Our Boyd Family

Blessed are the elderly for they remember what we never knew!


The earliest known member of our Boyd family is Joseph B. Boyd who was born about 1770, probably in North Carolina, possibly in Virginia. It is suspected that his middle name is Benton as the name "Joseph Benton" comes down through several generations. Currently, I am exploring the possibility that he came from the Robert and Eleanor McCullock Boyd family who lived in North Carolina as there are a number of associations between several of the families in that area.  The will of Robert does name a son Joseph, but definite connections have not yet been made. As family history indicates Scotch-Irish descent, in this time frame it is very likely that this Boyd group came to America through the Carolinas. 


Our family story is that "my father's father came to America from Ireland as a young man where he was born.”  Apparently, his father had come from Scotland to Ireland, either Dublin or Belfast (that's gotten blurred over the years, but Belfast is protestant, so that is probably it) and as a weaver of silk and fine cloth. The son apparently also learned the weaving trade, but wanted to come to America and did. The Irish textile industry suffered a severe depression in the 1700’s and numerous Irish immigrants came.  He supposedly married an Irish girl – Eleanor McCullock?  This apparently was passed down by John Boyd (Joseph’s son) and his "father's father" would have been the father of Joseph, possibly Robert.  Robert would have been the perfect age to have come to America during the textile depression and had a son Joseph who is hard to locate, just like ours!  Robert and Eleanor’s children also contain names found in our line – Wilson, Marion (male) John and Thomas.  Their son was also Aaron, a name we see close to our family.  Could this be our connection?


We do know that Joseph Boyd married Phoebe Little in Washington County, TN on January 20, 1798. Phoebe was the daughter of Jonas and Rebecca (Tipton?) Little. Her birthdate is approximately 1773. They were in Washington County with other Bedford Co, Virginia families and there is an Alexander and Henry Boyd who were near them and might be relatives.   The Henry is possibly the same that later appears in Marshall County.


Joseph and Phoebe had four known children:


·         John Boyd, born 20 November 1803 in Tennessee

·         Elizabeth Boyd, born 15 September, 1810 in Tennessee

·         Joseph B. Boyd, born November 30, 1816 in Tennessee

·         James, date of birth unknown, quite possibly the oldest


I have been unable to find Joseph and Phoebe together in census records.  The first definite census information I have is Phoebe, age 77. who appears in the 1850 Henry County, Tennessee census with her daughter, Elizabeth Venable, wife of Richard Venable. Also appearing in the census is Phoebe's son, Joseph Boyd, who apparently lived with the Venable family for many years. She does not appear in the 1860 census.  I have yet to find Joseph anywhere.  It is assumed Joseph, Sr., died somewhere after 1816 and Phoebe died in Tennessee after 1850.


While I have been unable to locate Joseph, I certainly find Aaron and others who were in Marshall/Bedford/Lincoln counties in Tennessee and close to our John Boyd.  They were near a Henry Boyd in Bedford County and in Marshall County, TN there is another Joseph Benton Boyd as well as an Aaron Boyd.  There is also a Sam Wilson family that was friends with this family mentioned many years down the road in the family. 


There also is listed in the 1850 Marshall County census two widows: Rebecca Boyd, age 72 born in North Carolina and Elizabeth Riggs, 71 also born in North Carolina.  There is a John Boyd (not ours) who marries Rebecca Riggs that may connect to our line and I believe this is her.  Could John and my lost Joseph be brothers?  This is highly suspicious as in our Boyd/Marshall family, two Riggs children later appear living with them, so there must be a connection, but maybe through the Marshalls, not the Boyds at all. 


John Boyd, son of Joseph and Phoebe is our great-great-grandfather. He married

Margaret R.F. (Rebecca Frances?) Marshall, daughter of Peter Wynne and Margaret A. Short Marshall on July 19, 1842 in Marshall County, Tennessee. They were married at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning in the home of the bride's father, according to the marriage recording in Marshall County.  


John may have been married prior to this. There is an old family story that John Boyd married and moved to Illinois where he had a farm in Sangamon County, IL. He was reportedly married to an Irish girl. It was there that his wife and infant son became sick and died. He apparently became quite despondent. One day, two men rode up to his home and asked him if he was interested in selling his farm as they felt like it would be a good place to build a town. John, feeling the need for a change, sold his farm and went back to Tennessee. It was on this property that the town of Springfield, Illinois was built. I have no way of knowing if this is true. There is, however, in the 1840 Illinois census in Sangamon County a John Boyd. There is also a Tennessee marriage of a John Boyd to a Mary McKee. McKee's also came on into Dallas County, so there well may be some truth to this. However, apparently Springfield, Illinois was well on its way to being a larger town by 1840, as that is when they started building the capitol. I figured maybe the farm was on what would have been the outskirts of Springfield at that time, if there is any truth to the story.


Regardless, John married Margaret and they moved to Dallas County, Missouri by 1850 where they appear in the census records. John was a farmer. He apparently did not get along real well with Margaret's parents, who came with their family to Dallas County.  This apparently angered John and he and Margaret left Dallas County and moved to Carroll County, Arkansas by 1860. John had an orchard there and did a fine business for many years. He and Margaret had nine children, although only five survived past young adult hood. John Boyd gave one acre of land in Carroll County for a church - any kind but Catholic - and the church still stands today as Boyd's Church outside of Oak Grove, Arkansas. I believe they were probably Presbyterian, although I can trace them through Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist churches.   The Little family (Phoebe’s family) were early Methodists and prominent in Tennessee Methodism, so the Methodist connection is strong.


