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Hoy Family

James "J. S." Smith Hoy

Born - November 15, 1846

 Hoy's Gap, Marion Township,

 Centre County, Pennsylvania

Died - May 31, 1925

At Home in Denver, Arapahoe County, Colorado

Buried - June 1, 1925

Crown Hill Cemetery, Denver, Colorado 


Justice of the Peace or Magistrate. Active writer.
"Queen" Ann Bassett was extremely jealous of the Hoys and of their land.

J. S. Hoy allegedly died after being poisoned with Strychnine by Mrs. Henrietta Wilcox,

2 days after changing his will naming her as beneficiary.


Personal Family Information and Photograph Courtesy of

Catherine Sevenau, Great Granddaughter of

J. S. Hoy's sister, Emily S. (Hoy) Chamberlain.



1st Wife - Lizzie M. (Stickland) Hoy

Born - January 1868 - New York

Married - December 23, 1885

Fremont, Dodge County, Nebraska

Died - Before June 21, 1900, Perhaps in Michigan



2nd Wife - Euphemia Esther (Robinson) Hoy

"Phemie Hoy"

Born - July 19,1855

 Olin, Jones County, Iowa

Married - April 25, 1909

Green River, Sweetwater County, Wyoming

Died - June 18,1918

Denver, Arapahoe County, Colorado

Cremated - Ashes Buried in Omaha Nebraska




Euphemia Esther "Phemie" Robinson Hoy

Taken in Seattle, Washington 1907

Photograph Courtesy of Sally Smith & Catherine Sevenau



Euphemia's 1st Husband - George Hedges Mason
Born  - March 17, 1855

 Greenfield Township, Fairfield County, Ohio

Married - June 16, 1880

Aurora, Hamilton County, Nebraska

Died - About 1906

To Children Were Born To This Union

Daughter - Esther Jane Mason
Son -  Percy K. Mason



Brother - Benjamin "Frank" Franklin Hoy

Born - 1845

 Hoy's Gap, Marion Township,

 Centre County, Pennsylvania


BrotherValentine Shade Hoy

Born - July 25, 1848

 Hoy's Gap, Marion Township,

 Centre County, Pennsylvania


Sister - Emily S. (Hoy) Chamberlain

Born -  July 24, 1850

 Hoy's Gap, Marion Township,

 Centre County, Pennsylvania


Brother - Adea Adam Hoy

Born - August 16, 1852

 Hoy's Gap, Marion Township,

 Centre County, Pennsylvania


Brother - Henry Harry Hoy

Born - August 1855

 Hoy's Gap, Marion Township,

 Centre County, Pennsylvania



Father - Henry Hoy Jr.
Mother - Mary Ann (Smith) Hoy
In March of 1898, Butch Cassidy, Harvey Logan and the other Wild Bunch riders rode to the Colorado line when after reading a letter written by J. S. Hoy condemning the lawlessness of Brown's Hole and Hole in the Wall Gang, which had brought about the death of his brother.
The letter:
"One or two men on the trail of a criminal will succeed where 100 men will be sure to fail. They must be hunted down like wild animals, once on their trail stay on it, camp on it until the scoundrels are run down, and there are men who will do it, men just as brave, as cunning and as determined as the outlaws themselves..." (First printed in: The Denver Post,  March 11, 1898)
When Butch Cassidy and his gang arrived, they looted one of Hoy's cattle camps and what they didn't steal they burned. Butch Cassidy asked Harry Tracy to flee America and go with him to South America. But, Tracy did not go.


In 1885, Robert Leroy Parker - soon to be famous as Butch Cassidy - was a youth of nineteen. That same year he arrived in Brown's Park from Telluride, Colorado, and went to work for Charley Crouse, just as the latter had arranged a horse race between his sorrel gelding and Ken Hatch's much-touted black mare. Crouse could see that young Cassidy knew horses, and he hired him to ride the sorrel gelding. The race was run on an old Indian Track at Valentine Hoy's ranch. Cassidy, and the sorrel, won, and Crouse threw a big spread at Charley Allen's place, to celebrate.

After a while, someone noticed that the young hero of the occasion was not present. Mary Crouse went out to the bunkhouse and there found him all by himself. He declined to join the celebration, saying he wasn't much for partying. She finally urged him to come in and at least get a bite to eat, which he did, but remained only long enough to finish up his plate, before returning to the bunkhouse.

Charley Crouse was an inveterate horse-racer and gambler. Next to dancing, horse racing was the favorite pastime in Brown's Park. Whenever any group of men got together, the topic of horseflesh was bound to come up, and if a man ever got hold of a good horse, he couldn't wait to try it out against the established champion. Discussion inevitably led to argument and ultimately to a challenge, the setting of a time and place, and to heavy betting.

Each contestant went through an elaborate ritual of oating, grooming, and training, to put his mount in top condition; and, just as important as the horse was its rider.

