Tuesday, May 8, 2012
The Browning Series Pt. 7g, or The Elusive William D. 'Jim' Hoy
There are always people in your family tree that stump you and William is one of these. I was lucky to find him, actually -- without the help of some cousins (descendants of William's older brother Edward Jasper Hoy) I don't know that I would have found him! He was a traveling man, that's for sure, and a lot of what he did to make a living was on the other side of the law.
I wrote briefly about William in this earlier post, and in this one, when I discussed his parents James Hoy and Margaret Browning. At that time I teased him a bit by saying he was a bootlegger and died an interesting death. Now's the time to reveal all!
William was born on 26 Nov 1860 in Palestine in Crawford County, Illinois. He was one of the youngest of James and Margaret's brood. His father James was a farmer and no doubt the family lived on a farm in the vicinity for some years prior to the Civil War and afterward. They were still living in Palestine in July of 1863 when James was one of many men listed from the Palestine Princt as a Class 2 draftee. James stated he was 44 at the time. I've never found any proof that James was called to serve.
I don't know much about the draft lists and it would benefit me to learn more. I know the difference between Class 1 (men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five years and unmarried men between thirty-five and forty-five) and Class 2 (pretty much everyone else) and that men who were mentally or physically impaired, the only son of a widow, the son of infirm parents, or a widower with dependent children were exempt from the draft. But if they were exempt did that mean they weren't written down on the lists at all? I ask because James Hoy was listed.
I am not sure when things went south for William and his family but I can narrow it down to a window of a few years. William's mother Margaret died at some point between the birth of his younger brother Zera (likely early 1862) and October of 1864, when his father married Amelia Funk. Since I have no death record, burial record or tombstone to refer to concerning Margaret's death, this is where the Drafts list comes in. Right now my window for Margaret's death is 1862-1864. If the rule was "if a widower with children, do not list on draft records" and James is listed, then it would stand to reason that James was not yet a widower in July 1863. His name on this list would narrow the window of Margaret's death a bit, to between July 1863 and October of 1864.
William probably barely remembered his mother, if at all. He had better opportunity to remember his stepmother but even her time with them was short-lived. She was with the Hoy family for at least one year but less than five; by 1870 she was living with her brother Augustus Funk. By all appearances James Hoy had died between 1865-1870 and his children were scattered out all over Crawford County. What I find sad is that by the age of 10, William had lost both his parents.
In 1870 there is a bit of a question about where William was living. He appears to be listed twice in this census: once in Hutsonville Township in a poorhouse run by a man named William Beers with his younger brother Zera and a woman named Sarah Hoy (perhaps his eldest sister?) and second in the household of Roland and Elvira (Ellison) Fuson in Honey Creek Township. Guardianship records for any of the Hoy children would be fantastic but so far I've come up with nothing.
William’s whereabouts from 1870 until 1910 are sketchy. He never married or had children (but that might be up for argument?) and was by all accounts a traveling man. He has been particularly hard to trace after 1870 because throughout his life he gave either misleading or false information to the census takers. He was at least migrating northwards because the next time I find him for certain (in 1910) he had settled in the village of Ashton in Fremont County, Idaho. He was boarding with Charles Nordvall, a divorced man from Sweden who'd come to the US in 1871. Nordvall was the proprietor of a livery and William was listed as a carpenter.
During this time (1902-1910) William made friends with a man named Benjamin Alvin Matthews and according to all the sources I have, this friendship was a long term one. It was also to end in tragedy.
Benjamin Alvin Matthews was born in July 1858 near Scipio in Millard Co., Utah and was the son of James Matthews and Mary Ann Johnson of England. In 1900 Alvin and his wife Mary McArthur and their children (including a son named Wallace) were living in Scipio. Around 1902 or so Alvin and his family moved to the Green Timber district in Fremont County, Idaho. By 1910 Alvin had become a widower (his wife Mary died in 1904) and had moved to the Green Timber precinct. By 1920 he had moved again, living in dwelling number 105 in the Warm River precinct.
