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Biography of Williamson F. BOYAKIN (May 30, 1807-June 05, 1908)

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Biography of Williamson F. BOYAKIN (May 30, 1807-June 05, 1908)

Posted: 1186343172000
Classification: Biography
"Dr. Williamson F. BOYAKIN -

For more than twenty years the subject of this notice has been a resident of this county, having come here in June 1869. Much of this time he has been a practicing physician, is connection with which he has carried on agriculture and occupied various positions of trust and responsibility. Now somewhat advanced in years he is retired from active labor and is spending his declining days amidst the comfort of a pleasant home on Section 2 in blue Rapids City Township, where he has a well cultivated farm comprising 180 acres. His career in life has been such as to win for him the esteem and confidence of his fellow men and his name will be held in kindly remembrance long after he has been gathered to his fathers.

The paternal ancestors of Dr. Boyakin originated in France, where being Huguenots, they escaped to England after the revocation of the edict of Nantes. From England they came to America in 1730, settling at Edgefield, S.C. There they became numerous and are now to be found in many of the southern States, only a few of them coming North. The father of the subject of this sketch, Wiley Boyakin, was born in 1780 in Edgefield S.C. Upon reaching manhood he married in Anson county, N.C. on the rocky river near the Pedee, his wife being Miss Milly Yarbrough, who was born in 1781 in that county. They lived there until after the birth of William F., the subject of this sketch, which took place May 30, 1807. Later they came to Illinois, where the mother died in 1846 and the father in 1850.

To Wiley and Milly Boyakin there were born five sons and three daughters, of whom only two survive-the subject of this sketch and his sister, Mrs. Catherine Merrill, a resident of Belleville, Ill., and the widow of Fredrick Merrill, a wealthy farmer of that place. The death of Nelson Boyakin occurred in Northern Mississippi, in 1824 when he was a youth of about eighteen. Wilson H. was a pioneer of Arkansas, and died in Union County, that State, in 1850; he was a well-educated man, and a great reader, besides being noted for his physical strength and extraordinary powers as a pedestrian, he having traveled on foot over a large part of the country. He was a Justice of the Peace, and died from the effect of a chill produced by swimming a river in winter, while on his way to perform a marriage ceremony.

Henderson P. Boyakin was a prominent lawyer and politician, living at Salem, Ill., and was a man of brilliant parts. He raised a regiment of volunteers for the Mexican War, known as the 2nd Illinois, of which he was Colonel, and served throughout that war. In 1846-47 he was Military Governor of New Mexico, having two regiments under his command. At Taos, in an expedition against the Indians, he contracted an incurable disease, and returning home died three months later, unmarried. He was a young man of great promise who would have made a bright record had he lived. Simpson H. became an artist and mathematician; he lived in Decatur, Ill., and accumulated a fine property, but suffered serious losses by fire, and died in 1861, a comparatively poor man. As an artist he became eminent, and acquired a fine reputation. He left two children, one of whom, a son, inherited his mathematical genius, and was engineer of the great bridge at St. Louis for five years. He is now a resident of Portland, Ore., holding a similar position. His daughter, Louise A., is one of the most noted female educators in the West, and makes her home at Belleville, Ill. Miss Harriet Boyakin, the eldest daughter, married Frederick Merrill, and died in 1854, on a farm near Belleville, Ill., from injuries received in a cyclone, which destroyed the fine brick house in which she lived. Frederick Merrill afterward became the husband of her sister Catherine. Emily P. was a beautiful woman, and a sweet singer; she married Dr. R.S. Fillmore, in 1851, and a sketch of her family will be found on another page, under the name of her son, Dr. R.S. Fillmore.

Williamson F. Boyakin was but one year old when, in 1808 his parents removed with a company from North Carolina to Tennessee. The caravan consisted of 100 twp-wheeled carts of primitive construction, not a pound of iron being used in the whole outfit. In the train was a boy, who afterward became Attorney-General of the United States - Lumsford M. Bramblett-and two who became Postmaster Generals -Aaron V. Brown and Felix Grundy. Another boy became President -James K. Polk. Still another boy, who walked most of the way barefoot, was Gideon Blackburn, one of the most brilliant pulpit orators American ever produced. Many others became eminent, and were leaders of public opinion in the South, such as the Polks, Pillows, Friersons and Buchanans.

