Sheriff Elmer Ellsworth Boyce
A recently located photo and some sketchy background information from family members, connects us to a very interesting Boice/Boyce family member.



According to Donald A. Chase in an e-mail that he recently sent to hi s cousin, Cynthia Jane Boice-Stoltz: "Elmer Boice was a relation (cousin) to our grandfathers. He used to send still pictures of the wanted people to my grandfather, (William E. Boice)."

Abram Boice, had a brother named Richard, both were located in the 1860 census record living in the town of Claverack, just a few miles from each other. No other traces for Abram's brother Richard can be found in any of the census records following 1860. Here's why. . .

Below, it states in Elmer's obituary, that his father Richard Boyce was killed in The War between the States (Civil War) in Baton Rouge Louisiana. Further research revealed a pension filed for by Elisabeth A. Boyce, and places this Richard Boice/Boyce in the 159th NY Infantry. They were recruited at Hudson by Lieut.-Col. Molineaux.

The regiment was mustered into the U. S. service at New York city Nov. 1, 1862, for three years. Elmer would have been just five days from his first birthday. The 159th left the state on Dec. 4, 1862, and proceeded to New Orleans, where it was assigned to the 3d brigade, 4th (Grover's) division, 19th corps, Department of the Gulf. Its first serious engagement was at Irish bend, where it fought bravely and sustained a loss of 117 killed, wounded and missing, Lieut.-Col. Draper and 4 other officers being among the killed and mortally wounded, and Col. Molineaux among the severely wounded. This was by far the severest loss sustained by any regiment in this fight. Elmer grew up never knowing his father.

Pictured at left: Elmer Elsworth Boyce and daughter Mabel Boyce. cir 1889. Elmer would have been about 27 years old in this photo.

Photo Courtesy of: "Buzzy" Nauright,
grandson of Elmer Ellsworth Boyce

St. Johns County, St. Augustine, Florida.

Elmer E. Boyce, Sheriff - 1919 until 1942. The next era in law enforcement here was headed by Sheriff Elmer Boyce. He took office in 1919, and held the office for twenty-three years. He was very well thought of in the community according to the local newspapers a the time. Under Sheriff Boyce's leadership, moonshiners and other illegal, homemade liquor manufacturers were aggressively pursued. Remember, the Prohibition Era was during his tenure.

Photo courtesy of:
Sheriff N. Perry of the St. Johns County Sheriffs Department.
Obituary courtesy of the St. Johns County Sheriffs Department.

It was common practice for Sheriff Boyce or one of his senior deputies to bust a still, gather up the goods and head for the city gates by the bay front. This allowed a chance for newspaper persons and other local citizens to see that Sheriff Boyce and his deputies were working, and they were working hard!

Sheriff Boyce had may problems that we still contend with today; the busting up of moonshine stills, the death of three deputies, complaints about his jail, and not enough funds due to a fee system in place during his tenure. Sheriff Boyce was succeeded upon his death on November 27,1942, by Governor-appointed, and later elected, Sheriff J T Sheppard.


Caption on photograph, written by Leigh Van Tassel Boice:

"Man in white shirt and suspenders is Elmer Boice, Sheriff, St. Augustine, Florida during prohibition and his deputies with the still he confiscated........"


Photo: Courtesy of Cynthia Jane Boice-Stoltz.

The following is the obituary for Elmer Ellsworth Boyce:

Sheriff E. E. Boyce, Beloved Citizen of St. Johns County, Died Suddenly This Morning

November 27,1942

Elmer Ellsworth Boyce, Al and sheriff here for the past 25 years, died this morning of a heart attack. The seizure came while he was having his breakfast, and he was taken to a hospital in an ambulance around 8:20. Death came shortly thereafter.

Sheriff Boyce, who was a dean of Florida sheriffs, having what was probably the service record in Florida, was born Nov. 6, 1861, and reared in the vicinity of Middleburg, N.Y. His father, Richard Boyce, was killed near Baton Rouge, La., in the War Between the States. His mother, Elizabeth Boyce, died in Stamford, N.Y.

The deceased had lived in St. Augustine about 60 years. He had held various positions of public trust. He served as an alderman during the old aldermanic form of government, and then was mayor of St. Augustine.

Fifty-five years ago he married Minnie Katherine Butts, who survives him. Two children were born to them, Henrietta Elizabeth, and Mabel Boyce Chauvin, both whom are deceased. The survivors include the son-in-law, V.J. Chauvin; four grandchildren, Mrs. Ernest Fight, Mrs.. Raymond Miles, Mrs. Ruth Nauright, Mrs. Donald Pomar: two great grandchildren, Ralph Quimby Nauright Jr., and Chavin Pomar.

Sheriff Boyce, in addition to his long period of service as a city and county official, was in business in the community for some time, and was a member of various local lodges, including Odd Fellows, Masons, Elks and Knights of Pythias. He was known for his numerous charities and his generous gifts to many in distress.

He had been in failing health for some years, and several times it seemed that it would be impossible for him to continue with his work as sheriff, but he would not give in to physical disabilities, and kept at his post.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later. Craig Funeral Home is in charge.

Yet another Boice family member who changes the spelling of his last name to "Boyce", moves a great distance away, is a member of the Masons, and becomes a devoted and well loved family member, sheriff and county official.

History has a very strange way of repeating itself!