By: Judge John L. Kiener
(Editor’s Note: Continued from the 23rd day of October 2012. In November 1984, the First Tennessee Development District filled out an application to include Broylesville, Tennessee on the National List of Historic Places. Martha Gray Hagedorn prepared the application form. The historic designation was approved on March 28, 1985 for a 200 acre tract bounded by State Highway 34 to the northwest, Gravel Hill Road and adjacent property lines to the east and adjacent property lines to the south and west. Information in this Part II and final article are taken from the FTDD application. One of the reasons for publishing this material is the hope that residents living in the area will update the text now that more than 25 years have passed since the application for inclusion in the National Register was approved. Patsy Greene, who lives in Broylesville and in one of the owners of the Ira Green property and Cobbler House, provided several updates on the material published in Part I. Unfortunately, the Broylesville Inn burned down in May 2004. Patsy witnessed the fire that destroyed the inn. The log barn or barns mentioned in connection with the Garst House were sold and moved from their location in 2012. Please email your comments to email@example.com or telephone: 423-753-3136 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 423-753-3136 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting. You can also drop by the Herald & Tribune office in Jonesborough. – J. L. Kiener)
In 1847 Frederick Garst purchased a 147 acre tract on the west bank of the Little Limestone Creek from John Stout. Stout had purchased this property from Samuel Broyles in 1812. Garst erected the brick mansion house that stands today sometime after l847. The 1850 Census for Washington County shows Frederick Garst owning $12,450.00 worth of property in the Third (later Eighteenth) Civil District, indicating that the house was very likely completed by this time. Garst died in 1852, leaving the mansion house and farm to his wife, Sarah Garst and their children.
By 1850 two hundred and six families were living in the Broylesville Community. The population included carpenters, blacksmiths, a wagon maker, a miller, a cooper, a saddler, farmers, laborers, a surgeon, merchants, store clerks, tailors, and shoemakers. Adam Broyles, Jr. (69 years of age) is listed as a farmer owning $5,300.00 worth of property. His 58 year-old wife Nancy is also listed in this census. Sixteen people are listed as living in the residence of Adam Alexander Broyles (1813-1900), Adam Broyles, Jr.’s seventh child. These include 39-year old Adam Alexander Broyles, who is listed as a merchant owning $5,400 worth of property and his wife Phebe D., also 39 years of age. Their children are listed as Edmonia L. (13 years old), Edwin A. (10 years), James W. (6 years), Adam C. (8 years) and Sarah (one year old). Isaac Broyles, Adam Alexander Broyles’ brother, is listed as a 44 year old farmer owning $7,000.00 worth of property. His 46 year-old wife Vanilla and their sons James, George and Adam are also listed.
For reasons of indebtedness Adam Broyles, Jr. sold most of his property to his son Adam Alexander Broyles in l853. This transfer included the store house mentioned previously, a tan yard, a bark mill (saw mill), a shoe factory (Cobbler’s House), a tin factory, a blacksmith shop, and the dwelling houses of both men. Adam Broyles, Jr. retained a life estate in about half of the land and all of the buildings. Of these buildings only the Cobbler’s House (built about 1840-1850) and the Broylesville Inn (constructed in 1797 destroyed in 2004) were extant in 1984.
Another large land owner and influential member of the community emerged during the 1850s and 1860s. Michael M. Bashor was a farmer and miller who was born in Virginia in 1830. In 1852, he married Susan Garst (born 1833), the daughter of Frederick Garst (who died in 1852). Bashor subsequently came to own the Garst home and a 280 acre farm. In 1869 Bashor and Charles H. Swatzel (born 1824), a carpenter, teamed together to “build and repair a saw and flouring mill” on the site of the Broyles Mill. The 1870 Census for Washington County lists Bashor as owning $9,000.00 worth of real estate and $2,000.00 worth of personal property. In 1872, the Bashor family sold their interests in the mill and house and moved from the Broylesville Community.
The fortunes of Adam Alexander Broyles took a magnum jump between 1850 and 1860. However, by 1865 Broyles was heavily indebted. The 1860 Census of Washington County shows Broyles owning $41,000.00 worth of real estate and $110,789.00 worth of personal property. Much of the value attached to his personal property must have been derived from the goods in his general store. He very likely suffered extreme losses during the Civil War and was forced to declare bankruptcy. His property was put into a trust administered by Jacob F. Broyles and much of it was sold over the years to repay debts amounting to over $20,000.00.
