Pyles Family African-American; Glynn Co., Georgia

Pyles Family

Compiled by Amy Hedrick
November 2006

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The story of Robert Pyles and Sheriff Robert S. Pyles is a complex and confusing one. Two stories were told me of this family, the first being that Robert Pyles was the half-brother of the Sheriff. The second was that the Sheriff had an illicit affair with Theresa Blue and fathered children with her. However, a marriage record exists between Robert Pyles and Theresa, not to mention she may have married quite a few times.

According to the death certificate of Robert Pyles filed in Glynn Co., Georgia, he was born about 1882 and died 7 June 1930 at his home, Fancy Bluff. He was the son of Robert & Mary Ann (Paldo) Jackson Pyles, and the informant to his death was Adam Pyles, a possible brother. He was African-American.

The 1870 Camden County, Georgia census lists a Mary Jackson age 22 years with two children William age 3 years and Joseph P. age 1 year. I could not find Robert Pyles, Sr. in the 1870 census, but did find a Robert Powells age 26 years in Glynn County with a Caroline age 24 years.

1880 Glynn County, Georgia Census enumerates the household of Robert Pyles mulatto aged 36 years with wife Mary age 38; son William age 14; son Joseph age 10; son Thomas age 8 years; son John age 5 years; son Robert age 4 years; and son Adam age 1 year all born in Georgia. It appears from this census, that Mary Jackson and her two children are now part of this family. A Robert Pyles and Mariann Jackson were married in Glynn County on 1 November 1872 (Book B pg. 49).

On 29 December 1900 in Glynn County (Book D Colored Marriages pg. 100) a Robert Pyles and Theresa Blue were married, then only two months later a Robert Pyles and Julia Viola Belcher were married on 27 February 1901 (Book D Colored Marriages pg. 103). It appears from public records that Robert and Theresa did not stay married long, but did this Robert marry only two months later to another woman?

So, the question, were the children listed with Robert Pyles in the 1920 census his and Theresa’s or his and Julia’s?  He does not show up in any census year with a wife but is listed as married in the 1910 census.

The 1910 Glynn County, Georgia Census lists Fred Blue as the head of household with his wife Ellen and daughter Theresa Blue and grandchildren Helen, Estella, Geneva, and Adelia, the same children that are listed in the 1920 household of Robert Pyles while living next door to Andrew & Gussie Hippard. Theresa was supposedly married to him as well, is she the Gussie with Andrew in 1920?

My records show, however, that Augusta Blue was the daughter of a George & Fanny Blue, that she was a separate person from Theresa. Augusta Blue was married at least three different times, once to a Mr. Gilliard, once to Andrew Dunham, and once to Andrew Hippard, Sr. Not to mention that Theresa has a death certificate where she is the wife of Andrew and Augusta has one as well.

Sheriff Robert Samuel Pyles (Caucasian) was born 6 September 1865, about 10 years before Robert Pyles, Jr. The sheriff was the son of Henry W. & Elizabeth (Berrie) Pyles and he married a woman named Julia Eberly around 1894 in Ohio. To this union was born one known child, Clara E. (Pyles) Curry, wife of Chapman Kenton Curry. Sheriff Pyles died on 15 June 1935 and is buried in Palmetto Cemetery, his wife died 4 April 1953 buried next to him.

The prominent Brookman Community story was that Sheriff Pyles and Theresa Blue had a long lasting relationship where children were born to them. This story has been told to me by the white and black community without any discrepancy. However, a new story was told me, that Sheriff Pyles and Robert Pyles were brothers.

I’m finding the latter story hard to believe due to public records information. Not only that, but Robert’s father, Robert Sr. was listed as mulatto in the 1880 census. I believe it probable that Robert Sr. was the brother of Sheriff Pyles’ father, making the Sheriff and Robert Jr. cousins.

If Theresa did have an affair with the sheriff, why were her children living with her in 1910 and Robert Jr. in 1920?  It would be a hard pill for him to swallow, having to take care of his wife’s illegitimate children.

I do believe that some relationship did exist between the two families, white and black, but the exact relationship is very unclear. While I will not argue with the family and their traditions, in my personal experience, most family stories passed down, are unfounded in fact.


Update 26 September 2020

I've noticed recently that someone has attached this page to a Find-A-Grave memorial for the sheriff, Robert S. Pyles, apparently, under the presumption that the above information is about only him and that I am "mis-informed"; I guess this researcher did not see (African-American) at the top of this page, that this is mainly about a man named Robert Pyles, who was most likely enslaved by the Caucasian Piles family, but, whose life seems to have been attributed to the sheriff by the locals. Robert Pyles, who was born enslaved, is the man who married Theresa Blue and Julia Viola Belcher and it just happens to be ironic that his name is Robert and there is a Caucasian man with the same name who also married a woman named Julia.

There are a lot of similarities one could almost presume they are the same man, but public records proves they are not and cannot be the same person; and, while I cannot confirm nor dispute whether or not the sheriff had illegitimate children with an African-American woman during a time period when this was, essentially, illegal, I did find a story that matches a lot of what I was told, but, it was about the sheriff's cousin, George W. Piles.

Did the locals just change the names of the parties involved or did the sheriff really visit Theresa Blue and have illegitimate children with her while she was married, ironically, to another man named Robert Pyles? I don't know. Or, did the locals never really see anything, and since there were two men named Robert Pyles, gossips decided to spin a little scandal, after all, the sheriff was not known for his kindness towards the African-American community as it was also rumored that he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan (unsubstantiated rumor so don't start penning hate mail to me dear readers).

What I do know is that sheriff Robert S. Pyles' cousin George never married and was always living near or next door to a woman named Jenny Lind Blue who had children in her home with the surname of Pyles.

Turns out, George and Jenny fell in love and had a family and they lived their entire lives at Fancy Bluff on land George inherited from his family as neighbors; the same land sheriff Robert S. Pyles inherited from his side of the family. George is the man who the neighbors in Brookman Community would see walking from his home to the home of an African-American woman. George is the man who had illegitimate children because it was against the law for him to marry the woman he loved, a woman that his family most likely enslaved.

The story of the sheriff and a woman of African-American heritage is actually George W. Piles and Jenny Lind Blue's story. I think the locals may have confused the names, but, then again, maybe there is some truth and the sheriff had illegitimate children; whether of mixed race or not.

But what about Robert Pyles? Is he biologically related to sheriff Robert S. Pyles? Possibly. At the very least we know he was most likely enslaved by the sheriff's family, otherwise he wouldn't have the names Robert and Pyles. Regardless, they were two different men, born at about the same time, living on the same land at Fancy Bluff in Brookman Community, both married to a woman named Julia.




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