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Broyles - "A Builder Family of Anderson Co., South Carolina

From: Traditions and History of Anderson County
Chapter XI - Some of our Traditions and Forefathers
by Louise Ayer Vandiver, 1928

Another of the builder families of Anderson is that of Broyles. The pioneer in this section was Aaron, who settled somewhere not far from the old Calhoun section, and married Fannie Reed, daughter of another early settler. They began life with love, courage and industry, their only assets. Their first home was a log cabin with a dirt floor. Mr. Broyles was of German descent, and Mrs. Broyles of French Huguenot blood. While their children were still small, they had begun to accumulate a good share of worldly goods, and they gave their boys and girls what educational advantages the section offered. Their sons were John T., born in 1806; Oze, Cain and Abel. The youngest died when a boy. Cain and Oze [actually Oze Broyles lived until 1875 and was buried in the Silver Brook Cemetery] lost their lives during the War Between the States.

The eldest, John T., had quite a number of adventures. In 1817 he accompanied a relative to Fort Hawkins, which stood where the city of Macon, Ga., is now located. They drove cattle which the owner sold to the government for the soldiers stationed there. When a little older he accompanied his father to Hamburg, S. C., then a flourishing trade center.

Mr. Broyles raised a quantity of tobacco, which was the staple crop of this section in the early times. Young John rode one of the animals which drew the hogshead and his father rode the other, their camping outfit packed between them as best they could.

As a youth Major John Broyles was well acquainted with John C. Calhoun, then a rising young lawyer. He attended Calhoun Academy at the same time that his cousin Joe Brown was a student there. Later John Broyles was sent to Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee, where he studied under Reverend Samuel Doark, the father of Presbyterianism in Tennessee. At that time there were a number of South Carolina students in the institution, among them Francis Pickens and John Hammond, both afterwards Governors of South Carolina. Pickens was the room-mate of young Broyles. John graduated with honors at Tusculum, and after bidding an affectionate farewell to Father Doark, he returned to Anderson district, where in 1829 he married Miss Clorinda Hammond, daughter of Dudley Hammond, a wealthy planter of the district. The young couple went to housekeeping in what was at the time a fine residence, the gift of the bride's father.

In 1332 came troublous times in South Carolina; the tariff bill passed by Congress enraged the planters, and the State declared the act null and void. A conflict was feared, and Governor George McDuffie called a meeting of the people of Anderson district in the summer of 1832 to be held at Varennes. There the governor made an appeal for volunteers to support the commonwealth against the Federal encroachments.

John T. Broyles was the first man to offer his service. He did it amid general cheering, and Governor McDuffie made him a Major of infantry on the spot.

In 1834 he served as a member of the South Carolina legislature. In 1847 Major Broyles moved to Tennessee. In 1856 he returned to Anderson, and was again elected to the legislature.

At the outbreak of the War Between the States Major Broyles was not permitted to enlist in the army on account of his age, but his sons served until the surrender.

In 1862 Major Broyles went to Dalton, Ga., and in 1864 he went with other refugees to Marshallville, Ga., returning in 1866 to Chickamauga, where he lived until 1895. He died at the age of ninety-three years.

Like many members of his family, he was musical, and at one time played the violin well.  He also wrote a number of pamphlets, chiefly of a political nature, though he had fine literary taste also.

Major Broyles was the father of seven children, five boys and two girls. Two sons died in infancy. Those who grew up were Edward, who died in Chattanooga in 1898; Dudley Hammond, killed in the war; Dr. Julius J. died in Chattanooga in 1898; Claudia, who is Mrs. Renan, of Chattanooga, Term., and Mrs. Clark, of Rome, Ga.

Mrs. Renan visited Anderson in 1920, and though then an old lady, her music and her vivacity made a deep impression on all who had the pleasure of meeting her. She played the piano in a way that few people, old or young, can approach.

Dr. Oze Broyles spent his life in Anderson. His home was the house on South Main street built by Mr. Samuel G. Earle, now occupied by the Acker family. He not only spent his life there, but remained for a number of years after his death. He was buried on the south-east corner of the lot, and a circle of cedar trees cut the haunted looking section off from the rest of the place. His wife had him buried there where she could spend a great part of her time near him, expecting at her death that the body should be removed and both of them interred in a cemetery. But when she died her son, Captain Augustus Taliaferro Broyles, a bachelor who had lived alone with his aged mother for many years, wished to keep her near him, and he buried her beside his father in the corner of the home lot. There very often one in passing the place could see the eccentric old man sitting on a bench beside his parents' graves. When he died, quite old, all of the bodies were taken to Silver Brook Cemetery, and now the weird spot has become a part of Mrs. Chenault's beautiful lawn, and the dense shadows have passed away.

Captain Broyles was the eldest child of his parents, Dr. Oze R. Broyles and Sarah Ann Taliaferro. The boy Augustus attended the Fendleton Male Academy. In 1843 he graduated from the South Carolina University. He studied law in the office of General J. W. Harrison, and was later taken into partnership with his instructor. He was a diligent student, and his legal opinions were always highly respected, and seldom found to be erroneous. By many he was accredited with being the best informed lawyer of his time in his section of the state. He wrote some valuable legal pamphlets, and at his death had in manuscript many commentaries on abstruse points of law. He was engaged in revising those papers when death fell upon him.