In dwelling number 156 was a man named "James" Hoy. "James" (now listed as a Snake River trapper) stated that he was 55 years old, had been born in Iowa, and that he didn't know where either of his parents had been born except that they were from the "U.S." That this man is William is almost certain. He'd just decided, I suspect, to use his brother's name. I also have some reason to suspect he'd been using it for a while.
Anyway, by 1930, William had moved to another part of Fremont County, in the Green Timber Precinct near Ashton. He made a homestead about a mile or so from his friend Alvin Matthew’s ranch. This time, he stated his name as William D. Hoy and that he had been born in Kentucky. He also stated that his father had been born in Scotland and his mother in Ireland. He again claimed he was a river trapper.
I know some of you are wondering how on earth I figured out that James Hoy and William D. Hoy were the same person. Well, I don't know that I would have if I hadn't had a helpful bunch of newspaper reports to assist me! They're all posted here. Take a look at all of them.
These sources also indicate that William entered into some sort of business partnership with Alvin Matthews. I don't know for certain but my best guess is the manufacture and distribution of whiskey, for sometime in1935 William was held in the Fremont County jail in St. Anthony on charges of selling whiskey to the enrollees in the Porcupine Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp near his homestead. Charges were not pressed and William was released.
One Sunday, on 29 March 1936, Alvin Matthews ventured up to William’s cabin east of Ashton for a visit but did not return. The next morning Matthew’s son Wallace went up to the cabin to find his father and found that Matthews had shot William six times, killing him. The two men had argued sometime during the course of the day or into the evening. The coroner determined that William had most likely died sometime on Sunday afternoon or evening. The remains of a still and a quantity of whiskey were found at the scene and Matthews was highly intoxicated. Matthews was placed under arrest on Monday morning and held in the Fremont County Jail. During his stay he acted strangely and spoke of suicide. Three days later, on Thursday, 2 April 1936, Matthews was found dead in his jail cell. The coroner’s jury ruled his death a suicide. You can read more about it in the article to the right.
William was buried in the Riverview Cemetery in St. Anthony near the Snake River in Fremont County, Idaho in an unmarked grave. Benjamin Alvin Matthews was buried at the Pineview Cemetery in Ashton and you can see a picture of his tombstone here, taken by John Warnke and posted on Find-A-Grave in 2006.
A few more final thoughts and theories about the elusive William D. 'Jim' Hoy. In my last post I asked that Jodi Blackhawk contact me if she would. I did so because she left me a note about a possible connection. I will speak more about that connection now and you'll see why I hope she will contact me.
I said earlier that I didn't have any record of William's whereabouts from 1870-1910. That's 40 years! A man can marry and have grown children in that span. Maybe this is something that William did. From members of his brother Edward's descendents I learned that William ran afoul of the law by bootlegging whiskey to the Indians in Idaho. Though he ended up in Ashton in Fremont County and died there at the hand of his friend, some of his life in the interim might make more sense if he, is, indeed, the Jim Hoy that Jodi mentions in her comment on this post.
According to her elders, Jodi's 2nd-great-grandmother Yeehavitz, a Shoshoni born on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in 1868, married a James/Jim Hoy and had two children with him. (Fort Hall, a mere 110 miles from Ashton, was a stop on both the Oregon and California Trails and exists in present-day Bannock and Bingham Counties.) Jim left Yeehavitz to look for work but was gone so long that she remarried, to a Joseph Blackhawk. Jim Hoy apparently came back years later and Joseph told him never to return or risk losing his life. Jim never did come back and Yeehavitz's son by Jim, Henry, was Jodi's great-grandfather.
Could the Jim Hoy who left Fort Hall be the same man as William D. Hoy, who used Jim as his nickname in Fremont Co., ID? It's certainly possible.