”Honor the Past; Deserve the Present“

Benjamin Boyer

(June 6, 1889 - December 1, 1931)

U. S. Navy;
Cpl., U. S. Army, 2nd Engineers, 2nd Division

Contributor:  Dana Cronin

Documentary materials provided in part by Denise Ratterman Jackson,
great great niece of Benjamin Earl Boyer

Early Life

  • Born June 6, 1889 in Niles or Verdi, Kansas
  • Known as Earl
  • Son of George Boyer (born in Illinois) and Lillie Boyer (born in Kansas)
  • Earl's Great Grandfather, Joseph Boyer, served in the War of 1812
  • Spent most of his boyhood in the neighborhood of Verdi and Niles


  • At age 17, Boyer enlisted in the US Navy; he served for eight years (1906-1914)
  • In the 1910 census, he is listed as an Ordinary Seaman on the USS South Dakota, San Francisco, CA
    • Note—1910 Federal Census was taken on board the South Dakota while at anchor in San Francisco Bay.
    • USS South Dakota was built at Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA
      • Pennsylvania-class cruiser, 504' length
      • Launched 1904; commissioned 1908
      • Renamed Huron, 1920
      • Decommissioned 1927
  • USS South Dakota history, 1910-1914, may explain Boyer's Navy experience in those years [Boyer's 1906-1910 Navy years unaccounted for?]
    • South Dakota cruised Pacific waters in 1911
    • In October 1911 South Dakota was in dry dock for scraping and painting in preparation for cruise across Pacific
    • In December 1911 South Dakota sailed to Hawaii, the Marianas, the Philippines, and Japan, returning to U. S. west coast in August 1912
    • South Dakota placed in reserve in December 1913 at Puget Sound Navy Yard
    • Due to political situation in Mexico, the South Dakota was detached from reserve in April 1914 and cruised to Acapulco, Mexico, with U. S. Marines from Puget Sound, Washington, and Mare Island in San Francisco Bay [other naval vessels carried military personnel to the same and other Mexican locations]
    • South Dakota and other U. S. naval vessels cruised Mexican waters awaiting possible landing of U. S. military forces
    • By summer of 1914 crisis had passed and ships returned to U. S. waters
    • South Dakota cruised to Hawaii, returning to Bremerton, Washington, in September 1914; again placed in reserve in late September 1914
  • [Discharge date not known]


  • He enlisted in the Army in 1917 following U. S. declaration of war
    • Note—Boyer's descendants do not know why he enlisted in the Army instead of reenlisting in the Navy [Dana Cronin, telephone conversation with Denise Ratterman Jackson, 29 August 2012]
  • Cpl., 2 Engineer, 2 Division
  • Participated in Meuse-Argonne Offensive and Army of Occupation
    • In a letter to his mother, Boyer wrote, "I was in the last big drive and then when we finished there was one thing more we had to accomplish and that was the big march to the Rhine and we sure done it in grand style to [sic] but it was a long march. We started on the 17 [sic] of last month and arrived on the 11 [sic] of this so you can see it took almost one month. . . . Well mother we had a real nice trip even if it was tiresome at times. You see we walked almost 350 kilometers." [Letter, Earl Boyer to Mrs. G. A. (George Allen) Boyer, 23 December 1918]
  • Served one year and ten months in WWI in France and Germany
  • [Discharge date not known]


  • Married Harriet DeNio, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George DeNio (of Niles, KS) on April 13, 1922
  • Lived in Eureka, California, for many years
  • No children


  • Died at age 42 on December 1, 1931, at Naval Hospital, Mare Island, CA
  • Cause of death unknown [Denise Ratterman Jackson, e-mail to Frank Mazzi, 20 October 2010]
  • Services were conducted at the United Brethren Church of Christ in Niles, Kansas, on Tuesday, December 8, 1931
  • The sermon was given by a local pastor, Reverend Tudor
  • Grave services were conducted by members of the American Legion of Minneapolis, Kansas