Holding an important place in the history of Union, MS is the former stagecoach inn first owned by Neshoba/Newton County pioneer Wesley Boler. Mr. Boler hired his son-in-law, Norfleet Staton, to build a new two story house in 1856. The construction can be dated by a letter Norfleet Staton wrote to his father Ennis in North Carolina on August 10, 1856. A transcript of that letter was sent to me by the late Polly Staton Barrick, who was also in possession of the tools her g-grandfather used to build the house. Staton wrote, "I am bilding a house for my old father law 46 by 38, 2 story high. I think I will make 150 or 200 dollars by crismas father."
The Civil War came to Boler's Inn in the form of General Sherman, who quartered his men around the building. According to local legend, Sherman didn't burn the town of Union because of it's name. Little did Sherman know that Wesley Boler's sons and son-in-law were away fighting for the Confederacy. Boler's third son James was killed in the Siege of Vicksburg. Another long told local story indicates a wounded pay master spent the night in the inn. Before morning he died, having buried his payroll during the night. Treasure hunters have searched in vain for that long hidden payroll during the many years that have now passed.
Wesley Boler was born in Edgefield District, SC and lived his early life in the midst of Boulware and Rutherford family members. His Mother, Rachel, died in South Carolina between 1805 and 1810. After his first wife's death William Bowler married Elizabeth Toombs, aunt of Robert Toombs who was the first Secretary of State of the Confederacy. By 1816 Wesley's father had migrated to the Mississippi Territory, living in the area that became Clarke Co, AL. Wesley is listed, along with his brother John and brother-in-law Green McKinney, on the 1820 Alabama Census for the Cherokee Indian Land. William Bowler died in 1821, leaving his widow Elizabeth to spend the remainder of her life in the Clarke Co, AL household of Wesley's older brother John Bouler.
In 1823 Wesley Boler married Eliza Walton in Clarke Co, AL. Some time prior to 1830 the couple, along with extended family members, moved to Hinds Co, MS. In 1834 Wesley Boler sold his Hinds County land and began purchasing land in Neshoba Co, MS. That land had just been opened for settlement by the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Wesley, his cousins, and his wife's extended family were among the earliest settlers of Neshoba County, living primarily in the area that became Newton County after that county split from Neshoba in 1836. The families lived in the New Ireland community area, west of the present town of Union, MS.
In 1856 his son-in-law, Norfleet Staton, built a two story home for Wesley in the present town of Union, MS. That home would become Boler's Inn, a stagecoach inn on the route to Jackson, MS. Sherman quartered his men at Boler's Inn on his march through Mississippi, but didn't burn the building because of the name of the town, Union. Some time prior to 1870, Wesley moved back to the area west of Union, close to and possibly straddling the Neshoba/Newton county line.
By 1870 Wesley's wife, Eliza Walton, and Eliza's brother, James Walton, had died. Wesley married James' widow, his sister-in-law, Nancy Miller Walton. Wesley & Nancy Boler were enumerated on the 1880 Newton Co, MS Census. The last deed for them was found in Newton County, MS in January 1882. Wesley Boler died November 15, 1882 and is buried in Abney Cemetery, just west of Union, MS.
During the mid-20th century Abney Cemetery fell into a state of disrepair and, according to a Walton document at the Philadelphia Library, a number of graves collapsed and tombstones were destroyed. Someone replaced the tombstone of Wesley Boler & a number of his extended family members. The dates placed on several of the replacement tombstones, including those of Wesley Boler, are incorrect. These incorrect dates have also been incorporated in the Newton County Cemetery book.
Wesley Boler left a large number of descendants, many of whom still live in the Newton / Neshoba County area.
