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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Capt. Henry Ernest Boyes

Occupying a place of importance among the most prominent, substantial people of Sonoma county is Capt. Henry Ernest Boyes, the founder of the famous Boyes Hot Springs, to whom belongs the credit of the marvelous changes that have come to pass in this locality since the installation of his resort and springs. He was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England, July 13, 1844, and comes of good old English stock which dates back to one Du Bois, who came over with William the Conqueror in 1066. He is also a direct descendant of John Boyes, who fought Oliver Cromwell under Charles I. He is the son of Faulkner Boyes, of Driffield, England, who was a large landed proprietor, the owner of Beverley, Driffield, and Tadcaster, the two former being retained until his death, while the Tadcaster estate was sold to the late Lord Lonsborough for $250,000. Among his other possessions were beautiful homes in the Island of Maderia, London and Yorkshire. He was united in marriage to Margaret Mathilda Saner, born in Yorkshire, the daughter of Dr. John Saner, graduate and practising physician and surgeon being physician to William IV. He was a large landed proprietor in Yorkshire and was the head of the Yorkshire Society School. His mother's demise occurred in Hull, England, and of three sons, Captain Boyes is the only one surviving.

Captain Boyes had the good fortune to receive a splendid education at Queen Mary's grammar school at Ripon, Yorkshire, receiving his advantages all in his own country. In 1858 he entered the Indian navy as midshipman and was stationed at Bombay, remaining in India about four years, then serving on a troop ship to different ports of the world, being in Sidney when the Duke of Edinburg was shot at Clontarff, New South Wales. In 1872 he retired from the service and became manager of an Indigo plantation for Nickle Fleming & Co. in Jubalpore, India, and during the three years he was with the company, while on a tiger hunt, he had three sun-strokes. Returning to England he spent some time traveling all through Europe and to different parts of the world and while in Switzerland he met the lady who afterwards became his wife and who in maidenhood was Miss Antoinette Charlotte Edwards, born at Ness Strange. They were united in marriage in 1883, the ceremony being performed at the home of her aunt, Lady Edwards, at Wooten Hall, Derbyshire. (Mrs. Boyes biographical sketch appears on the following page.)

Having heard of the Sonoma valley from Capt. John Drummond and Mrs. Boyes being in poor health, they came to San Francisco in 1883 and began looking for a suitable place in this valley and the selected this section of the Sonoma valley as the most ideal for the beauty of its scenery and its genial climate. Making this their home they soon became interested in stories told them by the late General Vallejo of the old hot mineral springs used by the Indians, and upon investigation discovered them, the captain digging into the earth and Mrs. Boyes hoisting the bucket and in this way they became satisfied that the “half had never been told.” Accordingly they purchased seventy-five acres of land and began developing the springs. Sinking two deep wells each two hundred feet in depth (this was in 1888) they put in one tub to start with and then increased and built and re-built until now it is the finest hot mineral spring resort in California. They planned the placing of the buildings according to the physical features of the ground and yet the whole, hotel, bath houses, cottages and camp grounds are very convenient. They set out the trees along the drives so as to have ample shade, leaving the large oak in the foreground. There is a bearing prune and quince orchard set out by Mrs. Boyes with her own hands, which has proved highly satisfactory. The old house that stood on the place when they purchased it and in which the resided for several years was built in 1849 by T. M. Leavenworth, the last alcalde of San Francisco. (A more extensive account of Boyes' Hot Mineral Springs is found in the general history of this work.) In 1902 Captain Boyes incorporated the Boyes' Hot Mineral Springs Co., of which he was the president, continuing the active management until 1904, when he retired, turning the management over to others, retaining however fifteen acres of the highest point of the land, upon which he built El Mirador. The credit of being the father of the Springs and the prime mover in the development and making of this valley belongs to Captain and Mrs. Boyes and for years they gave their best energies and spent thousands of dollars in so doing. The beautiful home “El Mirador” overlooks the valley and the springs which stand on a wooded tract of fifteen acres. A driveway leads up to the house and winding paths ramble through every section of the grounds, while flowers, plants and shrubs that have, many of them been brought from distant lands, give the whole a park like appearance. The dwelling is a typical English gentleman's home and an air of refinement, quiet luxury and hospitality pervades it. The rooms are large and light and the walls are adorned with many ancestral and family portraits, dating back to the time of Oliver Cromwell. The library contains a choice selection of books from the leading authors and there are also many ancient volumes, including bibles nearly three hundred years old. Curios gathered from all parts of the world are in cases, on the walls or otherwise bestowed about in the apartments, as well as relics of important events, and many things that display artistic talent and skillful construction. Two urns made of wild flowers, leaves, ferns and barks from this valley are the handiwork of Mrs. Boyes as is also a case of flowers made of the plumage of South American birds. These were each awarded medals some years since when exhibited in San Francisco. There is also a rare collection of mounted birds shot by Mrs. Boyes in India. Captain Boyes showed his enterprise when on coming to this country immediately declared his intention of becoming a citizen on November 5th, 1883, and about five years later, December 3, 1888, received his final papers of citizenship from Judge John G. Pressley of Santa Rosa.

Captain Boyes was made a Mason in Minerva lodge No. 250, F. & A. M. in Hull, England, and has in his possession the only entered apprentice certificate issued in England. He is also a member of the Minerva Chapter, R. A. M., in Hull. Captain Boyes is an English gentleman of the old school, cultured, refined, genial, having proved loyal and true to the land of his adoption and is well trained in the exercise of those fine intellectual qualities that are the Englishman's heritage and pride. Through his affiliation with the Episcopalian church many of his benevolences are given, although his liberality is such that it confines itself to no sect or lodge.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011