Matthias Loy (to America 1817)

Matthias Loy (1790 Baden, Germany—died between 1860-1867 Dauphin Co., PA)
md.(#1) 18 October 1821 (Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA)
Christina Reaver (ca. 1795 Württemberg, Germany—ca. 1837 bur: Zion Lutheran Congregation churchyard, Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA)
probably d/o Christian Reaver.
md.(#2) 14 April 1840 (Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA)
Johanna Morsch (13 March 1811 [probably Bretten], near Karlsruhe, Baden, Germany—at 8:20 p.m., 23 December 1899 Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA bur: Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA)
d/o Jacob Morsch.

*Note: His name has been spelled “Mathias” in ship and census records; his son Dr. Loy’s 1915 death record gave both Dr. Loy’s name and his father’s name spelled “Mathias.” In my prior version of this sketch, I had spelled the name with one T. However, as Dr. Loy’s book spells his father’s, his own, and his son’s names with two Ts, I’ll be consistent with the two T spelling.

Matthias Loy arrived in Philadelphia, PA on 6 September 1817 on the ship Christopher Gore, the same ship on which Johan Loy arrived that day. Johan’s name appears in the first column of the ship list, while Mathias [sic] appears in the second column. Matthias had sold himself into servitude to pay for his passage to America. After his arrival, he worked as a cabinetmaker in Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA, where he met and married Christina. [An LDS IGI submission for Jacob Loy gave his mother Christina’s birth as 1795, but source not given.] The page image of the handwritten Zion Lutheran Church’s record book of marriages gives their 18 October 1821 marriage date, witnesses being “friends.” Matthias’ name is written as “Matthaŭs Loÿ” (breve over u and umlaut over y) and Christina’s surname is quite illegible and looks more like “Rinever” or something of the sort.

Matthias was not much of a businessman and his decisions usually left the family near poverty. About 1826 or 1827, he and his family moved to a lonely, remote area “on the Blue Mountains,” [Cumberland Co., PA] which his son Dr. Matthias Loy described as 14 wagon miles, or just over 7 miles “as the crow flies” from Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA. There were few neighbors, the closest being a mile away. Once or twice a year, the elder Matthias would make trips to Harrisburg for needed supplies. It was there “on the Blue Mountains” that son Matthias was born in 1828. (At time of his 1905 book, clergyman Dr. Loy added that the house of his birth could still be seen by anyone viewing the mountain from the Harrisburg capitol.) In 1834, when Dr. Loy was in his “sixth year,” the family had saved enough money to relocate to Hogestown, in Cumberland Co., half way between Harrisburg and Carlisle, which was along the trade route. There, the elder Matthias purchased a log house. The younger Matthias said this was the first and only homestead his father ever owned.

The family only spoke German at home, but the younger Matthias, now six, began to learn English as he attended his first year of school. Within a few months of study, he had caught up to his native-English-speaking class.

As Christina’s health began failing, the family left their house in Hogestown and brought her to her married brother’s house in Harrisburg, where she died not long after. This brother was Jacob F. Reaver (1798 Germany—1867 Cass Co., IN) who was in the 1850 Harrisburg census as Jacob Reaver, age 51, with wife Catherine (age 52, also born Germany) and apparent children born in PA: Henrietta (age 21), Theodore (age 20), and George (age 16). Also in household was Christian Reaver (b. ca. 1770 Germany) who was age 80 and possibly Christina and Jacob’s father. Jacob’s occupation was listed as “butcher” as was Theodore’s. Jacob’s real estate value was $2,500 — a princely sum in those days. After Christina’s death the Loy family remained in Harrisburg for a few years. During this time widower Matthias remarried. Dr. Matthias Loy said his [elder] sister left home at age 15, moving in with her uncle not long after their father’s remarriage. As Jacob Reaver was prosperous in the meat business and his family had church affiliation, his household offered the girl a more stable home environment. Before her mother’s death, the girl had become member of the Lutheran Evangelical Church at age 14. This seems to have been Zion Lutheran Congregation at Harrisburg, where Dr. Loy mentioned she was a member during his apprenticeship. Later she married Samuel Mitchell and had three children: Mary Minnie (“Minnie”), Arietta (“Arie”), and William. Minnie’s husband Frank Mathias Willey was younger brother to Minnie’s uncle Dr. Matthias Loy’s wife Mary Willey, the siblings having difference of 15 years in age.