Although he undoubtedly suffered setbacks, it appears that Broyles was able to maintain a fairly large staff at the store through the 1870’s. In the 1860 Census of Washington County, Broylesville residents George W. Broyles (29 years old – Isaac’s son), William J. Strain (42 years) and Oseola Litgreaves (23 years) are listed as merchants. The 1870 Census of Washington County lists Broylesville residents Phillip Harmon (43 years old), J. S. Biddle (42 years old) and Adam A. Broyles (57 years old) as merchants in dry goods. W. P. Smith is listed as a worker in the store. James A. Brobeck is listed as a retired merchant. By 1880 the only merchant directly associated with the store is W. P. Smith.
DR. ANDREW S. N. DOBSON
In December 1866, Dr. Andrew Silas Newton Dobson (1840 – 1918) purchased the Ira Green House and 116 acres adjoining lands owned by Daniel Rogan, Adam Alexander Broyles, and Samuel Keebler. Dr. Dobson had been reared near Greeneville and had attended Tusculum Co1lege. He was conscripted under force into the Confederate Army in 1862. After the War, Dobson returned to Tennessee with his wife Nannie Jane McGaughey. He settled in Broylesville to become the community’s physician at the urging of the local residents. Dr. L. M. Hunter, listed in the 1860 Census for Washington County as the physician for the Broylesville Community, had died during the Civil War. While Dr. Dobson did not receive his medical degree until 1873, he apparently was a competent doctor before completing his formal schooling at Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Dobson and his wife Nannie lived with Charles Swatzell in the north end of Adam Alexander Broyles’ house until they were able to move into the Ira Green House in 1867. In his autobiography (written about 1910), Dobson writes that he had goods in the Broyles’ store house and also worked there. He went on to serve on the Board of Trustees for Washington and Tusculum Colleges, as an Elder for the Salem Presbyterian Church, and as a Democratic State Representative (1885 – 1886). All of the Dobsons’ six children (Minnie Bartlett, Fred F. Dobson, May Hamilton, Roy Calvin Dobson, Dean Newton Dobson, and Jessie Nannie Dobson) attended Washington College and the three boys went on to study at Princeton University. The Dobson family is buried in the Salem Presbyterian Church Cemetery at Washington College.
The impact of Adam Alexander Broyles’ declared bankruptcy resulted in the sale of the Broylesville Seminary of Education by Jacob F. Broyles to the Trustees of the school in 1871. A school had existed in the Broylesville Community prior to this time, as school attendance records included in the 1860 and 1870 Census listings for Washington County indicate. In Dr. Andrew S.N. Dobson’s autobiography, he states that in 1867 he organized a Sunday School in the old school house. The deed of sale refers to “the pubic school house now erected.”
The school was located “east of the Great Road leading to Jonesboro, adjoining Swatzell‘s line.” This places it on the same side of the road as the Broyles’ Mercantile Establishment, about 1/4 mile to the north. (A question written in the margin of the report asks the question: LaurelHillAcademy? – Editor)
The Trustees of the Broylesville Seminary of Education were all men from the community. They were Michael M. Bashor, Dr. A.S.N. Dobson, Thomas J. Doyle, Charles H. Swatzell, and Phillip Harmon. All of these men have been mentioned previously in this text, with the exception of Thomas J. Doyle. The 1870 Washington County Census lists Doyle as a 53 year old farmer who owned $10,000.00 worth of real estate and $1,500.00 worth of personal property.
An interesting aspect of the deed is a section on the non-denominational status of the school. “(T)he public school house … shall be open to all evangelical denominations of Christians to worship . . . when not in use . . . but no denomination shall organize a . . . church.” The inclusion of such a sentence may have been motivated by the Sunday School class meetings that Dr. Dobson refers to in his autobiography or by some sort of a conflict with the Presbyterian affiliated Washington College. At any rate, no record of a church existing in the Broylesville Community could be found. Most of the community’s residents attended the Salem Presbyterian Church at Washington College.
It is not clear exactly what types of classes were taught at the Broylesville Seminary of Education or when classes were suspended. Webster’s Dictionary defines seminary as an institution of secondary or higher education; specifically: an academy for girls or an institution for the training of candidates for the priesthood, ministry, or rabbinate. By 1887 and perhaps as early as 1870 Washington College was offering coed college preparatory courses at the junior, middle, and senior levels in addition to its college level curriculum. It is most likely that the Seminary provided non-denominationally affiliated high school education for the children of the Broylesville Community.
By 1870 the population of the Broylesville Community included four cobblers, several millers, a braker for the railroad, a cabinet-maker, a millwright, and several blacksmiths. The post offices which served the community were located in Millerwood and Freedom (later Limestone).
