Biography of Deacon John A. Boyer
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A man remembered only by the older generation of Rock Island County’s citizens was Deacon John A Boyer, deceased.
He was born at Bedford, Pennsylvania, October 16, 1809. During a portion of his boyhood his parents lived at Paris, Kentucky, and later removed to Indiana.
In 1837 he came to this county and settled in what was then the town of Stephenson. In 1838 Mr. Boyer was united in marriage to Mrs. Zeruiah Phillips, whose maiden name was Zeruiah Robbins. The following year Mr. and Mrs. Boyer moved to the farm at the south end of what is now Thirtieth Street, which was their home at the time of Mrs. Boyer’s death, which occurred March 16, 1886, closing a long and happy married life of forty-eight years. No children blessed this marriage, but after some years of married life they took Thomas Campbell into the family and reared him to manhood. He and his family were beneficiaries from the estates. Mr. Campbell lived forty years of Mr. Boyer’s life with him and was as son to the family in every sense of the word.
In religious faith Mr. Boyer and his devoted wife were Baptists, and their fidelity to the cause of their church and zeal in the cause of religion are demonstrated by the following minutes taken from the records of the Baptist Church of this city, under date of March 20, 1843: “Church called a session which lasted several days. Brethren from this church and our sister church in Davenport sat as a church and received the following persons-.” (Then follows the names of three received by letter and nine for baptism. Among the latter are the names of John A. and Zeruiah Boyer.) They were buried in baptism in the Mississippi River, at the foot of what is now Twentieth Street, Rock Island. Brother Boyer and his wife at once took an active part in the work of the church. January 21, 1845, forty-seven years ago, he was elected deacon, and, according to the custom of that time, was ordained to that office by the imposition of hands upon the sixteenth of the following February, the ordaining prayer being made by Elder Stone-About two years previous to that time he had been elected as a trustee, and he held both of these offices in the church continuously until his death. For more than thirty years he was among the most active workers in the church, none excelling him in cheerfully taking up and bearing the burdens of the work. He was on nearly all the church committees, frequently being the chairman of those on which he was placed. At times he acted as church sexton, making the fires, caring for the church building and its contents without money and without price, but simply because of his love for his church home, and found no task too hard or work too. irksome when the church’s welfare was furthered thereby. When debts burdened the church, and seemed likely to crush it beneath their weight, he either paid them in full himself, or else paid such proportion that the load was lightened and others could complete the payment.
To John A. Boyer and his faithful wife, the First Baptist Church of Rock Island is largely indebted for its present fine property, its house of worship .and parsonage, the tower of the church building being entirely his gift, as was the parsonage a gift from his wife. During Mr. Boyer’s latter years the infirmities of age compelled him to take a less active part in the work of the church, but his interest never flagged. His fellow church members feel that to Brother and Sister Boyer, and to their noble co-worker, Deacon David Hawes, their church, under God, owes a debt of lasting gratitude.
In politics Mr. Boyer was a Republican until the time of Horace Greeley’s nomination for President of the United States, but from that time on he was a Democrat. He lived a quiet and retiring life, taking little personal part in politics and public affairs, although in these matters he always manifested a keen interest. He was deputy sheriff for two years under Sheriff Wells, and at one time was a member of the board of supervisors.
He had been for many years an honored member of the Masonic fraternity and of the Old Settlers’ Association, at one time being president of the latter organization.
On December 5, 1891, at the ripe old age of eighty-two years, John A. Boyer passed away at Los Angeles, California. He survived most of the companions of his youth and middle life, but having traveled far along life’s pathway the burden of his many years fell from his shoulders, and he lay down to sleep in the silent chamber of Death, but being dead he yet liveth.