Broyles and his family were German-speaking people, despite the many generations they had been in America. In such a situation, we'd need to think of how an English-speaking official might transliterate the German name given to them in the course of their duties. Phonics might play a significant role in the morphing of Bender to Painter (or vice versa).

Whatever his name, Demilia's husband arrived at her Virginia settlement with quite a history, for which we might not be surprised to learn of his own lack of documentation. Tomorrow, we'll look at what transpired before Demilia actually met her husband-to-be.    

Monday, January 16, 2023

Reconciling Differences


What happens when researchers of printed genealogies come to different conclusions about ambiguous information? That was my question when considering the list of Adam Broyles' children in his 1782 will, compared to the notes provided in the works of researcher Arthur Leslie Keith. It's time to see if we can reconcile some of those genealogical differences. Now that I've received a copy of an updated Broyles family genealogy—Cathi Clore Frost's The Broyles Family, the First Four Generations, published by the Germanna Foundation—one of my first goals is to compare notes on the barely legible married names of two of Adam Broyles' daughters in the Keith manuscript.

Though Adam's daughter Anne was clearly listed in Adam's own will by her married name, Brown, and daughter Mima had not yet married, the two other Broyles daughters' situations were not as clear. Mary, the youngest, was not married at the time her father's will was drawn up in the frontier region soon to be known as Washington County, Tennessee. The entry indicating her married name in the Keith manuscript was overwritten—at least I was unable to read it—hence my eagerness to see what Cathi Clore Frost might have concluded from her own research.

As for the one remaining daughter, even her first name was a question in my mind. From her father's will, I read something like "Mille" but I have seen others read it as Milla. To complicate matters, this daughter was married at the time of her father's will, but the name was not entirely clear. It looked like Panther to me, but it could as easily have been Parther.

As it turns out, Adam's daughter Mille may have gone by several versions of her given name—a number only to be exceeded by the amount of guesses given on her married surname. Tomorrow, we'll review the possibilities, especially focusing on the many Frost footnotes on this one daughter of Adam Broyles, and see if there is any way to align any of those options with actual documentation.


Sunday, January 15, 2023

A Broyles Tidbit


Every so often in exploring the extended branches of my family tree, I run across a surprising detail. Let's just call today's example a Broyles tidbit, for I wouldn't have found this little snippet, had it not been for this month's research project on the Broyles family.

However, it's not exactly the Broyles family at this part of the story, so let's first take a moment to glean some background. We've been following the descendants of the founding immigrant couple to the Germanna settlement in 1717, Johannes and Ursula Broyles. One of their grandchildren, Adam Broyles, was my fifth great-grandfather. To Adam and his wife Mary, at least seven children were born. I've specifically been exploring Adam's daughter Jemima's family and descendants this past week.

That daughter, often referred to as Mima, was married in what is now Washington County, Tennessee, at about the time of her father's death in 1782. Mima's husband was a man by the name of Joseph Brown, but whether that man was one and the same as the Joseph Brown appointed by Adam Broyles as his executor, I can't say.

It was said that this Joseph Brown was also a Revolutionary War soldier, but sources reporting details on his life and untimely death in 1800 seem to be in disagreement. Nevertheless, there is quite a bit of interest in this line of a man with such a common surname, for at least two of his descendants became notable figures in history. One of the descendants of Joseph and Jemima turned out to be Joseph Emerson Brown, a four-term governor of the state of Georgia. Perhaps following in his father's footsteps, that Joseph's namesake son Joseph Mackey Brown also served two terms as the state's governor. 

That, however, is not the line I want to share with you today. Instead, let's wander down the line of descent from another grandson of Joseph and Jemima, William Carroll Brown. It was William's oldest son, George Thaddeus Brown, who eventually followed in the political footsteps of his more well-known uncle, Governor Joseph Emerson Brown. But not at first.

Born just before his uncle's final term as governor came to a close, George Thaddeus Brown turned his attention not to politics but to medicine. A practicing physician in Atlanta, Georgia, he later followed the example of his political relatives and served in the Georgia state assembly.

