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Francis Calvin Morgan Boggess

Francis Calvin Morgan Boggess

By Spessard Stone

Used with permission

F. C. M. Boggess, a pioneer settler of Fort Ogden, Florida, was a soldier, teacher, cattleman, and civic leader.

Francis Calvin Morgan Boggess was born November 21, 1833 in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama. Bennett Boggess, Jr., his father, served as a captain of volunteers in the Second Seminole War and was a speculator in cotton. Bennett Boggess, Sr., his grandfather, a native of France, served as a soldier under the Count de Estang at the Battle of New Orleans and later immigrated from France to the Big Cove in Madison County, Alabama.

After completing his education at the Barton Academy in Spring Hill, Alabama, Calvin (as he referred to himself) enlisted on February 3, 1848 in Capt. Blanton McAlpin's Company in the Alabama battalion commanded by Col. Seibles, for service in the Mexican War. The battalion first went to New Orleans and then sailed to Vera Cruz, Mexico. They were first posted to Camp Begarro, Camp Washington, and were at Orizaba to guard the mountain passes when peace was declared. At the time they had never been in battle, but enroute back to Vera Cruz, they were in a skirmish with guerillas and lost five men, while killing two of the enemy. He was mustered out June 26, 1848 at Mobile.

After a brief stint as an overseer in Middletown, Mississippi, Calvin enlisted at New Orleans in a Louisiana regiment commanded by Col. Bob Wheat, with Col. William Bell second in command, in General Narcisco Lopez's expedition to liberate Cuba from Spain. On May 3, 1850 they sailed. Calvin was appointed by Col. Bell as a first sergeant of a company of stevedores. On May 19, 1850 they landed at Cardenas, Cuba; however, General Lopez's expectations of reinforcements of men in Cuba were not realized and the prompt dispatch of Spanish troops led to the survivors by the evening of May 20, 1850 being back aboard. Calvin, nevertheless, had conducted himself well under fire and had been promoted to a captain of a crack company of stevedores. Soon after, eighteen of the filibusters were in Key West, then Useppa Key, and finally Fort Brooke, with all but Calvin proceeding to Palatka.

Calvin then began a series of vocations. First he was employed as a schoolteacher at Fort Dade, then as a sailor. After he was stricken by inflammatory rheumatism, he returned to teaching for three years. He also became a cattleman and registered in Hillsborough County on April 12, 1853 his mark & brand: crop & underbit in one ear, swallowfork in other, diamond 8. On June 30, 1853, he qualified as a justice of the peace of Hillsborough County for a two-year term.

In Hillsborough County on July 22, 1852, he married Margaret Hall, born ca. 1827 in Florida. Rev. Levy Pearce officiated. The 1850 census of Hillsborough County, dated October 29, enumerated in the Pease Creek Settlement, household # 135/136: Isam Dees, 34, Ga.; Martha Dees, 2, Ga.; Sarah Dees, 2, Fl.; Mary Hall, 65, Fl; Milly Ann Heck [?], 37, Fl; Margaret Hall, 25, Fl; Georgia A. Heck [?] 6, Fl; Francis Ivy, 20, Fl. Household # 136/137 was William Hall, 35, Ga.; # /138 Eveline L. Hall, 18, Ga. The Moseley map of 1855 showed that west of Fort Meade about two and one-half miles on McCullough Creek lived James Whidden and south of him lived F. C. M. Boggess.

During the Third Seminole War, F. C. M. Boggess served as first sergeant from December 29, 1855 to December 1857 in Capt. Francis M. Durrance's Company. In June 1856, Sgt. Boggess was at Fort Fraser when Daniel W. Carlton, his arm bleeding, arrived to tell of the Willoughby Tillis Battle of June 14, in which his father, Lt. Alderman Carlton, Lott Whidden and William Parker were killed, and John C. Oats, and John Hollingsworth had been wounded.

With fifteen men Sgt. Boggess pursued the Indians, who had crossed the Peace River. On June 16, the enemy was found and a battle ensued, in which Boggess described in his autobiography A Veteran of Four Wars:

"They soon saw the camp which was a complete horse shoe made by the crook of the river. The men were warned not to go in the camp as every Indian had his gun pointed. At the camp their packs were lying around and the beef was stuck on sticks all around the fire. When in twenty feet of the river they fired and yelled at the same time. The cabbage palmetto was thick and with the dry fans falling and the smoke blinded the men for an instant. They yelled and rushed to the bank and under it the Indians stood in water with all their guns empty. The white men's guns roared until they had killed about thirty. The water was covered with blood as the men had to shoot them in the head. The fight lasted but a short time. It was only those that swam the river that were not killed.
"Robert Prine and George W. Howell, both young men, were killed; Wm. Brooke [Brooker] and James Whitton [Whidden], both of the trailers, and John L. Skipper were wounded."

