MHS Bridging History Celebration: Honoring the Boynton Family

July 19, 2023 @ 6:00 pm
Little Bear East Arena
275 Marquette Street
St. Ignace
MI 49871
Michilimackinac Historical Society

MHS Bridging History Celebration

About This Event

This year the MHS Bridging History Celebration will take place on Wednesday, July 19, 2023, at 6 pm at Little Bear East Arena. We will honor the historical contributions of three members of the Boynton family: Commodore Lewis R. Boynton, Postmaster Ollie Boynton, and Brother Jim Boynton, SJ.

The MHS Bridge Award for Historical Impact is given to individuals who inspire us with their outstanding philanthropy, community involvement, and their dedication to preserving history so that others may learn from it. We are honored to celebrate the contributions of the Boynton family members. Like a bridge, the impact of their family spans generations and demonstrates the importance of historical invention, leading by example, and preserving history.

The Boynton family has a long history in the Straits of Mackinac. It began in 1883 when Commodore Lewis Boynton and his wife, Sarah, moved to Saint Ignace to run the Island Transportation Company. Commodore Boynton worked with renowned marine engineer Frank Kirby to design a railroad ferry capable of breaking through ice. The icebreaker St. Ignace was launched in 1888, ending the annual isolation between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas when the Straits of Mackinac froze in the winter. The commodore served as the first captain of the Chief Wawatam when it launched on October 26, 1911. In 1884, Lewis became the superintendent of the marine service of the Mackinac Transportation Company. In that position he assumed command of the freight and passenger steamer Algomah, and supervised the company’s car ferries. As commodore, he oversaw all construction and repair work on the vessels.

Commodore Boynton was the great-grandfather to Ollie Boynton. Ollie married Patty November 1959. He served in the U.S. Army, then later returned to St. Ignace where he served as a County Commissioner and City Councilman. Ollie spent his career with the U.S. Post Office and was the postmaster in St. Ignace for thirty-five years. He has spent his retirement dedicated to St. Anne’s Catholic Church on Mackinac Island. He and Patty had four children and lived a life of giving, modeling that for their children.

Ollie’s youngest child, Jim, fell in love with history and the stories that went with it. As a teenager, Jim volunteered at St. Anne Church on Mackinac Island curating the small museum in the church, and later, became a tour guide at Fort Mackinac. Brother Jim’s passion for history is evident through his research into Jesuit history, inspiring his book “Fishers of Men: The Jesuit Mission at Mackinac 1670-1765. More than an educator, Brother Jim is a frequent presenter for MHS and a contributor to the growth and interpretive value of the museum’s collection.

The net proceeds of this event will go towards finishing the Straits Cultural Center. With its doors open, the vibrant history and traditions of the Straits region can be shared with the community once again. Please consider becoming a sponsor of this event by clicking here. Tickets for the event are $100 and will be available for purchase in May.