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.       


  1. Replies
    1. No kidding. I knew something had to be up, but I couldn't find any way to document or even explain the connection.


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