Who Was Charles B. Joy?
While the “Joy” Cabin has long been associated with the name of Charles B. Joy, we really do not know a lot about Mr. Joy. It was said that he came from New England and was a blacksmith, but that was about it. New online tools available to researchers have shed him in a new light. Charles B. Joy was born in 1841 in Ellsworth, Hancock County, Maine. It appears that he enlisted in the Navy in Boston in July of 1861 and was an ordinary seaman. He mustered out in July of 1863. In 1870, he was living in Hancock with his mother, Almira Joy and listed his occupation as farmer. At some point, he married a woman named Susan Jackson and in 1875 they had a son named Clarence.
By 1880, census records show that Charles was a farmer in the Animas Valley of La Plata County. He was living alone but lists his marital status as “married.” The same census shows that his 6-year-old son Clarence was living in Maine with his grandmother, Almira.
In the 1880 Animas City directory, Charles was listed as a blacksmith, as were the Naegelin Brothers who later rented the cabin. Charles patented several lots in Animas City in June of 1882, including Sections 17, 18, and 20 of Township 35N, Range 9W. The 1885 Census shows that Charles was still living in La Plata County, but his marital status has changed to “Divorced.” At this point, he had 4 male boarders listed as living with him: Chancey Abbott, Frank Bishop, William Carpenter, and Joseph Coleman.
There is one mention of "Old Man Joy" in the book Pioneers of the San Juan Country by Animas City lawyer Charles Pike. Pike called Joy a "town character" with a "shaky reputation" but agreed to defend him when Joy was accused of stealing a pig. Joy was acquitted but later admitted to the crime.
Joy disappears from the records but seems to have moved back to New England.In 1904, Charles was admitted to Togus, the oldest veterans’ facility in the country, near Augusta, Maine. He died in 1911 in Boston of heart failure.