Following George T. Brown's second marriage, the couple welcomed their firstborn child, a daughter, in 1912. Since George was a popular member of the Georgia governing body, it is perhaps no surprise to learn that official announcement of his child's birth was made during the summer session of the legislature. Not only that, but the baby was apparently named by a resolution passed by both houses of the Georgia legislature on August 11, 1911, according to a report in the Atlanta Constitution.

That charmed life for the Browns' daughter did not fade after babyhood. In the mid-1920s, George, his wife Avis, and their daughter Georgia and younger son Melville were living in New York City. During that time, George Brown somehow met up with a man named Bernard Anzelevitz, better known as vaudeville entertainer and bandleader Ben Bernie. George shared the anecdote about his daughter's "adoption" by the State of Georgia thirteen years prior, and that snappy story must have resonated with the musician.

Ben Bernie and his orchestra made a recording of the tune supposedly inspired by Dr. Brown's anecdote, and released it in June of 1925. The piece—predictably called "Sweet Georgia Brown"—enjoyed a five week run on the charts at the number one spot, and over the decades has continued to capture its share of remakes. A 1949 version eventually was adopted in 1952 as the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters, and has seen many more renditions made since then.

About Georgia Brown herself? She died in Florida in 2002, at ninety years of age. Even her obituary mentioned that quirky legacy of the well-known jazz band ditty, a story I would not have known, had I not pursued the collateral lines of my Broyles ancestry. Though the real Georgia Brown was a fourth cousin to my maternal grandmother, I doubt even she was aware of the connection. But I wouldn't be surprised to hear that that was one tune she'd be dancing to when it first was a hit. 



Saturday, January 14, 2023

Now on My Shelf: The Broyles Family—
The First Four Generations


Normally, I save this Saturday spot for book reviews of those volumes which have sat on my bookshelf for far longer than they should have. It is my means-well intention to actually get around to reading those purchases which at one time seemed so tempting.

Today, though, I won't be featuring a selection which has been languishing in that nether-world of good intentions. Today's book is a recent purchase. In fact, it couldn't get to my front doorstep fast enough, once I discovered it had recently been published. That book in the series, The Germanna Record #22, researched and written by genealogist Cathi Clore Frost, is called The Broyles Family: The First Four Generations.

It just so happens that the ancestor I am researching for this month's Twelve Most Wanted is Adam Broyles, my fifth great-grandfather. Conveniently, this same Adam Broyles has claimed a spot in the third generation of the settlers to the second Germanna colony in Virginia, thus allowing for all his children to be included in the lengthy readout on the fourth generation.

Talk about just squeezing in, barely in the nick of time. I double checked on the information provided on the book at the Germanna Foundation's website, reading the reports issued as work on the book progressed. The Foundation had commissioned genealogist Cathi Clore Frost to "write an updated and documented account of the descendants of Germanna immigrants Johannes Broyles and his wife Ursula Ruop." The plan was to release the new edition at the Foundation's annual "Reunion" in July, 2021. To help ensure the plan would see reality, the Foundation launched a $25K fundraising project.

The genealogist selected for the project, Cathi Clore Frost, is not a direct descendant of the Broyles family, but as the project progressed, the Foundation shared some stories of how she became interested in the project and the connections she had discovered along the way.

As with many projects launched during the unpredictable times during the recent pandemic, research was hampered by closures of libraries and archives, but the book did get published just this past year, in 2022. As promised, it covered the first four generations of the Broyles family. Thankfully, for that fourth generation, a basic listing of all their known children was also provided. Thus, Adam Broyles' grandchildren, including those of my fourth great-grandfather Aaron Broyles, were also listed in this volume, connecting me to the more recent ancestors I've already documented.

The book itself, while a paperback, is huge. On standard size paper, eight and a half by eleven, the book contains 706 pages, including the index, plus the introduction and memorial tributes. It is thoroughly documented with a thirty one page bibliography. More important to me are the twelve-thousand-plus source notes, for which I'm afraid I'll need a stronger prescription for my reading glasses. There is a lot of vital information crammed into those seven hundred pages. This trailblazer noted every step of her way for us to follow.

