When I began Loy research as a teen, in the early 1980s I corresponded with several cousins of my Effingham County, Illinois branch, born in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Among those were Joan (Peters) Loy (1894-1995), Jessie (Loy) Treen (1898-1989), Harry B. Loy (1899-1992), Myrtle (Kirk) Doneen (1908-1988), and Elma (McCoy) Bryant (1909-2003). Joan, Jessie, and Elma were the only ones I personally met. Correspondence with these five cousins was my “bridge” of connection to even earlier Loy family researchers.
Although Grandma’s first cousin Harry B. Loy wasn’t a genealogist as my other four correspondents, he answered my questions as to the two marriages of his (and Grandma’s) grandfather John Henry Loy (1839-1913) and gave names of other cousins to contact. Harry’s father Ezra, and Ezra’s brothers Fie and Andrew, were younger half-brothers to Grandma’s dad John N. Loy. Uncle Fie Loy’s wife, Iness (Peters) Loy, was sister to Joan (Peters) Loy, who was a Loy family historian. Elma (McCoy) Bryant was the Loy-Bryant family historian, even though those lines belonged to her husband Bruce Bryant (1898-1991), his grandmother being Eliza (Loy) Bryant, younger sister of John Henry Loy (1839-1913). Bruce’s mother and Joan (Peters) Loy’s mother were sisters, née Cook, so Elma helped me get in touch with her husband’s first cousin Joan.
Joan’s husband Ted Loy was brother to Grace (Loy) Sprouse, both children of James “Ed” and Linda (Wiley) Loy. Linda was the Loy family historian for the Effingham County, Illinois Loy reunions, which first started in 1897, and later was assisted by her daughter Grace. Linda’s husband Ed was actually more like a younger brother to Grandma’s grandfather, rather than his first cousin. Ed and his two brothers (sons of George W. Loy) were orphaned at a young age. John Henry Loy’s (1839-1913) father, Joseph Loy, had raised orphaned nephew Ed, while George’s next older brother John Henry Loy (1821-1894) raised Ed’s brother Harmon “Benton” Loy. And George’s younger brother, DeWitt Clinton Loy, raised Ed’s eldest brother Henry “William” Loy. This uncle John Henry Loy’s (1821-1894) daughter Rachel “Lavina” (Loy) Dobbins had daughter Myrtle (“Minne”) (Dobbins) Kirk, who was mother of Myrtle (Kirk) Doneen, another Loy family researcher. As for the younger John Henry Loy (1839-1913), his nephew Rev. Frank William Loy (son of James B. Loy) and Frank’s daughter Jessie (Loy) Treen were both Loy family researchers.
These were my link to Loy researchers born in the early to late 1800’s, and a few in early 1900’s. Those whose genealogical efforts had been published, either in book form, homemade book, or just in manuscript form. The information from them was distributed among family members, especially whenever one was found to be new to genealogy. These genealogical works, in whichever format, were mimeographed or carbon-typed to distribute to interested family members. (No high-speed home printer/scanner/photocopiers in those days!) These were the Loy historians whose works, sometimes even their genealogical correspondence, were mimeographed and photocopied by those in later generations, copies made of copies made of copies, etc., and shared among fellow Loy researchers of the day.
Huldah (Loy) Gunder (1808-1892) was the eldest of this group, daughter of Jacob and Phoebe (Tillman) Loy. I understand she kept record of the early Loys, which she likely shared with her nephew Job’s son William Edward Loy (1847-1906), also an early Loy historian. These family records, in turn, were given to his son Harvey Loy (1875-1938). Harvey Loy’s manuscript of Loy family descendants has been passed among Loy researchers for many years, as was the genealogy done by Vetta (Loy) Johnson (1875-1977) whose father George Tate Loy was also an early Loy historian and first cousin to Huldah. Carroll (Loy) Stewart (1882-1969) was another researcher in that era, whose father Thomas Terrill Loy was grandson of Martin Luther Loy. Martin Luther Loy was first cousin to Huldah’s father Jacob, both grandsons of Martin Loy (to America 1741). Vetta (Loy) Johnson and Carroll (Loy) Stewart were correspondents of Genevieve (Cummings) Peters (1896-1986), author of the 1953 publication “Know Your Relatives…” Mrs. Peters’ mother was née Sharp, so Mrs. Peters focused more on her mother’s Sharp ancestry. But since many of the Loys had married Sharps, she included Loys in her book. Some information she used in the book was given by Vetta and Carroll, besides quoting from replies to her letters of inquiry of other Martin Loy descendants. In the late 1960s, Mrs. Peters also was a correspondent with Myrtle (Kirk) Doneen, who sent me copies of Mrs. Peters’ letters. Of the later-born Loy researchers was Ruby K. (Taylor) Johnson (1900-1982) whose grandmother Mary Jane (Loy) Taylor was granddaughter of Martin Luther Loy. Ruby compiled a manuscript on the Adair Co., KY area descendants of Martin Luther Loy, whose father John was son of Martin Loy (to America 1741).
