Well, I'm afraid Bonnie may have the last laugh. She was such a pathological liar about her DOB that I am still not sure when she was born and I'm afraid we might never know for sure. In my post on the ship logs above, I accepted 7/17/1904 as the actual DOB on the strength of the SSDI and the absence of Bonnie in the 1900 census of the Boyd family. But could she have misled Social Security? It's certainly possible. And yet there are other signs that pull me away to other dates of birth. In Farkel's original post, an article from the 2/18/1942 issue of the San Diego Union was referenced in which Bonnie claimed that she was 16 years old when she first started accompanying Rutherford. I do not have this article and I have yet to see a copy of it (is it in Gruss' book?). But if she was 16 years old when she came to Bethel in 1923, this points to a DOB in 1907, i.e. 7/17/1907. This gives her an age -3 years of the accepted DOB, as opposed to +8 years from the 1896 DOB, yielding a total 11 years discrepency.
In the other direction, there are signs that the 1896 DOB is the correct one. First there is the 1895 Iowa State Census. In Black Hawk, Waterloo, Iowa lived John K. Boyd, 27 years old (i.e. born in 1867-1868), Victoria Boyd, 22 years old (i.e. born in 1872-1873), and Glen Boyd, 4 years old (i.e. born in 1890-1891). Next, there was the 1900 census. It is true that there is no "Bonnie Boyd" in the census. And yet, there is a "Marjorie Boyd" listed in Black Hawk, Waterloo, Iowa who was born in July 1896...the correct month for Bonnie. In this family, there was John Boyd, born in May 1867 in Iowa (whose parents were born in Ohio and Indiana), Victoria Boyd, born in May 1872 in Iowa (whose parents were born in Ireland and Canada), Gen Boyd, born in January 1891 in Iowa, then Marjorie Boyd born in July 1896, and finally Jean Boyd, born in December 1899 in Iowa. Now, up till now I have not had a 1910 census for the Boyd family. But I just found a probable candidate in a somewhat illegible copy. In St. Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota lived a Boyd family with the following members: John Boyd, 42 years old (i.e. born in 1867-1868), born in Iowa whose parents were born in Indiana, Victoria Boyd (name slightly illegible), 34 or 36 years old (i.e. born in 1872 or 1874), born in Iowa (whose parents were born in Iowa), Glen Boyd, 18 years old (i.e. born in 1891-1892), born in Iowa, Bonnie Boyd, 13 years old (i.e. born in 1896-1897), born in Iowa, and Jean Boyd, 11 years old (i.e. born in 1898-1899), born in Iowa. It isn't a perfect fit because Victoria's parents are stated as born in Iowa tho they are foreign-born elsewhere. But it would have to be quite a huge coincidence to have the combination of same names in the same age order, with all the children born in Iowa. Moreover, the 1910 census states that John and Victoria had been married for 22 years, i.e. married since 1887-1888. The 1900 census states that they were married for 11 years, i.e. married since 1888-1889. All of this suggests we are dealing with the same family. The interesting thing tho is that Bonnie Boyd appears in Marjorie Boyd's place. Next we have the draft card of John Glen Boyd, age 26, who on 6/6/1917 lived in Temple, Bell, Texas with his mother; he was born on 1/20/1891 (compare with the "Jan. 1891" in the 1900 census) in Riverside, Washington, Iowa (compare the 1895 census which claims that "Glen Boyd" was born in Washingon, Iowa). Finally there is the 1920 census for Houston, Harris, Texas. There lived in rather close proximity to Blanch Horbolt (i.e. in the third ward of the Justice Precinct of Houston) a Gene Shelton, i.e. Jean Shelton who was already divorced (hence the last name), 19 years old (i.e. born in 1900-1901), born in Iowa, who had a baby named Jack Shelton (age 9 months), and who lived with her mother Victoria Boyd, who was 37 years old (i.e. born in 1882-1883...is this a mistake for an age of 47 years?), who was born in Iowa and whose parents were born in Ireland. One interesting thing about Jean is that she was employed as a stenographer, exactly the job Bonnie would have at Bethel.
So was Marjorie the same person as Bonnie? Or was Bonnie Jean? Or was Bonnie a third person who is absent in the 1900 census? Why is she missing in the 1920 census? If we have the right Boyd family in the 1910 census, then this would suggest that she was born in 7/17/1896 and went by the name of Marjorie Boyd in the 1900 census, who was indicated as born in "July 1896". If this is the case, then the age deception would have went the other way. It would mean that Bonnie was not a teenager when she first came to Bethel, but successively portrayed herself as younger and younger as time wore on, eventually claiming a DOB in 1898, then 1899 and 1900, then 1901 and 1902, 1903, then 1904 by the late 1930s, and finally 1907 in the San Diego Union article, finally making herself a sweet sixteen when she first came to Bethel. This reminds me of the deception over Rose Ball, in which the Watchtower leaders tried to ward off rumors of sexual infidelity by falsely portraying the girl as too young for such a thing to have happened. Could this be a similar trick?
I just don't know what to think. Bonnie, you've turned my brain into knots.