This colony settled in Middle Tennessee, in Maury, Giles and Stewart counties. Young Boyakin was reared in Giles and Maury counties, in a manner common to the boys of that region, his earliest recollections being of taking refuge in block houses from the Indians. His father won renown as an Indian fighter under Andrew Jackson and General (afterward Governor) Carroll. In the campaign against the Creeks in Northern Alabama, Gen. Jackson was riding behind their only cannon, a six-pounder, when the Indians fired on them from ambush, killing the artillery horses as they were crossing a stream, everyone retreating except Jackson, who remained on his horse in the water. The father of Dr. Boyakin, who was a subordinate officer, rushed into the stram with a few men, drew the gun and led out the general's horse with him on it, and leading and firing the gun, he soon scattered the savage foe. Gen. Jackson was grateful for this timely action, which he declared had saved his life, and when the subject of this sketch was approaching manhood, insisted on sending him to Spring College, in Pulaski, Giles Co., Tenn., where he was graduated; and afterward, still under the patronage of Gen. Jackson, he studied law in Columbia and Pulaski, Tenn, in the office of Lumford M. Bramblett, Aaron V. Brown and James K. Polk, which was the style of the firm.

On July 4, 1826 Mr. Boyakin delivered his first public speech at Pulaski, Tenn., to an assemblage of 30,000 people, among whom was Gen. Jackson, then a candidate for the nomination of President. Dr. Boyakin's prospects for a legal practice were brilliant, but his religious scruples drove him from the bar, and not willing to lose the benefits of his education, he turned his attention to the healing profession, studying medicine at Lexington, Ky., and being graduated at the Transylvania Medical College in that place. He settled in Logan County, Ky., and practiced in that region until 1834, when he became a member of the Baptist Church, and before the end of that year was preaching at Jacksonville, Ill., his religious opinions leading him into the pulpit, and his Free-Soil proclivities driving him north of Mason and Dixon's line, although he was not what was then known as an Abolitionist.

Dr. Boyakin continued his pulpit work for a period of twenty years, but kept fully posted on the political movements which led to the Rebellion. As a proof of this it may be stated that the celebrated compromise bill of Henry Clay, was written on the table in is parlor, in Jacksonville, Ill. When the question of slavery was convulsing the land, and the denominations were disruption, the Baptists took steps looking to a fraternal separation between the church North and South. At the triennial convention of the Baptist Union in Baltimore, In May 1841, Dr. Boyakin was a delegate and representative of the State of Illinois. A committee of one for each State was appointed to devise means for a peaceful separation, and on that committee were such men as Spencer H. Cove, of New York; Dr. Sharpe, of Boston; Dr. Johnson of South Carolina; John Culpepper of North Carolina; Richard Fuller of Maryland; and other leading men of the denomination in that day.

Of that committee Dr. Boyakin was also a member. They met in Sharpe Street Church, and deliberated ten days and nights, the result being an advice to the convention that the denomination should separate on geographical lines and that Dr. Fuller and Dr. Wayland should lead off in an amiable discussion of the Bible doctrine of slavery, and the outcome was the celebrated text book called "Wayland and Fuller on Slavery." Dr. Boyakin frequently smiles at the idea that the publication of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was one of the most potential agencies in connection with the deliberations of that committee, in indirectly bringing about the fraternal divisions between the Baptists North and South.

In due time, at the age of fifty, Dr. Boyakin found himself devoted to his pulpit work, and his children growing up without a trade or profession. He felt that his duty lay in establishing a home for them and himself, and he accordingly decided to seek the far West. He completed his outfit at St. Joseph, Mo., and thence with his family made his way to Portland, Ore., where he realized his desires and acquired a good property. Twice he canvassed the Territory in the interests of the party who desire to make it a State. He returned East, in 1858, and seeing the war close rising, contributed his time and services freely in doing all he could to stave off the inevitable, buying and editing a paper in Belleville, Ill., in which he advocated the doctrine supported by Senator Stephen A. Douglas, and reported and published the joint debates between that statesman and Abraham Lincoln. When Sumter was fired upon he became an ardent Unionist, and entered the army, accepting the Chaplaincy of the 30th Illinois Infantry. He likewise became a member of Gen. Grant's Staff, and was in the battles fought by him at Belmont, Ft. Henry, Ft. Donelson, Shiloh, Iuka, Corinth, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, after which failure of health compelled him to resign.

