Martha Jane Boyles has become to be known to many who have researched this family line as the illusive Martha Boyles. I think to begin to tell her story we first must relate the many family traditions that have been passed down through the generations.
Many years ago my husband and I made a trip back to Texas to visit his grandparents and learn of the family that he loved so much. I can still remember the sharing of pictures and stories as Dan’s grandparents shared their ancestry with us around the kitchen table late at night.
Berlin Burrow was very proud of his heritage and could sit for hours telling stories of when he was a child and what he remembered. As he talked I took notes, Dan took photos of old pictures and we have been trying to put stories with faces and histories every since. The following stories are the stories that he related.
When Martha Jane and Andrew got married they were very young and had been childhood sweethearts. Their parents were against the marriage and so the two young people eloped and got married in a different county. Andrew liked to travel a lot and never really did settle down to live in one place for very long but he was always very devoted to his wife and his family. Martha was sick a lot and spent much of her life in a wheel chair due to illness. We were told about the Indian Blood in the family and it must have come from Martha’s side of the family. We were also told that there was a bank robber in the family and that some of the family had been friends with Jesse James.
Upon interviewing other family members over the years we were told that Aunt Martha as she was called was an Indian Princess “ Cherokee we think”. She knew how to read tea leaves, tell your fortune by looking at your hands, what the weather was going to do and had taught her daughters how to do the same. We were also told that she knew the ways of the Indians and could heal a person using the ways of the medicine men.
Over the years the tradition of Indian blood had been passed down through Martha’s children as several different researchers coming from various children’s lines have asked the same question, Have you found the Indian yet?
To add fuel to the fire there was the story of the elopement. Were they young or did the Roberts dislike the marriage of their son and an Indian Girl. Not two generations before Andrew’s great uncle Luke Roberts’ family had been massacred by Indians in the region of Red River. Surely this had left a profound effect on the family as only 2 children that we know of had survived.
Because of these stories we have spent years looking for a young Indian Girl’s family with no success. Although we had several pictures of the family on their homestead we could not place Martha with a family and she remained a colorful illusive figure with no roots on her family tree.
Finally in desperation I decided it was time to once again retrace my steps pull out old files and try anew to find Martha’s roots only this time looking at the story with a whole new angle.
Lets begin with the family in 1880. As I began looking at old notes I noticed that in 1880 the family of Andrew J Roberts can be found living next to his parents Travis and Mary. Andrew was 24, his wife Martha was 21 and they had three children Tennessee age 5, William age 4 and Rosa L. (Dan’s great grandmother) born in Sep of 1849. Martha lists her parents as have been born in Ohio while she was born in Missouri. My questions began to come quickly. If the young couple had indeed eloped and the parents had not approved why were they living next door to them in 1880? Had they resolved their differences? If both of Martha’s parents had indeed been born in Ohio could she have really been a Cherokee princess or even a Native American at all. Further investigation was definitely in order.
It had been suggested that maybe Martha’s family had come from Parker County so I went back and searched census in that area and found several Boils in that area although all of them appeared to have migrated from Tennessee to Parker County and there was no listings of anyone from Ohio. The question remained where had her family come from.
The next step was to go back to the Marriage Records of Coryell Co. Maybe Andrew and Martha had not eloped as far as was thought. In these records we found Thomas B Grimes and Miss Sarah E Boyles md 14 Apr 1872, Mr. A J Roberts and Miss M S Boil md 11 Sep 1872 and I A Lee and Mrs. E T Boyle md 30 Apr 1865. Thomas Grimes was the cousin of Andrew Jackson Roberts through his mother Mary Birtrong and he had married a Boyles too.
As you can see the spelling of the name had now come up several different ways and I found myself looking for several different variations of the name Boils. I have since found the name spelled Boyle, Boyles, Bowles and Boils.
Back to the 1880 census where I found Isaac Lee listed with his wife Elizabeth (born in Ohio) and a step son William Boyle whose father was born in Ky and whose mother (Elizabeth) was born in Ohio. This matched part of the information I had found for Martha in the same census. Further more Isaac Lee was found on page 503 4 pages down from Andrews family. In the same census I found the family of Thomas Grimes and his wife Sarah age 19 who also listed her father as having been born in Kentucky and her mother in Ohio. Upon further investigation I found one more Boil that fit this same pattern. On page 502 I found the family of Joseph Boil age 27 who was a farm laborer born in Texas with a father born in Illinois and a mother born in Ohio. I now had 3 children with the name of Boil ages 27, 21, 19 either born in Texas or Missouri all listing their mother as having been born in Ohio and living in close proximity to Mrs. Elizabeth T Boil Lee age 48 born in Ohio.
The next natural step was to take a look at the census 10 years earlier in Coryell Co and see if I could find Elizabeth Boyles Lee and children. Here I found Isaac Lee age 40 born NC with his wife Elizabeth born Ohio and children William R Lee age 19 born in Louisiana, David age 15 born Texas, Virginia age 14 born Texas and Elisabeth’s children by her 1st marriage Joseph M Boyle age 17, Sarah age 16, both born in Texas, Martha age 13 born in Arkansas, and William age 11born in Texas
I had finally found the family of Martha Boyle. They lived in Coryell County not far from Andrew Jackson Roberts family and did not appear to be Native American.