The book promised to be an update to Arthur Leslie Keith's manuscript, the one we've been exploring this past week. Interestingly enough, the first three generations the author dispatched within the first eighty pages of the book. Beginning with page eighty one, Ms. Frost begins her chapter on "Generation No. 4: Great-grandchildren of John Broyles." That thorough handling of the many descendants in the fourth generation takes the reader up to page 441, after which can be found, first, the endnotes to the chapter, then at page 656, the bibliography, and finally, at page 687, the beginning of the index.

Considering the many other Germanna families who intermarried with the Broyles family—some of the surnames listed include Blankenbaker, Crisler, Carpenter, Wilhoit, and Fleshman—the book will be useful for many more researchers than just the Broyles descendants.

Because of the size of the book and considering that it is a paperback, I was concerned about the condition in which the delivered product would arrive. While the book can be ordered directly from the Germanna Foundation, since I have delivery arrangements with Amazon—fast and free of additional shipping charges—I opted to order there instead, and was pleased with the sturdy container used to ship this treasure. The volume arrived in perfect condition, a fact important to me as I envision I will be using the book quite often.

Of course, the book couldn't have gotten here soon enough. The moment I discovered its existence, I wanted it "yesterday." When it did arrive last Wednesday, I've been reading up on the first three generations, but my main goal is to examine that fourth generation, especially seeing what is documented for that generation's children. Remember, I've got some DNA matches among those distant Broyles cousins and I'd like to know exactly how we relate. I've got a lot of work ahead of me to follow this trailblazer, but I'm certainly glad for the guidance.

Friday, January 13, 2023

The Broyles Family:
Finding What Others Are Saying


While genealogy research can be wickedly challenging for some of our family lines—I'm thinking here of the false tales promoted by my mystery grandfather—other lines seem to come pre-packaged with complete documentation. Those whose ancestry has been compiled in genealogy tomes from the past century may seem to have a head start: simply acquire a copy of the decades-old volume, see what others are saying, and start retrieving data.

Published genealogies may seem to be a boon, but we need to remember that even the most well-meaning, thorough researcher can make mistakes. As I push back through the generations on my mother's ancestry, I'm discovering related surnames for which published (as well as unpublished) manuscripts still exist. The Broyles family of Virginia's Germanna settlement is no exception.

While the Arthur Leslie Keith manuscript which we have been reviewing this week seems to be the mainstay of that family, I was aware that there have been other published resources which we can consult. With the benefits of online access to many digitized materials, finding such books sometimes takes not much more than a search query, direct to Google or another search engine, or through a specific website.

Prime among those websites, at least for our family history purposes, is the FamilySearch site. Included in the FamilySearch offerings is a catalog of their book holdings. That is where I found the two volumes of the Keith manuscript, the first volume being the one I am currently consulting, but searching for the Broyles surname pulls up many more reference materials at FamilySearch than just that one volume.

There is, for instance, another book which I've used in the past, The Broyles, Laffitte and Boyd Relatives and Ancestors of Montague Laffitte Boyd, Jr., M. D. While the book is listed as published by Mrs. Einar Storm Trosdal, it was actually written by Montague Laffitte Boyd, himself. However, while the book does include information reaching back to the original Broyles settlers at Germanna, Dr. Boyd descended from Ozey Robert Broyles, my third great-grandfather, so the relationship and the book provide information focused on those family lines which are closer than my research purposes this month.

Seeking Broyles information directly from the Internet provides some older resources. For instance, in one online search, I found a listing of Broyles genealogies gleaned from the old RootsWeb site. Included among the databases mentioned there is actually one from Marcia Philbrick, who just recently posted a comment here at A Family Tapestry about her own Broyles connection.

I always make it a point in my search to include the old books uploaded to websites like Internet Archive. Checking just now, I was able to find several books containing entries on my Broyles ancestors. Some of them were quite directly linked to my family, like the Broyles entries in Richard Simpson's 1913 History of Old Pendleton District. Some of the references were to genealogies which were not directly related to the Broyles family, but for which mention was made in another family's genealogy, such as A History and Genealogy of Some of the Descendants of Colonel John McNeal, 1680-1765. Of course, some of the references in this Broyles search yielded families for which I don't yet know the connection—if there is any at all—such as this publication honoring the Eighth Annual Reunion, Biggs, Ballard, Broyles published in 1938.

