A Family History Photograph for Mother’s Day

By | 12 May 2013
Opposite bank - 3 story store, "Toy's" (written on reverse)

Opposite bank – 3 story store, “Toy’s (written on reverse)

The Toy Family (my wife’s family) came from Ireland to Delaware in the early 1800’s and settled in Henry Clay Village on the banks of Brandywine Creek.  Just in time for mother’s day, my research turned up this photograph of the main Toy property in Henry Clay, which was owned by three generations of Toys: James A Toy (1814-1881), his son John Thomas Toy (1844-1919), and Thomas’s daughter Charlotte B Toy (1886-1975).  During this time, it was variously run as a hotel, general store, tavern and speakeasy, while also serving as a residence for various Toys on the upper floors.

When Charlotte died, the property was left to the Little Sisters of the Poor who sold the building to P. Coleman du Pont for his home, bringing to an end 168 years of Toy residency in Henry Clay Village.

I found this photograph in the collections of the Hagley Museum and Library, which is another great family history resource for Delaware researchers, particularly if your ancestors were Irish, lived in Wilmington, or were in some way connected to the du Pont family or their commercial interests.

12 thoughts on “A Family History Photograph for Mother’s Day

  1. Jean

    Fantastic! Next, you can do the Brown and Grant families.:>)

    1. Rhys Post author

      Thanks Jeanie! This blog gives me something to do with all the research I complete. Lets talk about the Browns and Grants the next time we get together.

  2. Hanne Huisjes

    Wonderful to have found your blog. here’s the connection:
    My wife is a Kelly from Wilmington with Toys in the tree, so I’ve done some research on them ( and it weren’t even mothers day!)
    Incidentally, when we were recently married, in the late 70’s we made a point of dancing together in the old tavern and so we did.
    Here’s my conundrum: Which tavern were we dancing in?
    I’ve learned from my mother -in-law, Josephine Davis Mode, that it was Daniël Toy’s widow who with another lady ran the Hagee’s tavern. In fact, we own the hutch table that was used as a display unit in the days when it was a general store and was going to be thrown away. I guess my father-in-law Charles F Kelly Jr. saved it from destruction.
    The confusion is this; am I talking about Hagee’s – or Toy’s tavern and were both at one point operated by Toys? Hope you can clarify this..

    Hanne Huisjes

    1. Rhys Post author


      Thanks for reading!

      Hagee’s and Toy’s are not the same place, although they were just a few addresses away from each other. In the 70s, You were dancing at Hagee’s! Hagee’s was one of the newer taverns in Henry Clay Village. Toy’s got its start in the mid 1800’s. My wife and I also frequented Hagee’s during the late 1970s. By then, it had become a hangout for the canoe and kayak crowd on the Brandywine.

      I’m working on a history of the Toy Tavern but don’t have all the details I would like at this point. It started as a hotel, purchased by James A.Toy, who was Daniel’s son. It passed to Thomas Toy, the son of James, and from him to Charlotte Toy, son of Thomas. It was a speakeasy during Prohibition, and opened legally for a few years after that. I’m not sure, but believe it was turned into a private residence sometime in the early 1940s. Toy’s was also a general store for a while in the 1800s. You’re correct that Daniel’s widow, Rosanna, ran the Toy store for a period of time. I’m not sure who the other woman might have been, the the area was full of the Toy family and their kin. So the question is, do you own a hutch from Toy’s or from Hagee’s? I’m going to search the family tree to see if I can find the Kelly connection. I’d appreciate any other details you might have about the connection.

      You have an interesting name. Are you from the Netherlands?

      – Rhys

  3. Nancy Van Dyke-Dickison

    Reese, you have a very clear and succinct way of writing. This article puts it all together!

    Where did you find evidence that Rosanna Toy ran the Toy store?


    1. Rhys Post author

      Thanks Nancy. I try to write as plainly as possible to sort things out in my head!

      The piece about Rosanna running the store is a bit of oral family history. We do know that James bought a farm in 1849. It’s said that he started spending more time on farming and his other business ventures, turning the daily running of the store over to others.

      – Reese

  4. hanne huisjes

    Hi Reese,
    In the photograph of the Toy tavern, is Hagee’s tavern visible to the right?
    The two maps of Henry Clay town both show a Bogan property, albeit that in one map it is misspelled.
    Would that be Paul Bogan x Ann Toy —> Mary Jane Bogan ( 1848-1918), That is Josephine Kelly’s (my wife’s) great grandmother. For what it is worth to you..I gather that Daniel Toy, together with Neil Toy and William Coyle (also in josephine’s tree) came over from Londonderry(Northern Ireland) in 1832 in contract with (?) Robert Taylor, Marketstreet Philadelphia. Correct
    Greetings from Amsterdam,


    1. Rhys Post author


      This picture is looking south, looking between Walker’s Mill on the left and Breck’s Mill on the right (you can see the corner sticking out). Hagee’s would be to the left of the Toy Hotel. Can you see it? I’m not sure. I’ve studied this and other pictures many times, and can’t make up my mind.

      That map does show Paul Bogan’s store, where Paul and Ann Toy lived. To be honest, I’m about 95% sure that Bogan’s store is the building that housed Hagee’s in later years (based on location, the shape of the building, and the fact that it used to be a store).

      With the additional information you provided, I believe I can now place you in my family tree! Let me see if I have this right: Your wife has a sister named Constance. Father was Charles Kelly Jr. His father was Charles Kelly Sr. Charles Sr, married Ann Bradley, daughter of Henry Bradley and Mary Bogan, who was the daughter of Paul Bogan and Ann Toy. Nice to meet you, cousin!

      Regarding the arrivals… Daniel arrived with wife Rosanna and son James in 1817 (see http://naniroots.com/the-schooner-mary-ann/). Neil Toy and William Coyle arrived in July 1832 and their fare was charged to Daniel Toy in September of that year. I haven’t been able to find out anything further about William Coyle or his possible relationship to Rosanna. Do you have any information?

      If you still have that hutch table, I would love to see a picture of it.

      – Reese

      1. hanne huisjes

        Reese , you found us!
        Thanks for the info.
        Being the amateur that I am I failed to record the source of the passenger list I saw. Probably a Irish list.
        I take it you are aware of this link: http://.toyfamilytree.wordpress.com/ ? That’s not the one I saw, though.
        The hutch table has been moved somewhat in Wilmington. Don’t have a picture of it. I’ll see what I can do from here..

  5. Marian Toy Knowles

    My grandfather was James F. Toy who was interviewed in 1964 at the Soda House at Hagey. Transcript and his picture on file at Digitalhagley.com.

    1. Rhys Post author

      Hi Marian! James F. Toy is my wife’s grandfather as well! My wife is Marianne Toy and she tells me that you are ‘Uncle Jack’s’ daughter, but she hasn’t seen you in some time. I’m glad you found our website.

  6. Marian Knowles

    oh boy, I just typed a reply and lost it. Typed Charlotte Toy, Hagee’s Tavern and found website. I was astonished to see the same story about Charlotte and Hagee’s that Aunt Hazel told me in 1975. I actually went down there and talked to the guys who were renovating it for DuPont. I was told it had been Hagee’s. DuPont by the way was one of the seven people who renovated Buckley’s on Rt. 52 recently. I remember meeting you on Delaware Avenue when you lived near Betty and Fred Connell. Digitalhagley.org has a James F. Toy interview and a great picture of him. Also uncle Jimmy was interviewed. I met a George Toy this summer at a car show and he gave me some tips about learning about the famous Toy family and the DuPonts they knew.



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