And the already-mentioned Linda (Wiley) Loy (1858-1940) whose typed manuscript of the descendants of John and Mary (Hodges) Loy, the Effingham County, Illinois pioneers, was copied and distributed over the generations. One distant cousin suggested Linda’s daughter Grace (Loy) Sprouse (1880-1968), who later inherited her mother’s research, had assisted her with the manuscript.
In addition to these Loy researchers of the line of Martin Loy (to America 1741), there were, of course, well-known researchers from other Loy lines. I’m sure there were probably more than these, but these were the ones I came across:
Peter Schell (“P. S.”) Loy (1846-1931) was from the Martin Loy (to America 1774) family, which settled in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. David Martin Loy, the father of P. S., settled in Wisconsin in 1847, when P.S. was a year old. P. S. eventually ended up in Alhambra, Los Angeles County, California. At the time he lived there, Carroll (Loy) Stewart was also living in Los Angeles. My grandmother’s 2nd cousin Jessie (Loy) Treen also lived in that area when P. S. lived there, and she and he were able to meet. She admitted that he did resemble some of her family members, though from a different Loy line. He compiled “The Loy Family Papers (1851-1931)” which is described at WorldCat as “Papers of the Martin Loy family including materials relating to his son, David M. Loy, an early resident of De Pere who moved to the area in 1847 to work with De Pere Hydraulic Co. Includes scrapbooks, ledgers, and timebooks of David’s son, Peter S. Loy. Subjects include the family’s involvement in railroads, oil, and water improvement (locks and dams) interests, chiefly in Wisconsin.” The WorldCat site says this is located at two locations, not named, but since late 1980s I’ve only known of one location. This was at the Neville Public Museum, Green Bay, Brown County, Wisconsin. They have five boxes of materials in this collection. I know this collection includes more than listed above. In next week’s post, I’ll give further details as to the museum holdings of this collection.
“The Loy Family in America, 1732-1955” was originally compiled in 1955 by Jennie Elizabeth Stewart (1878-1959) and Claude Loy VanDyne (b. 1890-d. ?). Jennie Stewart and C. Loy VanDyne descended from the John George (Hans Jurich) Loy (to America 1733) line. Although this work focused on the John George (Hans Jurich) Loy line, with extracts of census, etc., there were other Loy line researchers mentioned, including Nellie (Loy) Whitmore, of the John Loy of Frederick County, Virginia line. [Which some have said was the John Heinrich Loy (to America 1733) immigrant, but later theory is that he was the Johannes Loy (to America 1740) immigrant.] The original by Stewart and VanDyne is available on microfilm, and can be ordered through the LDS library. It was filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1971. I’ve only seen sections of this 1955 original but, in my opinion, it seems much more reliable than the expanded 1984 revision.
In 1984, William E. Lynch, Jr. (died 1997 at age 60), whose wife Joan descends from the Frederick County, Virginia Loys, published the Stewart/VanDyne material under the same title, with authors being named as Jennie Stewart and edited by William E. Lynch, Jr., omitting C. Loy VanDyne. Besides the original 1955 material, additions were made to include group sheets and pedigree charts submitted by the modern-day Loy researchers of other Loy immigrants.
