Tuesday, December 12, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz -- The Meaning of His Name

Continued from DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz's Parents -- A Description.

Hiram Abiff Boaz, was my fourth cousin three times removed, a Bishop in the Methodist Church and former president of Southern Methodist University. I discovered him when resolving a DNA match who shared John Beard (1705-1780), my six times great grandfather, as the common shared ancestor.

Bishop Boaz wrote Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz in 1951. I am quoting a small portion of Chapter I. Ancestry, Childhood, and Early Youth, which begins on page 13, about Biblical references to his name.

"The family name, BOAZ, which I bear, perhaps with pardonable pride, is an ancient and honorable name. It is found for the first time in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament. In the second chapter of that ancient and beautiful love story we find these words: 'And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was BOAZ.' It appears that he lived in the town of Bethlehem, where at a later date the Christ was born, and owned a farm out in the country near by. It was in this field of Boaz that Ruth gleaned in the long ago story and won the admiration and love of the rich owner. She was soon married to Boaz as the nearest kinsman to her mother-in-law, Naomi. She bore a son to Boaz and called his name Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse and Jesse became the father of David and David became the father of Solomon, who built the Temple in the city of Jerusalem.

When Solomon built the Temple the record in Holy Writ declares, 'And he reared up pillars before the Temple, one on the right hand, and one on the left; and he called the name of that on the right hand Jachin and the name of that on the left Boz.' The pillar called Jachin was to represent strength. The one named Boaz stood for stability. From that day down to the present time Masons have held in high regard the names Jachin and Boaz because they represent two excellent attributes of character, strength and stability.

My given name, Hiram Abiff, has also interesting connotations for the Masonic fraternity. In the building of Solomon's Temple, Hiram Abiff drew the plans for the Temple. He was a skilled workman and holds high respect among all Masons. When I was born my father was an active Mason. His experience as a Master Mason, no doubt, had something to do with the name he gave me. The given name and the surname being scriptural and in frequent use among Masons has caused no little interest among Masons and brought me many favors undeserved."

Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz with his autobiography in 1962 at the age of 96
not long  before his death later that year; courtesy of Dallas Freemasonry

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Boaz, Hiram Abiff. Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz, (Nashville, TN: Parthenon Press, 1951), page 13.

DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz's Parents -- A Description

Friday, December 8, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Hiram Abiff Boaz's Parents -- A Description

I discovered the interesting life of Hiram Abiff Boaz, my 4th cousin three times removed and great great grandfather of one of my brother's DNA matches. Solving the common shared ancestor enabled me to "meet" Bishop Boaz.

Wikipedia profile: Hiram Abiff Boaz
Texas State Historical Association biography: Hiram Abiff Boaz

Hiram Abiff Boaz was licensed to preach in 1889 by the quarterly conference of the First Church (Methodist); taught at several universities, was president of Southern Methodist University, elected Bishop in the Methodist Church, served in the Far East several times before retiring. Much has been written about Bishop Boaz so I will not repeat that information in detail.

However, I learned Bishop Boaz wrote an autobiography entitled, "Eight-four Golden Years: Autobiograph of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz." I found the book at a used book store through Amazon.com and wanted to share with his descendants that he was a genealogist and knew quite a bit about his family history.

A word of caution, you will likely find the description of his parents difficult to read because of its attitude towards slavery and the ownership of human beings, as well as the assumption that a well-cared-for slave is a happy slave. I chose to include the information because Bishop Boaz was no racist bigot from everything I have read. He was a worldly, well- educated and traveled man. The view he espoused in 1951 when his autobiography was written was not atypical for a Southern gentleman of the era. So for all the prejudices our fellow African-Americans still experience, we have come a long, long way from the beliefs of 1951. I found that to be a positive message the more I reflected upon its meaning. 

From Chapter I: Ancestry, Childhood and Early Youth:

"I was born in Murray, Kentucky, on December 18, 1866, soon after the close of the War Between the States. I was the sixth in a family of eight children. I was well born. My father and mother were sound in mind and body. There were in the prime of life when I made my appearance. Neither had any physical handicap or mental peculiarity. Both were physically strong, mentally alert and morally sound. For this rich inheritance I thank God and my parents.

Home of Peter Maddox Boaz in Calloway County, Kentucky; from
Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz

Peter Maddox Boaz was my father. He was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, January 19, 1819, and there grew to manhood. He moved from Virginia to Concord County, Kentucky, about 1849, and remained there until 1852, when he moved again, this time to Calloway County, where he remained until 1873. He was six feet in height and weighed one hundred eighty pounds. He was strong and robust. He had a clear gray eye with a bluish tinge. Being a man with unusual mental and physical qualities he became very successful in business. He was the owner of a large plantation near Murray, Kentucky. He was also a grower and manufacturer of tobacco and the owner of quite a few slaves. These slaves worked around the home, on the farm and in the tobacco factory. Their homes were not far from the "Big House" and were well suited for their comfort. They enjoyed every consideration at the hands of my father who was always kind to them and their children. They held him in high esteem and were devoted to him and his family. When given their freedom by proclamation of President Lincoln they hesitated long before accepting their liberty. Some of them remained with him as hired servants for some time. One of them, 'Cupe' by name, came with him to Texas and remained with him to the day of his death, as a hired servant, of course.[1] Thus my father demonstrated the kindness of his great heart.

