William Loy of 1900s Sonora, Mexico

Browsing through online historical newspapers this month, I came across several mentions from Bisbee, Cochise Co., AZ papers concerning a William Loy living in mining town Nacozari, Sonora, Mexico. Curiosity led me to research what I could on him, despite limited online resources.

“Fisher” John Loy’s grandson William Loy (born ca. 1865 Loyston, Union Co., TN) disappears from the U.S. census after 1880 and isn’t found in any online census or death databases nationwide. Information I’ve discovered on the Sonoran William Loy indicates he was born ca. 1865 and from Knoxville, TN. Many Loys from Loyston, when listing birthplace for out-of-state records, often gave their birthplace as Knoxville, being the closest major city. With all this in mind, the only William Loy this “Mexican” Loy could have been was William Loy, son of Lewis Loy, son of “Fisher” John Loy, son of George Loy, son of Martin Loy (to America 1741).

Apparently William arrived in Mexico before the 1900 census. Perhaps he left Tennessee just after the 1894 death of his father, Lewis Loy. It was around 1900, likely in Mexico, that William married Angela García (26 February 1886 Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico–14 January 1964 Los Angeles Co., CA), daughter of Francisco and Rosa (Corona) García. In a few records, including 1940 U.S. census, her name was written as Angelina. Due to the Mexican tradition of children bearing their maternal surname as well as paternal surname, Angela’s full name was Angela García Corona. Once she married William, her full name was Angela García Corona de Loy.

[April 2019 edit: I discovered record of William and Angela’s marriage, 17 November 1900 in El Paso, El Paso Co., TX, by A.W. Spencer, Justice of Peace. Their marriage license gives their ages “off,” as William was listed as age 33 and Angela was listed as “over 18” when in fact she would have been 14 years old, turning 15 three months later. The El Paso Herald (El Paso, TX) 17 November 1900 gives marriage license notice. The Monday, 19 November 1900 edition gives marriage notice, which happened in evening of the 17th. In both marriage record and newspaper notices, Angela is given as “Angelita Garcia.”]

Beginning in late 1890s, the railroad started being built in this part of Sonora, giving better access to the mining towns. Eventually the railroad would even connect Cochise Co., AZ, where many of William’s business and personal events were mentioned in Bisbee newspapers. These American newspapers devoted a page or more of complete sections covering events pertaining to the Sonoran (mainly silver) mining camps’ business and personal news. These mining camp towns, such as Nacozari, were heavily invested by American businessmen. (Nacozari was one of the numerous mines operated by James S. Douglas, for whom the town of Douglas, Arizona was named.) A large percentage of these mine workers were Americans, such as William.

In February 1902 William and Angela’s first child, Helen, was born in Sonora, Mexico. I’ve not found which town she was born, but it most likely was Nacozari. Afterwards, it seems whenever Angela was expecting, she and William went to Arizona in time for the baby’s birth. In March 1903 William and Angela’s second child, daughter Agnes, was born in Arizona, likely Cochise County.

Then in 1904, plans were made to build a grand hotel in Nacozari.

From Saturday, 20 February 1904 Bisbee Daily Review (Bisbee, AZ) pg. 7:

Hotel for Nacozari.

The Phelps-Dodge company are going to build a first-class hotel at Nacozari. A hotel is very much needed at that camp, and when the railroad reaches there it will be more necessary than now. Whenever the Copper Queen people have built hotels they have furnished the best service and the Nacozari hotel will be no exception.

In April 1905 William and Angela had a third daughter, who was named for her mother. Although baby Angela’s birthplace is unknown, by this time the railroad connection had been built, making the commute from Nacozari to Arizona much easier.

From Tuesday, 28 November 1905 Bisbee Daily Review (Bisbee, AZ) pg. 6:

William Loy, manager of the Nacozari Hotel, left on this afternoon’s train for Nacozari.

