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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


KATE MCINTYRE BOYD (Mrs. W. E. Beale). According to ancient accounts the Boyd family has been one that was always doing things. When there was nothing doing in a public way they seem (as was the custom of the time) to have put the time in very diligently in private quarrels among neighboring factions. This by way of keeping their hands in. Fighting was in those times a gentlemanly occupation, and about the only one in which they could amuse and divert themselves. Kilmarnock, in other words the cell of St. Marnock, was the headquarters of the Boyd family. Like all others of their time they had to have their castle, named Dean Castle, to which they could retire as a protection from their enemies when besieged. Tradition does not say how those mighty lords were supported, but as feudalism was the existing condition the serf furnished the living while the lord exercised his lordly privilege of fighting with his neighbors when he had nothing else to do and of leading the serf when danger threatened the nation.

The first authentic account of the Boyds dates back to 1205, in which Dominus Robertus de Boyd (in other words Lord Robert Boyd) appears as a witness to a contract between Bryce de Eglingstoun on the one part and the village of Irvine.

The name was said to have been given to the first Boyd because of his fair complexion, the word Boidh in the Celtic language signifying fair or yellow. Be that as it may, the Boyds have never been blonds, but have always been fair or yellow, and a black Boyd even to this day is as rare as a white blackbird.

The first authentic account of the Boyds as fighters is at the battle of Largs in Ayrshire in 1263, where Haco or Aco, King of Norway, with a numerous army, was put to flight. Sir Robert Boyd, as he is sometimes called, was a person of singular bravery and nobly distinguished himself and was rewarded by Alexander the Third with "grants of several lands in Cunningham" in Ayrshire. Tradition maintains that Sir Robert, with the aid of the party he commanded at that engagement, threw into confusion and finally defeated a strong detachment of Norwegians at a place called Goldberry Hill. The words Gold Berry, which sometimes appear on the lower scroll of the prints of the Kilmarnock coat of arms, were, probably adopted in commemoration of this feat of Sir Robert. As a curiosity a few words descriptive of the battle of Largs may be inserted here in this year of Our Lord 1921.

"Acho King of Norroway landit at air (Ayr) wt 160 schipps and twentie thousand men of warre and ye caus of his cuming was because Macbethe had promissit to his predessores some yles (isles) qlk ye had not gotten viz Boote, arrane wt ye tus cumbrais having tane arrane and Boote he come to the lairges in Cunynghame qr Alexr foirfather to the first Stewart yt was King, discomfeit ym and slue 16000 of his men. He Acho died throw sorrow yr war slain of ye Scots 5000." [sic, the quote is not in error]

Before the century was out the English had overrun Scotland and compelled the nobles to swear fealty to England. The Boyds again took a leading part under Wallace and Robert Bruce in driving the English out of Scotland. In Kilmarnock there is a monument in commemoration of the killing of a Lord Soulis, an Englishman, but whether it is in commemoration of Lord Soulis or of the Boyd who killed him tradition seems to be rather doubtful. Tradition has it, however, that the particular party this Lord Soulis commanded was discovered lurking in the vicinity of the Dean Castle.

This intelligence being communicated to the particular Lord Boyd in question, he immediately armed himself with his trusty cross bow and went in search of his quarry. On discovery "With deadly aim he drew his cross bow and its arrow instantly pierced the heart of the ill-fated Soulis." This was long before we ever heard of Paddy's gun that would shoot round corners or of the noted gun reported to have carried seventy-five miles to Paris doing destruction there, and before we heard of guns that would hit objects invisible to the naked eye, and prior to the time, somewhat, when at Gallipoli the British fleet fired over the hill causing a hasty change of anchorage of men of war to prevent destruction.

The Boyds were active all down through the history of Scotland, sometimes in near relation to Royalty, latterly as Earls of Kilmarnock and Earls of Arran. They overflowed to Ireland and made themselves so much at home there that some thought they had originated there.

But ''Farewell ! A long farewell to all my greatness" was pronounced by great men before now, and it too came to the noble (?) family of Boyd, for the last Earl got on the side of Prince Charles the "Pretender" to the English throne in his conflict with King George, got caught and was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered at the Tower of London in 1746, along with some others for high treason, the last executions at the Tower until in recent German war times.

It's a "far cry" from the twelfth century to Riverside and a great change, but it may partly answer the question that may be raised in modern parlance "Why is Boyd." It will at least show that the Boyds have been in the habit of doing things. The writer has no family tree tracing descent from any nobility, but wishes to say that all that he knows about his ancestors is that they were millers in Rowallan Mill for five generations and that he was born within three miles of Dean Castle and has been doing things himself ever since he was able, and this may be rather a long introduction to the history of a native daughter of Riverside, and that she came to her inheritance of hard labor legitimately. Hers is not an isolated case, but is introduced because it is more familiar than some others just as noteworthy. Miss Kate Boyd has united within her the two branches of the Scotch nationality. While her father was pure Lowland away back from time immemorial, her mother was just as much Highland from as far back and belonged with the "Clan Donnochie."

