Broyhill Family History

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The Quest for Broyhill Family Roots


In 1993, I published Volume I of the Broyhill Family History. 
The following is the introduction to that work.

   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 prove.
     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 waiting.
     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 conclusive information.
     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.