John and Margaret’s oldest son, James C. Boyd was killed in the Civil War. James was with the 8th Missouri State Militia, Cavalry, Co. A., and was a private. His death date has been recorded in the family records as December 20, 1862. In searching Civil War records, I found a skirmish at Cane Hill, Arkansas not too far from Fayetteville where several men were killed on December 20, 1862. National Cemetery records indicate that James C. Boyd's body was reinterred at the Fayetteville National Cemetery. From this information, I believe he was killed at the skirmish at Cane Hill. There are no other battles/skirmishes recorded for that time period in that area that I could locate.  The picture on the book cover is of his grave.


Their second son was John Thomas Boyd who married Mary Ann High. They lived in Carroll County their entire life. They had at least Sarah J., Joseph B., Thomas M, James P, John R, Nancy and Rhoda.


Wilson W. (does that W. stand for Wynne??) Boyd returned to Dallas County, Missouri where he married Mary Elizabeth Miller. They had one daughter, Ida Josephine. Wilson became ill with pneumonia shortly after her birth and died when she was just a few months old. He is buried in Liberty Cemetery. Mary remarried Elisha Price about five years later and they had several children. She died in 1933 and she and Elisha are buried in the same plot that Wilson is buried in, which I think is very nice. Elisha was a Civil War prisoner of war at Andersonville.


Sarah was John and Margaret's oldest daughter and she married Tuck Minick. They lived in Missouri for a while and then returned to Carroll County, Arkansas.


Marion Mead Boyd stayed and cared for John and Margaret for many years. He married Doc Tidball’s daughter, Mary Catherine.  He and his family did move over by Garfield, Arkansas, where they died and are buried.


Mary Jane Boyd married Green High. Green took over John Boyd's orchard after he died and continued a prosperous business for many years.


Joseph Benton Boyd was our great-grandfather and he married Mary Jane Harris.  I have searched high and low for a copy of their marriage certificate and have yet to locate it. It is not in Dallas, Webster, Laclede, or Greene Counties in Missouri or Carroll County, Arkansas. I have checked books and original records. Joseph and his brother Wilson returned to Dallas County where Joe married Mary and lived in Dallas County on what is now the Dennis Bohannon farm. The original home is still standing, although remodeled. Joe was a farmer. He and Mary had three children. Joe died at his home in 1931 of a weird cancer that ate his face. While there has been a bit of discussion as to whether he died on March 13 or March 31, his obituary was in the March 19, 1931 Conway paper and reads as follows:"


Joseph B. Boyd passed away at his home west of Conway Friday, March 13, 1931 at the age of 77 years. He had been in ill health for several years and had been confined to his bed since last November.  Funeral services were held at the M.E. Church in Conway, Sunday morning, conducted by the pastor Rev. W.M. Kerr, with interment in Graceland cemetery directed by (unreadable.)


Joseph Boyd was born February 20, 1854. In November 1877 he was married to Mary Jane Harris who died in 1923. They had three children, Mrs. Jesse Wills, of Phillipsburg, Edgar Boyd, of Conway, and Mrs. Zora Lindley, at home, all of whom survive.


The Arkansas Boyd's and the Missouri Boyd's kept up quite a bit of letter writing over the years. I have copies of many of these letters that give great family information.  I am choosing to not put these on the web at this time. 


As for John and Margaret, they both died in Carroll County, Arkansas. I have letters referring to both of their deaths. Margaret died after a stroke 13 December 1888.  John was in failing health at her death and died 19 July 1891.  The year on John's tombstone is wrong, as the postmark of the letter that tells of his death to Joe Boyd back in Missouri is 1891, although his tombstone says 1890.


As for Joseph and Phoebe's other children, Elizabeth Boyd was born September 15, 1810 in Tennessee. At an unknown date and place she married Richard Venable. They moved to Henry County, Tennessee and then into Johnson Co, Illinois where they lived until about 1881, when they moved to Ripley County, Missouri to be near some of their children. Elizabeth's death in 1882 is recorded in the Ripley County, MO Records, Obituaries: 1874 - 1910 by Thelma McManus as follows:


"Elizabeth Venable, wife of Richard Venable, died Friday night, February 10. Aged 72 years, moved here 4 months ago from Johnson Co, Ill to be near children in Washington Township., she leaves a husband, now 76 years old, and other relatives."


Richard died on February 3, 1887 in Ripley County. They are both buried in the Arnold Cemetery outside of Doniphan, along with other family members. I have a copy of a wonderful letter written by Elizabeth Boyd Venable to John Boyd, which gives valuable family information. It is included at the end of this report. Elizabeth and Richard had 9 children.


Joseph B. Boyd was born on November 30, 1816 in Tennessee and apparently lived with Elizabeth and Richard for many years. Joseph shows up on the census with them in 1870 and again in 1880. He married Mrs. Mary A. Bridges on December 16, 1862 in Henry Co, TN, but then she died on October 6, 1865, shortly after the birth of their infant daughter on September 20, 1865 and her subsequent death on September 23, 1865 in Johnson County, IL. Mary was born about 1826. Joseph died on August 2, 1888 and this family is buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Johnson County, IL.


James Boyd is the great unknown in this family. Ripley County, MO records indicate a James Boyd that was here EARLY (pre-1830’s), but apparently didn't stay. I can't help but believe that he is the James Boyd who shows up in Dallas County, Missouri at a later date. There are two groups of Boyds in Dallas County and they can't claim kin. BUT, they all look alike! I can’t help but think this is not some of the family of James.  There is a James Boyd who comes to Dallas County in the mid-1850’s but there is no evidence yet of a link.


I have pretty good descendant information on Elizabeth Boyd Venable and John and Margaret RF Marshall Boyd.  Their brother, Joseph Benton, had no surviving children that I am aware of.  I am still searching for our connections with James.  If you have information on this family, or are a cousin seeking more information, please do not hesitate to contact me at carmenboyd@missouristate.edu.  Thank you!