Terry Mason's Family History Site

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Selected Families and Individuals


Elihu T. Joy

SOURCE-HYPERLINK: [ http://www.mountaintimes.net/Newspaper/51-Mar2002.pdf ]

Westward to the Sacramentos...
Elihu and Nancy Adaline Joy
by Sylvia Joy Coe McCord

Elihu Joy married Nancy Adaline York on May 4, 1884 in Texas. Both were children of pioneer Texas families. Elihu was the son of Richard (Dick) Joy and Ann Elizabeth Compton, daughter or Dr. Thomas Compton and his wife Doxie. Dick and Ann Elizabeth married in April of 1856 in Crawford County, Arkansas Territory, and left the next day with Dick's family with a wagon train led by Dick's father, Riley Joy. Their destination was California. However, the trip west stopped at the Pecos River in Texas when they learned that the great drought of 1856 had dried all the water holes across the desert. The wagon train turned southeast to the hill country of Texas. The Riley Joy families settled on the Johnson Fork of the Guadalupe River. Elihu was horn there December 9, 1861, the third son in a family of six sons and three daughters. Just a few days before Elihu's third birthday, on December 5, 1864, a war party of Commanches raided Riley Joy's place, burned the house and murdered his wife and daughter. This tragedy profoundly affected the old man, who had himself been kidnapped by the Seminoles when he was four years old and kept as a slave until he escaped at age sixteen. From that day on he refused to have a home, but lived on the trail and in camp, ever on the hunt for Indians.

Nancy' s parents, William E. York and Martha E. Keith were married January 3, 1855 in Hunt County, Texas. The York family had moved to Texas from Tennessee where William was born, and the Keith family had come from Arkansas Territory where Martha was born. Nancy was born October 6, 1866, the fifth of the six children born to William and Martha.

Elihu and Nancy settled near the Dick Joy family and on March 14, 1885 a son named Harold Eugene was born. A few months later they joined a wagon train to travel to New Mexico, where Nancy's parents had gone the year before. Elihu was chosen to lead the wagon train. The trip west was a long and sometimes difficult journey. The most difficult and frightening challenge of the trip occurred when they reached the Pecos River, whose waters were high. Elihu drove the team and wagon into the river until the water was up to the axles, then he lashed logs to each side of the wagon to help it to float, and mounted the lead horse of the team. Nancy drove as Elihu urged the team onward through the rolling waters and the wagon was safe on the other side. The other wagons made the crossing safely in the same manner. As I travel these same miles in the comfort of an air-conditioned automobile, I think of my grandparents and picture them in my mind -- my pretty black-haired grandmother, eighteen years of age, holding her young baby, riding beside her strong, good-looking young husband in their covered wagon. Then I remember the happy light of my grandmother's face and the twinkle in my grandfather's blue eyes and I know they had a wonderful time on this great adventure on their way to a new land with faith in themselves and hopes for a good future.

When they reached the home of William and Martha York, Nancy's parents, in the vicinity of what is now known as Elk, New Mexico, Elihu arranged for a temporary dwelling and they rested in a home without wheels for a time. My aunt, Fay Joy Turner, remembers her mother telling about the day the Indians came by. Grandmother saw the Indians approaching and was frightened. She knew well how much the Joy family suffered at the hands of Indians. She grabbed her baby boy and ran to her parents house. The Indians followed her and knocked on the door of the York home. They were friendly Mescalero Apaches, and only wanted food. Grandfather York talked with the Indians, gave them some food and they went on their way. Several months later, Elihu and Nancy with their small son moved in to a small home in Sixteen Spring Canyon, where they lived for about twelve years. Five children were born during this time: Ella Elizabeth (my mother) in 1887, William Richard called "Shorty" in 1889, Emsley Elihu called "Fussy" in 1891, Maggie Adaline in 1893 and Sarah Alma in 1897.

In early 1899 the Elihu Joy family moved from Sixteen Spring Canyon to a ranch and farm on the Penasco River about Six miles east of the Village of Mayhill. At this home four daughters were added to the family: Jewell Winnie in 1899, Aultna Fay in 1904, Bertha May in 1907 and Nellie Sophia in 1912. The Joys were now the parents of ten children, three sons and seven daughters.