During the family’s time in Harrisburg, the elder Matthias entered two other business ventures. First, he began assisting his brother-in-law in the meat business. Also, which seems to coincide with the time of his remarriage, he rented a vacant German tavern in the southern part of Harrisburg. In those days, taverns were hotel and eating/drinking establishments. The elder Matthias moved his family into the tavern so they could run it. Dr. Loy had bad memories of the place, as some clientele seemed of questionable character and not a good influence on impressionable young children. [I wouldn’t be surprised if this was when his sister decided to move in with her uncle.] It seems this is where the family was enumerated in the 1840 census. There are 4 males ages 20-30 also living in the household. After having been at the tavern a few years and not able to make a go of either it or the meat business, the elder Matthias returned with his wife and two remaining children [Dr. Loy and William] to the house he owned in Hogestown. Dr. Loy stated this happened when he was in his “twelfth year,” which would make it between late 1840-before August 1841.

Just before his son Matthias’ 14th birthday, the elder Matthias apprenticed his son to “strangers” (as Dr. Loy described them) who would provide his room and board in Harrisburg. His son had no say in the matter, but left home to be a printer’s apprentice for the next six years at this German printing house. By the time he was 13, the boy had become so accustomed to English, he’d forgotten his childhood German. Not only did he have to re-learn the language, but for the first time he had to learn to read and write German. Even his father and stepmother had been speaking less and less German at home, as they passively began learning English through their children, who only answered their parents in English. Their children were so used to speaking English with their classmates, English eventually became part of the household.

At time of marriage, Matthias was a Roman Catholic, Christina was a devout Lutheran, and Matthias’ second wife Johanna was basically Lutheran in name only. Shortly before his death, Matthias came to the Lutheran faith and Johanna eventually became devout in her faith. Dr. Loy mentioned that of his parents’ children, Jacob was the only one of the seven not baptized as an infant. At the time Jacob would have been baptized, the minister they had chosen to baptize refused to do so. The reason being that “he had become an Anabaptist and was planning to establish a new Baptist sect.” As a result, Jacob did not get baptized until he was of age to be confirmed in the Lutheran church, where he remained a member for the rest of his life. I was able to locate a transcription of Matthias and Christina’s next-to-youngest child, William, at This transcription from their Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950, database gives William’s baptism at Saint Stephen Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Kingstown, Cumberland Co., PA. New Kingstown shares the same township (Silver Spring Twp.) with Hogestown. His birth conflicts with birth date given on his death certificate. The death certificate gives William’s birth as 31 March 1833. The baptism was 7 December 1834 and birth given as April 1834, although it’s likely the original source just gave his age in months from 31 March. The 1900 census gives his birth as March 1833. However, Dr. Loy stated in his book that the family moved to Hogestown from the Blue Mountains when he was six years old. Dr. Loy would have turned six in August 1834.

According to her funeral notice in the 26 December 1899 Harrisburg Telegraph, Johanna came to America at age 18 with her father. [Her brother John’s obituary states he was born in the village of “Brettis” in Baden, Germany, nine miles from Karlsruhe, and came to America with his parents, who brought their four children to America when John was 14. At time of John’s death, only two siblings survived: Henry Morsch, of Richmond, OH, and Joanna Loy, of Harrisburg, PA.] The funeral notice gives Johanna’s maiden name as Johanna Marsh, but gives her father’s surname spelling as Morsch. The notice also gives 1840 as year of Johanna’s marriage to Matthias. [In the Zion Lutheran Church marriage records for Matthias and Johanna’s marriage, she is recorded as “Jane Morsh” without the c.] This article mentions her and Matthias’ six children, but only five are given by name. George was missing from the list and Harriette was given as “Harry.” Sophia was listed as Mrs. Norton, which should have been Martin. It also stated that all her sons served in the Civil War and were now deceased, the last son [Christian] dying shortly before Easter, the year of his mother’s death. Another Harrisburg paper, The Evening News gives in its 14 March 1880 “50 Years Ago” an account of a family celebration held on 13 March 1880 in honor of Johanna’s 69th birthday anniversary, where four of her children were in attendance. Besides naming her as widow of Matthias Loy, it states she was sister of the late John Morsch. [John J. Morsch, a well-known Harrisburg businessman, had died 10 January 1880.] The 10 March 1897 issue of the Harrisburg Telegraph mentioned Johanna Loy would be turning 86 but was ill with the grip [sic].

