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Of outlaws, Texas Rangers, and Indian scouts
Juan Antonio Coy and his bride, Maria Jacoba Travieso Reyes Coy, were married July 23, 1890. Coy was a notorious gunman.
By Carol Ann Coy Garza
Welcome to Floresville, Texas! What did I see as I drove there alone one day on a journey only 30 miles from my home? I tried to imagine what it was like in the 1800s.
You see, my family -- the Coy family -- was having a reunion. We’re not a small band of people; it’s a lot of people and our roots are also from Floresville, where my grandfather was born in 1891. My great-grandfather, Juan Coy, was buried in the town’s Canary Islanders Cemetery. Our roots run deep in the Floresville area.
At one time Texas was New Spain under the rule of King Felipe V.
DeLos Santos Coy came in 1629; the family can be traced back to Rodrigo Diaz Vivar “El Cid” in 1042. Under King Henry lll, the Travieso family was the seventh of 16 families from the Canary Islands who traveled to Texas in November 1731 and founded Villa de San Fernando de Bexar, later to become San Antonio.
My great-great-great-great-grandfather was Don Vicente Alverez Travieso, who was elected mayor for life in 1731, serving until his death in 1779. He also was an attorney.
Floresville is named after Don Francisco Flores de Abrego, a descendant of the Canary Islanders. His brother was Don Juan Jose de Abrego, who was married to my great-great-great-great-aunt, Fransica Alverez Travieso Abrego, the daughter of Vicente Alverez Travieso. My connection to this city is great.
Some of the Coys settled in Floresville in the early 1800s. The Coy family once owned hundreds of acres in Karnes County, and sold them to the Butlers for financial gain. The Coys helped the Polish settlers just starting out with food and help during hard times, and were loved enough to have a small town -- Coy City -- named after them.
Cowboy and outlaw
Juan Coy was born in 1842. His father was Antonio Clemente DeLos Santos Coy, a Texas Ranger. His mother, Guadalupe Calderon, was a Lipan Apache; she was an Indian scout. Both served under Capt. Jack Hays and left Juan in Floresville to be raised by his uncle, Trinidad Coy, and his cousins.
Juan served in the Civil War, where he met William Butler. He later went to work for Butler -- a prominent Karnes County landowner -- as a hired gun, protecting the family’s land and cattle.
Juan was married to Maria Jacoba Alverez Travieso Reyes Coy. Juan was famous in his day. Called the ugliest and meanest cowboy around, his gun was his strength and carried a lot of weight. It’s said he killed more than 35 people in his day.
On Jan. 26, 1892, it all caught up with him in San Antonio, where Juan was killed by a bartender fearing for his life. That day, Juan didn’t have his guns on him.
Thousands of people came from all over to take a glance at the cowboy who was hated by most, but respected by the Butler family for whom he worked.
One of the most notorious events in Coy’s life took place in Daileyville. Coy, wanted for a murder in Floresville, and a companion engaged Sheriff Isham Lafayette “Fate” Elder and other lawmen in a shootout, which resulted in the death of the sheriff and two deputies.
My roots run deep in this small town.
Visiting the cemetery
As I drove through Floresville last year, I looked at the new areas and the older sections.
I was hoping to find some family graves and went looking for the Canary Islanders Cemetery; when I found it, I was disappointed.
I noticed so much that is new in town. But as I walked slowly in the cemetery, tears ran down my face. It was like I stepped back into the 1800s; time stood still there.
In a way it’s all original -- rusted and old as it should be -- but it’s been lost to the weather, with sun beating over it, stripping it from any kind of beauty. So many of the tombstones are so old, I couldn’t even read the names.
This cemetery was given to Wilson County by a Canary Islands settler, who believed and trusted it would be taken care of; somehow, through the generations, this cemetery has been forgotten.
Now neglected and uncared for, it sits forlorn, behind two auto parts stores.
It should be given back to the Canary Islanders or the county should ask the state of Texas to take over as guardians for all the families who contributed to the town’s history.
There is rich history in this little town, in a quiet little forgotten section.
That was and is my heritage.
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