In 1976, I published "The Broyhill Family History, Volume
II - the Descendants of James Broyhill", which listed his known
descendants and showed how they were related. In it, I optimistically
stated that Volume I would soon follow to provide a comprehensive
biography of James, and would trace his roots back to the "old
country." I had a great many theories, but, as I began committing them
to paper, I became increasingly aware of how little I could actually
The above work was edited by a lovely, fair haired lass named Leslie
Cassell, a lady of a great many skills. Apparently I was quite smitten
by her charms, because a few months later, we were married. Over the
next few years she gave me two fine sons and, as they grew, we often
noted features and traits inherited from our respective families.
Although my interest in genealogy began with my Broyhill ancestors, as
the boys grew they made me increasingly aware that we carry the genetic
imprint of many, many ancestors. My son, Marvin IV or "Mike,"
has finely chiseled features - characteristics not prevalent in either
of our immediate families. My brother, Ronald Paige, who died as child,
had these same features, as does my aunt Nell Rose. But we did not know
their origin until recently looking through old photographs. Sure
enough, "Mike" was the proverbial spitting image of his great,
great grandmother, Sally Gilreath. My youngest son, Jim, has his
mother's determination, tenacity and compulsive desire to excel in all
he does - most likely inherited from his mother's German ancestors.
There are nine generations between my sons and the immigrant
ancestor, William Broughill, but he was not their only ancestor. In
fact, they have 512 ancestors in William's generation. If William is
considered "true blooded, 100% Broughill," then through
genetic dilution my sons are less than 1/5ths of 1%
"Broughill". This realization resulted in a much broader
genealogical interest and over the past dozen years, I have researched
my other lines. My primary efforts have been directed to my father's
side of the family. Beginning with my grandparents, I have traced many
of their ancestors back at least five generations. That translates into
my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Grandparents - who were married
about 1760. Out of 64 ancestors in that generation, I have proven 43 of
them, who include nine Revolutionary War Veterans. I have also proven
ten immigrations. In doing so, I have built a considerable genealogical
library, have become quite skillful at tracing a family, and have
written a half dozen major works on various families. I've become a
fairly accomplished genealogist.
When I begin researching a family, I use the "shotgun"
approach and search a dozen or so primary sources for references to the
name. This will usually establish where the family lived and when they
lived there and gives direction to more detailed research to follow.
Sooner or later, all leads are exhausted and there is nothing else that
can be done. Then I turn my attention to other families until new
information is found. The new leads are followed until they dead end.
Then the process is repeated. In short, after the initial effort,
genealogical research is a series of short bursts, followed by waiting
... then a lead .... more waiting ... then another lead ... then more
Of all the families I have traced, none has been more frustrating
than the Broughills. Every time I acquire a new book or discover a new
source of information, I anxiously search for some reference to the
surname. But time after time after time, such efforts have been in vain.
Twenty five years ago, I discovered the family in ancient Ireland and
was told by an authority on Irish surnames that the name was Irish in
origin. However, other evidence strongly suggested Anglo-Saxon roots.
Once genealogical information finds its way into print, its very difficult to correct
errors and omissions, so I decided to postpone the book until I had more
Then, in the summer of 1989, the breakthrough finally came. I
obtained copies of English Church Parish Registers published by the
Church of Latter Day Saints. About the same time, Fred Dorman published
another volume of Caroline County Records and Sam Sparacio published
still another from the same county, plus many from adjacent Essex
County. Suddenly there was a wealth of new material that tied a great
many loose ends together. Finally after all these years of trying to
unlock the mystery of our origin, I found the key and can confidently
outline the family's early history, which is set forth in this work.
But genealogical research is never complete. I wrote the first draft
of this report some three years ago, but was painfully aware of its
shortcomings. Since then additional research has resolved some issues,
but there are still a few leads to follow. Over the past year, I have
been acquiring photocopies of Broughall wills and estate papers from
England. There are tax lists and other documents still to be searched.
They may reveal more information on our ancient ancestors.
It has now been 18 years since I published The Descendents of
James Broyhill. Since then there have been many births and many
deaths. The work is due for an update, so the plan is to eventually
publish a comprehensive Broyhill Family History that will include the
expanded contents of this work and an updated account of the descendents
of James, all in one volume. I cannot predict when it will be completed,
but meanwhile this Interim Report provides the opportunity to share what
I've learned with my ever-so-patient readers.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have preparing it.