While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Conrey Bryson

AOY, OLIVES VILLANUEVA (1823–1895). Olives Villanueva Aoy (born Jaime Aoy Olives Vila), school founder, was born in Mahon, Menorca, Spain, on March 24, 1823, the son of Jaime Vila and Margarete Olives. He journeyed from Spain to Havana and for a time lived among the Mayas in Mexico. In Arizona or Utah he was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became a valuable assistant in translating the Book of Mormon into Spanish. At the Mormon temple in Logan, Utah, probably in November 1884, sacred ordinances were performed for him under the name Jaime Aoy Olives Vila. He left Utah and traveled to Silver City, New Mexico, where he edited a newspaper. Around 1887 he arrived in El Paso. The first public school there had opened in 1883, and surviving rolls from that time do not show a single child with a Spanish surname. A school census from that time, however, listed more than 100 Mexican children of school age. The El Paso school board had not made provisions to teach non-English speakers. Aoy, supported by concerned parents and using funds he had saved from his translation project, in 1887 founded an escuelita and began teaching Mexican children in English and Spanish. He also supplied them with food and clothing and cared for their health. In 1888 the school board incorporated Aoy's school on a segregated basis, and it eventually became known as the Mexican Preparatory School. A vacant customhouse building was made available to Aoy in 1891, and with two assistants he taught English to nearly 100 first and second grade students. When he died in El Paso on April 27, 1895, he was virtually penniless, having spent most of his income and savings on supplies for his students. Administrators of his estate used money owed him by the school board to provide a granite headstone for his grave in Evergreen Cemetery. After Aoy's death, the school board fulfilled its commitment to the school and appointed W. H. T. Lopez as principal. By 1897 the small school had grown to an enrollment of 200 students with a staff of three teachers. The board in 1899 built a six-room schoolhouse, named Aoy School, which could accommodate 300 students. In 1900 Aoy School was holding double sessions and reported an enrollment of 500-the largest enrollment of any El Paso school at that time.

Conrey Bryson, "A Man Named Aoy," Password 35 (Summer 1990). Mario T. García, Desert Immigrants: The Mexicans of El Paso, 1880–1920 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Conrey Bryson, "AOY, OLIVES VILLANUEVA," accessed July 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fao01.

Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...