Newton Family History & Genealogy

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Sewell Leonard (Newton) Boyce, my great grandfather, was a violin maker in Norwich, NY in 1893. Sewell was adopted by Albert Boyce and Phebe Hoyt when he was about 3 years old. Sewell's mother, Sarah Malvina Hammond died a few weeks after giving birth to him. His father was Hubbard Newton and Sarah was his 2nd wife, the first being Martia ?, and third being Mary Jane Bolles.

Sewell's violins are still showing up and considered fine instruments. Family members also own quite a few, I having one made in 1909 in San Bernadino, CA where Sewell lived with the Barton family. The Barton's were early settlers of San Bernadino.

Because Sewell had "weak" lungs he traveled out West to climates that were considered better for TB which his daughter at age 16 died from in St. Augustine, FL where she stayed with her Uncle Russell Goff who was the general superintendent for the Florida East Coast Railway.

Eventually Sewell returned to Clintonville, CT where he died.
Oct 24, 2007 · Reply
This was sent in to the NEHGS a few years ago.

"Sewell loved violins from an early age"

My favorite ancestor was my great grandfather, S. L. Newton Boyce - adopted at age 3. His mother was a Hammond, his father, Hubbard Newton. His genealogy goes back to William Brewster through Lucretia Caulkins, wife of Rev. Noah Hammond.

He wrote to his son, Ivan from Nelson, AZ in 1907 saying, "don't put my full name on any more mail as I hate it so badly that no one here or in Col. knew what it is". Anyway, it was Sewell Leonard and I expect that notion did not remain with him forever.

Sewell loved violins from an early age and became proficient in playing, making and teaching that instrument. In Norwich, NY he founded the Boyce Violin Company in 1894. Violin operations were transferred to Buffalo, NY and Kalamazoo, MI but being plaqued with TB, he moved on to Arizona and San Bernadino,CA. He lived there with the Barton family who were instrumental in founding that city. While there he continued violin making, repair and teaching and studied astronomy and microscopy. In 1916 he moved to Clintonville, CT to live with his son and while there operated a water power sawmill. He seldom loss at chess and checkers, composed crossword puzzles, and had a deep interest in scientific things according to family records. Our family feels fortunate to own many of his violins and we have many papers describing how they were made. We also have letters of his travels across the U.S. which are a fascinating description of times gone by.
Dec 28, 2009 · Reply