A Revisit to Old Loyston

From its first 19th century appearance on the map, this little hamlet was known as “Loys Crossroads” and its shorthand version “Loys X Rds.” By turn of 20th century, it became known as “Loystown,” and “Loyston.”

As my grandma’s Loy ancestor left this area of East Tennessee about 125 years prior to the 1934 TVA exodus, his descendants weren’t affected as his first cousins’ descendants yet living there were. Thus, rather than being bequeathed “inherited stories” from parents and grandparents of that exodus, I’ve learned of the relocation through distant cousins, history books, and historical newspapers.

Before finding this 1956 article, I’d been under the impression once the waters of Lake Norris covered Loyston, no one would set foot on its soil again. My impression was wrong; from what I now understand, drought has revealed old Loyston more than once. For those of you having lived in East Tennessee in 1956, you’d likely remember this article as it happened.

Although the following is from the 31 January 1956 The Lincoln Star (Lincoln, Nebraska), it was published in many other papers nationwide, beyond Tennessee.

Boats In Loyston’s Treetops
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — A severe drought and unprecedented demands for electric power in the Tennessee Valley have turned the famed Norris Lake into a gigantic pock-marked crater.

And for the past week, the lake in its near waterless state has attracted more visitors than ever before. They have come at a bumper-to-bumper rate to explore landmarks that emerged after 20 years from under 100 feet of water.

In the most dramatic “draw down” in the history of TVA, this first great lake of the system has yielded the skeleton of a town called Loyston which was abandoned by its 25 families in the 1930s to make way for the TVA project.

Norris this week was threatened with the fate of Douglas Dam, farther upstream, which was forced to close down its electricity-generating facilities for lack of water.

All of TVA’s “surplus” power commitments have been cut off. ALCOA’s huge aluminum plant, near Maryville, Tenn., had to reduce operations.

* * *

But the chief client of the TVA, the mammoth atomic energy plants at Oak Ridge, have not been affected. They are being supplied by the world’s largest steam-plant at Kingston, Tenn., and from every old power-generating coal-plant along the line which has been taken out of mothballs, stoked up and put to work producing electricity.

Suffering sorely are the Norris Lake boat-dock owners, eight of 10 of whom were stranded in silt with their boats rotting in the mud. Recreation is not one of TVA’s primary purpose under law, and the water must be released steadily from the falling Norris Lake to send water downstream for use at six other dams.

Falling water left Norris boat dock, near the dam, a ladder leading to a precipice. Far below, dock owners worked feverishly each day to move their $300,000 worth of pleasure cruisers nearer the dam, where the water is deepest.

Trees and boulders never seen before have surfaced, even near the dam. Troy Dykes, an owner of the Norris boat dock said:

“They only cut trees up to a certain level when the lake was formed. The possibility of our boats being hung in treetops as the water falls is what we worry about.”

* * *

Oddly enough, Norris Lake—dry—has been drawing more visitors than it ever did wet. James R. Dubose, owner of the Andersonville dock, scratched his head and said of the swarms of sightseers and souvenir-hunters: “They’re crazy.”

Traffic at Dubose’s place was so heavy last week they needed a traffic policeman. A TVA official estimated cars were coming at the rate of 2,500 to 3,000 an hour.

Uncovered in the middle of Norris Lake’s one-time largest open body of water was the ghostly form of Loyston, the abandoned town now exposed for the fist time in 20 years.

Loyston looks like a village a-building. Foundations are there. Road signs are there. A bridge bridging nothing is there—steps leading nowhere— old husks of cars, a school foundation, the old post office remain.

The visitors walk over the former highway from Loyston to Andersonville, where Tennessee state road signs still stand.

Things the residents of Loyston discarded 20 years ago are being carried home, with new significance now. C. W. Longmier [sic] reported:

“I saw one fellow heading home with a bull-tongued plow. Says he hung it up in the barn 22 years ago. Went back and found it still hanging there on a post.”

