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Boyd Family Papers

Identifier: MS 232

Scope and Content

The Boyd papers include business correspondence of the Boyd and Monroe timber firm, with particular concentration on the 1855 incident of timber confiscation, along with an 1854 account book. Also included are correspondence, land records, tax records, and deeds concerning the family's land in Georgia, which they owned from 1830-1889. A large portion of the collection involves the personal and legal correspondence of Mary E. Boyd with the state of Florida in post-Civil War Palatka concerning the ongoing land claim (1868-1916). In addition to this, the Boyd family's tax and banking records are included.

Of particular interest to the researcher is Mary Boyd's personal account of the 1862 Civil War gunboat incident, written in 1903 and published in the local newspaper that same year, along with a draft of her informal autobiography. Also of note is the formal letter written in defense of Robert T. Boyd and Peter Monroe, providing witnesses who testify to the two gentlemen's loyalty to the Union.

The papers in the collection span from 1830-1916 and are arranged chronologically, with the exception of Mary Boyd's personal "Reminiscences of Palatka" (1903) which precedes her series of correspondence (1854-1916).

Oversized plats of land owned in Palatka and the vicinity are included in the collection but have been separated and stored flat.


  • 1830-1916



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Mary E. Boyd, born in 1830 in Rhode Island, moved south in 1850 due to her mother's chronic tuberculosis. In 1851, she was married to Robert T. Boyd of Palatka. Robert Boyd, born in Georgia in 1822, was one of the wealthiest men in Palatka by 1850 due to his success in the lumber business with his associate Peter Monroe (also of Georgia) in their firm, Boyd and Monroe. Robert Boyd also served as the local sheriff and tax collector.

In July 1855, the firm ran into some legal trouble when one of its cargos of cedar was confiscated in Jacksonville by Timber Agent John G. Pilot on its way to New York under the command of Captain George W. Tuthill. Pilot claimed that the entire cargo had been cut on government property. While the firm Boyd and Monroe was later cleared of this charge, Mary E. Boyd continually, yet unsuccessfully, tried to obtain redress from the state on account that her husband had been mentally afflicted by the incident, dying not long after. The incident proved to nearly completely ruin the family financially. As a result Mary Boyd spent over forty years contesting the states' repossession of the Boyd home due to unpaid debts.

Possibly Mary Boyd's most influential impact upon the city of Palatka occurred in 1862 when the Union's U.S.S. Cimarron arrived in Palatka on Oct. 7th commanded by Maxwell Woodhull. Upon its arrival most families fled from their homes to avoid possible capture or death, having been warned by the frantic Governor William D. Moseley himself. Instead of fleeing, Mrs. Boyd and her friend, Mrs. Lynch, attempted to communicate with the gunboat's officers. After several attempts to ensure the officers that they would not be fired on and having stated that she herself was from Rhode Island, Mrs. Boyd was finally allowed to speak with an officer in command. He accepted her claim that the town was passive, and went so far as to declare her the town's heroine: "You have saved lives and property and also saved an old man [Governor Mosley] from being taken a prisoner of war."

Mary E. Boyd died in 1916.

Source: Michaels, Brian E. The River Flows North: A History of Putnam County, Florida. Palatka, Florida: Putnam County Archives and History Commission, 1976.


0.4 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Business, personal, and legal correspondence of the Boyd family of Palatka, Florida, including a receipt book of the Boyd and Monroe timber firm, Mary E. Boyd's land claim correspondence with the state, her personal account of an 1862 Civil War gunboat incident in Palatka, and her informal autobiography.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Material

Items in this collection have been digitized and are available via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC) as part of the Pioneer Days in Florida project, which is generously supported by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Separated Material

Oversized plats of land owned in Palatka and the vicinity were separated from the collection and are stored separately in Miscellaneous Oversize Materials Box 1.


A Guide to the Boyd Family Papers
Finding aid created by Rachel Walton
November 2007
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.
Digitization funded with the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America