Maybe the house was saved from the fires of war because it was a modest residence not involved in commercial activity. Maybe it was because its owner was an alderman at the time of the surrender of Jackson to Union forces. Perhaps it was because he was a Mason, and General Sherman was a Mason who respected the brotherly bond.
Built about 1853 on a four-acre plot about a mile from the center of the capital city, this modest Greek Revival-style structure features a central hall and four rooms. It was the home of four-time Jackson Mayor James H. Boyd and his wife Eliza Ellis Boyd, both originally from Kentucky, who raised six children on this typical Southern urban farmstead. Three generations of the Boyd family lived here for more than a hundred years.
Mr. Boyd was an enterprising entrepreneur—but not a very successful one. While he served his community as mayor, alderman, justice of the peace, school trustee, militia officer, and elder in the church, he worked as a merchant and auctioneer. Following the Depression of 1873, however, Mr. Boyd was bankrupt.
Fortunately, the Oaks was owned by Mrs. Boyd, in her name. In 1839, Mississippi was the first state to pass a Married Women’s Property Law, a measure supported for good reason by Senator Gordon D. Boyd, brother of James H. Boyd. Mrs. Boyd subsequently deeded the house to her daughter Mary Boyd McGill and her children, the second and third generation of the family who kept the house until 1960 when the Colonial Dames bought the property.
Today, visitors can tour the house which is furnished in original and period pieces. The Victorian gardens include camellias, roses, fruit trees, and many heirloom plant varieties, round carpet beds, and kitchen and herb gardens.