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 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.


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