Happy Birthday Oliver Selam Boyce

Oliver Selam Boyce (1827-1878)

Oliver Selam Boyce was born on 30 Apr 1827 in Springfield, Sullivan, New Hampshire as the fourth child of Adam Boyce and Mary Loverin. He had six siblings, namely: Elias Smith, Achsah Jane, Sophronia Jennette, Sylvanus, Lucinda Hall, and Mary Loverin. He was called Selam.

Selam Boyce, birth record.

When he was 30, he married Mary Jane Frost, daughter of Joseph Frost and Caroline Mumford, on 02 Jul 1857 in Massachusetts (New England). She was called Lady.

Necktie worn by Selam Boyce at his wedding.

1860 Federal Census, Selam Boyce, Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

Oliver Selam Boyce and Mary Jane Frost had the following children:

  1. Mary B. Boyce was born on 21 Nov 1860 in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts, USA (Age: 0). She died on 21 May 1911 in Aurora Twp, Kane, Illinois, USA (Age: 50 Yr). Mary was stricken with polio when she was about 14-months old. The disease left her paralyzed on her right side. Her hand was practically useless and she was lame.
  2. Gertrude Lovin Boyce was born on 23 May 1865 in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts. She married Guy Allison Phillips on 01 Oct 1888 in Aurora, Kane, Illinois, USA. She died on 13 Mar 1957 in Aurora, Kane, Illinois at age 91.

Selam and Lady started their married life in Roxbury, living near her family. He drove a bread wagon and she took in boarders.

1860 Roxbury City Directory, Boyce.

1860 Roxbury City Directory, Frost.

In 1868, Selam and Mary Jane left city life behind. They left Massachusetts and moved to Illinois where his parents and siblings had settled to farm.

1870 Federal Census, Selam Boyce, Blackberry, Kane, Illinois.

Excerpt from financial ledger kept by Selam and Mary Jane Boyce, 1872.

Sadly, Selam contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. The disease was called consumption and was all too common in those days. Tuberculosis (TB) is very infectious and it wasn’t until 1882, many years after Selam suffered from the disease, that its cause was discovered. In his time, there were few treatments and no cure. Victims basically wasted away.¹

The last year and a half of father’s life he was unable to work and naturally to be among people. Evidently we were confined at home. — Gertrude Lovin Boyce Phillips

Excerpt from memoir of Selam’s daughter, Gertrude. Near the end of his life, he spoke with his young daughter, Gertrude, about her future and her responsibilities to take care of her disabled sister.

His daughter, Gertrude told of his last days in her memoir.

When I came home mother told me father had said, “I wish Gertie was here.” It had been my pleasure for many months to fix him up on Sundays as he sat in his rocking chair in the parlor used as a bedroom during his sickness. I always washed his face neck and hands; combed his hair into curls, a winrow on top and five curls in back combed his long beard.. The next Sunday he was dying, passing away on Tuesday morn 2 a.m. Jan 22nd. I must linger a moment in that evening. Aunt Fronie and Uncle Vene had been with us a few days. We girls were called in the room at 8 o’c. Mr. Norris sent for who promised father .he’d take care of everything. It was rather a mild January with the usual Jan. thaw. Door and windows all open in his room. Aunt Fronie put a big shawl around Mary and me as we remained standing at the foot of his bed. About nine o’c. Grandma then 85 was helped to his bed side. He turned his….we will meet again.” She then went to bed. At the last Mother knelt by his bed. He turned his face to her his last look – as he passed so peacefully away. — Gertrude Lovin Boyce Phillips

Excerpt from memoir of Selam’s daughter, Gertrude.

Excerpt from memoir of Selam’s daughter, Gertrude.

Oliver Selam Boyce died on 22 Jan 1878 in Blackberry, Kane, Illinois at age 50. He was buried at Sugar Grove Cemetery, Sugar Grove, Kane, Illinois.

Death Certificate, Selam Boyce.

Where is he in the tree?

Selected Sources:

¹Katherine Ott, “Fevered Lives: Tuberculosis in American Culture Since 1870,” [Boston: Harvard University Press, 1996] Google Books, Web, 28 Apr 2017, https://books.google.com/books?id=OyX3aaRX1-0C.

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