Mystery Photo #82: Miss Edna May Boyle

Here she is, Edna May Boyle, 120 years ago. Who was she? Why did she get her photo shot on Christmas Day 1898? Well, if we knew that it wouldn’t be a mystery photo, would it?

Our only clues are:

1) The photo comes from the Zweifel Studio in Duluth. Mystery Photo #41 and also #81 are from that studio. John R. Zweifel was a Duluth-based photographer from the very late 1800s to the mid 1900s.

2) We are given Edna’s full name on the back and the photo is dated, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the photo was shot that day.


Tony D.

about 6 years ago

With a little digging on, I found that Edna May Boyle was born in Wisconsin ca. 1883 and was in Duluth by 1895 living at 1125 E. Fourth St. with father John H. (b. New York ca. 1855, parents were Irish and Scottish immigrants) and mother Elizabeth J. (b. Wisconsin ca. 1861; parents born in New York) and a 17-year-old servant girl from Pennsylvania named Hilda (last name not legible; b. ca. 1878). 

Edna was a member of Duluth Central High School's class of 1901 (and ’01 class secretary in 1898). Her father was a lawyer who during the 1890s kept an office in the Palladio Building and in 1900 moved his offices in the Torrey Building (rm. 617); by then the family had moved to Park Point at 1924 Minnesota Ave. In 1904 John was working in real estate out of his home, but by the time the city directory was printed in 1905, the Boyles had moved to Regina, Sakatchewan, Canada. Some time prior to Canada's 1916 census, Edna had married Walter Wright of Regina. Unfortunately my limited subscription will not allow me to dig deeper into Canadian records.

Paul Lundgren

about 6 years ago

Dave Lull at the Duluth Public Library found a large set of references to Edna Boyle in issues of the Duluth Evening Herald. It's not clear if there were two Edna Boyle's or not.

Below are some of those clips; there are so many I haven't been able to look at them all yet.

Sept. 1, 1894:

June 6, 1896:

June 10, 1896:

July 21, 1900:

Dec. 1, 1900:

April 8, 1901

July 4, 1903: 

April 9, 1904:

Aug. 5, 1904:

Spet. 11, 1908:

Oct. 26: 1912:

June 8, 1916:

Oct. 27, 1917:


about 6 years ago

Yeah, the last two articles above can't be the same girl, because Edna May Boyle Wright was living in Regina circa 1916-1921 with three young children: John, Lorna and Walter Jr. They also had a young German maid, and her father John was living with them there. The 1921 census says she immigrated in 1904, and her husband the year of their marriage, 1908. The photo above and the date matches the idea that she was 15 yrs old at the time the photo was taken, which also matches the idea that she graduated from Central in 1901. 

Without more serious digging, I'm not sure where they went after that, but she may have ended up in Winnipeg.

Tony D.

about 6 years ago

Here’s an 1895 drawing of John H. Boyle from the Duluth News Tribune. He won the election for special judge referenced in the fuzzy caption.

He was born in Albany, N.Y., was teaching school by age 16, practiced law in North Dakota before coming to Duluth, and was a “staunch republican."

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