Monday, January 16, 2012

Who is Elijah Boyden?

Elijah Loring Boyden (French- Canadian) or IFrench- DuBoyden) was born March 31, 1936 in Robbinston Maine. His parents were Otis Boyden also of Robbinston and Eliza Loring of Perry Maine. They were married April or August 19 or 20th of 1824.  Elijah’s siblings, all born in Robbinston, were: Eliza, Mary Ann, Hannah, and Otis.  The family moved to Newfoundland, Canada where Otis became a photographer. Elijah spend some time there, but was back in Maine in 1860 and appears on the census for Perry Maine. Family information tells us he became a ships captain in the Nova Scotia area before he married Ann McDonald.
She was related to the first Prime Minister of Canada, 
John Alexander MacDonald. He was her mother's brother. 
The family was also related to Prime Minister Asquith of England.
Elijah took his bride around the world which took about a year. Their
daughter (Estella Loring Boyden- June 6, 1869) was born on ship just before they reached the coast of Cape Breton. As far as we know, they
settled around Eastport, Maine. Mother McDonald died when Estella was
only a year or so old. Elijah took his daughter to French Convent in Michigan and began to pursue photography like his father and several brothers, traveling throughout Canada and the American West. At one time he was commissioned by Prime Minister McDonald of Canada to take the first pictures of British Colombia. Prime Minister McDonald wanted to unite East and West Canada and he thought this would help.
He came to Deadwood in the Black Hills of South Dakota area and joined with Albert Pollack (also from Nova Scotia) around 1879.  Together they took stereoscopic views of Deadwood and surrounding areas and opened a Gallery on Gold and Main street called: Pollack and Boyden Studio. Since he was now settled he sent for his daughter who was now aged 10. He knew of a couple in Michigan who were going to come to Spearfish so he asked them to bring her. The 1880 Census of Deadwood shows the three of them in once residence.  We are assuming they had the studio in front and housing in the back of the residence. Elijah was commissioned by Prime Minister MacDonald to take photographs of British Columbia, so he retired on May 4, 1884 and dissolved the partnership.
We have only one picture of Elijah. He was quite a dapper man. He loved to dress well and to see his daughter dressed up. He loved to take pictures of her, but she didn’t like it.  We only have a few pictures of her today. According to family information, she wanted to go to with him to Canada, but he wanted her to stay. So she decided she would get married, which occurred on March 19, 1884 to D.S. Billington. D was driving "shot gun" on the stagecoach at that time. Elijah thought that was too dangerous for a family man, so he bought them a little ranch by a French settlement called St.
Onge, located between White Wood and Spearfish.
Elijah returned in August of 1886 and on November 9, 1886 bought out Albert Pollock’s Gallery where he then showed the panoramic art photos he took in Canada. Then by February 17, 1887 he sold it to A.C. Dugame who came from Washington D.C.
The Billington family did not want stay on the D was just not a good farmer, so Elijah sold the ranch and bought them a house in Spearfish. D went into partnership with a friend, James Rogers, to buy a livery stable in 1889. He did the principal driving of the four horse stage coach between the two places for many years.
The 1900 Census of Spearfish shows Elijah living with his daughter and her family. There was a studio in Spearfish called Boyden Galleries as we have pictures of his grandchildren taken there. We are not certain if it was his or one of his brothers. He also liked to take the grandchildren to church and other places and he loved to take their pictures, of course. He also taught them French, but after he died they forgot it.
He is buried in the Rosehill Cemetery in Spearfish. 
His birth and death dates are not recorded on his 
tombstone, it only says "AT REST."


  1. Thanks for all the info on Elijiah. I picked a great guy to name Liam after!!

  2. Otis Boyden has popped up in some research I am doing on historical Newfoundland. I believe I may be able to pin-point a few photos as his from an 1886 set. I'll let you know.