My ancestor Daniel Hoy waited a long time for his first son. Or at least it seems so, for I am unable to discern whether ‘Valentine’ Hoy (a.k.a. ‘Wall’) was a son or a daughter. Valentine became in July of 1850 the first-born of Daniel and Hanna Werner Hoy as the couple made its their home among the gentle, verdant hills of Lykens Valley, Pennsylvania.
Whatever the gender of the whimsically-named Valentine, it is beyond dispute that Elizabeth thereafter presented to Daniel an impressive run of females.
Some of the couple’s girls, in keeping with the times, were short-lived. For others, Eva Hoy Haelen—the tenacious data-seeker upon whose work I am reliant—could find birthdates but no record of their decease.
Yet the names are there, all of them less gender-ambiguous than that of their older sibling. As these United States of America careened towards an epic and soul-shaping Civil War, along came Louise (1852), then Susanna (1853), then Emma Rebecca (1855), followed by Mary (1857). Mary was still presumably in diapers when she ceded baby-of-the-family status to little sister Hanna (1858), who survived only four years. Hanna was followed by Amanda and then Sarah Jane. All three died just days apart in October and November of 1862, carried off by who knows what hardship as Union troops faced down their Confederate brethren for a second consecutive winter.
Then along came little Harriet, who never saw a second birthday.
Maybe Daniel never wondered whether he’d have the opportunity to raise a boy and make a man of him. Perhaps a house full of girls was more than enough for him. Yet he got his boy, Charles, on the tenth day of the tenth month of 1866.
The couple soon reverted to form: Ida and Catherine rounded out the family.
Catherine, the couple’s last, must have been conceived just before Daniel himself succumbed to gangrene caused by a crushed leg. He was a drayman and a farmer. Something in a field must have gone awry.
Catherine never learned to miss her father. She died at six months.
Riegle’s Cemetery, in the tiny village of Curtain, Pennsylvania, delegates to its tombstones the telling of this disproportionately feminine story. Given the scarcity of men-folk, it would have been fitting to see father Daniel live to a ripe old age.
It was not to be.