The month before William’s visit to Bisbee, his family suffered the tragic loss of baby Angela. The local government kept record of her death, images of this death record is at FamilySearch. As Spanish is one of the several languages I know, I’ve translated the following from Spanish into English:

[side margin: Act number 66, death of Angela Loy] In the Mineral of Nacozari municipality of Cumpas in the Moctezuma district, at 8 eight a.m., on the 26 twenty-six day of October of 1905 one thousand nine hundred and five, in front of me, Manuel Maria Morena, judge of the Civil State of this place, appeared American citizen William Loy, of 40 forty years of age and married, machinist, and native of Knox Ville Tenn United States and came to this place and expressed that at 6 six a.m. today his little girl Angela Loy died from “gastro enteritis accompanied with asthenia” according to medical certificate, of 6 six months of age, legitimate daughter of the exponent and his wife, Mrs. Angela Garcia Loy, Mexican. Its body will be buried in first order of the cemetery of this place. They were witnesses, the citizens Miguel Felix and Antonio D. Hoyos, of legal age, single, natural employees of Moctezuma and Cumpas, neighbors of this mineral with what ended [I imagine this means they were neighbors in this mining camp and knew result of baby’s death], the present act that they ratified and signed with the signed judge, exponent, and witnesses.
I give testament = Manuel Maria Morena =
E.= William Loy =
F.= Miguel Felix =
F.= Antonio D. Hoyos =
signatures = is copy
Note: “Mineral” was likely a term for a mining camp. Gastroenteritis is stomach flu. Asthenia is a medical term for abnormal weakness or lack of energy.

In March 1906, the Bisbee newspaper reported that R. J. Wilson and wife were to leave either that day or the next for Nacozari. He was to be “in charge” of the Nacozari Hotel. If this meant management, then he would be replacing William Loy. It seems likely William did leave his management job at the hotel, as that May he was mentioned as co-owning a mine. As an interesting side note, the Nacozari Hotel is still in existence today.

From Sunday, 13 May 1906 Bisbee Daily Review (Bisbee, AZ) pg. 9:
This article was taken from Douglas, AZ news of the previous day. The article’s introduction tells about the mines in the Mexican district of Tabatacachi, a district not even a year old. Miners from that area, visiting Douglas, AZ, were reported as saying these mines would be a second Leadville and the southwest’s greatest silver mining district. (Colorado’s Leadville mining district is known for being one of the largest in the world for producing silver, lead, and zinc.) There were at least twenty mining camps in Tabatacachi, with output of mainly silver, but copper, lead, and some gold had also been found there. This small district was five by three miles, with the closest railroad for shipping ore being 18 miles away at Calabasas, on the Nacozari railroad. And of those 18 miles to get there, only 12 miles had good roads for the shipping wagons. Then further on the article says…

The Texas is one of the most promising mines in the district. It is owned by William Loy and W. H. Bartlett and they now have a proposition on foot to bond the property to a Texas party for $25,000.

That $25,000 in 1906 would be worth over $700,000 in 2018. After the article detailing other mine owners and their mines in the district, another paragraph mentions William again:

C. P. Hall, of this city, has a mine on which he has done eighty feet of work in a few weeks, and he states that the further down they go the richer the ore becomes. Mr. Hall, with Mr. Phebey, have a bond on the mine from William Loy of Nacozari.

Then, on pg. 10 of this same paper, in the Purely Personal column, taken from Douglas, AZ news of the prior day:

William Loy returned this morning from New York, where he went in charge of two tiger cubs three weeks ago. The cubs were bought by Mrs. A. C. James, who presented them to the Central Par[k] Zoo. Mr. Loy returned to his home in Nacozari this afternoon.

From Friday, 9 August 1907 Bisbee Daily Review (Bisbee, AZ) pg. 7:


William Loy, formerly manager of the Nacozari hotel, now owner of large mining properties in the Tabatacochi district, and James Shea, also largely interested in the Moctezuma district, passed through Bisbee yesterday, stopping off between trains. They have just returned from Toreon, Mexico, where they went to get a glimpse of new surroundings and return with a better opinion than ever of Cochise county and Northern Sonora.

“Toreon” must be a misspelling of Torreón, a city in the Mexican state of Coahuila. Torreón is situated south of Texas, so this would not have been a quick day trip outing for these two men.

From Thursday, 22 August 1907 Bisbee Daily Review (Bisbee, AZ) pg. 3:


O. L. Neer, Billy Loy, Jim Shea, W. L. York, and other Nacozari mining men were in Douglas this week and most of them have returned in the land of beauty and treasure.

At the time of the above article, William Loy’s wife Angela was about six months along with their fourth daughter, Louisa, who would be born that December in Douglas, Cochise Co., AZ. But less than a month before the baby’s birth, there was a tragedy in her mother’s family. A tragedy mixed with heroism. Had not Angela’s older brother Jesús García, age 25, intervened by sacrificing his life, residents of the entire community, including the Loys, would have perished.

