Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How Dee met Estella Loring Boyden

Estella Loring Boyden was born June 6, 1869. Her death certificate said she was born in Newfoundland. Family records say she was born on board a ship off the coast of Cape Breton near Nova Scotia. Her mother's last name was McDonald. John Alexander McDonald, who became
the first prime minister of Canada, was her mother's mother's brother. Estella's mother died in Eastport, Maine, a year after Estella was born. Estella was raised in a French Convent in Michigan.
where, she learned to do French needlework and other handiwork. Later in life she had placed first in needlework, at the St. Louis World's Fair, for a lace table cloth in very fine lace called "rose point."
When her father, Elijah, settled in Deadwood, South Dakota, and opened a photography shop, he sent for Estella. She appears on the Census records for Deadwood 1880 as a 10 year old girl. She became active in school, community, and  in a local church there and even sang in the church choir for many years.   

One day when she was about 14 years old , the church choir sang for the territorial jail. The jailer, Dee Billington, took notice of her. He later commented that he knew then she was the one for him ... although he had always said he wanted to remain single and never settle down.
Dee showed a lot of interest in her, but Elijah did not approve because of the differences in ages. When Elijah went on a picture- taking spree in Canada, Estella begged to go with him. He refused and she insisted that if he would not take her with him, she would be married by the time he came back. Sure enough while Elijah was gone, Estella and Dee were married in the nearby county seat, Lead City, Lawrence County, Dakota Territory. The date was March 19, 1884.
Her first born son died of diphtheria soon after his birth in 1885 and one other child, Edna, also died about 1897. However she had seven other children which kept her very busy at home. She died a few days after giving birth to her last child at age 39, March 13, 1909. Her children remember well that she had always planned to have something special waiting for them after school. So they would hurry home to find a baked goodie or new doll clothes or doll furniture or some toy she had made for them.
She was also a very private person and she had a living room lined with books. Her best friends were probably more interesting than the average Spearfish citizen. They were authors who had come from the city to write.
A glowing tribute to her was written in the local paper about her upon her death: "Mrs. Billington was a woman whose heart and soul were wrapped up in her home and her family. No outside pleasures could lure her from the pleasure of caring for them and making that home the
brightest spot on earth for those for whom she lived. The simple domestic beauty of her character was like a benediction in the home and the void which is left by her departure will never be filled.
She has earned the highest tribute to which woman can aspire in this life .. "a faithful wife and loving mother."

 This story from Estelle Fontana about her mother has been handed down as traditional, however, local newspapers during that time indicate that Elijah did not go to photograph Canada until May of 1884, so he most likely  bought the farm in St. Onge for the new couple before he left.  We have a copy of the marriage certificate dated March 19, 1884.

Future  Blogs: Elijah Boyden and  the Billington Children

No comments:

Post a Comment