Boler's Inn 1997
The years were not always kind to the historic building. During the latter part of the 20th century the house was no longer occupied and fell into a state of disrepair that threatened its very existence. A group of Union citizens became concerned and a steering committee to save and restore Boler's Inn was formed. The entire town of Union, Mississippi responded with sustained fund raising efforts. Though fund raising continued successfully, a larger infusion of cash was needed to save the building. The Restoration Committee appealed to the State of Mississippi for assistance. The State responded with a restoration grant. Boler's Inn could now anticipate stepping forward with new life into the 21st Century.
The Inn 2002
The picture of Boler's Inn to the left, taken April 2002, shows the wonderful progress made through the efforts of the Boler's Inn Restoration Committee, Citizens of Union, Mississippi, State of Mississippi, and all those other interested individuals who have contributed to the renovation. Restoration work has not been completed, but shows remarkable progress. The need for contributions has not ended. Funds will be needed for furnishings and regular maintenance/operation. Contributions can be made to the Boler's Inn Foundation, 100 Highway 494 East, Union, MS 39365. Our ancestor's historic building has been saved!! Thank you Union, Mississippi.
Boler's Inn Foundation is currently raising funds to furnish and operate the building through the sale of bricks, which is will placed in a Memory Walkway leading to Boler's Inn. Those individuals interested in supporting this project may Print the Order Form.
They Lived in
Columnist Ruth Mills, a Wesley Boler descendant and member of the Boler's Inn Restoration committee, provided a history of the occupants of Boler's Inn in her series on old homes of Union. The article was published Wednesday, August 16, 1995 in "The Union Appeal". The picture (published in the article) was taken from an old postcard dated 1907. Mrs. Mills reports as follows:
"The Boler home has changed owners many times and has served many purposes. Norfleet Staton bought the home from the Boler family and raised his family there. After the Civil War, the Inn was operated as a hotel and saloon by Steve Daniels. He was later shot and killed by a Mr. Mobley. Mr. S. P. Stribling bought the home and he and his family lived there and used the South West room on the bottom floor as headquarters to publish "The Union Appeal" for many years. He also bought furs for Sears and Roebuck and other companies. Times were very hard then and many people trapped animals and sold the furs to Mr. Stribling. He used the upstairs rooms to stretch and dry the skins. The home was sold to J. K. and Lorene Blalock in the late 1940's. Then later Mark Herrington bought the house. It has been empty for several years and is in need of much repair and renovation."
The Pardon is courtesy of author Ralph Gordon.
|The Union Appeal; Union, Mississippi; Wednesday, February 18, 1998
Who remembers the old Boler Inn?
Surely you have heard the old stories of how Sherman slept there and that treasure was buried somewhere on the grounds, but do you know any of the rest of the stories? I have heard some nice ones. I would really like to hear your stories.
Sid Stribling not only published The Union Appeal from the room on the left of the bottom floor of the old house, he also bought hides that he sold to furriers for a profit. I understand that it was quite an experience to walk into this place. I have been told that the odor of the printing press, the snuff dipping and the tobacco and fireplace smoke plus the smell of the hides of animals, to say the least, created an unforgettable atmosphere. Did you ever take hides there to sell? Were there some memorable tall tales told there? Did you know the ladies of the house?
Sid Striblingís unique style of writing was very colorful. I have truly enjoyed the experience of reading the old Union Appeals that are on microfilm at the library at Union. The new microfilm reader is a dream to work with and I cannot wait to find more time to spend there. From 1910 forward to today, The Union Appeal is the most telling documents of the history of Union in the 20th century. They reflect more than the dry facts derived from other records. There is the life blood of the community and with diligence the family tree researcher may find references to an ancestor there.
From The Union Appeal I find that Sid Stribling (Uncle Sid as I grew up hearing his name, for he was uncle to my grandmother, Myrtle Stribling Bradley) moved with his family to Union and the "Old Boler Inn" from the Freeny/Freetrade area south of Carthage, Mississippi. They lived there until about 1914 when my grandparents replaced them as occupants of the old inn and they (F. C. & Myrtle Bradley) lived there until about 1918. Do you know who lived there after 1918? Did it go empty for long periods?
