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.

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