In 1858 Calvin and family were living at Fort Meade. He taught school, hunted cattle, and assisted in driving cattle to Tampa to ship to Key West. The 1860 census of Hillsborough County, dated June 19, enumerated in household # 219/193 F. C. M. Bogis (sic) and family, consisting of wife Margaret; Matilda, age 15, born Ga.; Anna, age 10, born N.C.; Thomas, age 2; not named (f), 2 months. Neighbors included: Bennett & Spicy Whidden, Frank & Barbary Ivey, Isaac & Roxann Waters, John & Nancy Altman, D. O. & America Hicks. In Hillsborough County on August 11, 1860, he sold to J. Howell for $1,500 all cattle known as the Carney stock, 2 horse-wagon, 2 sorrel horses, and the E 1/2 of the NE 1/4 of Section 32 and W 1/2 of the NW 1/4, Section 33, Township 31 South, Range 25 East.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Calvin moved off to the frontier near Fort Ogden where he engaged in the cattle business and thought he, a Unionist, could avoid participation in the war. In Manatee County on October 7, 1861, he was elected a justice of the peace over E. E. Mizell and W. A. Griffin. On January 16, 1863 he qualified as a justice of the peace of Manatee County until October 5; on November 9, 1863, he was selected for a two-year term. In Manatee County on October 5, 1863, he was elected as a member of the Assembly to replace W. T. Duval, who was thought to have removed from the district. He received 39 votes to 29 for E. Glazier and 26 for Archibald McNeill; however, he was not able to assume the seat as it was discovered Duval still qualified for office as a refugee.

From 1863 to May 20, 1865, he served as first lieutenant and quartermaster in Capt. Francis A. Hendry's Company A, Munnerlyn's Battalion, C. S. A. In his autobiography, A Veteran of Four Wars, he expressed his view of the war:

"The ordinance of secession was carried by a large majority. And any one advocating the cause of the Union was in danger of his life. Captain Boggess had been a Mexican Veteran and he loved the flag and was bitterly opposed to seceding and advocated fighting for their rights under the flag.

"To be situated as a Union man was in the South it was any thing but pleasant. If a man's sympathies were with the Union he could not forsake his family and all he possessed...He remained out of the army until he was driven in to it by force of circumstances. He, as it happened, came out honorably. He did but little fighting, and, in fact, it was a war distinct from the real war. They had a war among themselves. Those that had been neighbors fighting with the Confederates. It was a war against refugees and for the possession of this country. The Federal troops, mostly negroes and refugees, were stationed at Fort Myers and the Confederate troops were stationed at and above Fort Meade. About 100 miles apart, and but one or two families living between the two stations..."

For about six months prior to the South's surrender Lt. Boggess was at Brooksville. Called to Tallahassee for a court martial, he at Madisonville learned of General Lee's surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. He returned to Brooksville and then went to Fort Meade. There he rode up to Capt. Hendry's residence and told him of the war's end. Hendry exclaimed, "Thank God it is over one way or another." Soon after, Lt. Boggess was paroled by Lt. DeCosta [Boggess cited as given, probably Lt. Nathan H. DeCoster].

Calvin had moved his family to Fort Meade when he had enlisted, but now resettled in Fort Ogden, which was his residence the rest of his life. He resumed his cattle business. Before the war, Capt. James McKay and Jacob Summerlin had opened up a cattle trade with Cuba. Calvin assisted in shipping a steamer load to Cuba and while there made arrangements to continue shipping. In 1867, he shipped 20,000 beef cattle and made $10,000. He in this trade was associated with various men, including Jacob Summerlin, John M. Pearce, and Lewis Parker. In Manatee County on July 24, 1872 five brands were registered by F. C. M. Boggess, which included three circle 2 brands, one AH brand, and one D brand. The 1871 Manatee County Tax Book showed him with 2,000 cattle while the 1873 Tax Book listed him with 2 horses and 1,000 cattle. The 1885 Manatee County Agricultural Schedule, however, depicted him with only $75 in stock, 1 horse, 8 acres of tilled land, and a farm valued at $800.

Margaret Hall Boggess died prior to 1874. In Manatee County on January 4, 1874, F. C. M. Boggess married Pauline R. Seabrook, born September 26, 1855 in Bluffton, South Carolina. Ziba King, J. P., officiated. The 1880 Manatee County census listed at Fort Ogden F. C. M. & Pauline Boggess and their children, Mary D., age 5, Francis, age 4; also listed was son T.C. Boggess, a 22-year-old sailor.

