Broyhill Family History

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The story behind this website
      In 1968, my grandmother, Nellie Brewer Broyhill, gave each of her children a large, white family Bible for Christmas.  In it, she had carefully inscribed the names of many of my ancestors.  It was the first time I had ever encountered anything regarding my "roots."  That night my Dad and I stayed up to the wee hours as he told me numerous stories about our ancestors.  I was fascinated.
      We were then living in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington. I had spare time over the Christmas holidays and had always loved history and research, so the next day, I drove over to the Federal Archives and spent hours browsing through old records and indexes.  I came home with pages of notes on Broyhills, but had no idea of who they were.  Lots of questions, but no answers.  Over the coming months, I researched the name at the Library of Congress and the Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogical Library, but since there was nothing in print on the family, these efforts were largely fruitless.  I then began abstracting census records.  It was a tedious process.  They were on microfilm, one for each county and each had to be read line by line, page by page.  I spent a full day going through telephone books from all over the country and located about two dozen Broyhills.  This resulted in a lot of correspondence and phone calls.  This information made it possible to recreate the family tree.
      I published the results in 1976 as The Broyhill Family History - Volume II - the Descendants of James Broyhill, in which I listed every known Broyhill and showed their relationship to James.  Volume I was to follow with a detailed biography of James and it was to trace his roots back to the "Old Country."  This proved to be far more difficult than I had expected, but finally, in 1993, I published the results of my research in the form of an Interim Report.  In its introduction, I noted that since 1976, there had been a great many births and deaths and Volume II was due for an update and that it was my goal to eventually combine the two works into one comprehensive history of the family.
      I have long been aware of the limitations of printed books.  Once published, the content is fixed, and can only be updated through the use of supplements or subsequent editions.  Yet, a family is dynamic.  Babies are constantly born and the grim reaper inevitability claims us all.
      Drastic social changes that have taken place during the past few decades.  In the early 1950's, the members of our family lived fairly close together and were tightly knit.  Uncle Joel lived next door, and next to him, my grandparents had built their house.  Across from them lived Uncle Tom.  My grandparents other three children, Herbert, Joy and Cookie, lived less than a mile away.  My grandparents house was the focal point of family activities.  It was always filled with their brothers and sisters, their children and the many grandchildren.  For a century, the Broyhills had lived in Wilkes County, NC and few ventured beyond the county line.  This resulted in an extended family and our life in Arlington, Virginia was characterized by that tradition.
      But that world no longer exists.  No longer do parents have a half dozen or more kids.  Generally, they have less than half that number.  Modern transportation and specialized job skills often result in them being scattered all over the country.  The day of the extended family seemed to be gone forever. 
     In 1997, I started an Internet business and it has grown, I became increasingly aware that the incredible communication capabilities of the Internet would permit the publication of a dynamic Family History, one that could be constantly changed to reflect the dynamic nature of our family.  Family members could instantly access and review the information and make contributions as they deem necessary or desirable.  But even more important is that a central clearing house for family information would permit family members to easily locate and communicate with one another. Email will never replace the personal and intimate nature of the day-to-day contact made possible by an extended family, but it does permits family members to keep in touch.  A central clearing house makes it possible for them to discover long lost relatives.
     This is the beginning of such an effort.  The Family Tree section begins with the content of my 1976 book, so the articles on contemporary Broyhills are outdated.  Over the months and years to come, it is hoped that all can be updated and expanded by the use of biographies and photographs.  Meanwhile, it gives us a place to start.  Its eventual success will be largely based on your contributions, so they are solicited.
    Marvin T. Broyhill III, August 22, 1999

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