THE BOYD BRICKYARD--KNOBNOSTER, MISSOURI
Margaret Rages Boyd
The late September day was typically beautiful -- vibrant colors on the trees and a gentle wind, perhaps a bit too warm for the size 38 "Sloppy Joe" sweater I wore over my small frame. The sweater's muted orange was in harmony with the season and I wore it proudly. As a 1945 Freshman Coed at the College in Warrensburg, Missouri the oversized sweater gave
me confidence and a feeling of belonging - "All the girls wore them!" I glanced down its considerable lenght to my short brown skirt and my loafered feet as they beat a rhythmic sound on the brick sidewalk.
"T.H. Boyd and Son, Knobnoster, MO" -- T.H. Boyd and Son, Knobnoster, MO. The impression on each brick was sharp and clear as if this T.H. Boyd, whomever he was, was proud of the name and meant it to endure the pounding of countless feet as they walked along the southern edge of the campus. Thomas Henderson Boyd was proud and his name has endured. But my concerns in 1945 were of the "here and now."
I would have laughed heartily had someone told me that this was my link with the Scottish history I find so fascinating today. Even his great grandson, whom I was to meet on campus in 1946, and marry during our senior year was not greatly concerned with T.H Boyd in 1945, as first and second generation Boyds, like so many immigrant descendants at that time, paid little heed to their roots.
Great Grandfather Boyd's brick kiln in Knobnoster was a crumbled ruin that day in 1945. But its history is well documented in Johnson County, Missouri archives and bicentennial publications.
Thomas brought a knowledge of coal mining with him from Scotland when he immigrated in 1868. He was successfully engaged in this activitywhile living in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In 1875 he moved to Montserrat, Missouri where he was placed in charge of coal mining operations in that area. Later in nearby Knobnoster, he established the Boyd Brick and Mining Company.
The business flourished and in 1891 bricks bearing the Boyd name were "pronounced by experts to be the best made in the West." The Missouri Pacific Railroad built a siding spur to the plant and each day large orders of different colors of brick and clay were shipped to Kansas
City. Clay was used in the manufacture of terra cotta and bricks were used in the building of Missouri churches, banks, residences, sidewalks,
streets and most interestingly the interior walls of the classically beautiful Missouri State Capitol Building in Jefferson City. Twenty-six men were employed at the plant during this time and the demand was great. The Boyd Brick and Mining Company was considered to be so important to the town of Knobnoster and the surrounding area that students were sent to the plant to watch the manufacturing process. The plant closed in the 1930's and all the buildings and kilns were torn down. But the bricks "live on!"
In the 1970's while visiting Missouri relatives my husband and I with out three little Boyd sons, stopped at Knobnoster in order to secure
several bricks which now serve as door stops in our Ann Arbor, Michigan home.
It is always something of a shock to realize that I am only a second generation American. Looking at the listing for Boyd in a 1972 American Genealogical Research Institute publication I see that a Thomas Boyd came to the United States around the year 1736. That's one hundred and
Sixty years before my great grandfather arrived on these shores via the steamship "City of Brussels".
This same publication lists, in the census of 1790, twenty-five Thomas Boyds as heads of house-holds in twelve of the 13 original states. Thomas ranked in popularity with Robert, James, William, and John as a given name in Scotland.
The common naming practice for male children was for the first son to be given the name of his paternal grandfather, the second son was given the name of his maternal grandfather, and the third son took the name of his father. No doubt the brief historical prominence of that 15th century figure, Sir Thomas Boyd, husband of the king's sister, plays a part in the continued popularity of the name. Scottish Boyds must have been quick to preserve any connection with Sir Thomas, no matter how tenuous, by naming their sons "Thomas".
I know little about my Thomas Henderson Boyd before the date 1868. His father was Robert Boyd, born in Linlithgow, Scotland. Thomas brought a knowledge of coal mining with him when he immigrated, which could very easily place his origin in the coal mining country in Southwest Scotland.
The following is copied from a published History of Johnson County, MO., with information furnished by Francis L. Boyd, who was Thomas Henderson Boyd's grandson.
"In the spring of 1868, Thomas H. Boyd and his wife, Jane McIntosh Boyd, and their son, George McIntosh Boyd, aged 5 years, came to the United
States. They made the voyage on the steamer "City of Brussels".
After arrival in New York Mr. Boyd proceeded to Canada. After some months of travel he returned to the U.S. and settled in Quincy, Illinois, where he remained for six years. Then he went to Ohio and was engaged in coal mining. From there Mr. Boyd went to Pennsylvania where he was employed by a wealthy firm to superintend their coal mining operations which position he held for a period of years.
In 1875 Mr. Boyd traveled to Missouri and located at Montserrat, near the middle of the state. There he was hired as a superintendent of the "Southwestern Coal Association" and was placed in full charge of their coal mining operations. The mines and business flourished under his direction, and his knowledge and services were cultivated. The Company bought and leased over 5,000 acres of land near and around Montserrat. Mr. Boyd also operated a General Mercantile Store which accommodated a
wide area of the town.
Later Mr. Boyd relocated to nearby Knobnoster, Missouri, where he set about establishing the Boyd Brick and Mining Company. The payroll from both of these enterprises stimulated the business and the growth of the town.
The brick yard was located on the west end of McPherson Street less than a mile from the center of town. The coal mine was a little West and less than a mile South of the brick yards.
Mr. Boyd chose wisely in his location of the brick yard as the clay proved to have a variety of uses. Face brick, common brick, fire brick, pressed brick and mud machine brick were manufactured there. In addition many colors from buff to deep red were made.
The Missouri Pacific Railroad built a siding spur into the brick plant and each day large orders of brick and clay were loaded into boxcars and
onto flat cars. Much of the clay was shipped to Kansas City where it was used in the manufacture of terra cotta. By this time Mr. Boyd took his son, George McIntosh Boyd, into partnership with him. Even today (1996) some of the brick can be found in some of the towns and
cities, the following imprint still clearly shown: "T.H. Boyd & Son, Knobnoster, MO."
In 1880, the first wife of Mr. Boyd, Jane McIntosh, died. To their union had been born six children: George M. (grandfather of Julian Dale
Boyd), Margaret, Thomas, Susan, John and Nettie Boyd.
Mr. Boyd remarried in 1881. His second wife was Mary E. Clifford, a former resident of De Pere, Wisconsin. She was a sister to Louisa Clifford, who later married George M. Boyd. Born into the second family of Mr. Boyd were the following children: Timothy C., Jane, Marie, William, Jessie, and an infant son.
Mr. Boyd was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Knobnoster. He died on January 6, 1904 and was buried in the Knobnoster Cemetery, East of town.
Additional information about Thomas Henderson Boyd is found in the obituary for his son George McIntosh Boyd, who was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church. "His father (Thomas Henderson Boyd) was educated for a minister of the Old School Presbyterian Church". Julian Dale and Margaret Rages Boyd, 2630 Patricia Court, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103