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    Clan Boyd Society, International

                             "CAVALRY LIFE IN TENT AND FIELD"

            by Mrs. Orsemus Bronson Boyd (Frances Anne Mullen Boyd).
                          New York, J. Selwin Tait and Sons, 1894

      Orsemus Bronson Boyd
      Photo courtesy   Charles R. Novak

Orsemus B. and Frances (Mullen) Boyd
        (original chalk drawing of Frances Boyd in possession of Jeffrey Howard Boyd of Boonton, New Jersey)
Orsemus Bronson Boyd, son of Henry and Eliza (Bronson) Boyd was born in 1844 near Croton (now called Treadwell), New York.  At the start of the Civil War he enlisted in the Eighty-Ninth Regiment, New York Volunteers with his father and older brother Amos who died in the field of battle.  In 1863 he accepted an appointment at West Point.  Orsemus' grandparents were Amos Boyd and Celestia (Steele) Boyd.  Amos was the son of William and Marjary (Taylor) Boyd of E. Springfield, Massachusetts.  William's parents were John and Margaret (Long) Boyd who were married in Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts on 11 April 1731.  John is believed to be son of Capt. James Boyd born 1669 in Scotland.

Orsemus Boyd was unjustly accused of theft while at West Point and ostracised by fellow cadets for years until he was exonerated by the admission of guilt of a fellow cadet named  JOHN JOSEPH CASEY who committed the deed.  On  his sick-bed, in a delirium, Casey confessed to the crime of planting  the  evidence which convicted Boyd.  Casey died less than a year later by a  bullet from a gun of one of his own men.  His  confession was made to a fellow Cadet named Hamilton and Hamilton didn't tell anyone about it for several years.

Orsemus graduated in 1867 and was appointed a second lieutenant in the Eighth Cavalry. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in 1868 and remained in that rank for fourteen years, receiving appointment as Captain in 1882.  After a brief illness while on campaign against Geromino, he died at a military camp near Grafton, New Mexico on July 23, 1885, at the age of forty-one. 

"Immediately after graduation from West Point in 1867, Orsemus B. BOYD married Frances Anne MULLEN, a woman who would prove his equal in stamina and courage for eighteen years of army life in the West. She accompanied him on bruising and treacherous journeys across the Sierra Nevada and Mojave Desert to live in some of the most remote outposts the army saw fit to garrison: Camp Halleck in Nevada, Camp Date Creek in Arizona, Fort Stanton, Fort Union and Fort Bayard in New Mexico and Fort Clark in Texas.  Her home in Nevada was a two-room tent with a barley sack carpet.  The better part of social life in Fort Clark was the exchange of grievances. They eventually had three children: Mabel,
James, and Henry Boyd. 

"Intensely proud of her husband, Mrs. Boyd endured much for his sake: severe heat and cold, drudgery, a poor and monotonous diet, frustration, disappointment, malaria and filth.  By the time she reached Texas she had become so accustomed to making much out of little that she could prepare custards and other dainties in a tent stove.  "Her depictions of army life, of the landscapes of the Southwest, and of rough western travel are exceptional, but no less so is her portrait of herself as the steadfastly loyal wife of an unjustly dishonored officer.  Her rage and bitterness at their treatment by the army were gradually tempered by her affection and respect for other army wives, her own sense of duty, and her deep
love for the sky, land, and rivers of the Southwest."

*He had served in the Civil war along with his father Henry Boyd and his older brother Amos Boyd, who was killed in action.

There is a reprint available by University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1982. Bison Press reprint of original edition of 1894).  370 pages.


              BOYD, FRANCES ANNE MULLEN (1848-1926). 

Frances (Fannie) Boyd, writer, was born in New York City on February 14, 1848.  Her father owned a bakery there, and the family was well-to-do. 
Her mother died when she was quite young, and her father remarried. 
Frances married Lt. Orsemus Bronson Boyd on October 9, 1867, in New York City. For the next eighteen years she followed her officer-husband, a graduate of West Point, from one duty station to another, making a home for themselves and, eventually, their three children, at frontier posts in Nevada, Arizona,New Mexico, and Texas. Boyd's military career spanned the  post-    Civil War Indian wars, years when travel was dangerous and living conditions primitive.