Dr. Matthias Loy mentioned his family in his book “Story of My Life” and though he gave many details about family members, with exception of his parents, he never mentioned his siblings, maternal uncle, or stepmother by name. Instead, he would refer to them as his “eldest sister,” “an older sister and a younger brother” [who, he said, both died while the family lived on the Blue Mountains], his “eldest brother,” “a younger brother” that was still surviving at the time of his father’s remarriage, and “the youngest” [gender not given] after the family moved to Hogestown. He mentions that he was the fourth child born to his parents and that seven children were born to them in a span of 15 years. Besides Dr. Loy’s book, other information on his father’s family I obtained through research I did for , whose ex-husband is a descendant of this line.

The 1840 Harrisburg, South Ward, Dauphin Co., PA census shows Mathias [sic] Loy’s household with 1 male 5-under 10, 2 males 10-under 15, 4 males 20-under 30, 1 male 40-under 50, 1 female 15-20, 1 female 30-under 40.

Mathias [sic] and Johanna were in 1850 Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA census, where the household has no real estate value given. Rather than repeating each household member’s surname, the enumerator wrote the abbreviation for “ditto.” While census forms used “Do” or “do” as abbreviation, his “Do” looks more like “@o” or a strangely formed letter O followed by a large period. As a result, to someone at first glance, it looks nearly all the household members under all the heads of household had middle initial “O”!!

In 1860 Mathias [sic] was in household of son Jacob Loy in Cumberland Co., while Joanna was still in Dauphin Co. census with children.

In 1870, Johanna was widowed, in household of married daughter Sophia. Johanna was in the 1867 [as Joanna], 1876, 1878, 1880, 1882, 1885, 1886, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1895, 1897, and 1898 Harrisburg City Directories, as widow of Matthias Loy. Page images of these directories can be found in HeritageQuest’s City Directories database.

Matthias and Christina’s children:

Born Where Died Where
#1 Mary Loy She is in Zion Lutheran Church records 1840-1843. April 1823 (Most logical. Death cert: age 84, no birth date. 1900 census: April 1830; 1860-1880 census also varies age.) Cumberland Co., PA 29 January 1907 Pittsburgh, Allegheny Co., PA
md. ca. 1855 Samuel Mitchell ca. 1821 PA 1873 Clearfield Co., PA
#2 Jacob Loy Find a Grave 27 December 1825 Cumberland Co., PA 8 August 1910 Newville, Cumberland Co., PA
md. (Carlisle, PA) Martha J. Reifsnyder 26 November 1829 6 August 1885
#3 (daughter) Loy between 1826-1834 “on the Blue Mountains,” Cumberland Co., PA
#4 Matthias Loy Find a Grave 17 March 1828 “on the Blue Mountains,” Cumberland Co., PA 26 January 1915 Columbus, Franklin Co., OH
md. Mary Willey 11 April 1835 Pickawick, Delaware Co., OH 26 May 1924 Columbus, Franklin Co., OH
#5 (son) Loy between 1826-1834 “on the Blue Mountains,” Cumberland Co., PA
#6 William H. Loy Find a Grave 31 March 1833/4 Cumberland Co., PA 11 January 1910 Columbus, Franklin Co., OH bur: Williamsport, Washington Co., MD
md. 6 December 1860 (Allegany Co., MD) Mary E. Utts August 1835 PA 24 August 1909 Williamsport, Washington Co., MD
#7 (child) Loy between 1834-1837 Hogestown, Cumberland Co., PA

Matthias and Johanna’s children:

Born Where Died Where
#8 Christian Loy 24 January 1841 Dauphin Co., PA 21 March 1899 Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA
md. ca. 1866 Mary Hoke ca. 1841 PA 5 November 1920 Altoona, Blair Co., PA
#9 George Loy ca. 1843 Dauphin Co., PA
#10 Sophia Loy Find a Grave 14 February 1846 Dauphin Co., PA 25 September 1934 Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA
md. Philip Martin 1844/1845 20 November 1870 Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA
#11 Harriette Loy ca. 1849 Dauphin Co., PA probably died between 1850-1860 census, as not in 1860 census; or is this another name of Caroline?
#12 Caroline (“Carrie”) Loy Find a Grave [after census] 1850, as not in 1850 census; 6 January 1849 per death certificate; gravestone gives year 1849 Dauphin Co., PA 10 April 1924 Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA
md. Jacob Frey died before 1924
#13 Matilda C. (“Tillie”) Loy 10 October 1853 Dauphin Co., PA 30 May 1932 Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., PA
md. ca. 1871 Frederick W. Huston 2 January 1849 PA after 2 January 1936 (a June 1934 news article tells of how the 85 year old rescued two boys, ages 11 and 14, from drowning)