Henderson Loy’s Christmas Day Reunion

This is a second in the Historical Newsclippings series, based on an article in the Wednesday, 26 December 1894 Knoxville Journal (Knoxville, Tennessee).

Background: Henderson Loy’s grandfather John Loy, Jr. was one of the early Loy pioneers to this vicinity of East Tennessee. John Jr. was son of Revolutionary War veteran John Loy and grandson of Martin Loy (to America 1741). Prior to John Loy Jr.’s East Tennessee arrival, his aunts Catherine (widow of uncle George Loy) and Margaret (widow of uncle Henry Loy [my Loy line]) and their grown and teen children arrived there. With exception of cousin “Fisher” John Loy, John Jr.’s cousins eventually migrated to other states. About the time John Jr. made his journey, his brother George also left North Carolina for Tennessee but within several years returned to North Carolina. However, a few of brother George’s children and grandchildren did migrate back to East Tennessee.

Henderson was the eldest of his siblings. The father, John [III], died in his early 40s, somewhere about the time of Henderson’s first marriage. On 24 January 1847 Henderson’s grandfather John Jr. bequeathed Tennessee land to his widowed daughter-in-law Elizabeth and her children by his son John [III]: Henderson, Sampson, David, George, and Elizabeth. By that time, Sampson already married Martha Flatford and had a one year old son. That September, Henderson’s brother David married Martha’s sister Tyrena. That November, Henderson’s widowed mother remarried to Levin Flatford, the widowed father of her daughters-in-law. Elizabeth would become widowed again by the 1860 census, where she was living with her married daughter Elizabeth Gray and family. By 1870 widow Elizabeth, her married son David, and single son George migrated to Howell County, Missouri. There, the family had purchased land in 1869, though may not have moved there until early 1870. Meanwhile, her other children Henderson, Sampson, and possibly Elizabeth [I can’t locate her family after 1860 census] remained in Tennessee. Sometime between 1870-1880 census, Henderson’s mother died. Then, in 1887 both his brother David and David’s wife Tyrena died, leaving brother George the only surviving family member that had migrated to Missouri. Though they most likely corresponded by mail over the years, it had been 24 years since Henderson had seen his youngest brother George.

1886 Sketch of ETV&G railyard and depot, Knoxville, Tennessee

1886 Sketch of ETV&G railyard and depot, Knoxville, Tennessee

A light rain was falling that Christmas Day 1894, when 72 year old Henderson Loy stepped from the passenger car onto the platform of the Knoxville station. Nine years later would mark the completion of the new (1903) Southern Railway Station, now a 21st Century historical landmark. But the train depot Henderson would have seen that day was the one built for the East Tennessee, Virginia, & Georgia Railroad (ETV&G), the Southern Railway Station’s predecessor. Henderson had traveled from his 70 acre farm in Campbell County, Tennessee’s Second Civil District to visit his 36 year old son Francis (“Frank”) and his family in Knoxville during the holidays. Frank’s family consisted of his second wife Ella and their children: John, age 5; Frank, age 3; and Milton, nearly a year old.

Henderson himself was the father of 14 children, between two marriages. His youngest had just celebrated his 18th birthday that fall. Most of his surviving children, now grown, still lived in the vicinity. Though one daughter, Mary Catherine, had married and joined her uncles’ families in Howell County, Missouri about eight years ago. Frank was Henderson’s youngest son by his first marriage and was a train engineer for the ETV&G. Frank continued this job even after his employer was bought out and consolidated with the Richmond and Danville Railroad. It had been nearly six months since these railways merged to form the new Southern Railway, known in the 21st Century as Norfolk Southern Railway.

There was a Christmas surprise awaiting for Henderson that day. Due to his son Frank’s knowledge of trains, their schedules, and not to mention employee train fare discounts for family and friends, I have a feeling he was key orchestrator in the scheme.

All that’s really known is what the Wednesday, 26 December 1894 Knoxville Journal (Knoxville, Tennessee) article details within its four sentences: [Note: I corrected one minor typo from original]

TWO BROTHERS MEET
Had Not Seen Each Other For Twenty-Four Years

Henderson Loy, of Campbell county, Tenn., and George Loy, of Howell county, Mo., who are brothers, met yesterday for the first time in twenty-four years.

Henderson Loy is the father of Mr. F. H. Loy, a popular engineer on the Southern railway. He had come to visit his son during the holidays and had not the slightest idea of meeting his brother, who came in just a short while afterwards.

The meeting was an affecting one.

