The Boyer Family Of Trenton Missouri.

(P-0087) My grandfather, William Hollis (Hollie) Boyer, was born on March 31, 1881 near Columbus, Ohio, while my grandmother, Edith May Agee, was born on May 14, 1894 in Trenton, Missouri.

My grandfather Hollie was born to William Henry Alford Boyer (1853-1912) and Eliza Jane Custard (1858-1941) when they lived in Franklin County, Ohio.

The Boyers moved to Trenton, Missouri in the mid-1880’s, and as you can see from the picture (below), Hollie’s dad was the town constable. The Boyers had three other children: Flora Trinvilla, who died within days of her birth (1876), Harold Charles (1892-1976), and George McKnight (1896-1967). George & Harold, Hollie’s two younger brothers, are pictured below (right).

1900 Census shows William & Eliza with sons Hollis, Charles (Harold) and George.

One of our Boyer family treasures is my great grandfather William Henry Boyer‘s family Bible presented to him by his mother, Isabelle Boyer, on October 22, 1875. As you can see (above) the bible was first presented to Isabelle by her husband – George W. Boyer – on November 10, 1872.

My grandmother Edie added family dates to that Bible along the way (see above right).

Edith Mae Agee (above left) (1894-1988) was the oldest child of Benjamin F. Agee (1864-1942) and Melissa Louise Chapman (1870-1945), pictured above. Edie had five other siblings: Millard Thomas (nicknamed Red) (1897-1982), Pearl (1900-1944), Francis Benjamin (1904-1992), Hazel Marie (1905-1991), and Rosella Fern (nicknamed Tootie)(1908-1974).

1910 Census shows Ben & Melissa with Edith, Millard, Pearl, Francis, Hazel, and Rosella.

On the personal side, my family got to know Uncle Francis (Edie’s “baby brother”) who never married and lived a hermit’s life on the south side of Trenton. My grandmother often sent food to him, even by taxi when she couldn’t get there on her own. Rosella’s nickname was Aunt Tootie and she was a regular visitor whenever we were in Trenton. And finally, of course, is my Aunt Hazel, who married Jay Wilson and lived in Denver, Colorado. It was Hazel, Jay, and their two daughters, Jo and Linda, we got to know very well and who always hosted us on our summer vacations to Colorado. My mom, Dixie, as she was growing up, traveled to Denver regularly to visit her aunt and uncle. She and her mom, of course, rode the Rock Island Railroad, since Hollie had free passes and the route was direct from Kansas City. She would tell me of the hot summer days traveling by locomotive back and forth to Denver. The black soot from the steam engine would float back into the passenger cars, making Dixie and Edie black as night when they arrived. Despite the black smoke, my mom fell in love with Colorado, and it was Hazel and Jay who suggested she attend the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1942. Click here to read more.

My grandparents were married in Trenton on April 6, 1915 – not 1914. The funny story behind all this is that, for years, everyone (including the obituaries) thought Hollie & Edie were married in 1914, thus the “40th” anniversary party in 1954 (see pics below). But, as I was putting together these pages in 2022, I found both their wedding license and certificate (above) and both clearly state April 6, 1915.

Dixie Lee Boyer was a New Year’s baby, born on January 1, 1923 in Trenton. Click here to read more. Dixie grew up as the Boyer’s only child, as did my dad, George Boller.

1930 Census shows Hollis & Edith with Dixie Lee.

Dixie Boyer went to Trenton High School from 1936-1940, graduating in the spring of 1940. Above is a picture of Dixie’s square on a quilt made by the entire senior class of 1940 – one where every student had a square representing their name.

1940 Census shows W.H. & Edith Mae with Dixie Lee.

After graduating from high school in the spring of 1940, Dixie attended Trenton Junior College.

Dixie thrived in her educational pursuits, and after graduating from TJC in 1942, she transferred to the University of Colorado in Boulder to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Education.

(C-0107) One of our family treasures is a 1943 letter from Dixie’s dad, Hollie to my mom as she was in her final year of school at the University of Colorado.

(L-0011) Trenton, Missouri – 1959. This picture of downtown Trenton shows Boyer Drug Store in 1959. As I mentioned earlier, my grandfather Hollie had two brothers; Harold and George, and it was George who became a druggist (see below right) and owned his own Drug Store from the 1920’s into the 1970’s. George and his wife, Rella, (see below) joined that wonderful Boyer wedding anniversary celebration in 1954. Click here to read more.

(M-0010) Hollie Boyer was a hard-working railroad man, laboring for the Rock Island Railroad for 53 years (1898-1951) in Trenton. During the heyday of railroading, Trenton was a thriving train-switching hub for the Rock Island, with dozens of arrivals and departures on a daily basis. Edie had a spouse’s life-time Rock Island pass that she used until the latter part of her life.

Most of those 53 years Hollie was a fireman (shoveling coal), assisting the engineer on steam locomotives, and then, during the last two years of his career he ran switch engines in Trenton, which was the crew-change point east of Kansas City and west of Eldon, Iowa on the Rock Island’s main line between Chicago and Kansas City. (M-0131) We have two beautiful keepsakes from the Boyer family, one of which was Hollie’s railroad pocket watch (see above).

(P-0247)

I recall stories of Hollie as a young man serving as a fireman (the man who shoveled coal into the massive locomotives) on long cross-country trips for the Rock Island Railroad. One day on the plains of western Kansas or eastern Colorado, the locomotive my grandfather was working on suddenly collided with another on-coming train! The huge boiler that provided the steam for the engine, instantly exploded sending the train engineer and my grandfather flying from the cab. The engineer was killed and my grandfather said that rescue workers found him unconscious, hundreds of feet from the accident scene: “naked as a jaybird”. The explosion had been so strong, it literally blew his clothes off him! After that close call, William Hollis decided to play it a bit safer, asking for only the shorter runs from Trenton to Kansas City or Des Moines.

