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 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 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.

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