Boggess was involved in civic affairs. The Florida Peninsular of August 24, 1870, page 2, column 3, reported that at a mass meeting to nominate Democratic candidates for the House and Senate from Manatee County at Fort Ogden on July 30, he was nominated for the House. In 1876, he was appointed postmaster of Fort Ogden. In February 1879, he was a member of the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee. The Sunland Tribune of May 31, 1879, page 1, columns 5-6, noted that Francis C. M. Boggess was foreman of the Grand Jury of Manatee County. In the late 1870s and early 1880s, he again served as a justice of the peace. Along with C. J. Carlton, he was a member of the committee which met October 5, 1887 to elect a delegation to represent Fort Ogden in a county meeting at Pine Level on March 15 to discuss county division, which was successfully concluded when in May 1887 Senator John W. Whidden's bill to create DeSoto County was passed. Calvin was a member of the DeSoto County School Board. With others, including Francis A. Hendry, he was a member of a society to safeguard the interests of the Seminoles of Florida.

F. C. M. Boggess was also a writer. With John F. Bartholf he co-authored South Florida The Italy of America, which was published in 1881. The 76-page pamphlet was divided into two parts, of which 69 pages were believed to have been written by Bartholf to promote the Charlotte Harbor, Caloosahatchee and Peace River country, and 7 pages containing reminiscences of the last Seminole War were obviously penned by Boggess. Bartholf and Boggess were at the time partners in a land office. In 1900 he published A Veteran of Four Wars, his autobiography, which contained 89 pages. In his sunset years he published a weekly newspaper at Fort Ogden.

On March 8, 1887 he applied for a pension based upon his service in the Mexican War. He cited disability by being shot in the knee by a pistol ball on August 20, 1869 at Fisheating Creek, "the ball causes him to be very lame." In continuance of his claim he in January 1895 gave an affidavit, in which he averred: "I own one hundred acres of land. It was homesteaded. Not more than one-tenth of it is tillable and it is all poor producing nothing without being fertilized. The big freeze of Dec. 28th 1894 killed all the guava trees and bananas and all vegetables and also killed many young trees and damaged the bearing trees. I own one horse and a small wagon and have no income from any source only what I can obtain from my labor." His claim was approved.

Francis Calvin Morgan Boggess died June 22, 1902. Pauline R. Boggess died September 3, 1926. They are buried in Fort Ogden Cemetery.

F. C. M. Boggess had six children, three by his first wife, Margaret Hall Boggess, and three by his second wife, Pauline Seabrook Boggess, as follows:

  1. 1. Mary Rodgers Boggess, born December 20, 1853; died 1850s.
  2. 2. Thomas Charles Boggess, born 1858; died ca. 1922; married in Manatee Co. on June 22, 1881 Olive M. Key (1859-1937, buried Lily Cemetery, Hardee Co.), daughter of Dr. Gilbert L. Key.
  3. 3. Francis Vashti Boggess, born May 14, 1860; died young.
  4. 4. Mary Delia Boggess, born January 31, 1875; died April 13, 1949; buried Fort Ogden Cemetery; married Earnest E. Brown. (A. DeVane has her given name as Mamie, but other data has as here cited.)
  5. 5. Francis Seabrook "Frank" Boggess, born April 10, 1876; died 1956; married on March 14, 1900 Claytie E. Garret (1883-1949). They are buried in Fort Ogden Cemetery.
  6. 6. Georgia E. Boggess, born 1882; died 1967; married on Dec. 20, 1900 Ben Falany (1879-1937). They are buried in Fort Ogden Cemetery.

Principal references:

·  F. C. M. Boggess, A Veteran of Four Wars, 1900;

·  Mexican War pension applications of Francis C. M. Boggess and Pauline R. Boggess;

·  Widow's Confederate pension application of Pauline Boggess;

·  Albert DeVane, "Captain Boggess Was A Veteran of The Lopez Expedition to Cuba," The Tampa Tribune, December 7, 1958;

·  Fort Ogden Cemetery.

·  H. Key Leonard, P. O. Box 6, Bagdad, FL 32530, in a letter of 3/20/89 to this writer, wrote: "From notes that my mother made, I believe that Grandpa Charlie died in 1922. I doln't know what month but it seems he was in Mystic Georgia at the time of his death..."

This profile is adapted from my article in The Herald-Advocate of July 21, 1988.

February 06, 2001, October 18, 2001, June 2, 2004