One Sunday, at Jackson, Tenn., during the war, Dr. Boyakin preached to 30,000 citizens of Tennessee, on which occasion General Grant, Halleck, Logan Garfield, McCook, Buell and twenty-five others were present to hear him. The sermon was directed to the citizens of the South, and at its conclusion the order was invited to dine with the army by Gen. Grant, his guaranteeing their safe conduct to and fro without passes. The sermon, coming from a Southern man, and directed to Southern men, had a great effect in that country.

Dr. Boyakin was one of the first to sign the petition to the President to emancipate the salves. During Mr. Lincoln's second campaign he was sent from the army to Oregon, to canvass that State in the Present's interests, and he made a thorough canvass through the State, which it will be recollected cast his electoral vote for Mr. Lincoln. After retiring from the army, Dr. Boyakin settled in Paola, Miami Co., Kan., where he preached in the Baptist Church until 1869. That year he came to Marysville, this county, and resumed the practice of his profession as a physician, having become advanced in years, and as he says himself, poor. He took up a homestead on Elm Creek, and practiced through all that part of the country. In 1874 he was elected Coroner of Marshall County; he has been since continuously reelected, and still holds the office, being now a candidate for re-election. A few years later he was elected County Superintendent of Schools, and served four years, and endeavored then to resign his office of Coroner, but his resignation was not accepted. He has been a School Director since his settlement in this county until recently, when he refused to accept a re-nomination. Upon retiring from active practice he gave the management of his farm over to his son, Gershom W.

In Logan County, Ky., Sept 18, 1832, Dr. Boyakin was married to Miss Maria McQuary, who was born in Nashville, Tenn., August 10, 1810. They became the parents of five children, the two eldest of whom, Algermon and Theodore, died in Oregon in 1853 and 1865 respectively. Champion also died in Oregon, where he had a large ranch, in 1876. Adoniram Judson is a resident of Boise City, Idaho, where he is owner and editor of the leading Democratic paper in the Territory. Amanda is the wife of James H. Rhea, and resides in McLean County, Ill. The mother of these children died in 1850 and on the 13th of June 1852, Dr. Boyakin took to wife Miss Elizabeth Quorton. To them were born four children, the eldest of whom, a daughter Betty, possesses great musical talent, and at the age of sixteen years taught music in the college at Columbia, Mo, five years. Then going to Philadelphia she studied the art a year, and subsequently finished a five years course in Paris and Berlin. Williamson, a son, is a prosperous cattle man of Helena, Mont. Henderson is in business at St. Louis, Mo. Wiley was in the United States Army five years, but is now married, and engaged in business in San Antonio, Tex.

On the 30th of June 1868, Dr. Boyakin contracted a third marriage, in Cass County, Mo., with Miss Lucy Jane Gabriel, who was born in Cooper County, Mo., July 26, 1839, and was the daughter of a Baptist preacher. She received but a limited education, but an unusually large share of common sense fully supplied its lack. Two brothers of Mrs. Boyakin were soldiers in the Union Army, one being the youngest volunteer who ever enlisted. Their home was in the region which was the scene of operations of the notorious bushwhackers who infested Missouri during the early part of the war, and Mrs. Boyakin participated in many of the stirring episodes of that time. The well-known Union sentiment of the family caused them to be looked upon with distrust, and once Mrs. Boyakin was fired upon by a detachment of Price's army as she was entering the house of a Union neighbor to warm him of this peril. Her union with Dr. Boyakin has been blessed by the birth of a large family of children, vis: Theodore, Algernon, James Porter, Mary Ann and Sarah Ann, deceased. Three are yet under the parental roof: Gershom Walter, who was born April 12, 1869; Lucy Koester, Oct. 20, 1876, and Charles Simpson, March 27, 1881. The children are bright intelligent, inheriting the best qualities of both parents.

A man of rare qualities, Dr. Boyakin is an original and vigorous thinker, and a writer and speaker of marked ability. Politically, he is a stanch and ardent Republican. He might, had he so chosen, become wealthy, and been classed among the great men of the nation. His stern sense of duty, and his rigid adherence to principle at any cost, have kept him poor. In the position of life, however, which he has made for himself, he probably enjoys more real comfort that if he had been more ambitious for riches and social station. With income enough to satisfy his modest desire, with a wife devotedly attached to him, and beautiful children around him, and with the esteem of his fellow men, the evening of his stirring and most useful life is passing calmly away. The readers will be pleased to observe on another page of the Album a fine portrait of this honored citizen, able physician and consecrated minister, and will unite in wishing him a peaceful close to an adventurous and exciting life."
[Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Marshall County Kansas, Chapman Bros., 1889; p. 579-583]
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