If it is an old copy of a now-not-accessible book, a discovery like this makes one grateful for the volunteers who uploaded such material onto a site like Internet Archive. Montague Boyd made mention of such out-of-print volumes in his book, noting that some of the references used he doubted could even be accessed at the time he wrote his book. Some of the books he did mention I have actually been able to locate through online resources like Internet Archive.

While researchers are now resource-rich in the sheer number of materials we can access online—not even discussing those which can be found through an in-person visit to the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, or the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana—there is one question we still need to encounter. How do we deal with the fact that these resources will also likely contain mistakes?

The more references cited and the more documentation a book includes, the more reliable it will be for our research purposes. Still, for a book published in the early 1900s—or even Dr. Boyd's book, released in 1959—the ability to access documentation is the key element. Our ability to access resources is far more advanced now than any of these well-meaning authors could ever hope to achieve.

With that, our task is to use these older genealogies as trailblazers, coupling that resource with our current access to online records, where we can confirm or reject any assertion made in the decades-old books we find. As trailblazers, those books are useful, pointing us in a possible direction, and I still see them worth the consideration.

That said, the age of book publication is not something behind us. There are some skilled genealogists even now publishing noteworthy volumes on various genealogical material, including family histories. One such volume I recently discovered, published just this past year, focuses specifically on the early years of the Broyles family immigrants in this country. We'll take a look at that volume tomorrow.  

Thursday, January 12, 2023

All Adam's Children


No, not that Adam. I'm talking about Adam Broyles, my fifth great-grandfather. And here's my question about him.

Would it be possible to spot a sixth cousin through autosomal DNA testing? That is what we'd be seeking, in the case of the descendants of Adam Broyles, my fifth great-grandfather. And now that we have found Adam Broyles' 1782 will recorded in what is now Washington County, Tennessee, we have a listing of his surviving children. That, coupled with the narrative given in the unpublished manuscript of Arthur Leslie Keith, guides us to a starting point with the listing of all Adam's children.

First, let's consider what, if anything, might appear on my DNA match list for Broyles descendants. Anyone sharing my fifth great-grandfather Adam Broyles as a most recent common ancestor would likely be my sixth cousin (if in the same generation). According to the updated interactive Shared centiMorgan Project posted at DNA Painter, a match with a sixth cousin, on average, might mean eighteen centiMorgans shared in common—not very much. Granted, such a match could share up to seventy one centiMorgans, but it could also mean that two sixth cousins could share zero—absolutely no genetic material in common, whatsoever.

Working with numbers that small can be risky. There is a high chance for false positive results, something we need to keep in mind. Still, my thought is that if I work from the paper angle first, building a tree from adequate documentation first, then review those DNA matches whose ancestry contains the Broyles surname, it might be far more likely that the match would not be a false DNA result.

My first step, then, is to review the descendants' names mentioned in Adam Broyles' will, then consult with the Keith manuscript to find any additional notes. With that process, here is what we find on the children of Adam Broyles and his wife Mary.

Firstborn son mentioned in Adam's will was Moses, followed in the listing by Mima (also called Jemima), Anne, Aaron, Milla, Joshua and, finally, youngest child Mary. Moving further into the Keith manuscript, we can see Moses' wife listed as Barbara Carpenter, and Jemima marrying Joseph Brown—a Revolutionary war Patriot—in Washington County, Tennessee, in 1783. Adam Broyles' daughter Anne married Hugh Brown, the brother of her sister Jemima's husband. Aaron, Adam's second son and my direct line ancestor, settled in South Carolina and married Frances Reed.

Of the next child, Milla, the Keith manuscript has little to say. Keith notes only that she married someone by the last name Panther, but overwrites the typewritten entry by hand to (possibly) be Parther, then inserts a parenthetical note, "probably same as Prather."