But those of us who contributed material found much of what we submitted had been drastically changed by the time it was published. I, for one, had typed everything legibly in my charts and family bio when he asked me to submit information on the Martin Loy (to America 1741) branch. (I was the only Martin Loy (to America 1741) descendant that contributed information.) Not only is my name written throughout the book as “Deborah” (which is how he also shipped the book to me), “Dolores” and “Deloris” besides the correct “Delores,” other family surnames were misspelled in my immediate family. A theorized Hodges ancestor had the “??” omitted on the group sheet (though the pedigree chart in back did keep the “?” but misspelled the name). And though I had submitted my ancestor Henry Loy’s first daughter as Mary, the book had her down as “Margaret.” Martin Loy’s (to America 1741) great-grandson was mentioned as “Benjamin Loy,” rather than Benjamin Clapp. Even Martin was listed as serving in the Revolutionary War and applying for and collecting pension long after his death! Lynch repeats this same Revolutionary War service information in the bio of the much younger Martin Loy (to America 1774) who actually served and even lived in another state!
Max Haines, another submitter, wrote me that sections of material he had sent on his John George (Hans Jurich) Loy (to America 1733) line was also published incorrectly. Nellie (Loy) Whitmore’s daughter wrote me that not everything she submitted from her mother’s records was published correctly, either.
One can’t help but have a deep admiration for these early researchers. In their days, there was no easy access to census records. Considering the 72 year seal on census records, the 1892 researcher would only have access to the heads-of-household-only 1820 census. That is, if he or she wanted to see the census books at the National Archives. (That I’m aware, the census wasn’t on microfilm until the WPA did it as one of their Depression-era projects, along with indexes and soundex for various census years. The only copies of these would be at the National [and maybe State?] Archives.) It’s true they may had access to family Bibles, now long lost or deteriorated, or have been able to interview a family member born in the 1700’s. Nonetheless, most of the family information would only span back three or four generations, the average remembrance of an elder family member. Today, even though a researcher may not know anything about the family before 1940, there are so many avenues for finding information further beyond what the 1892 researcher could.
In their days, there were no genealogical query bulletin boards or websites to meet other family researchers. To know who was the family historian, or at least dabbling in family genealogy, was mainly through word of mouth (or “word of pen,” for written communication). Later, there appeared some genealogical magazines and society quarterlies, the only way to find other researchers, aside from submitting one’s quest in a newspaper ad or article. How frustrating it must have been when researchers moved with no forwarding address! Today, even if someone changes email addresses, there’s always the hope after a bounce-back that an online search will help us locate that “lost” person.
Today, we have the luxury of free online land and vital records sites, many with actual images of the original document that would have cost us a pretty penny to obtain — plus postage — decades ago. We have online search engines to locate that stubborn marriage record we never imagined finding in that “other” county or state. In the early researcher’s day, most historical records weren’t even indexed. We can download public domain genealogy ebooks, including PDFs, that would have been an expensive luxury item in their new, hardbound form 72+ years ago. We can, for a price or sometimes free, read online historic newspapers, for a sneak peek into the lives of our ancestors and their kin.
We can share our ideas, round up “lost” family members, and sense the solidarity in kinship through this electronic age. We see an online query and know that person is interested in conversing about family history. Yet, even in the decade of the 1980’s, I was living in prehistoric times. 😛 I’d mail several letters (with a SASE — self-addressed stamped envelope!) to possible cousins and rarely get a reply. I’d always put p.s. at the end of my letters, requesting if the addressee wasn’t into family history, would he refer me to a relative who was. Sometimes I’d get sweet replies from those who apologized they couldn’t be of more help but didn’t know much about their family. Others didn’t know more that their parents’ names, but admitted I had whetted their curiosity about their family history. Others sent my letter on to a relative who was doing research and I got a “windfall.” Or, sometimes, wonder of wonders, my letter would find a newfound distant cousin who was already into family research! (Most times it was the Loy’s wife who was the genealogist.)
Efforts of these early researchers should never be taken for granted. It’s likely most of you, especially the “newbies,” have never heard of these people until now. Sadly, today many online GEDCOMs don’t bother documenting sources; only giving source as a FamilyTreemaker CD, or Ancestry World Tree, or from an LDS submission. But when I began research, these people were our sources, in addition to family members we knew, and the civil records (census, marriage, death, etc.) we obtained to back it up. These people personally interviewed relatives, drew on their own knowledge, and mailed hand-written correspondence to out-of-area kin for more information. They kept records without a computer to write emails, keep a database, or keep a website blog. They paved the way for us to continue adding to the work they began.