Broyhill Family History

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Thomas Jefferson Broyhill
Submitted by John Garrett. Undated.
Typed transcript

     Thomas Broyhill was born in Wilkes County, in the year of eighteen hundred and fifty two. His father and mother owned a farm near Moravian Falls, and they lived and reared a family of two boys and three girls. Besides farming, they had operated a mill, on which the community's wheat and corn was ground. The Civil War had come and was fought through when Thomas was a small boy, and through the long years of the conflict between the North and South, Thomas' father, William, had served as a home guard for his country. "How glad we all was when the war was over. We were at home again together. How well do I remember when the Union soldiers come through the county on their way home, riding their poor worn out horses. We had heard how they would go to the people's barns and take out the mules or horses and leave the poor old horse they had been riding, and take the good one, and rob the smoke house and things like that, so we kept our horses hid out in the woods, and our meat and what little flour and corn we had hid. A Pentleton family lived near our place. Her husband had been killed in the war. A Union soldier went to her barn and got out her good horse and started to ride away on it, when she cam begging him to please leave her horse, that she had a lot of little children, and that she was a widow, having lost her husband in the war. And when he ignored her pleadings and started on, the captain said, 'Shoot the damn rascal,' to her and grabbed her gun and brought him off her horse. Those were awful days."
     Thomas' father was a school teacher after the war, but the only book we had was an old blue back speller and 'rithmetic, and Thomas finished them in two months, and that's all the school he had. He worked on the farm until he was a young man, and when he became twenty one, he had lost his good mother and wanted to earn a trade. He had taken a four year's course in the millwright trade, and had worked for almost nothing to learn, but it was a four years well spent, for now he was an excellent carpenter, as well as a first class mechanic, and millwright.
     "I had been boarding at the home of a rich man and often paid his pretty daughter right much attention. I liked her, and she seemed to think a lot of me. But I couldn't make up my mind to marry a rich girl, so I left there and went to North Wilkesboro to work. I often went back to my father's and out to Moravian and it was on a visit there that I happened to meet Sallie Gilreath. She was a pretty girl, and of an excellent family. Her father and mother were pious parents, and the leading people of their community. I kept visiting there and the first thing I knew I was in love with Sallie, and she was seventeen and I thirty when we were married in her father's home."
    Thomas had become interested in the manufacture of timber, as well as contractor and builder. The first steam engine that was brought to western North Carolina was bought by him, until soon he had a number of sawmills working in the woods, and Thomas was a leading business man. "My father and mother worked hard together, it was in the early eighties that my father bought a large tract of timber over the river, and moved his family with him into this new vicinity. He often said, "I didn't intend to stay only long enough to finish cutting this tract of timber, but then the panic came on, lumber couldn't be sold for cash, and the people around me were suffering, and men would beg me to let them clear up land, that I might give them work to get bread to eat." Thomas was a big hearted man, and the sight of these poor men, well he wanted to help them so he let them men clean up acres of woodland, preparing it for cultivation, until by the time the panic was over he had a large farm all cleared up, and brought into a good state of cultivation, but he didn't intend to farm, but now that the land was ready, he decided to work it. The farm was a good one, and he set out an orchard of apples and peaches, as well as a large vineyard. Now he was a Baptist and there was no church near, so he builded a large church and give it to the Baptist denomination, and largely supported its pastor, that there might be church close enough for his children and that of the community to attend worship.
      In the early nineties, a man by the name of Bumgarner approached him with the mercantile business, and wanted Thomas to become a partner with him and establish a general mercantile store at Stauton, and after some consideration he went into the business. Thomas was the chief financier. For several years the business was successful. They had the United States Post Office and the business continued to grow . Thomas was busy with his own work, that of manufacturing timber and contracting and building, while his wife managed the farm with the help of the children, five boys and two girls. "My mother's great ambition was to send all of us children through high school and college.
      She often advised my father, "You would be better keep a close check up on that store," but father trusted Bumgarner and said, "He's honest. Our inventory shows a good increase, and its moving on all right," but word kept coming to my mother' ear about the extravagances of the Bumgarner family, and when the crash came, the Bumgarner family sold out, and left the state at night, leaving thousands of dollars indebtedness. "I tell you what I would do," said father's friend to him, "homestead your farm, put your property in your wife's name. You out not to be expected to pay all those debts." But my father said, "Those are honest debts and I am going to sell out and pay them if it takes my last dollar," and he did. Gone was our hopes of a college education, and that is how we come to Hopewell, Virginia in nineteen and fifteen.
    The DuPont Powder Company was doing a great business here and father hoped to get work, but he was too old, so he did contract work, until the draft called out so many men. Finally father got a job, and held it until the close of the war. My mother kept boarders.
      Thomas bought a home. "It don't ever pay to rent," he said. "You're putting your money in a hole that won't every fill up." "Own your own home was his motto," and he never rented. But his weak point was his good heart. If that could be called one. If another man wanted a note endorsed or any help, he couldn't say no and he always had it to pay off and when his sons come to him in his old age, "Daddy we want you to mortgage your home to finance our building program. It will help us a lot and we won't let you lose on it." "No, I don't' want to do it." he said, but when they insisted he signed the mortgage and as the depression of twenty eight became harder, the interest was hard to pay. The boys all had homes of their own, and were all married expect his daughter.
     In nineteen and thirty Sallie died and Thomas was living in his own home, and his single daughter, now thirty was working and staying with him. "No, Annie Lou won't ever leave me, not as long as I live," he often told his friends. "She's always been different from the other children, and has done more for me and Sallie than any of the rest of them and I want her to have this house after I am gone, but I don't' know what the mortgage will come to." Someone said, "What would you do if Annie Lou would get married? You don't' seem to want to live with any of the children." She'd never leave me - I know that, but if she should get married then I don't have any objections, but I would live with her and be "boss." He brought down his hand, laughing.
     Thomas enjoyed traveling, and when Annie Lou taken a vacation from her work, she carried him with her. Once they went through the Natural Bridge, and on down the Valley and through the Caverns. This trip he often talked of how he did enjoy it.
     In his lifetime, he educated a number of the neighborhood boys, and taught them the carpenter trade, and made men out of boys who would never have had a chance to be or know anything except for my father. While he wasn't able to send his sons to college, he taught them the trade of contracting and building, and they are in businesses of their own.
     Thomas was always self supporting. When he became too old to contract and build, he opened up a poultry yard and sold eggs, enough for his support. "I want to have my own home as long as I live."
     Thomas retained his gentle nature, and the jolly twinkle in his blue eyes, and though a little stopped and thin, his appearance is more of an old general than that of a builder. He liked to tell funny jokes, and at night his time was spent reading, and his education was equal to that of the average man, but he was a self-educated man. I never heard him complain of his losses. "We have so much to thank God for, and we're not going to take anything with us when we go, but if we're ready to go, we ought not to mind the going."








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