The Other Writer

Here’s another brief biography for one of Robert E. Howard’s classmates in the graduating class of Cross Plains High School for 1922.

Clarence Scott Boyles, Jr. was born to his namesake, C. S. Boyles, Sr., and Prudence Lucile “Lucy” (Cutbirth) Boyles on August 1, 1905 in Baird, Texas. In 1959, the senior Clarence provided an oral history to his oldest child, Laura Boyles Freeman. Here’s what Laura recorded (I found this on ancestry.com):

On April 29, 1890 a red-haired, freckled-faced, 16-year old boy landed in Abilene, Texas. That boy was Clarence Boyles. With $3.00 in his pocket, he had come west to make his fortune. His mother having died in September, Clarence came to West Texas principally for his health. Nearly all of his family—parents, two brothers, and one sister—had passed away. Addie, who was studying music at Baylor College, and a younger brother, Henry, were all the family that remained.

The train from Waco left at sunrise and arrived at Cisco at sunset. The engine burned cordwood, and there was never a time all day that the engine crew had a supply of wood and water at the same time. The passengers would all pile off and help load the cordwood so the train could get started again.

At Cisco, Clarence took the “Texas and Pacific” midnight train for Abilene. The next several years were spent as an apprentice in a saddle and harness shop. However, Clarence doubled as a delivery boy for a meat market and spent his summer months on the Chris Seale Ranch at Belle Plains as an extra hand during the round-up.

On May 15, 1894, Clarence S. Boyles went into the saddle and harness business at Baird, Texas, with a capital of $60.00. He made all the harness he sold, and most of the saddles. He had a saddle stock patented.

One summer, while working on the Seale Ranch, Clarence Boyles met [Prudence] Lucy Cutbirth, daughter of a neighboring rancher, Sam Cutbirth.

Three years after he opened his saddle shop in Baird, he and Prudence were married on May 25, 1897 at Belle Plains, Texas. The couple bought a home in Baird. Four children were born: Laura Alice, Clara Adelaide, C.S. Jr., and William James. The family continued to live there until 1911, when they moved to Cross Plains, 30 miles south of Baird. There he again went into the hardware business. A daughter, Patsy Frances, was born in 1913.

The June 14, 1919 issue of Lone Scout gives us an idea of Junior’s interests at the time. Boyles appears in that week’s “Lone Scout Messenger Department,” a place where Lone Scouts solicited for like-minded correspondents. He listed his interests as Stamp/Coin Collecting, Photography/Postcards, Jokes/Riddles, and Scout Boosting (publicity). He appears again in the August 2, 1919 issue with a short article, “New Stunt for a Phonograph”:

The August 16, 1919 issue has a short note from Boyles: “Of course contributing [to Lone Scout] is all right, but do not forget to ‘Do a Useful Thing Each Day.’” This was the Lone Scout motto. He doesn’t appear again in Lone Scout until the July 10, 1920 “Messenger Department.” This time his interests appear as Tribe Papers, Exchanging Papers, Athletics, Hiking/Camping, and Foreign Correspondence. That same year, Boyles’ two older sisters married and moved away from Cross Plains.

The January 14, 1921 Cross Plains Review reports that C. S.’s mother “is now at a sanitarium in Brownwood, where she has the last few days undergone two operations.” This was just the beginning of Mrs. Boyles’ health problems and she ended up dying on July 27, 1922, of peritonitis following an appendectomy. Just a few days later, August 4, 1922, Boyles appeared in an article in the Cross Plains Review entitled “Radio Station Being Installed.” The article describes the efforts of several residents to have an “up to date radio plant” in Cross Plains. Also mentioned in the article are Renerick Clark (who appeared in the November 27, 1920 “Messenger Department”) and Robert E. Howard.

Come fall, Boyles ended up at Brownwood High School to pick up the college-required 11th year. Like his classmate Robert E. Howard, Boyles took the science course, was in the “Heels Club,” and contributed to the school paper, The Tattler, though Boyles part was a bit more official: he was the associate editor. Boyles also participated in the W.O.N. Club (whatever that was), the Cadet Corps, and was on the basketball team. While attending BHS, if not before, he met fellow senior Eunice Ilene Embrey, who was taking the Spanish Course, was in the Glee Club and Pep Squad, on the swimming and tennis teams, and was class secretary. They all graduated in May 1923.

After graduation, Boyles entered Howard Payne College and continued his newspaper activities with The Yellow Jacket; he even solicited material from his former classmate, Robert E. Howard, who supplied two short pieces, both entitled “Letter of a Chinese Student,” during the 1923-24 school year [more info on this is here]. Howard was not a student at Howard Payne that school year, and by the time he actually enrolled, 1924-25, Boyles was gone—married to former BHS classmate Ilene Embry and living in Sweetwater, Texas, where his father had moved and remarried.

Boyles began a series of newspapers jobs with the Sweetwater Daily Reporter, and had his first child, Betty Ilene, in 1928. A son, Cullen S., followed in 1930. When World War Two began, Boyles enlisted in the Marines. After the war, he began placing stories in the Western pulps using the alias Will C. Brown and spent some time teaching Journalism at Austin College. He returned to military duty during the Korean conflict, rising to the rank of Major. Upon his discharge, he resumed writing and published his first novel, The Border Jumpers, in 1955. This was adapted to film in 1958’s Man of the West with Gary Cooper.

Regarding Boyles’ new career, his sister Laura Boyles Freeman wrote the following in 1959:

The talent for writing is evident in several of the family, principally my oldest brother, C. S. Boyles (alias Will C. Brown). He really writes. He has been in the newspaper business, but at present is publicity director for Austin College at Sherman, Texas. He writes for magazines (principally Western Magazines), and many of his plots are inspired by letters Papa has written telling of some incident he remembers about his first years in West Texas.

Not long after the above was written, Boyles and family moved to the California coast. His wife died in 1965, his son in 1973. Both are buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. Boyles lived the rest of his days in and around the San Diego area. He died on June 25, 1995 and joined his wife and son five days later at Fort Rosecrans.