Modern methods of travel and intercommunication between various races has produced a strange intermixture of races until the native born American can hardly say to what race he belongs. About all he can say is "I am an American," which means that he belongs to the race that can take the best of every race with which he comes in contact without any risk of carrying over the evil. Thus the American of today, pronounced the greatest people and nation on the face of the earth. Already the writer's grandchildren have the blood of five races coursing through their veins.

And so Miss Kate Boyd came to Riverside with all that lineage behind her. Bareheaded and barefooted and almost naked in the summertime, she passed her childhood eating fruit and living simply and naturally until school age, when a walk of two miles to school gave her some physical exercise while training the mental. Nothing extraordinary occurred during school years. There was generally some outing during the summer vacation to the mountains, the seashore or some distant part all by wagon and team, for the auto was as yet a thing of the future. Health physically and mentally were thus maintained and no difficulty was encountered in passing through the various departments of school, finishing with the high school, with an after course in the State Normal, with a grmmar grade certificate as a teacher. Teaching first at Palm Springs away out on the desert, with half her pupils pure Indian (who were so wild that they would run out of school and hide in the brush if a stranger came to visit the school), her success was assured from the start. Later on the schools of Riverside claimed her attention until marriage. Even after that she did not altogether retire from teaching, for the Grand Terrace School still retained her services. An orange grove on the terrace overlooking the Santa Ana River at a time when the marketing of oranges was far from being a settled problem showed her and her husband that the owner of an orange grove was not the millionaire he was reputed to be at that time in the development of the orange industry. A survey of the situation and the news from the new country in the basin of the Gulf of California below the sea level, the "terra caliente" of the Mexicans, the hot Colorado desert away off one hundred and fifty miles, the most unforbidden looking place imaginable and in reality with as bad a reputation as could possibly be from former explorers, claimed their attention, and away they went to the promising land by team overland.

Eighty acres of a homestead was more than they could handle alone, and mother and sister (Mrs. Andrews) were called on to assist in founding and establishing the homestead. It cost money then, as now, to get established in the Imperial Valley. Imperial County and Valley were an after-thought, the "Colorado desert" was ample to describe it. There was first of all the little home to be established as a base of operations, and that could only be done in the cooler part of the year, as it was impossible to live there without shade or water with the temperature 130** or even 140** without any shade.

First of all came levelling, at times not a small job, with every small shrub and larger desert brush a base for a hillock of drifted sand, and some large ones where the mesquite had been a base for the accumulations of years, each of these the home of the rattlesnake or his brother, the little "side winder," just as deadly. The coyote was but a very casual visitor, for as yet the jack rabbit was not.

The levelling, bordering, ditch building, putting in of supply ditches, measuring gates and bridges, not to speak of bringing the water sometimes quite a long ways to get it to the place (for this was in the early days), all fell on the settler. More essential of all was the purchase of water stock, paying assessments for water, taxes, etc., and twenty-five dollars per acre was a moderate price before a homestead could be gotten and water put on every acre. While all this was going on by the husband, the wife was again teaching school for the two or three years required to put this work on the place, and a trip of twenty miles on horseback was necessary to ^et to school each week, week ends being spent on the new home.

When everything was ready for occupancy and the fenced alfalfa fields green and flourishing, a "string" of cows was the next thing, a carload of which the writer bought and took out to El Centro, arriving there with them on hand bright and early Monday morning, without the least idea as to where the new home was in the new and desert land. Fortune favored, for while making inquiries as to the location who should come along but Miss Kate herself on horseback on her way to commence her week's teaching, and all was well.

The "string" of cows was profitable, the cream checks large, and teaching was abandoned for the time being for milking cows and farm labor, and everything flourished for a few years, with an outing to the cooler coast regions in the hottest months. A brand new baby came to help make and gladden the home, but, alas, as has happened in some other cases,' unfortunately on a visit to the cooler coast regions, when about two years old, the little toddler walked into the canal and it took toll of the life of the little one, although there were four watchers and a peremptory order never to let the little one out of sight. But she was a typical Californian and loved the sunshine and the fresh air. It seemed that the thing that was dreaded most (the water) was the final enemy and the fate could not be averted. Well, there is the one consolation left by the time we get ready to pass over we will have so many treasures over there that we will be anxious to go home and possess them, and nothing that is good is ever lost, only the evil finally disappears.

Time works wonders in a new country, and more land was accumulated, renting was resorted to, a city life was chosen, a new home was built in Holtville, and the daily grind of the cows, Sunday, holidays and all, abandoned. Not a day's respite could be had, for cows have to be milked and the new occupation taken up by the husband, and again the school teacher goes forth to the daily "delightful task," and cotton was king for a year or two with the same disaster that overtook the cantaloupe grower years before, but you can't keep down a new country and a young and vigorous people in possibly the richest county in California in resources and so a typical native daughter is at home in that land that is warm enough to mature the date palm and is still doing something to make the world better and more beautiful while passing through it.

Katie Boyd is now Mrs. W. E. Beale of Holtville, Imperial County, that warm place below sea level. After pioneering there almost from the first, teaching school, helping on the farm, etc., they have brought under cultivation nearly 200 acres on that originally dreary desert, which is now rented. They luive built a comfortable home in Holtville, and while Mr. Beale attends to business in town Mrs. Beale is, after an interval, again teaching school.


History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011