Broyhill Family History

Home Page / Contents | Broyhill Family Tree | Tree Index


Marvin Talmage Broyhill
Submitted by John Garrett. Received 18 March 1940
Typed transcript.

      "When I was a boy on the farm, where I was born in eighteen hundred and eighty eight (my father had bought the tract of timber - as he was a lumber manufacturer, and contractor and builder - and after he had sawed the timber on the place and [built] a home on it), the Cleveland administration came and with it the panic. And during these years my father had the place cleared and brought into cultivation, more to help the poor people than anything else. As I have heard him say many times, he didn't intend to make that place his home, but it was a good farm and he liked the community and so we lived there for around twenty-five years.
     "My oldest brother had finished the seventh grade some two years before I did, and had gone to Lynchburg, Virginia to do some special studies and had returned home. And when I had finished the grades - that was as far as the county schools could take one - I told my father I wanted to leave home and take up some business course when the fall came. And he consented to send me. So I answered some advertisements of various schools and decided I wanted to go to Omaha, Nebraska. I remember one day as I was hauling up corn from off the farm, I had been teasing my little five-year old brother, telling him I was going away and he would be sorry to see me go. Pete was the pet of all of us and he said, "Yes, I want you to go and I want you go right now," but when I left little Pete was crying along with the rest of us. Leaving home wasn't so easy, but I had made up my mind to go, and I wanted to make good and secure more of an education.
      "When I arrived in Omaha the government was calling for wireless telegraphy operators, and [I] investigated the position they had to offer and thought I would like the work. So I entered the school to study wireless telegraphy. It didn't take me but a few months to graduate, but to get a position I had to join the United States Signal Corps. And I was only eighteen, so I would have to secure my parents signature to my enlistment papers. I wrote home and asked them if they would sign for me to enlist for four years. My parents were willing, but wanted me to come home on a visit first. So I went home for two weeks and returned with all the papers all signed. After I was all signed up and passed the examination, and gone through the sham battles as operator, one day the Captain came in our camp and was selecting a number of boys to go to Alaska for the government. And to my surprise I was among the number chosen, "Now boys we don't compel you to go up there, but its a good opportunity if you want to go. Alaska is a country with opportunity and hardships, you will get double time on your retirement record while you are up there." Well, I was full of adventure and anxious to go.
     "We sailed from Seattle, Washington in nineteen and six, and arrived at Nome, Alaska in about three weeks later. We saw lots of icebergs, which made sailing both slow and dangerous. Alaska was an interesting county: a lot of Americans came up to hunt for gold, some of them got rich, and many went home broke. I was furnished with a dog team of six fine dogs and sleight, one which I traveled during the winter and went from one road house to another where our stations were located. The summer day is called six months long and the winter night is also six months, and we longed for the first of the sun in the spring. We had snow all winter, and when spring come and the sun came up, it was beautiful. And the Northern lights are wonderful, worth a trip to Alaska just to see them, but I wasn't conscious of the sun's glare on the snow and the first thing I knew I was snow blinded. That's why I have [had] to were glasses ever since.
     "I wrote home to my parents every week, [even] though the mails were irregular. And often I would have to wait a month for a letter from home and friends on the "outside" as we called it, only to receive a nice pile all at once. And how glad we were when it come.
     " I stayed up there until nineteen and twelve - around six years - and the longer I stayed the more I wanted to go home. So I come out to the States, and bought myself out of the Signal Carps, and home I went. My father was still in the lumber manufacturing business and was operating a number of mills, and I wanted to work with him. And so I bought a mill from my father and stayed with him until the depression come in nineteen and fourteen and the lumber business went down, and we had to quit or go broke. We had a lot of contracts, but the people said we can't pay for sawing as we can't sell a foot. So I still had my trade, and I secured a position with the Southern Railway Company as telegraph operator.
     "My father moved to town, sold our farm, and I was again at home. Then the war come on, and my oldest brother had gone to Hopewell, Virginia to work with the Dupont Nemours Powder Company, and he found it easy to sell real estate and was soon a leading real estate agent. He wrote home telling us all about the prosperity of Hopewell, Virginia, so my father and mother went out there with the family. I was left alone in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and it wasn't long until I resigned my position and went to Hopewell. Any my parents, my brother and I were in the real estate business and making money fast; we had a lot of options on lands. My mother often warned us, "Boys you would better be careful a crash in coming."
      "And in the meantime, I had left in North Wilkesboro the sweetest little girl I had ever seen and in the spring of nineteen and fifteen, Nellie Brewer and myself were married at her home in Huntington, West Virginia. After our honeymoon we come back to Hopewell - to make it our home where I was in business. In a few months after that, one day the Dupont Company made a statement that their plant might be temporary and the next morning, why I couldn't give a tract of land away. We had all our money invested, and we found ourselves broke. We got a job with the Dupont Company and went to work until we could get on our feet again. The war come to a close and with it the plant closed down and Hopewell was a dead city, people left by the thousands. I told Nell we might as well stay on and see what would come, as I felt sure the city would come back. And soon the Tubize Silk Company came and then other plants, and I again opened my office dealing in real estate. We had three boys then: Marvin Jr., the oldest, and Joe [Joel T.], and Hurbert [sic]. We wanted a girl but we had all boys. The town began to build up, and I began a building project of a restricted district in Crescent Ills and built and sold around a hundred houses. Then the depression of twenty nine came. We had a lovely home in Crescent Hills and with it our two girls, Joy , and Nellrose, and we were happy and enjoying prosperity. I though I could sell my farm and save my other property, but I couldn't collect and I couldn't survive for long. A house here lost and then another, and finally we sold our home, and moved to Arlington, Virginia.
    "My family lives there, and I keep my office in Front Royal. And after my week's work is done I go home [to] Arlington to spend the weekend with Nell and the children. Junior has finished high school and is working in Washington, D.C. Joe had to have five more units, so last year I sent him to Fork Union Miliary School and that cost me around a thousand dollars. But he is through school and is selling real estate with his mother. She is a good business woman.
    "I am getting a bit gray now, but I am still young. A bit heavier than I used to be - around one seventy five pounds - I enjoy a good joke, and a game with the boys when I go home, or a game of bridge with the family. We enjoy the Sabbath day when we attend church together, and often take a drive through the country in the summer when it is warm. Joy and Nellrose are getting to be grown girls, and they enjoy music and dancing. Mother is a good cook and house keeper, though we always have a maid. She sees to the work, and she is a great lover of flowers - that's her hobby - but she grows some prize winning roses, chrysanthemums, and other [choice?] ones. But I would like to have her to give up her work at Arlington and live at Front Royal, so I could be home more of the time. I enjoy the home life with the family, and its a treat for the week to pass, and when I can run home for a weekend and be with Nell and the children."

[LOC: VSA, Box 188; 8 pp, 1,658 wds, handwritten ms]
This is the only life history to contain the location of the original record.









Can you help us expand on this by providing information on you and your Broyhill Family?
If so, email to  Please list the page number that you are referring to.  It appears in the address bar of your browser.