The first wedding in this family of children was celebrated on January 7,1906, when my mother, Ella Elizabeth, married my father, Wiley N. Coe, eldest son of Otero County pioneers Albert M. Coe and Mollie Mayhill Coe. Albert and Mollie Coe had come to what is now the Village of Mayhill in 1881, the first family to settle there, and Wiley was the first baby born in this new settlement. He was born on the 8th day of April, 1882. I was born in the home of my Grandparents Joy in 1908, their first grandchild and the beginning of the second generation of Joys to be born in Otero County. I was three months old before my mother was strong enough to return to the Coe Ranch east of the San Andres Mountains in Dona Ana County. This ranch is now, and has been for some time, a part of the White Sands Missile Range. Sadness came to the Joy home in September of 1914. The eldest son, Eugene Harold, died. Eugene left two little girls, Mina and Arta and his young wife, Ida, who was pregnant with their third child, in the care of his parents. The baby was born the following February, a little girl named Harold Eugene in memory of her father. Ida and the little girls became part of the Joy family, living in the Joy home. In a few years Ida married again and moved away. The little girls remained with their grandparents and were cared for, loved and cherished along with all the other children until each married and left for homes of their own. Thirteen children were cared for and loved in the Joy home. Added to these were grandchildren who came at vacation time, and a few who stayed for longer periods during the re-settling of parents.

Elihu and Nancy were good neighbors. They participated in all the activities of the area. If a neighbor needed help, they were there to help. If church services were planned, they attended and brought more than their share of the food for the lunch and took part in the services. My mother told me that my Great Grandfather York often led the singing of the well-loved hymns and that everyone sang with such an outpouring of sound that she would not have been surprised if the roof of the school house, where they usually met, had lifted. Great grandfather York delivered the sermon, too, if no visiting minister was available. After the noon feast at a table covered with delicious food from all the families, there would be more singing and another sermon. As they went homeward in the evening, I'm sure each one felt the blessing of friends and neighbors spending the day together praising and thanking God for His goodness. One of the big celebrations of the summer was the Fourth of July barbecue and rodeo with the bronc riding and roping contests, the bull riding and the races. Elihu, along with other ranchers, always donated a beef for the dinner. Everyone turned out. The ladies and the girls in their new dresses and hats, and the men and boys in their best clothes. There was dancing at night to the music of the fiddles and guitars. Usually the families set up camps because the festivities lasted two or three days. I have happy memories of my own of these Fourth of July celebrations. I attended several as I was growing up, and I enjoyed watching the dancers at night. They were more when I was old enough to dance. The best one - and the last one I attended - I was old enough to dance and dance I did.

In about 1922 Elihu and Nancy sold the home on the Penasco and moved to the headwaters of the Feliz, about six miles beyond Elk. They also bought a home in Artesia so that the children who were of high school age could attend school. My last long vacation with them was in 1926, after my graduation from High School. It was a beautiful time. There were horseback rides, with picnics on the top of the mountain back of the house, neighborhood dances and fun times with my aunts, Fay and Bertha and my cousin, Mina. My very young aunt, Nellie was there along with Mina's sisters, Arta and Eugene, but they were too young to be interested in what we did. My Uncle "Fussy" was there. He was still a bachelor and we were delighted when he had time to go on the horseback rides with us. He was also our escort to the neighborhood dances and was much fun to be with. Adding to my happiness that summer were the talks I had with my grandmother and grandfather. All the members of this wonderful family were an important part of my life and I shall cherish these memories always.

This story was taken for the Sacramento Mountains Museum archives. The later years of the family have been edited out because of space restrictions - to view the entire story visit the Museum in Cloudcroft. The "Old Elihu Joy Place" on the Penasco is now owned by Mr. And Mrs. R.R. Posey, who have built a fine new home on that spot according to the author, Sylvia Joy Coe McCord.

Sarah Alma Joy

Listed as Male in 1900 U.S. Census and Female in the 1910 U.S. Census
See family story listed in notes under her father's entries.

Jewel Winnie Joy

BIRTH: Penasco River farm

Aultna Fay Joy

BIRTH: Penasco River farm