Previous research and published genealogies have all suggested that Daniel Toy was the first with the Toy surname to arrive in Delaware, but my research over the past year or so suggests that it could have been a fellow named John Toy.
Introduction to John Toy
John Toy first came to my attention when I was perusing a card index maintained at the Hagley Library, which contains notes and cross-reference information about powder mill employees. This particular card referenced payroll and tax receipts in the du Pont petit ledgers, listing records from August 1818 through December 1822. Given these early dates, my first thought that this must be Daniel Toy mistakenly identified as ‘John’, or perhaps this was a middle name that was new to me. In any case, I just filed the information away for future investigation.
Petit Ledger Records
The du Pont Company acted as a kind of bank for its workers – pay was credited monthly to the workers account and charges were withdrawn. The transactions might be simple withdrawals of cash for personal expenses, or they might be transactions between employees and others associated with the du Pont community, such as the local doctor, company store, a boarding house or the Sunday School. These itemized transactions were maintained in the du Pont Petit Ledger, which can be viewed in its original form at Hagley.
While many of the du Pont petit ledgers are available online from Hagley, not all of them are. In particular, the ledgers from 1818 and 1819 aren’t online, so I made a trip to the “Soda House” at the Hagley Museum, which houses the du Pont Company Collection and the complete set of the ledgers. This is where the mystery begins…
I easily found the 1818 records identified in the card index. John Toy started working in the powder yards in August 1818. He started at laborer’s wages, but quickly became a powderman earning $24 per month in September of 1818. He was employed continuously through early in 1823, when he closed his account and took the balance of $640.13 as a check. John Toy reappears in the ledgers five years later. He works as a laborer in the powder yards earning $15.50 per month until August 5, 1830, when he again takes the balance of $196.02 in his account and disappears. He is not seen again the du Pont Company records.
What the ledger also shows is that John Toy and Daniel Toy are two different people. There are separate entries for the two for the same months of employment. These records also prove that Daniel and John knew each other. From March of 1821 through January of 1822, John is boarding with Daniel and Rosanna, paying them $8 per month.
So who is this guy?
Manufacturers Sunday School
The petit ledgers also contain entries for payments for a Sunday School subscription, suggesting that John had a child attending the Brandywine Manufacturer’s Sunday School. