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Manuscripts by Subject - Family / Local History - #10031

Title: Sarah Boley Diaries

Dates:  1877-1918

Collection Number:   10031

Quantity:   .5 feet               

Abstract: Three diaries concerning weather, daily life, politics and agricultural conditions in Morton Co., North Dakota.

Provenance:   unknown

Property rights:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to the collection.

Copyright:  Copyright of the Sarah Boley Diaries has been dedicated to the public. Consideration of all other copyrights is the responsibility of the author and publisher.

Access:  This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation:  Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.



Sarah Lewallen (or Llewelyn) Boley was born May 3, 1831, in the state of Ohio, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Lewallen (or Llewelyn). As a youngster she moved with her parents to Bourbon, Indiana, where in 1854, she met and married Elijah Boley.

Sarah and Elijah were engaged in farming, milling and stock buying at Bourbon until 1863, when they moved to Monona, Clayton County, Ohio. There they operated a farm as well as a small hardware business.

In the summer of 1877, Elijah and his son, Alphonse, traveled to Dakota Territory where they selected a claim on the west bank of the Missouri River, just northeast of the later site of Mandan, in Morton County. Their claim is said to be the fourth such claim located west of the Missouri and north of the Heart River. Sarah and her daughter, Viola, followed early in 1878.

The Boleys gradually built their homestead into a 990 acre farm. Elijah was one of Morton County's first commissioners and was prominent in county social and political life until his death on March 2, 1901.

Elijah and Sarah Boley had four children, of whom only two lived to maturity. Alphonse Boley died in July, 1920, while his sister, Viola Mae Boley Coe, died in May, 1943.

Sarah Boley died at Mandan on February 11, 1923


The collection consists of three diaries, containing a nearly unbroken series of daily entries from August 1, 1877 to 1918. The entries are often cryptic in nature and generally contain information on the weather and local events, such as births, deaths, and weddings, as well as social, political and business events.

To be most understandable, the diaries should be read in conjunction with contemporary Mandan newspaper.

Below are listed a series of significant dates and events as mentioned in the diaries:

August 18, 1877 - Elijah and Alphonse Boley leave Ohio for the Dakota Territory
January 30, 1878 - Sarah Boley prepared for the move to Dakota Territory
February 21, 1878 -Sarah Boley arrives by train at Bismarck, DT
February 22, 1878 -Sarah reaches her new home on the claim west of the Missouri River.

April 13, 1878 - Elijah attends a meeting of the Morton County commissioners at Lincoln, DT (Lincoln was an early speculative town site located in the vicinity of present-day Mandan, and which was supplanted by Mandan in 1879)
July 30, 1878 - The first political convention in Morton County was held in the home of a Mr. Mitchell.
August 18, 1878 - Elijah left on a trip to Yankton, the capital of Dakota Territory.
November 5, 1878 - Election day, and the Boley home is used as a voting place.
December 12, 1878 - Surveyors finish subdividing the township in which the Boley claim is located.
January 22, 1879 - Mandan, the new county seat, is surveyed.
April 7, 1879 - The Boleys travel to Bismarck to file on the claim they had held by squatter's rights.
August 7, 1880 - Eijah leaves on a trip to Yankton, to see the Governor about matters relating to the organization of Morton County.
November 18, 1880 - Morton County residents hold a convention at Mandan to select a representative to look after their interests during the meeting of the territorial legislature that winter at Yankton.
February 21, 1881 - Elijah is appointed one of three commissioners of the newly reorganized Morton County.
June 21, 1882 - Elijah travels to the Bismarck land office to "prove up" on his claim.
March 2, 1901 - Elijah dies at the farm home, the body being moved to Mandan that evening.
March 3, 1901 - Elijah is buried in the Methodist cemetery, following funeral services.
September 26, 1901 - Sarah rents the farm to George Melvin.
November 12, 1901 - Sarah moves to a house in Mandan.
January 12, 1915 - Sarah is relieved when the Mandan city fathers close down the movie theaters and billiard halls on Sundays. A good example of her views on morality.

 Box 1:
1 Diary Volume 1          Aug 18, 1877-Dec 31, 1896
2 Diary Volume 2          Jan 1, 1897-Dec 31, 1912
3 Diary Volume 3          Jan 1, 1913-Apr 16, 1918
4 Inventory and Items found loose in Diaries


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