The next child, son Joshua, apparently moved to South Carolina with his brother Aaron, where he and his wife were mentioned as having signed three deeds. Her name was given only as Elizabeth, no maiden name indicated.

Of the youngest child, Mary, Arthur Keith provides a note of her birth and baptism in 1776, but whatever name he typed in for her husband's surname was so overwritten as to no longer be legible.

With those seven children listed for Adam and Mary Broyles, I was curious to see how many might be represented in my ThruLines readout from Ancestry.com. Despite the fact that Adam was my fifth great-grandfather—quite a stretch when it comes to using a tool like autosomal DNA testing—ThruLines provides me with seventy eight matches supposedly connected through Adam and Mary Broyles. Of those seventy eight, thirty seven are from Aaron Broyles' line, my fourth great-grandfather. Of the rest, three are supposedly linked to Moses, nine to Jemima, thirteen to Anne, three—incredibly—to Milla, three to Joshua, and none to Mary.

In case you are one of those astute researchers with calculator at the ready, you and I both realize that that count does not add up to the supposed total of the seventy eight ThruLines has proposed as my DNA relatives. There is a reason for that. Ancestry actually has suggested two other daughters as children of Adam Broyles, likely an artifact of the company's use of subscribers' own trees—mistakes and all—as a basis for their ThruLines calculations.

There is a second problem with that approach. As I began to look more closely at the DNA matches suggested through this program, I realized the subscriber's tree did not always agree with documentation which could be found elsewhere online—some with wide gaps in dates between generations, others with unsubstantiated names included in the genealogy.

I'm taking this month to go through each match, line by line, but it is clear that not everyone whose tree says they are related is actually a DNA match through the line they think links us together. I'm not sure I'm up for correcting other people's trees, but I will make notes for my own records if I find an alternate way that we are related, especially with those matches who share a more substantial centiMorgan count with me.

One other thing to keep in mind, though: this listing is based on only one researcher's observations. There are other writers who have compiled genealogies for this part of the Broyles family. In the next few days, we'll take a look at what else can be found, and whether anyone else has made additional discoveries since Arthur Leslie Keith drew up his manuscript.      

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

A Frontier Family Tradition


Why is it that the colonial-era ancestors of my family lines seemed to opt for settlement in the least likely places? I've struggled with documenting such ancestors before, family members for whom the frontier seemed more attractive than the conveniences of their civilization's cities. My Broyles ancestors were yet another line apparently adhering to that same frontier-loving mindset.

Exchanging life circumstances in Germany—inadvertently, admittedly—for the hazards of frontier life beyond the Virginia borders in the Germanna settlement was the lot of Johannes Breuel and his family. Granted, by 1717, the arrival date of the founding immigrant ancestors of what has become my Broyles ancestry, the Virginia colony's lieutenant governor, Alexander Spotswood, had begun to establish military protection surrounding the recently-established settlement.

Still, on the edges of civilization, it is far less likely that the customary recordings of significant life events would be properly retained. And yet, thankfully, some researchers have found ways to assemble enough source documents to constitute a reasonable proof argument where records are lacking.

That is what we find in reading the opening pages of the Keith manuscript on the immigrant Broyles family. Land records, tax records, and paper trails of other customary transactions which in our age might not be typical business, all were taken as consideration as Arthur Leslie Keith worked his way through the Broyles generations from Johannes and Ursula to their grandson, my fifth great-grandfather, Adam Broyles.

The Keith manuscript estimated Adam Broyles year of birth to be 1728, and placed the location of his birth as what was, at the time of his writing, Madison County, Virginia. Since Madison County was established in 1792, we can presume that the original county from which it was carved was Culpeper County—at least, until we discover that Culpeper County was itself established in 1749.

Even that county had not yet been established at the time of Adam Broyles' birth, having been created from Orange County. And Orange County? That post-dated Adam's birth as well, formed in 1734. Still, we're getting close with this last county, for its precursor was home to the original Germanna settlement, which was located on the land holdings of Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood which eventually—in 1721—became Spotsylvania County.

