Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BOYTON, Paul, nautical adventurer, born in Dublin, Ireland, 29 June, 1848. From his earliest youth he showed a great fondness for aquatic sports, and after a desultory education entered the navy in 1864, serving until the close of the civil war. He then followed the business of submarine diving for several years, and during the revolution in Sonora, Mexico, he served under General Pedro Martinez. From 1867 till 1869 he was connected with the life-saving service on the Atlantic coast, where he distinguished himself by saving seventy-one lives. In 1870-'1 he served in the Franco-Prussian war with the Franc-tireurs, after which he visited the diamond-fields of South Africa. He then re-entered the life-saving service, where he remained until after his famous leap from a vessel off the coast of Ireland in 1874. This feat was accomplished, in a rubber suit of his own invention, during a furious gale. After remaining nearly seven hours in the water, traversing a distance of forty miles, he reached the land. His dress, which is manufactured from the finest vulcanized rubber, is divided into two parts, the junction being at the waist. The lower half terminates in a steel band, over which the bottom of the tunic fits, with a strap over all, making a perfectly watertight joint. On each thigh, on the breasts, on the back, and at the back of the head, are five internal compartments, each having a tube for the purpose of inflating with air front the mouth. The only part of the body exposed is the face. His position in the water is on his back, and he drives himself, feet foremost, with a double-bladed paddle, at the rate of about one hundred strokes a minute, sometimes using a sail. He has achieved a worldwide reputation for his exploits, among which are his crossing the English channel in twenty-four hours, on 28 May, 1875. In October, 1875, he paddled on the Rhine from Basel, Switzerland, to Cologne, Germany, 430 miles. Early in 1876 he made the run from Alton, Illinois, to St. Louis, No., on the Mississippi, and from the Bayou Goula to New Orleans, Louisiana, 100 miles, in twenty-four hours, lit May, 1876, he was again in Europe, and made the descent of the Danube from Lintz, Austria, to Budapest, Hungary, 460 miles, in six days. He remained in Europe until November, 1878, navigated the important rivers of the continent, passed through the canals of Venice, and crossed the straits of Gibraltar. Among his important American trips is the voyage from Oil City, Pennsylvania, to the gulf of Mexico, 2,342 miles, made in eighty days. During the first portion of this expedition the weather was extremely cold, while toward the end Capt. Boyton suffered severely front the heat. In August, 1879, he crossed from Long Branch to Manhattan beach, and in November he made the descent of Connecticut River from Canada to Long Island sound. During 1880-'1 he was commander of the Peruvian torpedo service. The Chilians captured him, and his execution ordered; but managed to escape to the coast, and was picked up by a vessel bound north. His longest voyage, over 3,580 miles, was made from the mouth of Cedar creek, Montana territory, starting on 17 September, 1881, to St. Louis, No., reaching there on 20 November He has traveled through the United States, giving exhibitions of his feats. An account of his adventures has been published under the title of "Roughing it in Rubber" (1886).
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