MG 868 - Boyd, Alexander Collection

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Scope and Content

Collection contains the handwritten, original genealogical research notebooks of Helen Bruce Wallace, family narratives, and correspondence (1906-1925) concerning family histories. Includes the research notebooks for the Boyd family, Montgomery family, Yeomans family, Brunson, Wyatt and Pratt families. Includes, also, a research notebook for work done on deeds, wills, and estates.

Contains the written narratives by Helen B. Wallace of the Boyd, Montgomery, Yeomans families and notes concerning the Strawbridge family, Moses Gilmore, Thomas Scott, and the Evans family. Contains, also, two folders of letters written to and from Helen Wallace concerning family histories, 1906 to 1925, but many of the letters are not dated. Includes photocopies of the newspaper obituaries for Helen B. Wallace, T. L. Wallace, and Edwin R. Wallace.

The remainder of the collection contains primarily the business papers of John Cowan Boyd, with the exception of a large scrapbook about John Y. Boyd and family photos, most of which are not identified.

Contains business papers including legal documents, 1793-1850; deeds; papers concerning the Shamokin Coal Company; receipts issued to J. C. Boyd, D. Montgomery, and the estate of Rev. Yeoman; correspondence to J. C. Boyd and Daniel Montgomery, 1792-1868; and transcripts of the letters of John C. Boyd, coal lands and companies, and the Susquehanna Canal Company.

Contains a family genealogy done by Joseph Boyd in 1830; church papers; newspaper clippings about Rev. John W. Yeomans, the Montgomery family history; the Boyd family of Danville, and John Y. Boyd; miscellaneous items and two folders of family photos, most of which are not identified. Identified photos are: Andrew Jackson Herr; Mrs. Andrew (Nancy) Herr; Daniel Coyle Herr; Helen Boyd Dull. Contains, also, a large scrapbook of newspaper clippings, letters, etc. concerning John Y. Boyd.

Contains oversize documents including hand drawn maps, patent to William Montgomery in 1783, commission to Daniel Montgomery in 1826; deeds of John C. Boyd for land in Schuylkill and Northumberland Counties, and deeds for land in Maryland.


Helen Bruce Wallace was a well-known local writer and historian. She was born in 1866, educated in the Misses Tomkinson's school and a boarding school for girls in New York. After leaving school she began newspaper work in Harrisburg and Philadelphia. She is especially known for her history of the old Paxton Presbyterian Church, "Historic Paxton." She died in 1947.

Her connection to the Boyd family other than her genealogy research is not known.

John Cowan Boyd was born in Chester County in 1793 and died in Pottsville in 1849. He is buried in the Danville cemetery. He was educated as a farmer and for a time ran the farm on land given to Mrs. Boyd as a wedding gift from her father, Daniel Montgomery. But farming was not enough for him. He had many interests and was involved in many business ventures, including railroads, mining, the iron business, and the building of the Tidewater Canal from the end of the Pennsylvania Canal to Havre de Grace, Maryland. It was in this last venture that he became closely associated with Jacob Haldeman and Simon Cameron. He and his wife had eight children; the second son, James, moved his family to Harrisburg about 1876 where the family has lived ever since. Although John Cowan Boyd did not live in Dauphin County, it was determined that his prominence in the business world and his influence to later generations of the Boyd family were reason enough to include his papers with this collection.

John Yeomans Boyd, son of James and Louisa Yeomans Boyd, was born in Danville in 1862. He came to Harrisburg with his family when he was fourteen years of age. He was educated at the Harrisburg Academy and Princeton University, and was associated with many community organizations. He was appointed to the Railroad Commission by Governor Edwin Stuart in 1908. He was married to Eleanor Gilmore Herr in 1887. Their children were James, Jackson Herr, Elinor Gilmore, and Louisa Yeomans Boyd. He died suddenly in 1914 at the age of 52.

Date(s): Late 1700's-Mid 1900's

Extent: 5 boxes, 36 folders, 1 scrapbook