MITCHELL & SMITH MILL
Michael M. Bashor sold his interests in the mill and a foundry located on the property to John F. Smith in 1871 and to Samuel Doak Mitchell (1812 – 1885), William Montgomery Mitchell (1823-1901), and Hannah C. Anderson in 1872. The mill became known as the Mitchell and Smith Merchant Flouring Mill. Following Smith’s death in 1888, William M. Mitchell and Hannah C. Anderson purchased Smith’s share in the business. John F. Smith had a company called Smith Glaze and Company and was storing goods in the Broyles’ store by 1870.
Samuel Mitchell and William Mitchell were the sons of Nancy Doak Mitchell Broyles. They, along with Hannah C. Anderson, purchased the Garst House from Michael Bashor in 1872. William Mitchell and his wife Rachel Ellen Anderson Mitchell (1838-1907) reared their children Amelia Addie Doak Mitchell (1871 – 1965), Samuel Fain Mitchell (1873 – 1926), William Hugh Mitchell (1875 -1947), and Eleanor Estell Mitchell (1877- 1958) in the house. Between 1887 and 1899 some or all of the Mitchell children attended Washington College for college preparatory and college courses. None of the Mitchell children ever married and remained to live out their lives in the family house, which they called Cedar Lane.
“Cram’s 1888 Unrivaled Atlas of the World” lists Broylesville’s population at three hundred. Limestone had two hundred and fifty inhabitants at this time and Brownsborough had fifty.
In 1890, Jacob F. Broyles sold the Broyles’ Mercantile Establishment and the Broylesville Inn, marking the end of that family’s dominance in the community. Over the next twenty-nine years this property changed ownership eight times. T. G. Moore purchased the property in 1919; he operated the store until 1925 and his family lived in the house until 1980. Moore’s heirs sold the store house to H. O. and Floy Usary in 1939. Mr. Usary’s parents lived in the back of the store house for a number of years. The Usary’s sold the building in 1963. Marvin G. Carter has owned the building since 1982.
B. F. Parker, a retired railroad engineer, purchased the Bashor Mill from William M. Mitchell’s children in 1912. Soon after, he erected the four square house which sits near the junction of the Taylor Mill and Gravel Hill Roads. In 1919, Parker sold the mill to J.H. Taylor, a miller. Parker later gave Taylor his house in exchange for room and board. The Taylor family retains ownership of the house and sold the mill to Erlene Hoover Ledford and Faith Ledford in 1982. The Ledford’s operate an antique shop in the mill.
James J. Taylor, J.H. Taylor’s son, inherited the Garst House from the Mitchell family in 1965. The Taylors sold the property to Faith Ledford in 1980. She is living in the house while restoring it.
Dr. A.S.N. Dobson’s estate was divided in 1919. Ownership of the farm and house
passed through several hands until the McQueen family purchased the 153 acre farm and residence in 1947. James, Kyle and Louise McQueen are the current owners of the property.
The Thomas Telford House remained in the Telford family until the late Nineteenth Century. It was purchased by Ches and Ruth Sharp in 1970. They have restored the house to its 1815 appearance.
The Twentieth Century has witnessed the loss of many buildings which made up the Broylesville Community, including the school and the Octagon House. However, the historical context and architectural integrity of those buildings which do remain is significant and important. This community represents the evolution of a late-Eighteenth Century settlement in Washington County. The buildings which do remain span the architectural designs and construction techniques of the Nineteenth Century. Broylesville remains unique in that very few intrusions have occurred to displace the Nineteenth Century appearance.
1. BROYLESVILLE INN (constructed about 1797). Gravel Hill Road. A five -bay, two-story wooden clapboard structure with an “ell” to the rear. The gable roof is covered with raised tin. A one story porch supported by chamfered posts runs around the house except on the southern side and the eastern side of the “ell.” Detailing on the facade includes a finely carved front door surround with a thirty-two paned transom and two sidelights and a palladian inspired window above the door. The house has three chimneys. Interior details include a “U” shaped staircase with wave moulding and six classically inspired but plain mantle pieces. There is a large barn to the rear of the house.
2. THOMAS TELFORD HOUSE — (constructed about 1815). A five-bay, two-story brick structure with a composition shingled gabled roof. A wooden dentillied cornice runs across the western facade and a corbelled brick cornice runs across the eastern facade. Most of the rooms have three double long sash windows, 9/9 on the first floor and 6/9 on the second floor. There are two transomed doorways with sidelights on the western facade, both centrally located, one on the first floor and one on the second floor At one time the house was several feet shorter as ghosts on either gable indicate. The house has three flush chimneys with corbelled pots, two on the northern side and one on the southern side. A fourth chimney of the same design rises from a one story brick addition to the rear.
