Saturday, September 29, 2018

William Boylan- Old North State biography - done

BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY OF NORTH CAROLINA "OLD NORTH STATE" EDITION WILLIAM BOYLAN ''NE of the early journalists of Raleigh was William Boylan, editor of the Minerva, and a man of State-wide prominence. This gentleman was born in Somerset County, New Jersey, on September i, 1777. He was a son of John Boylan, and the maiden name of his mother was Eleanor Hodge. Young Boylan came to North Carolina to work in the office of his uncle, Abraham Hodge, one of the State's early printers. Mr. Hodge first engaged in business in North Carolina about the beginning of January, 1785, the firm being Hodge & Blanchard, publishers of the State Gazette of North Carolina, at New-Bern. Shortly thereafter Henry Wills succeeded Mr. Blanchard, and the firm became Hodge & Wills. Judge Iredell prevailed on Hodge & Wills to remove to Edenton about the year 1787. The firm afterward removed from Edenton to Halifax, and in the latter town began publishing the North Carolina Journal, in July, 1793. It was in 1797, when he was but twenty years old, that William Boylan (subject of this sketch) became a member of the firm of Hodge & Boylan, publishers at Fayetteville of the North Carolina Minerva and Fayetteville Gazette. The paper last named was later removed to the State capital. In its new location it was first called the North Carolina Minerva and Raleigh Advertiser, and afterward simply The Minerva The facts above enumerated are taken from a work by Doctor Stephen B. Weeks entitled "The Press of North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century," which also contains a sketch of the life of Mr. Hodge. It was about 1799 that Mr. Boylan became a citizen of Raleigh. In addition to his newspaper business, he had a bookstore, and also became president of the State Bank, succeeding Colonel William Polk. Both Boylan and Polk were Federalists of the deepest dye, and strong friends. For many years Hodge & Boylan were printers to the State, and held that position as long as their party remained in power. By the laws of 1801, the Raleigh Academy was incorporated, and Mr. Boylan was one of its Board of Trustees. His associates on that board were John Craven, William White, Sherwood Haywood, Theophilus Hunter, John Ingles, Nathaniel Jones of White Plains, Matthew McCullers, William Hinton, Simon Turner, Samuel High, Joseph Gales, John Marshall, and Henry Seawell. In this famous school were afterward educated many eminent men, including William Rufus King, Vice-President of the United States; Leonidas Polk, the bishop and Confederate general; James Iver MacKay, of Bladen, chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means in 1845 ; and others who attained distinction in public life. When the publication of the Minerva began in Raleigh, its rival paper was the Raleigh Register, edited by Joseph Gales. Boylan and Gales, being political opponents, were often not on good terms personally, and their differences culminated in a personal attack on -Gales by Mr. Boylan in December, 1908. For the injuries he received on this occasion Mr. Gales instituted a civil suit and recovered £100, which he donated to the Raleigh Academy. When political animosities had somewhat cooled, better relations existed between these gentlemen, and their descendants grew up as friends and neighbors, so remaining at the present time. When the old capitol at Raleigh was burned on June 21, 1831, and it had been decided to erect a new building, Mr. Boylan was appointed one of the commissioners to cause the erection of the present edifice. The sum of $50,000 was appropriated to cover the cost of building. The commissioners thought this amount was a good enough start, so invested the whole sum in a foundation. Then they put up a building more in keeping with the dignity of North Carolina, and it cost the State $530,000. It was for many years regarded as the finest public building in America. In the course of time Mr. Boylan's business ventures brought him a handsome fortune, and he retired from editorial work. He gave his newspaper outfit to his brother, Abraham Hodge Boylan, who soon disposed of it. Long after he had retired from newspaper work it was a custom with William Boylan to visit the printing offices in Raleigh and chat with the compositors. Having been a practical printer in his younger days, he was always interested in the welfare of the craft. Mr. Boylan was owner of plantations in North Carolina and Mississippi, and also held much property in slaves, which latter was, of course, swept away by the war. In his Tucker Hall address at Raleigh, August 24, 1867, ex- Governor Swain tells the following anecdote of our subject : "The late William Boylan, the first editor of the Raleigh Minerva, and the immediate successor of Colonel Polk as president of the State Bank, was a gentleman sedate and grave in a manner to a degree that to a stranger might have been taken for austerity. Traveling from Raleigh to Pittsboro about 1800, he and Mr. Peace, on reaching the election ground at Brassfields, found a multitude assembled engaged in dancing and other rural sports in the free and easy manner characteristic of the time and place. Mr. Peace was comparatively at home. Mr. Boylan stood aloof until a rowdy approached and invited him to enter the ring with the dancers. On his declining, a dozen came forward prepared to coerce the submission of the proud aristocrat. In an instant Mr. Peace, with great solemnity, beckoned the leader of the band aside and whispered : 'My friend, be careful how you act. Bless your life, that is Mr. Boylan, the man who made the almanac, and can foretell eclipses and thunderstorms.' The reference to the almanac-maker secured at once the most deferential respect for the distinguished visitor." Prior to the invention of the cotton-gin very little cotton was raised in North Carolina, or, in fact, anywhere else. About the time of his removal to Wake County, when the new mechanical invention was taking shape, Mr. Boylan began planting cotton, and prevailed on his neighbors to do likewise. This was. the first ever raised in Wake County^ Even before he came to Raleigh, Mr. Boylan had done some experimental work as a raiser of this staple. In addfition to his private interests, Mr. Boylan was a man deeply interested in industries affecting the general pubHc, and strongly advocated public improvements. At the session of 1848 the act of Assembly was passed incorporating the North Carolina Railroad Company, the State making a subscription of $2,000,000, conditioned upon $1,000,000 being subscribed by individuals. The friends of the work addressed themselves zealously to the task of raising this $1,000,000 of private stock, but at first failed to accomplish it. Eventually Governor Morehead, Mr. Boylan, Mr. Calvin Graves, and some others made an extensive canvass of the State in the interest of the work, and still quite a large amount of stock remained to be taken. In this emergency Mr. Boylan joined with others and subscribed for the remaining shares, and thus secured the State aid. The efforts of Mr. Boylan and his associates in this matter deserve to be held in grateful remembrance by all who realize the great benefit the construction of this important railroad has been to the people of the State. He set an example of patriotism that is worthy of emulation. Mr. Boylan was twice married : first, to Elizabeth McCuUoch ; second, to Jane Elliott. His first wife was a daughter of Benjamin McCulloch, of Halifax, and a granddaughter of the Honorable Alexander McCulloch, member of the King's Council of North Carolina in colonial days. Mr. Boylan left a large family, but the only descendants who bear his surname are a son and the grandchildren of the late William Montfort Boylan, of Raleigh, who was one of the sons of his father's first wife, Elizabeth McCulloch. William Montfort Boylan left two sons, William and James, the latter now deceased; and two daughters, Mrs. George H. Snow and Mrs. Joseph A. Haywood, the last named being dead also. William Boylan, our present subject, died in his eighty-fourth year at Raleigh, on July 15, 1861. His remains were interred in his family plot in the Old City Cemetery. On the monument which marks his resting place we find the following epitaph : "He removed in his early youth to North Carolina, where he resided until his death, beloved and respected by all. He was a patriotic and public-spirited man, and ardently devoted to the interests and improvement of his adopted State." Marshall DeLancey Haywood.