In December 1875 Mrs. Boyd and their daughter and son accompanied Lieutenant Boyd to a new assignment at Fort Clark, Texas. The post, located forty miles from the Rio Grande near the site of present-day Brackettville, guarded the San Antonio-El Paso road. For six months in 1879-80 the Boyds lived at Fort Duncan, a small garrison at Eagle Pass, where troops patrolled the international boundary. After two of the children were stricken with malaria in 1881, Frances Boyd took them all back to New York. The family
remained separated while Boyd served at various stations. In 1885 Frances returned to Fort Clark, her husband's current post. Boyd was soon ordered to New Mexico, where he died, on July 23, 1885.

Left a widow at age thirty-seven, Frances Boyd took up residence in Washington, D.C., where she had social connections, and later lived in New York City. Her descendants remember that she traveled extensively in Europe. Her Cavalry Life in Tent and Field, a tribute to her husband that describes her experiences in the West as an officer's wife, was published in 1894. It is considered one of the finest of the genre. Early in the new century, perhaps in 1908, she bought a house and land in Boonton, New Jersey, where she lived for the rest of her life. She died in Elizabeth, New Jersey,on May 2, 1926.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Orsemus B. Boyd File, United States Military
Academy Library, West Point, New York. Veterans Administration,
Pension Application File, National Archives, Washington.

1967 Newspaper article on Orsemus Boyd

     Back to Civil War page                      Return to Main Boyd Page

New data on this line..........

From: Charles Novak
To: Richard G. Boyd


Just stumbled across your listing on Orsemus Boyd.  I am the ggggrandson of Orsemus Boyd.  I have some of his personal papers and other documents.  Is this something that would interest you?

Charles R. Novak
Message 2


I viewed some of your information; very impressive.  I just recently ordered the Springfield, MA vital records.  I ordered them for a different family line, but will look for Boyds in these records.  Any request?

I also have more detailed information about Orsemus Boyd's ancestors.  I'm not sure if Amos Boyds wife was Celesta Steele.  I have some records that state her as Celesta Adams. 

A few years ago I was in contact with an individual descendant from Reuben Boyd and Rebecca Bond.  He sent me alot of information.  Interested?

Charles R. Novak

File:  Boyd.doc (66048 bytes)
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Dr. Mr. Boyd,

I am attaching to this note the file I have on the Boyds.  Its what I have written up on them, but not everything I have.

Years ago I was in contact with Arlo Thomas a descendant of Reuben Boyd.

His address is the following:

Arlo Thomas
5008 Diablo Dr.
Sacramento, CA 95842

Here is a brief listing of what he gave me.

Reuben Maton Boyd
B.  7 Dec 1791 in W. Springfield
D.  17 Sept 1878 in Burrton,  Kansas

Rebecca Bond
B.  22 Feb 1787 in Westport, CT
D.  29 April 1865 in Cannonville, New York


Electa 30 Sept 1814   m. Orson Bartlett
William 16 Oct 1816 m. Fannie Hall
Rebecca 23 May 1819  died young 1819
Margery 12 Mar 1821 m. Charles Hewitt
Betsey 9 May 1825  m. Simeon Hall
Rebecca 21 May 1829  m. Enos Wilcott
Benjamin Bond 6 Sept 1832  m. Susan Hill

I'll  be back shortly with more

File:  Obboyd1.tif (101846 bytes)
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Mr. Boyd,

 There are other descendants in Boonton, New Jersey.  One, Jeffrey Howard Boyd has the original chalk drawling of Frances Mullen Boyd.  This is the one you have on your website. 

The other Boyd person I've been in contact with is 

Mary Brewer
RD 5, Box 353
Latrobe, PA 15650

She is descendant from Lavelle Henry Boyd, Orsemus Boyds half brother.

Unfortunately not much Boyd stuff survived in my family.  I do have some of Orsemus Boyds personal papers including a letter written about the scandal and his promotion to Captain and the certificate. 

Charles Novak

Charles Novak's Boyd Line

Return to Main Boyd Site

Subj: Boyd's
Date: 99-04-27 09:14:23 EDT
To: RBOYD1033

File:  WMBOYD.WRI (63872 bytes)
DL Time (TCP/IP): < 1 minute

Hi Richard,
I appreciate your sending me your Boyd information. I have attached my Boyd line.  If it doesn't come through ok let me know and I'll zip it next time.  Would love to see what you have from Henry on back.  I don't have very much.  If you see any mistakes please let me know.

Mary Brewer

Mary Brewer's Boyd Line