Joseph & Mary Boulden – Early Citizens of Council Bluffs


Joseph P. Boulden was born in 1819 in Piqua, Ohio. In 1849 he worked as a miller in Illinois and then moved to Council Bluffs in 1853. He operated one of the first saw mills in the city until he purchased 200 acres of land in Hazel Dell Township. He set up a farm on this land and was said to take pride in rearing the better grades of livestock.
Joseph was active in the county. He was a member of the board of supervisors, a justice of the peace and member of the school board.

Joseph married Susan Lee in 1839 in Ohio, they had two children John W. and Mary E.
In 1848 Joseph married Mary Lee, Susan’s sister.
Or did he?

The answer came in a November 1878 article from the Nonpareil.

In November 1878 Susan Boulden arrived in Council Bluffs looking for her husband and sister. She had been living in Illinois for the past 25 years unaware of her husband’s whereabouts since he “eloped” with her sister Mary.

Turns out that by 1850 Joseph and Mary were living in Springfield, IL with John W. and their new son Joseph Jr. John W. grew up thinking his mother had died.

With Susan’s arrival Joseph vacated the house and left everything for the two sisters to figure out.

Matters must have been settled as there were no more mentions of the incident in the newspaper. Joseph spent 2 years in Nevada and Utah and upon his return home he made his marriage to Mary official in a ceremony in Omaha in 1880.

Mary Boulden died in 1887 and is buried in Hazel Dell Cemetery.

There is no definitive information on what happened to Joseph P. Boulden. He was still in Hazel Dell till the early 1890s, then in 1894 a man with the name Joseph Patterson Boulden, aged 74 is listed in the Sanger, California voting register. Joseph Jr. and John W lived in California at this same time so it is assumed that Joseph Boulden lived out the rest of his days in California.