From Saturday, 9 November 1907 Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ) pg. 1:


Saved a Town from Destruction

The Engineer of the Exploding Nacozari Train Sacrificed His Own Life

   Douglas, Ariz. Nov. 8.–The death list, as the result of the Nacozari explosion yesterday is now placed at 14 or 15, all Mexicans, besides John Chisholm, aged thirteen, who was riding on the train when the explosion occurred. The train on the Narrow Gage railroad to Pilares mine, in some way caught fire. In the train were two open cars heavily loaded with explosives and the fact that the concentrator and a good part of the town of Nacozari were saved from ruin was due to the bravery of the Mexican engineer of the train, Jesus Garcia. Realizing that to cut out the burning cars and escape on the engine would expose the town to probably destruction he called to the rest of the crew to jump, and started to run the train away from the town.
He had taken it about half a mile when the explosion occurred. He was blown to atoms. It is reported that another member of the crew stayed with him and was killed. The heavy death list is due to the fact that the explosion occurred just as the train was passing a section house in which there was a number of section men.

William Loy’s brother-in-law became a national hero in Mexico for his bravery. The town of Nacozari erected a statue to his remembrance and changed the town name to “Nacozari de García.” Throughout Mexico, ballads were written and sung about him. The Mexican government enacted the anniversary of his death, 7 November, as The Day of the Railroad Worker, which to this day is a national holiday. The website MexConnect has a good biography on Jesús García and even mentions that Jesús García was the subject of a Mexican commemorative airmail postage stamp. He is also mentioned in both English and Spanish versions of Wikipedia.

From Saturday, 6 November 1909 Bisbee Daily Review (Bisbee, AZ) pg. 5:


   An excursion is announced to Nacozari for next Sunday by the Nacozari railroad in connection with the celebration attendant to the unveiling of the monument which has been erected to Garcia, the hero of Noczari, who sacrificed his life to save the lives of hundreds of others and property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Jesus Garcia was an engineer and he was a man of staunchest bravery who hesitated no [sic] an instant at the call of duty and willingly and cheerfully laid down his life for the good of his home community and to save life and limb for others. His was not the heroism which goes into battle with blaring bugles and beating drums as an incentive. His was the bravery which calmly and deliberately sacrifices all and does so without paggeantry [sic] and without display, in an every day manner Garcia simply stuck to his post and took out a train of burning dynamite cars to save the town and the lives of inhabitants, and in so doing he gave up his life for others.
It is in memorial of the heroic act of Jesus Garcia that a statue is to be unveiled at Nacozari next Sunday. The governor of Sonora is to be master of ceremonies and there will be others prominent in the affairs of Sonora who will also participate in showing respect to the memory of the dead hero of Nacozari. The Senora Military band will come from Hermosillo and will furnish music and from this city will go an excursion, accompanied by the Douglas Calumet band. The road has made an especially low rate, $2.50 American money, for the round trip on Sunday and it gives an opportunity to visit the tributary camp which will be embraced by many and should be taken advantage of by all who can do so. The train leaves Douglas at 6 o’clock and Agua Prieta at 6:30 o’clock Sunday morning and returning will reach this city about 9:30 in the evening.

In December 1912, William and Angela’s fifth daughter, fourth living, Alice Julia Loy was born in Douglas, Cochise Co., AZ. According to the birth record, at time of this baby’s birth, William was age 47 and born in Tennessee. The record gave William and Angela’s residence as Cananea. Cananea was another mining town in Sonora, Mexico. Nearly six years prior, in June 1906, this town of 23,000 inhabitants (2,000 of them Americans) was the scene of a mine workers’ strike that resulted in deaths on both sides of the controversy. This took place during the final years of Porfirio Díaz’s presidency and foreshadowed the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

The 1912 birth of his daughter was the last record I’ve found on William. According to the FamilySearch family tree on Angela’s family, William died before 1920. As I couldn’t find any death records in the U.S., it’s likely he died in Mexico. His grown daughters show up in U.S. census starting 1930. Angela shows up in 1940 census in Los Angeles, CA, where her 1935 residence was given as the same place. William and Angela’s daughter Helen, who died in California, is the only one I could find with descendants. Helen’s son returned to Arizona, where his family lives to this day.

This image of Angela García Corona de Loy and her brother Jesús García Corona is originally from https://www.familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/51487163

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