If you talk to old timers in the neighborhood who lived here prior to the Vanport flood you notice a difference in the pronunciation of the neighborhood. Many current residents pronounce it “Boy’zee”, or “Boy’see”, presumably after the city in Idaho, but many of the old timers seem to pronounce it “Boyz’” or “Boice.” You catch it most often when the old timers are fondly referring to their early years at Boise school (Boise-Eliot).
This difference has always bothered me, so I went about researching the neighborhood’s namesake, Reuben Patrick Boise (1818-1907). Boise was from Massachusetts and of Irish descent, and the spelling of his name actually changed between his father’s generation and his – presumably due to common mispronunciation (oh, the irony). The Boise name was previously spelled Boies, and tracing it back further reveals the earliest record of the name: DuBois from Bois-Le-Duc, Netherlands. The proper pronunciation during Rueben P Boise’s lifetime was “Boice” or “Bois.”
Personally, I prefer the one-syllable pronunciation in deference to our neighborhood’s history and namesake, but change is not always a bad thing.
More information can be found here:
Reuben P. Boise Family Papers, Mark O. Hatfield Library, Willamette University.
Boisevoices.com, Oral History Project
Talk to your elderly neighbors!
By Noah Lauerman
Board At Large