Keeping track of records in such an ever-changing geo-political environment can be challenging. Perhaps that is one contributing factor to researcher Arthur Keith's inability to locate a definite date of birth for Adam Broyles.

Thankfully, Adam Broyles apparently became a large landholder. The Keith manuscript catalogs several exchanges of property, from the mid 1750s through 1780, in which Adam Broyles and his wife Mary were listed as either buyers or sellers. With their last Virginia transaction noted on June 5, 1780, Keith felt that it signaled the date marking Adam Broyles' departure for eastern Tennessee.

Moving to Washington District meant exchanging one frontier region for another. The Washington District had its own history of jurisdictional changes. While the first European settler to what is now Tennessee was another colonist from Virginia, arriving in 1769, settlement around a Tennessee waterway—the Nolichucky River—grew by 1772

This, of course, caused political repercussions, and some of these settlers—as we've already seen with another pioneer branch of my ancestry—were ordered to come back across lines of demarcation to the colonies from which they originated. 

Some widely recognized surnames were represented among those early pioneers in the region around what is now called Washington County, Tennessee, including Boone and Crockett.

Sometime between the point at which the North Carolina legislature established Washington County in 1777 and 1790, the year in which that land became part of the Southwest Territory, Adam Broyles may have arrived in what is now Washington County, Tennessee—if, that is, Arthur Keith's supposition is correct about Adam Broyles' 1780 land sale marking his departure for the Washington District.

Whatever the date, we can safely conclude his arrival at that location, for that is where he drew up his will on April 19, 1782. Fortunately, this one preserved record—a transcription of the original—reveals what we wish to learn about this Broyles ancestor and his family.    

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Driven by Circumstances


Arthur Leslie Keith opens his typewritten manuscript on The Broyles Family simply enough:

The history of this family in America begins with one John Broyles who came to America from Germany in 1717.

Assuming that the author took the liberty to convert that founding immigrant's given name from a more likely German version, the statement seems straightforward enough for us to use it to pinpoint this ancestor.

There are, with the next sentence, telltale fingerprints hinting at the possibility the author took liberties with the information he was imparting. About this John Broyles, for instance, Keith noted that he originally intended to head to Pennsylvania, but was "driven by circumstances" to land in Virginia.

The date 1717, combined with the inadvertent destination of Virginia for a German immigrant like John Broyles points us to the possibility of one location: the Germanna Colonies, whose history provides us with a bit more detail concerning those "circumstances" with which Broyles might have been "driven" to Virginia. Apparently, in 1717, emigrants from the Palatinate region of Germany had contracted in London for a certain ship's captain to transport them to Pennsylvania. The captain agreed, but en route to their destination, decided to instead take the Germans to Virginia, where they somehow became the indentured servants of then-lieutenant governor Alexander Spotswood.

Spotswood, a forward-thinking colonial governor, had been quick to spot the political and economic advantages (for the Crown, of course) of extending the western boundary of Virginia. He strategically expanded the Crown's dominion over that western region through militia forces and through settlements. It didn't hurt his plan to discover deposits of iron and silver in the region, for which German immigrants were sent to man the smelting furnaces. Thus, the borders were secured while the mining and smelting operations turned the region into a profit center for the colony.

That colonial settlement became known as the Germanna settlement. According to the Germanna Foundation, there actually was more than one wave of settlers, with the first wave arriving in Virginia in 1714, followed by the second party—"driven by circumstances"—arriving in 1717. Listed on the Germanna Foundation's website are the names of those settlers, as gleaned from documents of that time period. Among the second wave was listed the names of Johannes Breuel and his wife, Ursula Ruop. 

This Johannes is likely the "John Broyles" mentioned in the Arthur Keith manuscript. Along with his wife, the Germanna Foundation lists three descendants: Hans Jacob, Conrad, and Maria Elisabetha. The Keith manuscript posits two other possible children: John and Catherine, regarding whom we may spend some time later this month to trace further.