3. BROYLES’ MERCANTILE ESTABLISHMENT — (constructed about 1830 – 1840). Gravel Hill Road. A three-bay, two-story brick structure with a gable front. This is a classic Greek Revival design which incorporates one Federal detail in the palladian window in the gable. The facade is divided into three bays by brick stone pilasters topped with Doric capitals. A wooden cornice with classical moulding is attached to all sides but the rear, which has a brick gable. The facade has a flush wooden gable. The brick is laid in English bond throughout the building; some penciling on mortar joints is evident. Large limestone blocks form the stairway into the center doorway. Limestone is also used in the foundation. At one time the area in front of the store was paved with limestone blocks. The wooden windows and door surrounds are finely channeled and have raised shoulded architrave designs in the corners of the lintels. The interior reveals a large space with counters. Traces of a wooden cornice decorated with the sunburst motif run along the top of the walls. The first floor is partitioned about two-thirds back to allow for living quarters. This is original to the construction. Two finely carved mantles remain. The second floor is undivided. A large wheel and window on the southern wall of the building evidences the hoisting arrangement employed for moving heavy items in and out of the store. The building is roofed with standing seam tin and has one chimney. There is a large barn to the rear of the store house, but it does not go with the store property.
4. COBBLER’S HOUSE — (constructed about 1840 – 1850). Taylor Mill Road vicinity. A three bay, one-and-a-half story clapboard structure with a raised tin gable roof. Jigsaw or vergeboards decorate the gable eaves. The building rests on a brick foundation. On the interior, the staircase employs a decorative motif reminiscent of a boot. A frame barn stands on the hill above the house.
5. GARST HOUSE (constructed about 1847 – 1850). Taylor Mill Road. A six-bay, two-story brick structure with metal shingled gable roof. The house was built in two stages, the section to the north completed first. There are three chimneys in the house, all are flush with the walls. The brick is laid in English bond. The windows are 6/6. A Steamboat Gothic porch decorates the length of the eastern facade and a smaller Gothic porch projects from the western entry. The plaster walls of the parlor and dining room are marbleized in a light blue and white. This is an original treatment. There is an “ell” shaped staircase located in the central hall of the house. This is undecorated. Two log barns, a log corn crib and a frame barn abut the northern edge of the property but are not owned as part of the Garst House.
6. IRA GREEN HOUSE — (constructed about 1812-1867). McQueen Road. A three-bay, two-story frame house covered with aluminum siding. The house has a metal shingled hipped roof pierced by center gables on the north and south slopes. One story wings flank the house on the east and west sides. Interior chimneys rise from the eastern and western slopes. The foundation is poured concrete. An elaborate Italianate porch graces the northern facade. Brackets support a plain cornice under the eaves of the main house and wings. Features such as mantles, doors, cabinets, mouldings, and the staircase maintain the original character in the interior. Six wooden barns, sheds and outbuildings stand on the property.
7. BASHOR MILL — (constructed about 1869). Gravel Hill Road. A three-story frame structure with a standing seam metal gable roof. There is one chimney on the eastern side. Cut limestone blocks form the foundation. Cornice returns and sealed corners are elements of the construction which highlight the quality of craftsmanship in the building. Many of the interior posts are octagonal and chamfered.
8. PARKER HOUSE (constructed about 1912). Taylor Mill Road. A three-bay, two-story frame house with a hipped roof. Metal shingles cover the roof, center gables pierce the east and west slopes. Interior brick chimneys rise from the northern and southern slopes. A one story porch surrounds all four sides of the house. The house rests on a continuous footing.
(End of Report)
What days and hours are the buildings open.
Kay, These buildings are private residences.
I thought that a museum had been created. So we can just view these establishments. My husband is interested in this history of his family.
Kay, this museum and archives is in the works. Society Members Dwight and Cheryl Bennett own the Broylesville Mill, and are working on repurposing it, for a museum and archives. They are also doing research. Cheryl has completed a book on the mill as well and working on another book on mills throughout Washington County. Their website is https://broylesvillehistory.com/index.html
Is the Garst house still standing? If so are the current owners willing to allow access for photos etc?
Related–is the Frederick Garst grave located nearby?
Yes the Frederick Garst house is still standing and actually being taken care of. It is located at 3356 Old State Route 34, Limestone, Tennessee. The Cemetery I believe is still out there. More info here: https://tngenweb.org/washington/records-data/cemeteries/cemeteries-of-washington-county-tennessee/cemeteries-of-washington-county-tennessee-g-h-i/garst-frederick-ii-grave/
Also, we did a tour through this area in 2017. We have some tour books left with history on this area if you are interested. Not many left!