Images of our ancestors are the golden nuggets of family history. Often we are not able to find an image of an ancestor, but when we do, even when the image is small and faded, it gives life to their name and dates. When you look into the eyes of people who lived so long ago, who are your own flesh and blood, it is an ethereal experience that connects you to your past.
One set of pictures I have in my collection of family images is in an old, red, velvet-covered album of the Broom(e) family. Besides my loved ones, this album is one thing I would grab in case of a fire. Most of the photos in this album are from 1880-1900, but some daguerreotypes are from before the Civil War. All except a few are labeled, which is invaluable! Also in my family history collection I have the Broome Family Bible listing many of their important dates and events.
The patriarch of this family is John Thomas Broom who was a farmer from Utica, Mississippi. (The “e” was added to the family name around the turn of the century according to Bible records.) The year before the Civil War began he married his young sweetheart Aletris Ellen Morgan on October 7, 1860. He was 24 and she was 13. They married in Richmond, Louisiana (near Tallulah, LA) which was burned completely by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant before the siege of Vicksburg, MS in 1863.
Born in 1836 John Thomas was the prime age of 26 for military service in the Civil War. John served for more than one year in the Confederate Army as part of the 36th Mississippi Infantry. He enlisted in March 1862 for 12 months of service, but in April 1862 a Confederate conscription act, or draft order, went into effect that forced men ages 18-35 to serve for at least three years. In September of 1862 the conscription age was increased to 45. But a year and two months after his enlistment date, when the 36th Mississippi was ordered to leave Snyder’s Bluff north of Vicksburg and take up defenses in Vicksburg, John deserted and went home. Maybe he sensed the inevitable defeat by the Union Army because of the advances they were making around Mississippi. But there were other reasons why many Confederate soldiers deserted their army around this time in the war.
One was the enactment of the conscription acts which they felt infringed on their rights by their government — which was why they were fighting this war against the Union in the first place. In addition to this was the 20 slave exemption added to the conscription acts in October of 1862. This exemption meant that those who owned 20 slaves could go home to help prevent possible slave uprisings. The slave-owner could then hire someone to fight in his stead. Any man who could afford the $300 price could hire a substitute to fight for them. Therefore the war in the Confederacy by this time had become known as “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”
John Thomas and Aletris had their first child on August 30, 1861, a few months after the start of the war. They named him Thomas Sanders Broom after Aletris’ father Thomas Sanders Morgan. After John Thomas returned home from the war he and Aletris had 9 more children, six of whom lived to adulthood.
When Thomas grew up, he converted from his family’s Protestant faith to Mormonism. His father then disowned him.
John Thomas Broom returned home by August of 1863 and the following spring on May 30, 1864, Eva May Broom was born. She grew up and married Craven P. Fairchild on the 10th of December 1884.
The Broom’s second daughter Louisa Broom, died the day she was born on September 11, 1866.
Catherine Octavia Broom was born in Jan of 1869 and died at the age of three.
Their next child was a son, Willy.
John William “Willy” Broom was born in December of 1870. Sadly at the age of 7, he was killed when he was hit by a wagon.
The Broom’s third son Andrew Jackson Broom, born May 3, 1872, was named after Alestris’ brother Andrew Jackson Morgan (who was killed in the Battle of Seven Pines at the age of 16). He moved to Llano, Texas where he was a border patrol agent.
Annie Theodosia Broom was born January 27, 1876. She married Andrew J. Harvey on the 4th of July 1899.
Luther Dudley “Dutchy” Broom was their eighth child and fourth son who was born on June 16, 1877. He was my great grandfather.
He married Anna Daisy Jacob from Reserve on the German Coast in south Louisiana. They were married in Baton Rouge on 28 Dec 1904. He was Baptist and she was Catholic, so they were married by a Methodist minister. He worked for Standard Oil Company (now Exxon) in Baton Rouge.
Clarence Franklin Broom was born April 25, 1879. He married Albia Jones December 23, 1903.
Aletris Broom had their last child when she was 42 years old. She had a girl born September 13, 1881 whom they named Mary Jane Broom. Something happened to Mary Jane causing her to pass away at the age of 7. All that is written in the family Bible is the date she died and the time of day: “quarter to four P.M. Sunday eve”.
The old Broom family album contains many more interesting photos of members of Aletris’ family and John Thomas’ families. But those photos will appear in a future post.
John Thomas and Aletris lived a rich life full of joy, hardship, happiness, and sadness. Most of the handwriting in the family Bible appears to be hers. But on the day she died, at age 58, in a shaky handwriting typical of old age, John inscribes her death information in the old Bible: “Aletris E. Broome the wife of J. T. Broome. Died on the 19 of April 1905 about 8 in the eaving was born 11 of March 1847″. All other dates after her death were written by him until he died.