Historically Speaking: The tragic story of the Loye Family: Part 2

By Jessica Gorman

The family story told about John C. Loye was that, because of the tragedies he had experienced living in Minden, he had returned to England. The absence of a headstone in the family plot marking Mr. Loye’s grave seemed to confirm this story. However, other evidence  proves that was not the case.

After the deaths of the Loye children, John C. and Mary Grace Loye remained active in the community. Mrs. Loye was a founding member and first president of the Ladies’ Parochial Association at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Mr. Loye was involved in several different business interests. His professional life was not immune to the misfortune he experienced in his personal life. In 1871, two blocks of downtown Minden were destroyed by fire. Among the businesses burned were Loye & Co. which suffered a $9,000 loss and Chaffe, Shea, & Loye which suffered a loss of $25,000. The total insurance estimated between the two was $17,500. 

The Loyes also continued to travel, including another trip abroad in 1880 when they are named in the New York Times among arrivals from Liverpool. It would seem that, despite all the Loyes had been through, life simply went on. However, events of a few years later shed more light on how they had been affected by all that they had endured. 

In January 1884, newspapers across the state and across the country reported the death of Mary Grace Loye. Mrs. Loye had taken her own life by means of strychnine poisoning. She was found on the bed in the Loye home in Minden. She left a note, and while the exact wording of this note was disputed, it was clear that Mr. Loye’s drinking was given as the reason for her actions. 

Shockingly, just days after Mrs. Loye’s death, a fire occurred at Murrell’s Landing, on the east side of Dorcheat opposite the site of Dixie Inn. This fire destroyed 1145 bales of cotton. More than half, 625 bales, belonged to Loye, Chaffe, & Co.

In the years following the death of Mary Grace, we only get small glimpses into the life of John Loye. He continued in business as evidenced by newspaper ads. He is mentioned among arrivals at hotels in Shreveport and New Orleans. He was a frequent visitor to the offices of the Shreveport Times who reported a change of his residence to Doyline. 

Then, in May 1892, a Shreveport Times headline reads, “Stricken with Paralysis. John C. Loye, A Former Properous Merchant of Minden at Death’s Door.” Mr. Loye had suffered a stroke while visiting Mr. S. Rochester in Sibley. Witnesses rendered aid and attempted to revive him, but Mr. Loye remained unconscious. It was believed that he would not recover. However, that was not to be the case. In 1893, John Loye is once again visiting the offices of the Shreveport Times who reported another change of residence. This time, to Sibley. He is again listed among the arrivals at various hotels. In this same year, the building in downtown Minden that had housed John C. Loye & Co. was sold to the firm of Leary & Crichton. 

John C. Loye died in January 1895. His death, reported in the Richland Beacon-News, was as sad and tragic as the events of his life. 

“Yesterday morning the body of Mr. John C. Loye was found along side of the V., S. & P. railway track between Sibley and Dubberly, he having, from all appearances, fallen while walking along the embankment, and being unable to get up on account of the shock, laid there and died from the effects of the cold during the night. 

Mr. Loye was a native of England and removed to Minden early in the fifties. He was a tinner by trade, and by prudence and economy he soon began to make money and finally engaged in mercantile pursuits. He was a married man, but death claimed his family, one by one, until his later life he was left alone.” 

This column is intended to share snippets of Webster Parish history. Please direct any questions or suggestions to dorcheatmuseum@yahoo.com or visit us at the museum. 

(Jessica Gorman is the Assistant Director and Archivist for the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum in Minden and is an avid genealogist.)

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