Boyd, Frances Anne Mullen (1848–1926)

By: Darlis A. Miller

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: April 25, 2019

Frances (Fannie) Boyd, writer, was born in New York City on February 14, 1848. Her father owned a bakery there, and the family was well-to-do. Her mother died when she was quite young, and her father remarried. Frances married Lt. Orsemus Bronson Boyd on October 9, 1867, in New York City. For the next eighteen years she followed her officer-husband, a graduate of West Point, from one duty station to another, making a home for themselves and, eventually, their three children, at frontier posts in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Boyd's military career spanned the post-Civil War Indian wars, years when travel was dangerous and living conditions primitive.

In December 1875 Mrs. Boyd and their daughter and son accompanied Lieutenant Boyd to a new assignment at Fort Clark, Texas. The post, located forty miles from the Rio Grande near the site of present-day Brackettville, guarded the San Antonio-El Paso road. For six months in 1879–80 the Boyds lived at Fort Duncan, a small garrison at Eagle Pass, where troops patrolled the international boundary. After two of the children were stricken with malaria in 1881, Frances Boyd took them all back to New York. The family remained separated while Boyd served at various stations. In 1885 Frances returned to Fort Clark, her husband's current post. Boyd was soon ordered to New Mexico, where he died, on July 23, 1885.

Left a widow at age thirty-seven, Frances Boyd took up residence in Washington, D.C., where she had social connections, and later lived in New York City. Her descendants remember that she traveled extensively in Europe. Her Cavalry Life in Tent and Field, a tribute to her husband that describes her experiences in the West as an officer's wife, was published in 1894. It is considered one of the finest of the genre. Early in the new century, perhaps in 1908, she bought a house and land in Boonton, New Jersey, where she lived for the rest of her life. She died in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on May 2, 1926.

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Orsemus B. Boyd File, United States Military Academy Library, West Point, New York. Veterans Administration, Pension Application File, National Archives, Washington.

  • Women
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Memoirs, Diaries, Letters, and Travel
  • Military
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • Hill Country and Edwards Plateau Region

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Darlis A. Miller, “Boyd, Frances Anne Mullen,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

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November 1, 1994
April 25, 2019

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