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Eliza Ellis Boyd

By Linda Thompson Robertson December 2013

Eliza Ellis Boyd
Eliza Ellis Boyd

Eliza Ellis Boyd was born in Barren or Warren County, Kentucky, on March 4, 1823. She was one of the many children of James and Sarah Morehead Ellis.

Eliza’s mother, Sarah (Sallie), was born January of 1791 or 1793. She was the daughter of Turner Morehead (1757-1820) and Ann Ransdell Morehead of Fauquier County, Virginia. Turner Morehead served in the Third Virginia Regiment during the American Revolution. In 1778, he was recognized as a captain in the Fauquier County Militia.

Sarah Morehead married James Ellis, Junior, also of Fauquier County, Virginia. The two families are listed together in the Federal Census of 1810 in Fauquier County. They subsequently moved to Kentucky and settled in either Barren County (county seat - Glasgow) or Warren County (county seat - Bowling Green), two adjacent counties in the southern part of Kentucky.

Sarah Morehead Ellis was kin to three governors. Her cousin James Turner Morehead (1797-1854) was Governor of Kentucky from 1834-36 and later a United States Senator. Cousin Charles Slaughter Morehead was Governor of Kentucky from 1855-59 and before that Attorney General of Kentucky. Also related was John Motley Morehead (1796-1866), Governor of North Carolina from 1841-45. All three Morehead politicians were lawyers.

One source states that the children of James and Sarah Morehead Ellis were Turner M. Ellis, Armistead Ellis, William G. Ellis, James H. Ellis, Mary Armistead Ellis, Susannah Ellis, Nancy Ellis, Wharton H. Ellis, Elizabeth Ellis and Sarah Ellis.

In 1840, when she was a girl of seventeen, Eliza Ellis came to Jackson, Mississippi, with her older brother, Turner, and an older sister, Susannah (called Susan and Sue), all Kentucky natives. At some point, a younger sister, Elizabeth, also lived in Jackson.

Turner Ellis was a successful merchant, who was active in the Methodist Church and was elected an Alderman of the City of Jackson. Sometime after 1860, Turner Ellis moved to St. Louis, where he had a mercantile business, T. M. Ellis & Company. He lived in St. Louis until his death.

On February 13, 1841, Sue Ellis married Josephus H. Ledbetter, a Virginia native and a partner of Turner Ellis in the prosperous mercantile business known as Ellis and Ledbetter in Jackson. They were also partners in a steamboat business on the Pearl River. Joseph Ledbetter was an auctioneer, and he served as the City Clerk and also Tax Assessor and Tax Collector for the City of Jackson at various times, including when James H. Boyd was mayor. In 1860, Ledbetter and Son advertised as auction and commission merchants on Capitol Street.

The Ledbetters were active in the Methodist Church. Joseph Ledbetter died in the yellow fever scourge of 1878, and Sue Ellis Ledbetter died in 1885. Both are buried in the Boyd family plot in Greenwood Cemetery.

The Ledbetters lived on the west side of North Street, across from the Boyd property that extended from Jefferson Street to North Street, where now there is a parking lot behind a state office building. In 1842, they had one child, Richard R. Ledbetter, who became a pharmacist and prominent citizen in Jackson, along with his wife, the former Antonia Hilzim (Hilzheim). A nephew of Sue Ledbetter, Turner Hobbs, age twenty-four, lived with her in 1880 and worked as a clerk in a drugstore, perhaps that of R. R. Ledbetter.

Eliza Ellis and James Hervey Boyd were married in Jackson on October 11, 1843. She was twenty years old, and he was thirty-four. The Rev. Leroy J. Halsey, Presbyterian minister, performed the ceremony. The Boyds were married more than thirty years, until James Boyd died on July 4, 1877.

For sixty years, Mrs. Boyd was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Jackson. She lived in the Boyd House until shortly before her 80th birthday, dying on February 11, 1902. She was buried in the Boyd family plot in Greenwood Cemetery. According to a tribute/obituary that appeared in the Brookhaven Leader:

"Her intellect, always bright, never failed her until the last illness, and she maintained throughout her long and beautiful life an interest in public affairs, being conversant with all subjects relating to the welfare of her country and her church. To the writer, who never knew his own mother’s love and care since he was 7 years of age, she came nearer supplying that sweet relationship than anyone else he ever knew, and the memory of her loving counsel, sympathy, and ever tender solicitude during his boyhood days will remain fresh and sacredly cherished as long as life shall last."

The obituary was written by Benjamin T. Hobbs, editor and proprietor of the Brookhaven Leader. He was a son of Howell Hobbs who, in April of 1845, married Miss Elizabeth B. Ellis of Jackson, a sister of Eliza Ellis Boyd.

Elizabeth Ellis Hobbs was born in Kentucky in 1830, and was 16 years old when she married Howell Hobbs, a planter from Virginia. They had eight or nine children.  She died in 1860.


823 North Jefferson Street  -  Mail PO Box 4240   -  Jackson, Mississippi  39296-4240  PH. 601.353.9339 Click for map