The Early Years --- Mr. And Mrs. Robert Boggs
"Boggsdale," located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Long Beach, Mississippi, has been in the Boggs family since 1875. Robert Boggs was an artist and writer from Augusta, Georgia who had traveled to Italy to study art in Rome at the age of 18. Known for his portrait painting, Robert returned to New York after his years in Italy to study at the well-known Academy of Design. He and his wife Eliza Jane Innerarity chose this particular location because of its natural beauty including beautiful live oaks and Spanish moss which blanketed the trees.
They liked the fact that the serene bayou weaves its way through the property. A local business, the Hiern Sawmill was owned first by Finley B. "F.B." Hiern, who was the first mayor of Pass Christian. When he died, the sawmill was left to his son Charles Henry Hiern, who was married to Margaret Isabel Innerarity, the sister of Eliza Jane Innerarity. So, the Hiern sawmill was owned by the brother-in-law of Eliza Jane Innerarity Boggs. This also influenced the Boggs' to develop Boggsdale at this location.
When they began building their first home, Indians tried to persuade them not to build too close to the Mississippi Sound. They pointed to scars on the oak trees that indicated the height to which the Gulf had risen in previous storms. Despite these warnings, Robert and Eliza built their home in the dale and called it "Breezydale."
The property west of the bayou was given to Archibald by his father Robert. Archibald and his wife Bessie Raines built their eight room home around the contour of the bayou. They named it "Driftwood" because it was constructed of lumber washed ashore from schooners destroyed in the 1915 hurricane. The schooners carrying the lumber had set sail from White Harbor and the nearby Hiern Sawmill. William Boggs and his wife Claire Hale inherited "Breezydale," the original home, and lived there with their six children until both "Breezydale" and "Driftwood" were destroyed by the 1947 hurricane. The house of Bessie and Archibald was destroyed. Bessie was a victim of the hurricane, and Archibald died six weeks later as a result of injuries and exposure. Mr. Archibald was a noted historian of the area so the destruction of his home caused the loss of many family heirlooms, paintings, and other significant historical artifacts.
Their property was left to their niece, Mary Boggs.
William, Claire and some of their adult children rebuilt after the hurricane.
This time they heeded the Indians' warning and built their house about six hundred feet from the water. Their home was named "Will-Stan," derived from William and Stanley --- the husband of their youngest daughter, Claire. Mary rebuilt on the "Driftwood" property she inherited from her Uncle Archie.
In 1969 Hurricane Camille destroyed "Will-Stan," but fortunately no family members died in this devastating storm. Following the destruction of Camille, there was a long period of rebuilding. Mary and her brother, William Jr., rebuilt a home for themselves and their mother, which they called "Meadow Beauty." It was constructed almost entirely from windows, doors and lumber salvaged from local landmarks. Claire and Stanley also rebuilt and named their home "Will-Stan II."
Hale, another son of William and Claire, and his wife Lindy Clairborne had finalized plans to rebuild a vacation home in Boggsdale on the meadow. After the tragic disappearance of Hale's plane over Alaska in 1972, these plans were abandoned. Perhaps their children, Cokie Roberts and Thomas Hale, may someday build in Boggsdale. Their deceased sister Barbara Sigmund loved Boggsdale and expressed so well the tenacity of their generations in one of her poems when she wrote, "If not for beauty, why else do we survive?"
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The above text was written by a member of the Boggs Family.