Hello. I have done extensive research on the subject. in fact, my book "The Continous Presence of Italians and Spaniards in Texas As Early As 1520 (History of the Loya: Synopsis)" is now ready for publication. There are actually more than the two or three "ethnic origins" of the Loya family group that Ms. Agin mentions. Through the 19th century, there were people bearing the surname Loya who immigrated to the United States from a variety of countries such as England, Ireland, Norway, Hungary, Italy of course, Scotland, Germany etc. This variety of national origins for people bearing the surname Loya, however, reflects a scattering of the Loya clan that ocurred earlier at the latter part of the 15th century. Through the 16th and 17th centuries, the Loya appear scattered through very specific areas of Europe: Norway, Sweden and the French provinces of Moselle and Navarre. These areas are very specific, and what they have in common is that they were areas of refuge for people considered heretics by the Roman Catholic Church. The pattern of scattering, the specificity of the areas of scattering, and the religious and historical context at the time, all indicate that these branches of the Loya family group had a common origin; they belonged to one family group which was scattered to areas of refuge for people who dissented from the Catholic Church. There was one area of Europe from which people were scattered to areas of refuge for heretics before the Reformation as a consequence of persecution by the Roman Catholic Church, and that was the area of Liguria and Tuscany in central to northern Italy, which is the same area from which the Loya originate, where the surname is spelled Loia and where it belongs to the Etruscan substratum of the Tuscan dialect, since, according to Alessio and Battisiti, it excludes Latin as its source, semantically and phonetically (sound and meaning). Since it belongs to the Etruscan substaratum of the Tuscan dialect, Loya/Loia finds its roots in Tuscany, Italy dating back thousands of years, since Etruscan had become extinct as a language by the time of Christ, although, obviously, some words and names survive. The word person, for example, is a rare commonly used word from the Etruscan persu (rare that it is so common while being of Etruscan origin) which the Latins adopted as persona. At any rate, much of the Loia family group from Tuscany appears to have been Waldensians, a group of pre-Reformation evangelicals, so called after their founder Peter Waldo. Because of their pre-Reformation evangelical beliefs, the Waldensians were fiercely persecuted, almost exterminated, by papal forces. Not surprisingly, many Waldensians fled to areas where so called heretics could find refuge. Consequently, the specificity of the areas where the Loya appear scattered, Norway, Sweden and the French provinces of Mosselle and Navarre, strongly indicates that the Loya belonged to those Wladensians who were scattered from Tuscany.
The most numerous group of Loia, modified to Loya, appear to have fled to the French Basque province of Navarre. They established their home along the French Pyrenees Atlantiques, in Aoiz and Ezprogri. In the year 1512, the king of Spain invaded Navarre, dividing in two, annexing half of it, and establishing a new border between France and Spain along the French Pyrenees right through the territory of the Loya. Consequently, the Loya of Navarre were divided into two branches, one under French jursidiction, and the other under Spanish jurisdiction. The king of Spain then conducted several campaigns against what they called the Navarrese heresy or heretics, forcing evanglicals to convert to Roman Catholicism. Many of the Loya, perhaps most, were counted among this number.
When the time came to colonize North America, Samuel de Champlain, after whom Lake Champlain is named, was funded by the Calvinist king of Navarre. Because Samuel de Champlain's original expeditions issued from Navarre, the territory of the Loya, many of the original pioneers who were established in New York State, Vermont and Quebec were Huegenots, French Protestants, being followed by Catholics. The areas where the French were established as a result of the Samuel de Champlain colonizing efforts, New York State, Vermont and Quebec are also the areas where many of the Loya of that area have been established for a long time. This coincidence would indicate that the Loya of that area who have a French identity came from the French province of Navarre with or as a result of the Samuel de Champlain colonizing efforts.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence in Navarre, the Loya who had been established there came very early to what is now Texas, entering through the area of Brazos Santiago on the American side and traveling up the Rio Grande as establishments were opened. They ended their migratory process in Chihuahua,Mexico a little south from El Paso, Texas. But they came to Texas first, and then they went to Chihuahua, and not the other way around. Interestingly, in Chihuahua, in the small mountain towns of Vaqueteros and Batopilas, some if not many of the Loya from that area understand themselves as of French origin. Because the Loya were established in Navarre, a Basque province, the Loya both of New York and Texas and Canada and Chihuahua would indeed be partially Basque.
As the original settlers of Northern Mexico and Texas, the Loya of Chihuahua did not intermarry to any significant level with the Indian groups and to this day retain a European stock. IN Texas and Chihuahua and the rest of Northern Mexico, the Indians did not look favorably to intermarrying with the Europeans. IN fact, in the beginning of colonization, when the first Spaniards asked for wives from the Indians, the Indians responded by killing 18 Spaniards and chasing the rest out. Consequently, Northern Mexico and Texas was orginally settled by families of Eropean origin, unlike Southern Mexico where the few Spaniard soldiers took Indian wives and intermarried, producing the people we commonly associate with Mexico. The Loya, however, were isolated from the rest of Spain's holdings in the New World,along the Rio Grande exclusively in the North bank all the way up to El Paso, and then from there went a little south to Chihuahua, not intermarrying with the Indian population. It was not really but until the turn of the 20th century that there was any significant intermarriage among the Loya from Southeast Texas with the Mexicans who came as refugees from the south of Mexico due to the Mexican Revolution.
I would agree with Ms. Agin, Loyer and such names from France are French phonetic modifications of the Basque, both French and Spanish, Loya, which is a phonetic modification of the Italian Loya. Not only do the Loya from Vaqueteros, or at least some of them, see themselves as of French origin, but there are others in Mexico who spell their name Loye who also see themselves as of French origin.
As I said before, the diversity of national origins for people bearing the surname Loya only reflects the earlier dispersion and substantiates the common origin of the different branches of the Loya family group as originating in the Tuscan Loia. As the French Queen of Navarre once said, "if I had been Queen when Spain invaded Navarre, all of Navarre would still be French"... she might as well have added, "and all the Loya would be French (whether of New York Stare/ Quebec or Texas/Chihuahua)". We are all one and the same gens, family group, if indeed we are Loya.
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