* * *

The family of Shade Loys [sic] came back to picnic on the foundation of their old family house. His mother, Mrs. Mack Loy, was unable to walk to Loyston along the dry lake bed, but she was driven as close as possible for another look at the home of her childhood.

The lake bottom is surprisingly clean of debris. Dubose reported he has found outboard motors which during the years toppled from fishing boats, and has been able to put some back into running order.

Gilbert Steward, TVA public information officer, said:

“We’re at the mercy of the elements. To keep up our power production, we can use some of the small steam plants around the valley or we can buy power from outside the TVA. Both are expensive, but we can do it.”

In the past month, the area had about one-fifth of an inch of rainfall. Normally there would have been about four-and-one-half inches.

There was a similar drought in 1954 which put a squeeze on water levels, but something new this year is the increasing demand for electric power. Stewart [sic] said:

“What we call the federal defense agencies—and that means the Atomic Energy Commission almost entirely—have increased their demands in just the last five years 11 times. They used two billion hours in 1950 and 22-billion in 1955.”

My notes on some mentioned in this article:

C. W. Longmire was likely Clyde Woodville Longmire (1900–1987), son of Alvin Henderson and Carrie Ailene (Dail) Longmire. Clyde’s ancestry includes Graves, Sharp, and Clapp which, including the Longmires, were allied families of the Loys. Though not of Loy descent (as I could tell) his ancestors were in-laws of them. His wife’s Irwin family were also allied with the Loys. Her father’s uncle married into the Loy family, as did several other of the Irwins.

William Shade Loy (“Shade Loy”) (1907–1970) was son of McHenry (“Mack”) and Nancy E. (“Nannie”) (Pyles) Loy. Shade married his second cousin, Ethel Kate Loy. Nannie (Pyles) Loy was the Mrs. Mack Loy mentioned in above article. Mack’s parents were both Loys prior to marriage: his father Solomon Green Loy was son of George Washington Loy, son of Henry Loy, son of George Loy, son of John Loy, son of Martin Loy (to America 1741). Mack’s mother Nancy M. J. Loy was daughter of George Loy, son of “Fisher” John Loy, son of George Loy, son of Martin Loy (to America 1741).

11 Replies to “A Revisit to Old Loyston”

  1. loyhistorian Post author

    Hey everyone!

    Just in case no one noticed one of my recent posts of new features to the site, I set up a mailing list at groups.io especially for TVA relocation discussion. The URL to join or view conversation is at: https://groups.io/g/TVA-Exodus/

    This group isn’t limited to Loy kith and kin. But for anyone interested in the subject of town residents who relocated in 1930s-1940s (and even in following decades) due to TVA acquiring their land.

  2. Donnie Robison

    My mother lived in Loyston when she was a child. Her name was Georgia Braden. Her parents were Paris and Mary Braden. My grandmothers parents were Parlin and Mary Tennessee, Carr. Parlin was a musician and played a fiddle. I have a couple of pictures of them.

  3. Chuck Peters

    Fascinating information about Loyston and the drought years. Do you know if there are any photos of the area.. taken when the water level was down?
    Thank you.

    1. loyhistorian Post author

      Hi Chuck!

      I’m sure there must have been photos from these drought years, not just from news sources but in personal family photos. At least one of the online newspapers I found did have a photo. But as the digital newspaper reproduction made photo look more like a photocopy, it would have been too poor of quality to include in my post.

      Are you of the Effingham Co., IL Peters of Loy descent?

      BTW, if anyone out there has photos of Loyston from the drought years, let me know and maybe we can get them added to this or a future blog post.

  4. William Easter

    I live and work not to far from Loyston original town.
    researching records for the Loyston Jacksoro road,found a 1865 civil war map that did show the road.Needing to fine some old writings of maybe locals mention it books are newspapers

  5. Allen Loy

    The Mary C. Loy you mention in your reply email to me, sister to Yancy (TN). Do you have any dates for her life? I have a Mary Loy listed as Yancy’s third wife, born 1820, but my records in that area are very sketchy. I am trying to find out if these were 2 persons or the same, and more info about one or both. Her trail seems to end in Grandview, TN.