Captain Broyles served several times in the legislature; but while he always took an active interest in things pertaining to his county, he had no political ambition, and preferred to spend his time in the pursuit of his profession. When the War Between the States came on, Augustus Broyles, then a young man, was elected captain of one of the companies formed in the county, and he served in Virginia until forced to resign on account of disease, which caused him great suffering during all the rest of his long life.

Captain Broyles, like all persons of force, or great individuality, had some peculiarities, probably many of them inherited from a line of forceful ancestors. At times he was abrupt in the expression of his opinions, but withal he was very tenderhearted and sympathetic, particularly with old people and children.

Captain Broyles was well read, and a fluent and interesting talker, when he chose to take the trouble to converse. He had opinions, and the courage of his convictions under all circumstances. In all the relations of life he was honest and straight. Having never married, the chief love of his life seems to have been given to his mother, and for years the two of them dwelt hidden from the world by the dense cedars that shrouded their homes. Mrs. Broyles had flowers, too, but the outstanding characteristic of the place were the cedars. Planted when Anderson was an infant by Mr. Earle, they had grown very large and thick, and they suited the feelings and taste of the two lonely old people who lived behind them. The cedars, like those who loved them, have gone now.

After the death of Mrs. Broyles, the family of Captain Broyles brother, Mr. John T. Broyles, went to live with him. Mr. John Broyles' married Miss Bettie Hibbard, and their children were the chief interest of Captain Broyles' declining years; especially was this true of the only daughter, Zoe, whom he called “Dudie"; though at the time of her birth he insisted upon hanging crepe on the door; he wanted no girls about him.

Another son of Dr. Oze Broyles was Dr. Robert Broyles. He removed with his family from Anderson many years ago.

The late Mrs. Margaret VanWyck was a daughter of Dr. Oze Broyles, and a sister of “Mr. Gus.” Mrs. VanWyck in her early days must have been a beautiful woman; certainly in her old age she was lovely, and her manners "were as lovely as her face. Enthusiastic in everything that interested her, she was a great teacher. Her husband, Dr. Samuel Maverick VanWyck, was killed during the war, leaving her with three little children, two boys and one girl. The little daughter soon followed her father to the grave, carrying a part of the mother's heart with her. Towards little girls Mrs. Van Wyck was always most tender.

The young widow took up life as well as she could, and worked for her boys. They were Samuel M. VanWyck, who married Nina Harrison, and Oze, who married Bessie Keith. Mrs. VanWyck taught school in Anderson for many years, and impressed her vivid personality on many of the women who have in later years carried a portion of the responsibility of making Anderson a worthwhile town. Of the Methodist Church she was a most loyal and enthusiastic member. Mrs. VanWyck lived to be very old, and almost blind, but her cheerfulness, enthusiasm and interest in life never failed.

The other daughter of Dr. Oze Broyles married a Mr. Williams and went to Tennessee years ago. For a long time her daughters used to come to Anderson on visits, and with their beautiful music delighted all who heard them. The elder, Maggie, died young; the other, Marie, is living and singing for the pleasure of other people in Tennessee.

A brother of Dr. Oze Broyles, and son of Major Aaron Broyles, was Major Cain Broyles. He lived at old Stauntonville, one of the early settlements in Anderson district, which was located a few miles east of where Belton now stands. Major Cain Broyles left several children. Perhaps the one best known to Anderson people was Major A. R. Broyles, better known as “Witt" Broyles.

Born at his father's home he grew up on the farm. In 1845 he married Miss Martha Brown, daughter of Dr. George Brown, the founder and sponsor of Belton. Major Broyles purchased the old Sloan Ferry plantation in "the Fork,” and was a prominent planter of that section for years. He was the father of three attractive daughters. They were Mary, Lula and Clara. Miss Mary Broyles married Mr. Frank Crayton, and it is only recently that she has passed over to join the majority of her people who have gone before. Mr. Crayton is still among the best loved and most respected citizens of. the town.

Miss Lula Broyles married Mr John Baker, and for years their home was in Anderson, where they had many friends. Mr. and Mrs. Baker were an unusually handsome couple. Many Anderson people remember them and their children well. Bob, Eva, George and Helen were the young people, and Eva was a very lovely girl. She married Basil Manley Gawthmey and went to Richmond to live. The son Robert married Minnie Smith, of Anderson, who is to be remembered among Anderson's literary people, having written many successful stories. George Baker became a Baptist minister. Helen, a baby when the family left Anderson, became the head of a girls college in Richmond. Mrs. Baker died a few years ago, and is buried at Silver Brook.

The youngest daughter, Clara, married first Mr. Hewett, of Bamberg, afterwards Mr. McCauley. She died young and left two children, May, who died about the time she was grown, and was well known in Anderson as a musician. Miss Clara Broyles was an unusually lovely woman, in face as well as in character.

The late George Broyles, who married Emma Wilson, daughter of Jeptha Wilson, was a nephew of Major Witt Broyles.

 



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