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BIOGRAPHY: William Johnson Boykin born Nov. 8, 1861 – photograph

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Boykin, William Johnson LauderdaleWILLIAM JOHNSON BOYKIN



Russell County, Alabama

William Johnson Boykin was an attorney in Gadsden, Alabama and a member of the famous Boykin family, which traces its ancestry back to Edward Boykin, the first American ancestor, who came to Virginia from Caernarvonshire, Wales, a short time prior to April 20, 1685.

The descendants of Edward Boykin have since held many important positions in church and State. One of them, Francis Boykin, was a captain and afterward major in the war of the Revolution, and fought, while captain, with unusual distinction in the battle of Fort Moultrie. A son of Francis Boykin, James, was the great-grandfather of William Johnson Boykin. He fought a year in the War of 1812. His son, Francis E. Boykin, father of James William Boykin, the father of William Johnson Boykin, was a planter, served two terms of four years each as county treasurer of Bullock county, and was a member of both houses of the Alabama legislature.

James William Boykin was a mechanic and a planter. He was married Nov. 29, 1860, to Athalia Annette Johnson, daughter of Isaac and Susan Johnson, of Harris county, Ga., and had by this union five sons and one daughter. He enlisted in the Confederate army in 1862, in Company I, Thirty-fourth Alabama regiment, and served throughout the war, being wounded several times, though never seriously. His wife, a devoted Christian and a noble mother, died in September 1897.

William Johnson Boykin was born at Oswichee, Russell County, Alabama, Nov. 8, 1861. When ten years old he moved with his parents to Glennville, Ala., where he attended a private school. His education was conducted there and afterward at Seale, by Hon. William H. Chambers, Rev. John Dyer and Rev. George W. Fuller.

He was also employed, when a boy, with two brothers, in farming his father’s plantation. On Oct. 5, 1882, he married Bessie Ware, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Nuckolls) Ware, of Villula, Russell county. Mrs. Boykin’s father having died some time previous to her marriage, Mr. Boykin moved after the marriage with her to the “old home place,”‘ where he was employed by the administratrix of the Ware estate in looking after the estate and caring for the then quite extensive farm interests. Previous to this he had attended one term at the Southwest Agricultural school at Cuthbert, Georgia.

He was a farmer until 1889, when, after a serious illness of several months, he was compelled to seek a change of occupation. He began to read law under the direction of Col. L. W. Martin and Hon. John V. Smith, of Seale, Ala., and on Oct. 1, 1890, he entered the University of Alabama law school, where he was graduated the following June with the degree of bachelor of laws. He began practice in Seale, Alabama.

In 1894, having been previously nominated without opposition by the Democrats, he was elected to represent Russell county in the State legislature, and in 1896 he was sent to the State senate, from the twenty-seventh district, embracing Lee and Russell counties. He became an influential member of both bodies, serving in the house as chairman of the committee on commerce and common carriers and as a member of the judiciary committee, and in the senate, during his first session as a member of the judiciary committee and chairman of the committee on commerce and common carriers, and in the second session as chairman of the judiciary committee and member of the rules committee. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination as attorney-general in 1898, and was defeated after a close and exciting contest. He practiced law in Gadsden since October, 1900.

Mr. Boykin was a chapter Mason and served as secretary and senior warden of the Seale lodge; he was a member of the Knights of Pythias. He was a Baptist; he served for years as clerk of the Seale Baptist church and was clerk and moderator of the Harris Baptist association. He was a member of the Baptist church at Gadsden.

Mrs. Boykin died May 23, 1902. She left five children, one son and four daughters:

  1. Emma Juanita Boykin
  2. Alice Nuckolls Boykin married Henry Carroll Kilgore
  3. Elizabeth Boykin
  4. Willie J Boykin – died 1909
  5. Benton Lamar Boykin.

All the children resided with their father in Gadsden in 1904. William Johnson Boykin passed away April 30, 1931 and is buried in Forrest Cemetery in Gadsden, Etowah County, Alabama.



  1. Notable Men of Alabama: Personal and Genealogical, Volume 1 edited by Joel Campbell DuBose.
  2. Find A Grave Memorial# 70178306 # 54038080 # 54038014 # 112503102 # 112503177 # 63607277 # 69217466
  3. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Vol. 3, by Thomas McAdory Owen and Marie Bankhead Owen, The S.J. Clark Publishing Co., Chicago, 1921, page 191. Repository: Alabama Dept. of Archives and History, 624 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36130.

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