    1. loyhistoriansavant Post author

      Hi Allen,
      I had quite a bit to write about, so posted it on the forum. It still won’t answer your question about Yancy’s second wife Mary. From what I’ve found, he was only married three times: to Sally Essex, a woman named Mary, and then Eliza[beth] Jane (Reese) Hassey. But I gave you quite a bit (see link) on Yancy’s (99.99% chance of it being) sister Mary (Loy) Essex. A few things I did forget to mention in the above post link is that in 1842 when John Essex’s estate was brought to court involving his widow Louisa (Ferguson) Essex, Yancy Loy was one of several who had a “note” plus interest (apparently a loan). Yancy’s was for $16.95 due the estate. And I’ll have to look through my records further, but I thought there was an estate image I’d found when William Essex died, that Yancy was mentioned having something to do with the estate. I’ll check on that later.

      BTW, I had to do some extra web programming because I was having problems with the login to the query forum. (And here I’m the administrator!!) I think it had to do with the new WordPress update this week. Anyway, until I fixed it, it kept logging me out before I could post. If you have any problems replying to my forum post, please let me know.

  6. William Allen Loy

    I am William Allen Loy and live near Knoxville, where I keep hearing of the Loys of Loyston, and I would like to find heritage links between 1700s relatives originating with Martin Loy’s descendants in North Carolina and those in what used to be Loyston in Anderson or Union County. My branch of the Loys came to Rhea County TN, primarily through Yancy Loy, but were close relatives of those who went to the Loyston area. Here is what I think I know know: John (Johannes) Loy (1768-1848) went to Campbell County. George “Junior” Loy and wife Nancy, born and died in Orange Co. NC came to Anderson Co. about 1815-1820). Jacob Loy (1783-1858) married Phoebe Tillman in Campbell Co, then died in Iowa. John William “Fisher” Loy (1775-1840) moved to Campbell Co about 1830. Elizabeth (Loy) Moser and her husband Nicholas moved to Anderson Co about 1805.
    Yancy Loy moved to Grandview in Rhea Co about 1838 with wife Sarah (Essex) and her parents. James Henry Loy (1877-1958) also moved to Grandview. If any of these links are familiar, please let me know.

    1. loyhistoriansavant Post author

      Hi cousin!

      I have the charts of Martin’s sons George and John already updated in the WordPress version of this site, and still working on updating that of Martin’s son Henry (my ancestor), which is currently still in old html format. George’s children included the Elizabeth (Loy) Moser, “Fisher” Loy, and Jacob Loy you mentioned. Martin’s son John was father of George “Junior” and John Loy, Jr. (John Jr.’s son John III, born 1801, was written as “Johannes” in church birth records). I’ve heard that Loyston (or, originally, Loy’s Crossroads) was named for “Fisher” Loy’s family.

      George Loy “Junior” was written as George, Jr. in census and land records to distinguish him from his uncle George Loy, but after uncle George Loy (son of Martin) died, eventually the son of George “Junior” became of age. Then census gave the former “George Loy Jr.” as “George Loy, Sr.” and his son then became “George Loy, Jr.” Martin’s grandson George Loy was first married to Maria, then Nancy Ferguson. There were two Yancy Loys that I theorize were descended from this George. My guess is, both Yancys were grandsons. One left NC for Rhea Co., TN and the other left NC for Caldwell/Clinton Co., MO. The one in Rhea Co., TN (your line) had a sister Mary C. Loy whose husband was a brother to Yancy’s first wife Sally Essex. Both Mary and Yancy went to Rhea Co. about the same time.

    2. Daniel Loy

      Hello. I would like to chat with you about this link. Im direct descendant from Martin Loy and all from Loyston. I to am from Knoxville area, I currently live back in NC.. my email is mclpatriot@yahoo.com and phone is 828-735-3270. Just leave me a message and I will get back with you.

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