For many years Phil Mass had the fastest horses around, beating out all comers. This had rankled Charley Crouse for a long time, and he was determined to do something about it. Crouse went into partnership with Aaron Overholt to purchase a renowned race horse called the "Brown Stud." Young Cassidy had recommended the purchase of the Brown Stud, suggesting that under certain conditions this horse could beat Mass' famous champion, "Sorrel Johnny".

Crouse spared no expense. Cassidy had intimated that Mass' horse had always prevailed because he ran on a grass-track, such as the one most frequently used on the Hoy Meadows. He suggested to Crouse that he should make a dirt track of a quarter-mile length, with an extension at one end to be used as a starting line; i.e., the riders would race together towards the actual starting line, and if they were even when they reached the line, the race would continue to a finish.

Crouse located a flat stretch of ground on the north bank of the Green River, just east of the confluence of Beaver Creek with that stream. He hired Speck Welhouse to plough and harrow the track, and by July 4th, the day of the big race, all was ready.

Cassidy was hired to ride the Brown Stud against Mass' champion. He spent several weeks oating and training the horse on the fresh track, always in the strictest secrecy. On the day of the race, hundreds of people congregated from as far away as Rock Springs, Vernal and Steamboat Springs. The big race was enhanced by a day-long barbecue, an evening dance, and a midnight supper.

Betting was never heavier than on that day. Crouse promised Cassidy a new Winchester as a bonus if he won the race. The race was close - the Brown Stud nosed out Mass' champion for a win, and Cassidy became the hero of the day. That night he collected his wages and his new rifle, attended the midnight supper, and went to sleep in the bunkhouse. In the morning, he was gone. Such was his way.

For many years thereafter, races were held on the track near Beaver Creek, and it was ever afterwards referred to a "Cassidy's Racecourse."


Perhaps the most prime meadow-land in Brown's Park lay along the Green River in the eastern (Colorado) end of the valley, just before the river plunged into the yawning maw of majestic Lodore Canyon. These lush lands, known as Hoy Meadows or Hoy Bottoms, were the domain of the Hoy brothers' ranches.

The Hoy brothers originated in Hoy's Gap, Pennsylvania, and came West about the time of the opening of the transcontinental railroad to seek their fortune. The first of the family to come West was J. S. (Jesse) Hoy, who arrived in Brown's Park in 1872 and spent the winter.

Among other residents in the Park at that time were George Baggs and his common-law wife, Maggie, she being the second known white woman to venture into that wild and pre-eminently male domain. Maggie had eyes for Pablo Herrera, a member of the Mexican gang headed by his brother, Juan Jose Herrera - better known as Mexican Joe. When George Baggs went south for another herd in 1872, Maggie stayed behind with Pablo.

Juan Jose Herrera was probably the best - or at least the most effective - knife fighter in northwestern Colorado. Awake or asleep, Mexican Joe carried a ten-inch knife in a sheath between his shoulder blades, where he could retrieve it by pretending to scratch his neck. Often he would hone the knife while arguing with an adversary, ending the dispute abruptly with a deadly assault. Sometimes it was a threat calculated to intimidate; sometimes the threat was carried out.

When J. S. Hoy came to Brown's Park, Mexican Joe monopolized the Indian trade. The Indians came to Hoy with prime buckskins, saying "Joe heap steal." Mexican Joe took exception. Early in the summer of 1873, while Hoy was away from the Park, Mexican Joe and his gang, on their own initiative, proceeded to harvest a quantity of hay along the river bottom with scythes, which they stacked in Hoy's corral without his knowledge.

When Hoy returned in the fall of 1873, Mexican Joe demanded payment at the highly usurious rate of $15.00 a "cord" - Joe being unfamiliar with any other form of measurement. Naturally Hoy refused to pay, and Joe was upset, this being the third effrontery he imagined he had suffered at the hands of the young rancher. Hoy then added insult to injury by bringing in a horse-drawn mowing machine - the first of its kind in Northwestern Colorado - and putting up as much hay in one day than Joe and all his friends had accomplished in two weeks of hard labor.

At about the same time, Hoy discovered one of his fattest steers missing. Accompanied by one of his cowpunchers, Hoy rode into the Mexican camp on Willow Creek and began to examine brands on discarded hides. Concerning this, Hoy wrote:

"If a bomb had been thrown in their cabin and exploded, it could not have created greater consternation and call to arms; a worse insult could not have been offered Joe or any other horse or cattle thief. They surrounded me chattering and jabbering in their own language, of which I understand but little, Joe saying: 'You t'ink me steal, eh? Examine de hides! Look more! Here is annoder one,' and like exclamations. He fairly danced in his rage, while his eyes scintillated steel and lightning."

