Boyd Family History
John Boyd was the youngest of eight children, born on June 22nd, 1833 in Belfast, Ireland. At the tender age of 15 he immigrated to the United States in order to take advantage of all there was to offer in the land of opportunity. He followed the gold rush to California where he married Elizabeth Mullen on October 28, 1860. The next year in November, their daughter Mary Ann was born in Smartville-Marysville, California, and a few days later Elizabeth died. John left his daughter in the care of friends, and traveled north, following the gold rush to the Cariboo in 1862. It was on his travels to the San Jaun Islands that he met and then married Janet Fleming on May 16, 1868.
The following year the first of their ten children, John Charles, was born. After establishing a roadhouse along the Cariboo Wagon Road at Cold Spring, John purchased Cottonwood House and Ranch on March 19th, 1874 and operated it as a farm with the help of his brother-in-law John Fleming.
In 1886 John moved 5 of the 7 children to Cottonwood House and three more children were born there: Archibald (1887), Chester (1889), and Walter (1891). For the next 23 years Cottonwood House prospered with a combination of farm and roadhouse income.
However, John’s death in 1909 and the loss of Archie and Chester in the First World War devastated the family. These tribulations coupled with the country-wide depression in the 1930’s, resulted in a substantial downturn for the business. Despite this decline, the operation of a post office and addition of a gas pump helped to ensure the roadhouse remain a significant hub in the region.
The beginning of the Second World War in 1939 and Janet’s death in 1940 marked the beginning of the end of the Boyd family’s tenure at Cottonwood, as the absence of manpower made the property unsustainable for the family. In 1951 the property was sold to Vagn and Anna Olrik, ending over 75 years of Boyd family hospitality in the region.