However, my main task with this month's research project is to follow one descendant in particular: Adam, possibly the oldest of Hans Jacob's many sons, who by my calculations should be my fifth great-grandfather. Tomorrow, we'll take a closer look at what the Keith manuscript shows on this particular Broyles ancestor of mine. 

Monday, January 9, 2023

Broyles Roots:
If You Know, You Know


Are you my cousin? If you have the surname Broyles in your family tree, we most likely are distant cousins, but how many people know that much detail about their distant ancestors? If you know, you might be a researcher like genealogy blogger Marcia Philbrick of Heartland Genealogy, who commented here yesterday about our Broyles connection.

It isn't that often that I run across someone with the surname Broyles. It is so uncommon an experience for me that when I do meet someone with that name, I wouldn't hesitate to blurt out to the unsuspecting stranger that we might actually be relatives.

In my college days, I wasn't quite so sure of myself, though when I spotted twin brothers at my university with that name—and not the more common Boyles, missing the telltale "r"—I knew we had to be distant cousins. Since then, I've dug far deeper into that unusual surname and learned a few details, enough to see that I need to keep digging even more.

In those earliest years of the Internet, when I was poking around online in search of other "genies" researching their Broyles roots, I ran across another Broyles descendant living in San Francisco. He emailed me a digitized copy of the widely-shared unpublished Arthur Leslie Keith manuscript, and we exchanged emailed notes on both its usefulness and its weak points. It was a starting point to help me see how the many members of this now-enormous extended family connected. 

As online connections between genealogy researchers increased over the decades—from ListServs to bulletin boards to genealogy forums—it wasn't unusual for those of us who knew our Broyles connections to announce to each other (and the lurking genealogy world) our umpteenth-generation-removed relationship. Thanks to what we were all learning about the Broyles lines, we were able to tell each other when we were, say, Broyles ninth cousins twice removed. It took a lot of knowing to be able to do this, but as they say, if you know, you know. And there are a lot of us out there who do know our Broyles ancestry.

There are, of course, pitfalls in all that research, which any Broyles researcher will be quick to mention. Those who told me about the Keith manuscript seemed to be quite quick to insert such statements. Perhaps that is why, despite having access to that manuscript plus many avenues for using that material as a trailblazer for my own research, I've been careful to move slowly through the generations. I've written before on some of my Broyles ancestors, but they have been of a more close relationship—if you can call someone born in 1798, like my third great-grandfather Ozey Robert Broyles, to be a "close" relationship.

For this month's research goal, however, I'm taking the plunge to examine Ozey's paternal grandfather, Adam Broyles. This is partially owing to the fact that I can, based on DNA testing, connect with some distant Broyles cousins from as far distant an ancestor as Adam. In fact, one task to complete this January is to check all my Broyles DNA matches listed on Ancestry's ThruLines to confirm through documentation what the genetic details seem to be affirming.

There is, so far, very little I know about Adam Broyles, himself—most of it drawn from the Keith manuscript and publications of a few other researchers. I know, for instance, that Adam Broyles was born in Virginia—which was, at the time of his 1728 birth, a British colony. I also know, from his 1782 will, that Adam Broyles died in Washington County, Tennessee, a location which, not surprisingly, became the state with the highest Broyles population in the nation by the time of the 1840 census.

While that may be an interesting factoid to toy with, it also presents research problems. Like many other American immigrant populations, roots of the Broyles family must have held naming traditions, for the extended family presents researchers with the challenge of separating same-named cousins into their correct families of origin, while realizing so many of them living in the same location in Tennessee.

Discovering more details about the man we are researching helps to isolate that individual from others who might bear the same name. In Adam's case, I know his wife was a Wilhoit—or Wilhite, or even Wilhight, depending on spelling used at the time—and that their firstborn son was named Moses. Adam had additional sons Aaron—my direct line—and Joshua. In his will, Adam also mentioned two married daughters, Anne Brown and Mille Panther (or Parther), one soon-to-be-married daughter Mima, and one unmarried daughter named Mary.

Knowing such details helps isolate the right Adam Broyles. Fortunately, besides these facts gleaned from his last will, Adam's family lived within a broader historical perspective, which we'll start checking into tomorrow.  

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