Mexican Joe, as he was prone to do in such circumstances, took out his long knife and began to hone it. The sight of it, wrote Hoy, "had a tendency to make cold chills run up and down one's back, and gooseflesh crawl.." Hoy's companion quickly retreated, but Hoy brazenly attempted to ride out the situation, and probably would have been killed if not for the timely intervention of Asbury B. Conway, who had some influence with the Herrera gang. Hoy was permitted to leave, but Joe's pride had been injured and he had no intention of letting the matter lapse. With innuendoes, half-threats, and strong hints, he kept the war of nerves alive: "...after bearing the mental strain as long as I could," wrote Hoy, "I concluded discretion was the better part of valor, and without telling anyone my intentions, one day...I saddled my horse and started back for my old camp on Bear River...As an emergency existed, it did not take me more than fifteen minutes to get ready..."

J. S. Hoy then reveals a startling commentary on the extent of his manhood: "I arrived in camp (on Bear River)...at the close of the fifth day of my journey. I changed places with Valentine, who, the following morning, started for Brown's Hole, where he arrived in good time..." Hoy obviously had no qualms about sending his brother back to face the danger from which he himself had fled.

J. S. Hoy obviously lacked something in physical courage, but the cause is known. Coming from a well-to-do family, Hoy had been sent to Paris, France in his youth to further his education. Sexually precocious by his own admission, he was caught in the act of intercourse with the wife of a man who, accompanied by two medical students, castrated him on the spot. Therefore, when, forty years later, during the course of a fist-fight, Hi Bernard referred to Hoy as a "damned old steer," it was not simply a figure of speech.

Valentine Hoy had known Mexican Joe at South Pass City during mining days, and was well aware of his reputation. Valentine Hoy was a very innocuous character, and Joe believed him to be easily handled. Indeed, with his arrival in Brown's Park, even more of the Hoy cattle disappeared.

Valentine surprised Mexican Joe by confronting him in the midst of his gang at Jimmy Goodson's cabin on Willow Creek and charged him with the theft of the cattle. Joe, of course, started honing his knife. Suddenly he called Hoy a lying S.O.B. and lunged at him with the knife, but Valentine adroitly dodged the downward thrust and slugged Joe soundly on the jaw with a hay-maker punch. Mexican Joe went down, and Hoy pulled his own knife from a sheath in his boot. Hoy "aimed with one slash to rip the Mexican from end to end. As the blow was descending, two or three men...caught his arm so that the blow only split one of Joe's buttocks...this laid Joe up for a month or two..."

Mexican Joe had been humiliated by a mild-mannered man much smaller than himself, and in a medium where he had formerly considered himself supreme.

J. S. Hoy summed it up thusly:

"The news of Joe's defeat...spread rapidly throughout the country where (he) was known, all predicting that one of the other would be killed the first time they met, with heavy odds that Joe would come off the winner. They avoided a chance meeting by keeping away from the neighborhood of their respective camps. The inevitable meeting took place at last near the Hoy camp at the head of Willow Creek while the summer roundup was there. Of the fifty men that composed the roundup force, Joe was the quietest and most peacefully inclined. All he wanted was to make a treaty with his late antagonist. He had met his match."

Meanwhile, J. S. Hoy had purchased a small ranch near Evanston, Wyoming, and ingratiated himself with officials of the Union Pacific Railroad to the extent that he was elected to the Wyoming Territorial House of Representatives. Ultimately, he rejoined Valentine in Brown's Park; thereafter Mexican Joe and his henchmen bothered the Hoys no more.

In 1875, the Hoys were joined by a third brother, Adea Adam. (A.A.) Hoy.

The Hoys, having subdued the Herrera influence, set about making Brown's Park their exclusive preserve, making enemies of many old settlers and relative newcomers to the vicinity.

It was Elizabeth Bassett who, resenting the Hoys' manorial ways, created an organization loosely known as "The Bassett Gang," to bring the Hoys down a notch or two. They set about to burn the buildings on the Hoy ranch, after which they held a big celebration at the Bassett ranch.

Henry Hoy was the prosecuting witness who brought the arson charge against Angus McDougal, Isom Dart, and Jack Fitch, while Adea Hoy charged McDougal and Dart with altering brands on three of his horses. Among witnesses subpoenaed for the defense were Elizabeth Bassett, Sam Bassett, Jr., and Thomas Davenport. Angus McDougal was convicted on both counts and was sentenced on October 8, 1890 to serve five years in the Colorado State Penitentiary. Isom Dart escaped from the Hahn's Peak jail and was never brought to trial, and the indictment against Fitch was quashed.

The power of the Hoys was at an end, however. After the untimely death of Elizabeth Bassett by appendicitis, on December 11, 1892, at the age of 37.

 J. S. Hoy is quoted as saying: "We came to Brown's Park to run the nesters out. We started it, but Elizabeth Bassett finished it, and she finished it good!"



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Last Up-Date   06/11/2009 10:04:29 AM