Peter Maddox Boaz; from Eighty-four Golden Years:
Autobiography of Bishop Hirman Abiff Boaz

Being a good citizen and fearless in the discharge of his duty, he was elected sheriff of his county and served in that capacity for several years. When the War Between the States broke out, he was one of the most successful businessmen of his county and one of its most useful citizens. He lived in a beautiful colonial home, surrounded by large and stately trees on the outskirts of Murray. He and his family and his slaves were happy and prosperous, living in peace and plenty.

When the war closed his slaves were freed, his business disorganized and his fortune swept away. Being prosperous and kindhearted he had signed security notes for his friends in financial distress and had many of those notes to pay when the war was over. The federal army confiscated his livestock used on the farm and took his tobacco from the barns. The war left father without slaves, without business and broken in spirit. That is what war does for millions.

In the early spring of 1873 he sold his home and all that was left by the war and in March moved to Tarrant County, Texas, settling near Birdville, about seven miles east from what is now the city of Fort Worth. From the severe shock of the war, he never recovered his fortune or his spirit. He was a broken and bruised reed to the end of his life.

My mother, Louisa Ann Ryan, was born March 5, 1836, at Lynchburg, Virginia. Her parents were Virginians and belonged to the well-to-do class of planters of that State. She was a first cousin to Thomas Fortune Ryan, the New York multimillionaire. She inherited many fine qualities from those Virginia parents. Her great-grandfather, James Wills, fought in the French and Indian Wars. She was five feet and five inches in height and did not weigh more than one hundred twenty pounds. Her eyes were blue, her voice soft and sweet. She was endowed with remarkable energy and her powers of endurance were almost beyond limit. In the days of her prosperity she had slaves to look after the children, slaves to do all the work around her lovely home. I am told that these faithful slaves adored their "Mistress." To me this is no wonder for all her children adored her. She was the idol of our hearts.

Louisa Ann (Ryan) Boaz; from Eighty-four Golden Years;
Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz

She presided over her home with grace and poise. She never lost her patience. She seemed never to tire in her labors of love and mercy. In the days of her prosperity she was modest and unassuming. In the days of adversity she toiled with untiring energy to keep her household in order and to look after all the interests of the entire family. After cooking and cleaning house all day she worked many times until midnight to keep her children in suitable clothes. She never complained of hardships in those days of poverty, but was always cheerful and optimistic. Perhaps this was because of her sublime faith in God and His never failing mercies. She was devoutly religious. As a child I believed in God because my mother believed in Him and I believed in my mother. This faith in God was held in my youth because of my faith in my mother. When I went away to college I had to find an independent faith of my own, an individual experience of God, but faith in my mother was an anchor that never failed and held me true to God.

To me my mother was a beautiful woman. It was not the beauty of rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes but the beauty of a saintly life. The beauty of serenity and peace was hers. Her lovely spirit, her motherly devotion to her children, her supreme confidence in the goodness of God made her beautiful to all her children. By example and precept she tried to lead all her children into the higher and nobler life. She instilled the principles of absolute honesty at all times. She taught us to tell the truth on all occasions regardless of the result to us, to deal fairly with all men at all times in spite of what others might do to us. Many tines have I heard her say, 'Have a place for everything and everything in its place.' 'Two wrongs never make a right.' 'Do right and you will win in the end.' She taught us to honor God in all things and to keep His commandments, and she set the example in her own life. I never saw her do anything that I thought was wrong. Her sublime faith in God and her beautiful Christian life have wonderfully influenced my entire career. To her I owe more than I can ever repay.

She maintained her home in Benbrook to the end of her life, although she spent much of her time in our home during her later days. She often said that she kept that home of her own so that if she tired of living in the homes of her children she would have a home of her own to which she could retire in peace and quiet. In this she was wise as in so many other ways.

In her eighty-second year while residing in my home, she fell and broke her hip and became bedfast. She suffered no pain but gradually failed in strength. Frequently when asked how she felt she would reply that she was in no pain but 'very tired.' On the night of November 27, 1917, she quietly took her departure for the world beyond the skies. There was no pain, no struggle, and her immortal spirit took its flight to the God who gave it. She had lived a marvelous life and died a triumphant death to enter on that life beyond the grave that is richer, fuller and infinitely more glorious than this life. Today the memory of her voice is like the memory of sweet toned bells, the memory of her beautiful sprit is like the memory of fragrant flowers. She is singing around the Throne of God today. Some day I shall join her and what a meeting that will be!"

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[1] "Cupe, the former slave and servant to Peter Maddox Boaz has been released on the Slave Name Roll Project.

Boaz, Hiram Abiff. Eighty-four Golden Years: Autobiography of Bishop Hiram Abiff Boaz, (Nashville, TN: Parthenon Press, 1951), page 15-18.