Perhaps accounts from other newspapers, currently inaccessible to me, might give more detail. Other local Knoxville papers and even papers in Howell County, Missouri might contain more detail to answer questions such as…did Henderson’s second wife Sarelda accompany Henderson on this trip? (It doesn’t mention in article, but likely she did.) Did brother Sampson, who lived in nearby Anderson County, Tennessee, and second wife Sarah also come to the Christmas gathering that day? As Henderson had other children in the area, had they stopped by Frank’s house, too, for a bigger family get-together that Christmas? And what about daughter Mary Catherine in Howell County, Missouri? Did she get to make a Christmas visit to Tennessee that year to see her father? Could she have brought her father’s brother George with her for the Christmas surprise?? Did George’s wife Josephine accompany him on this trip from Missouri?

As the article concludes, “the meeting was an affecting one.” Even moreso over the years. Henderson would die three and a half years later and although George lived until 1928, their remaining brother Sampson died in 1905. And 16 years after this reunion, Henderson’s son Frank would die from injuries received after the train he was engineering collided head-on with a freight train standing on the siding. (The freight’s brakeman had neglected to close the switch to the siding, causing the collision.)

4 Replies to “Henderson Loy’s Christmas Day Reunion”

  1. Mona Loy Mitchell

    I hadn’t thought of scanning the journal and putting it on pdf to share. I’m HOPING to retire the end of the year and I will then have more time to do these things. I’m not sure how many pages there are but there are also notations when he bought a car, how much he paid for it, something about purchasing a toilet how much he paid to have it installed. Different personal notations throughout the journal along with some things I’ve yet to understand. Since Corbin now has a railroad museum, I’ve thought about taking the journal for them to see the next time I go to Corbin. I still go to decorate graves every year. My mom did it for years and I promised her after she was gone, I would continue to decorate as long as I was able to make the trip.
    It’s my understanding that Fletcher was actually hit by a train in Corbin, Ky. There was actually another brother that had worked for the railroad, Boscoe Loy. Fletcher & his wife Susan are buried in Macedonia Cemetery in Jacksboro, Tennessee. The cemetery overlooks Norris Lake. Boscoe died in Michigan but is buried along with his father, George Loy, mother Mary Massingill, and sister Mamie Loy.

    Reply
  2. Mona Loy Mitchell

    This is my family and I am so happy to read this. Henderson’s son George is my grandfather’s (Hobert Loy) father. George & Hobert both worked for L & N Railroad as well as another brother of Hobert’s, Fletcher. He was actually killed on the railroad. I have a journal the George Loy kept to log in trains they worked on by engine numbers,

    Reply
    1. loyhistoryloyhistory Post author

      Glad you enjoyed the article, Mona!! 🙂

      I’d had (John) Fletcher Loy’s death date, but didn’t know he was killed on the railroad. Do you know if this was in Tennessee, or was he at another location? The RR routes went through several states.

      The George Loy journal sounds interesting! How many pages does it have? Have you considered making scans and putting it in a pdf format, to make it easy to share? Besides my own interest, and probably that of other railroad buff cousins, I’ll bet the railway museums in the area would be interested in seeing it, too.

      “Many moons ago,” I was in contact with a Melanie Hammond, whose great-grandmother Ival was daughter of Henderson’s son Frank. Then Melanie’s email address “died” and I lost contact until I put a call out for her on a Loy message board. But a few years ago I lost contact with her again, after that new email address “died,” too. At the time, I wanted to let her know her family tradition that “someone in the family that worked on the railroad had been killed in a train wreck” had been Frank. (She had suspected it was.) I’m hoping she comes across this article so she can finally get that info I was trying to email her.

      By the way, Frank’s eldest son John Leming Loy had a daughter named Mona Loy. That name sure sounds familiar, doesn’t it? 😛 This Mona (1926-1991) was at one time a model and married a Forsdick. Her brother Herman was with the Banning, CA police and since Mona died in Riverside County, she may have lived in Banning, too. At that time I lived in the Banning area, where I had lived with parents and as adult, for 23 years. So I may have even met them without knowing who they were!

      Reply
      1. Margie Puckett Barton

        I would LOVE to discuss LOY from Knoxville, TN. I’m Margie Puckett Barton and I’m trying to help my cousin, Timothy Puckett with connecting his wife Donna Loy daughter of Donald Thomas Loy (1934 -2001) and Wanda Prudy, to her LOY ancestors.
        Donald Thomas Loy (1934-2001) son of
        Claude Thomas Loy (1915-1986) son of
        John William Sanford Loy (1870 – 1929) son of (can not prove to father)
        Freeling H Loy (suppose to be father of John William Sanford LOY)
        Please reply, Donna really wanting to know about her LOY ancestors.
        Thank you, Margie Puckett Barton

        Reply

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