Now my grandpa Bradley was quite a character! He was a jeweler by trade when he came to Union in 1912. A Union Appeal article states that in 1912 he had 20 years experience in the jewelry business. That meant that he started in the trade at age of 12. This man of great intelligence had an extremely curious and inventive mind. He would buy a watch and take it apart just to see how it worked and carefully put every piece back exactly as he found it. This curiosity carrier over to his interest in automobiles. He owned the first automobile in Union.
I have heard stories about that old house since I was old enough to listen. I would really love to hear more. My motherís sister Edna Loper just recently passed away. She knew of my interest in the old house and it really pleased her that there was a move on to restore the old building. She told me some really nice tales of her very young childhood there. Each time she saw me she asked, "Have they begun work on the Old Boler Inn yet?" I wanted so much to be able to say to her that Yes, work has begun. The answer is soon, Aunt Edna, soon.
If you have a story, memory or picture of the Old Boler Inn that you would like to share with me please call.
(Mrs. Joyce Nicholson is a member of the Board for the Boler Inn Restoration project.)
Early Boulware History
My early efforts to research the Boler family proved futile. It appeared that a family by the name of Boler existed nowhere in the colonies. That theory proved to be quite correct. My research uncovered the fact that Wesley Boler was the first individual in the family to use the Boler spelling. He didn't adopt that spelling until his move to the Neshoba / Newton County area. Wesley's brother John, settled on the spelling Bouler, which his western Alabama descendants use to this day.
The Bowler family's English history favored that early spelling. The family migrated to the colony of Virginia in the 1600's and predominantly used the Boulware spelling (pronounced Bo-ler), but also used many variations including Bowler, Boleware, Boaler, and Boalware. Boulwares spent many generations living on and near the Rappahannock River in Virginia. Early family members lived in the Old Rappahannock / Essex County, VA area, with descendants also migrating into Caroline & Spotsylvania Counties. Wesley Boler's grandfather, James Boulware, removed from Virginia to South Carolina during the Revolutionary War, along with Virginia neighbors and relatives of his wife, Agatha Rutherford. They are reported to have left Virginia because of "fierce Indian attacks". They found fierce Tory attacks, instead, in South Carolina. The Rutherford family history indicates that Agatha shouldered a musket to help protect their plantation from Tories in their new South Carolina home. Female descendants of Wesley Boler qualify for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution based on the Patriotic Service of James Boulware.
Family of Wesley Boler
Wesley Boler (William Bowler, James Boulware) was born June 06, 1797 in Edgefield District, SC, and died November 15, 1882. He married (1) Eliza Walton on Christmas Eve 1823 in Clarke Co, AL. Eliza was the daughter of John Walton and Sarah McMillan. She was born August 29, 1807, probably in Abbeville District, SC, and died January 23, 1868. He married (2) Nancy Ann Miller, widow of Eliza Walton's brother James Walton, between 1868 - 1870. She was born between 1808 - 1810 in South Carolina, and died after 1880. Wesley Boler is buried at Abney Cemetery, Newton Co, MS.
Pictured Right: James Boler, third son of Wesley Boler, who was killed in the Siege of Vicksburg in the War Between the States.
Children of Wesley Boler and Eliza Walton are:
Four Boler Men
We are extremely happy to have located a picture of Wesley Boler's three youngest sons. The picture was taken in Mississippi and also includes Jefferson Davis Boler, son of William Riden Boler. The photo is courtesy of Glenda Ramsey, who inherited the picture from her first cousin Genon Williams, granddaughter of Jeff Boler. Greenberry Boler is wearing the Southern Cross of Honor, a medal awarded to Confederate Veterans by United Daughters of the Confederacy beginning in 1900.
(Pictured Left to Right; Front Row: Greenberry Boler, Jefferson Davis Boler; Back Row: Andrew Jackson Boler, Henry Clay Boler.)
Wesley Boler Census & Land Records
1820 US Census Cherokee Nation Lands, AL