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COL. S. H. BOYD was born May 28, 1828, in Williamson County, Tennessee, and grew up to sturdy manhood, ambitious to excel and possessing much energy and determination, attributes which are essential to success in any calling and which have been his stepping stones to success, his parents being Marcus and Eliza (Hamilton) Boyd, the birth of the former also occurring in Tennessee.
The paternal grandfather was William G. Boyd, a native of Mecklenberg County, Virginia, and a son of a Scotchman, John Boyd, who was the founder of the family in America. The Boyds were residents of the Old Dominion for a number of years, but gradually branched out into different States, and those of that name in Kentucky and Tennessee are members of the same family. Marcus Boyd removed with his family to Green County, Missouri, in 1840 and settled on a farm two miles east of Springfield, where they made their home for a number of years, but the mother did not long survive the removal, for her death occurred six years after their arrival in Missouri. She bore her husband eight sons and one daughter, and some time after her death the father formed a second marriage, and became the father of six more children. A number of his sons served in the Civil War, but their sympathies were with the Southern cause and they served in the Confederate Army, Dr. E. H. Boyd being a surgeon in a Texas regiment, Audley a sergeant in Campbell’s regiment, and Rufus, who was also a Southern sympathizer, and after the war was Secretary of State in Alabama for a number of years. Not-withstanding the proclivities of his sons, Marcus Boyd was a stanch Union man, and being prominent and well known in Greene County, he raised a regiment for the Union service and did heroic service in various ways in upholding the Union. Prior to this he had been a slave owner, and he lost all of his property during the turbulent times of war. He followed the occupation of farming the greater portion of his life, became well known in the political circles of Greene County and repeatedly represented that county as a Whig in the State Legislature. He was also prominent in Masonic circles, and was at one time master of the State Lodge.
The youthful days of Col. S. H. Boyd were spent in Greene County, and like many others who have attained prominence in American history his lot in youth gave no hint of the honors that a strong intellect, fairly used, coupled with unwearying industry, were to bring him. In 1849 he was taken with a severe case of the “gold fever” and did not rest until he had obtained a glimpse of what was then the Mecca of the civilized world. He remained in California until 1855. Upon his return home he began the study of law with William C. Price of this city, and in 1857 was admitted to the bar, and up to 1861 was actively engaged in the successful prosecution of his profession. When the war of the Rebellion came upon the country, he at once cast aside personal considerations and organized the Twenty-fourth Missouri Volunteer Regiment of Infantry, and during his term of service was with Gens. Sigel. Lyon, Davidson, Steele and Curtis and was finally given an independent position in southeast Missouri and the State of Arkansas. In 1862 he was elected a member of Congress, but continued to remain with his command until December, 1863, under the impression that he could render more effective service to his country by remaining in its active employment, then took his seat in Congress. In this position he showed so much civic ability that he was appointed by President Lincoln as minister to Venezuela, but the death of the President interfered with him taking his seat.
He then returned to the seat of war, and organized the Forty-Sixth Missouri Regiment of Infantry, soon after which he resigned from the army and accepted the office of circuit judge of the Twenty-first Judicial Circuit, but a short time after resigned this position also. In 1869 he was chosen a member of Congress for the second time and in the discharge of his duties displayed the same clear intellect and unsullied integrity with which he ever met every function allotted to him. In 1867 he operated with Col. John C. Fremont in purchasing the Southwest Pacific Railroad and after building thirteen miles of railroad, operations were suspended, only to be resumed after a company had been formed of some Boston and Springfield men, and Mr. Boyd assisted in operating it until 1874. He then founded a wagon factory in Springfield, to which business his attention was devoted for two years, after which he continued to carry on a successful law practice up to 1890 and then was appointed minister resident and consul general to Siam, but while discharging his duties his health became much impaired and being inflicted with malaria he returned home on leave of absence July 12, 1892. He has been mayor of Springfield twice, has been city clerk, city attorney and prosecuting attorney of Greene County, and being gifted with intellect of a high order and possessing a varied and extensive information he has filled these positions to the satisfaction of all concerned. He is especially gifted as a criminal lawyer and his name is well known throughout the Southwest. His career is of value, for it shows that honesty, capacity and power “to hustle” receive their reward at last and in good measure. He has a handsome residence at the corner of Washington and Chestnut Streets, where his home has been since 1866, and his grounds are beautifully laid out and extensive. He has long been a Republican in politics and has been a Mason of thirty-six years’ standing. He has always deported himself according to the dictates of his own conscience, and that his career has been a model one is attested by the numerous friends he possesses.
He was married to Miss M. McElhaney, daughter of Robert J. McElhaney, and by her has two children: Mrs. Thomas Delaney, of Springfield, and Robert M. Boyd, who is now consul general of Siam in his father’s stead. He was born in Springfield in 1870, and received his education in Drury College and graduated from the Chicago Medical College in 1890. The ability and honesty of Mr. Boyd have been warmly recognized, and have met with their reward. He enjoys the respect of all, his friendship being considered a personal privilege and much sought after. He is socially one of the most companionable of men, and is a beau ideal citizen, for he is enterprising, public spirited and law abiding.