On Ancestry’s World Tree found the name Joseph McKee Boyle father William Boyles mother Elizabeth T West and the second listed Joseph McKee Boyles born Dec 1852 Sherman Grayson Texas died Portales Roosevelt New Mexico with parents Elizabeth West and James Boyles.. On Ancestry.com I also found a reference to an Elizabeth West and a William Boils in Grayson County Texas in 1849.
Sherman, Grayson Texas was not Parker County but a good place to begin looking. In the 1860 census the family of William Boyles could be found. Wm B Boyle age 34 m farmer with real estate of 1600 and personal property of 900 born in Ky. E S age 27 domestic born in Ills., Jos. Age 7 born Texas, Louisa E age 4 born Texas, Martha S age 3 born Ark., and Wm F age 3/12 born in Texas.
In 1850 Michal West age 56 farmer born in Ky. with a real estate value of 600 appears next to the family of Wm Boils age 24 farmer born in Ky. his wife Elizabeth Boils age 20 born in Ohio and Jos Boils age 64 with a real estate value of 600 born in Va.
To complete the family circle I was able to locate the marriage record referenced by Ancestry. William Boyles and Elizabeth West were married in Grayson County Texas on the 19 of May 1849 . The only questions remaining were who were Michal West age 56 and Jos Boils age 65 living with and ne t to Elizabeth and William.
In Aug of 1853 William Boils was appointed administrator of the estate of Joseph Boils deceased. John H Wilson and William C Atchison posted a surety of $3000.00 “Joseph Boils died without leaving any lawful will so far as William Boils knows. “ This was signed by William (x) Boils. William acted in the capacity of administrator selling land in Collin County Texas to settle debts against the estate. In 1855 William Boyles did not appear at court with a new bond and was removed as the administrator of the estate. B W Bradley was placed in his stead and he sold the remainder of Joseph’s land in Cook County to pay the remainder of the debts and the case was closed. This absence fit the time that Williams daughter Martha would have been born in Arkansas.
In February of 1860 children of Michael West were selling their 1/8 portion of land legally inherited from Michael West decd to their brother John West. These children were Susan Leffel, Louisa Thomas, Elizabeth Boyles, Rebecca Hanning, James West and Joseph West. John West already had a 1/8 portion as his share of the estate. A son Michael or Mitchell P had died before Dec of 1853 in Grayson County He died leaving a wife and child who had removed either to Oregon or California before his estate was settled and could not be located to receive their inheritance of $24.46. Another daughter Mary was reported as having died before the family came to Texas and was buried in Vermillion Illinois with her mother. At this time James was listed as having been from Illinois and Joseph was listed as residing in Indiana. If John were the oldest child he would have receive 2 shares as was the custom at that time which would account for the last 1/8th of his fathers estate.
Martha Jane Boyles, Boils was no longer illusive. She had been found as part of a family unit along with her husband William, her parent Michael West, and the father of her husband Joseph Boils. Upon further investigation it was found that Joseph Boils came to the Peters Colony of Texas before 1848 and that he was listed as a widower with 2 children. Michael West also came to the Colony from Illinois as a widower before 1848 with two daughters. Michael West brought with him his children Elizabeth, Martha, Michael P., and his married daughter Rebecca and her husband John Hanning . Leaving behind two of his sons James and Joseph as well as the grave of his wife and one daughter. It is not yet known when his son John migrated to the area.
At this writing I have found information that suggests that the wife of Michael West was Susanna McKee. Born abt 1794 in McKeesport, Allegheny Pa. And died abt 1843 in Champaigne Illinois. She was married to Michael on 16 Oct 1812 in Adams Co Ohio. Because I have yet to substantiate this information I put it in only as a point of more research and needs to be verified before actually being submitted as true and complete. I have also found reference that suggests that possibly Elizabeth and William had a son Samuel born in Louisiana. Because he does not appear on any census and does not fit the migration of the family I have yet to add him to any of the family group sheets and refer him to only as a point of further consideration.
Was Martha Boils a Native American. I think not. More likely she was part Irish unless of course there is some Indian Blood on her fathers side. I Suppose anything is possible. You will note that her mother Elizabeth was remarried shortly after the civil war and one can’t help but wonder if this American tragedy also created a tragedy in her own family as it did for so many other women left at home while their husbands went to war to fight for what they considered a just cause.
- Kat's Mountain Genealogy
- I am a genealogy enthusiast with over 40 years of experience in assisting others complete their family trees. I love helping others complete their own personal ancestory. I specialize in Research and Data Entry with an emphasis on Southern Research. I am vailable for Lectures on numerous topics and am always open to creating a class on a new Subject. I am a Member of the DAR, the DUP and Acting Vice President of the SCGA