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The ReV. Dr. John Hardgrove Boyd

By Linda Thompson Robertson December 2013

Rev. Dr. John Hardgrove Boyd
Rev. Dr. John Hardgrove Boyd
John Hardgrove Boyd

John Hardgrove Boyd was the youngest child of James H. and Eliza Boyd. He was born January 19, 1861. As a child he was called Johnny.

It is interesting to note that the Federal Census for 1860, the year before John Hardgrove Boyd was born, shows that the Boyd family – of James and Eliza and five children – had a boarder or visitor. His name was Joseph Hardgrove, a 40-year-old male.  His wife Mary Hardgrove had died the year before.

The 1870 Federal Census shows that “Jonnie Boyd” was living at home with his parents, brothers and sisters, while attending school. The records of the Jackson Male Academy show that he was admitted to that school on October 1, 1867, by H. W. Pierce, Teacher.

In 1880, John Boyd was 19 years old and living at home with his mother, his father having died in 1877. John’s occupation was “assistant librarian.” Two other siblings were living at home: 22-year-old Susan and Halsey, age 35, the oldest son, with his wife and four children. That makes five adults and four children in the modest cottage on North Jefferson Street.

Johnny left home in 1881 to attend school. Right after he left, his sister Mary McGill and her husband moved in with the widowed Eliza Boyd.

In 1883, John Boyd graduated from Southwestern Presbyterian University at Clarksville, Tennessee, a city on the Kentucky line about 40 miles northwest of Nashville. Southwestern Presbyterian University was granted a charter by the State of Tennessee in 1875, although it had been founded earlier as Stewart College, a school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Southwestern Presbyterian University moved to Memphis in 1925 and adopted the name of Southwestern, later to become Rhodes College.

John spent the summers of 1884 and 1886 in Haliburton, Canada, preaching every Sunday. In 1886, he received a theological degree from the Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. The Theological Seminary at Princeton was established by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1812. It is a denominational school associated with the reformed tradition of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

He was ordained on October 16, 1886, in Evanston, Illinois. After acquiring his license, he supplied at churches in Durant and Winona, Mississippi.

On March 1, 1889, John accepted a call to lead the Lauderdale Street Presbyterian Church in Memphis. The church was located at the corner of Lauderdale and Beale Streets.

On November 13, 1889, John married Ellen (Ellie) Morris Henry at the Presbyterian Church in Clarksville, Tennessee. Ellie Henry Boyd was a native of Clarksville, Tennessee, born in 1869. She was the daughter of Major Thomas F. Henry and Louisa McTyer ("Tex) Barker, both Tennessee natives. 

Ellie was the granddaughter of Gustavus A. Henry (1804-1880), an attorney and civic leader who served in both the Kentucky Legislature and Tennessee Assembly. A Whig politician, Gustavus Henry was known as the “Eagle Orator of Tennessee.” He served as Senator of the First and Second Congress of the Confederacy. He also owned and operated cotton plantations in Arkansas and Hinds County, Mississippi.

The Rev. Dr. John Boyd was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Evanston, Illinois, from 1895 until 1907. During his years of service, concern for Chicago’s poor emerged within that Church.

In 1900, John H. Boyd resided in Evanston with his wife and family: son Thomas Henry Boyd (born August 1890) and daughters Louise Haily Boyd (born September 1891) and Mary Elizabeth Boyd (born September 1895). The family had a white female servant, 29-year-old Lillian Dudley, a native of Virginia. Also living with the family was Ellie Boyd’s brother, 28-year-old Gustavus A. Henry.

In 1910, the John H. Boyd family was living in Detroit, Michigan. There were four children by then, a son John H. Boyd, Jr., having been born in 1904. All the children were born in Tennessee. There was also a servant with the family, a 26-year-old white female named Helen L. Hall, a native of Michigan.

The Rev. Dr. John Boyd was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Portland, Oregon, from 1911 until 1919. He and his family lived at 567 Montgomery Drive in Portland.

Ellie Henry died in Portland in early May of 1915. She is buried in the Boyd family plot at Riverview Cemetery in Portland. The Rev. Dr. Boyd left the Portland church to accept the chair of homiletics (the art of preaching) at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

In 1920, John H. Boyd resided in Chicago. Living with him were three children, daughters Louise and Elizabeth and son John H. Boyd, Jr.

The Rev. Dr. Boyd died at his home in Chicago on January 2, 1922, at the age of sixty-one, after being ill with pernious anemia for more than a year. His body was returned to Portland where he was buried in the Riverview Cemetery next to his wife Ellen.

The children and grandchildren of John Hardgrove Boyd:

Also buried in the family plot at Riverview Cemetery are Thomas Henry Boyd and his wife Katharine Kingsley Boyd, both tragically killed when their car rolled into the Tamiami Canal in southern Florida in 1971. They both drowned.

Louise Haily Boyd, born in 1891, never married. She died in Portland in 1924.  Mary Elizabeth Boyd married Frank Loomis Beach on September 22, 1922, in Wellesley, Massachusetts.  In 1930, the Beach family lived in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. They had three daughters, Virginia Louise,  Nancy Ellen, and Agnes Anne (who later changed her name to Sally Ann Beach).  Mary Elizabeth Boyd Beach and Frank Loomis Beach are interred in the Riverview Mausoleum in Portland.


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