Sadly, the old Boyer home has fallen on hard times (see pictures above) which must have included a house fire. The two bedroom – one bath home (1012 sq. feet) was built around 1930, and throughout the 1950’s, Edie & Hollie had the cutest Scottish Terrier. His name was Pepper and the Boyer front porch featured a wooden cutout house sign marked ‘1913.’ Oh, how I wish we’d saved that little sign as a Boyer memory.

The Wayland News announced that my grandmother Edie, from Trenton, Missouri, came to help my mom out out during those first few days after my birth – July 10, 1951.

June of 1957 was a tough month. Hollie suddenly took ill in late May, and at the same time, Edie suffered a small stroke, putting both of them in the hospital at the same time. As I recall, my mom was called down to Trenton when all this occurred and, of course, with school being out, Eric & I were there some of that time as well. By mid-June, both had come home from the hospital, and while Edie recovered, it was obvious that Hollie would not. During those long, hard days, my brother and I passed the time by playing outside the Boyer home as my mom and Edie’s sister, Aunt Tootie, cared for Hollie and my grandmother. One day as Eric and I were playing, we apparently got a bit too rowdy right outside Hollie’s bedroom window and Tootie yelled out the window telling us to be quiet. As the story goes, Hollie had enough strength to sit up in bed, reprimanding his sister-in-law, saying, “Leave them alone, woman. They’re just kids – let them have their fun, for heaven’s sake!” Grandpa Hollie died a day or two later on June 29th at age 76. For many years following, in my wallet, I carried this picture of Grandpa Hollie (above) and the four-leaf clovers I’d found in the Boyer front yard.

Grandma Edie lived on for another 31 years as a widow, making regular trips to visit our family in Iowa on major holidays. Of course, a trip to Trenton was a pretty regular event for us, caring for Edie as best we could. Her health declined in the 1980’s, dying at age 93 on May 8, 1988. Both of my grandparents are buried at the IOOF Cemetery (Odd Fellows) in Trenton.

Godspeed, Edie & Hollie Boyer – See you on the other side…

No doubt about it – The Rock Island Line is a mighty good road…
(P-0086) Rock Island Train Depot & The “American House” – Harber Hotel– Trenton, Mo. This depot was the heart of the Rock Island Railroad in Trenton, Mo. Across Water Street (Main Street) stood the Harber Hotel. Thomas B. Harber bought “The American House” hotel in the late 1870’s and as of 1881 (The History of Grundy County, Missouri by Birdsall & Dean) this once struggling hotel was thriving.

The Des Moines/Kansas City RPO of the Rock Island railroad ran directly through Trenton, MO. Trenton was a switching station for the Rock Island, a main connecting point for the railroad. If you look at the map (above), Trenton was the connecting point for all trains going north to Des Moines, east toward Davenport, west toward Topeka, and south to Kansas City.

(M-0010) Click here to read about the Rock Island Railroad and its long history in Iowa City.
266-1898 DM-KC-RPO
(C-0075) 1898 – Des Moines, Iowa & Kansas City, Missouri RPO – Rock Island Railroad. This letter would have traveled through Trenton.

(L-0012)  July 24, 1889 – Trenton, Missouri. Our first letter is from C.C. Parker, Adjusting Agent Office, Southwestern Division, to Thomas S. Wright, General Attorney for the Rock Island in the Chicago Office. The letter concerns “Voucher 198 covering the purchase of earth for filling Bridge No. 5 near Washington (Iowa?).”

(L-0013) October 8, 1888 – Oskaloosa, Iowa. This letter is from J.C. Coombs, Asst Superintendent Office, Keokuk and Des Moines Division, to T.S. Wright, Esq (Rock Island attorney in Chicago). The letter concerns forwarding two months of pay to Rebecca Dowell, mother of C.M. Dowell, a Rock Island brakeman, who was killed in an accident in Ottumwa, Iowa on September 3, 1888.

(L-0014) January 17, 1891 – Davenport, Iowa. A letter from S.S. Stackhouse, Office of the Rock Island President (R.R. Cable) – Davenport branch, to T.S. Wright Esq (yup, it’s him again) in Chicago. The letter concerns the lawsuit of Allen Hopkins of Centerville, IA, who had some horses and a cow killed at a Rock Island crossing. Apparently, there have been issues like this before (in nearby Unionville, MO) and Mr. Stackhouse is apparently informing Mr. Wright about on-going crossing issues that have resulted in other legal issues.

(L-0015) 1887 – Joliet, Illinois. A letter from H.N. Marsh, Freight and Ticket Office to an unknown source (possibly T.S. Wright once more?). The letter concerns one William Davidson, a stone quarry man, C. Smiley, J. Hallock, and the possession of some whiskey that had been delivered to Hallock at the Auburn House, signed for by Mr. Smiley. Apparently Smiley, who Mr. Marsh calls a “scalawag,” skipped town with the whiskey, leaving Mr. Davidson, Hallock, and the Rock Island Railroad high and dry. Sorry for the pun!


Locals – Martin Boller birth, Wayland News, July 19, 1951, p 3

Locals – Edith Boyer, Wayland News, July 26, 1951, p 3

Father of Wayland Woman Is Taken, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, July 1, 1957, p 1

Edith Boyer obituary, St. Joseph Gazette, May 10, 1988, p 16

William Hollis Boyer, Find-A-Grave

Edith Mae Agee Boyer, Find-A-Grave


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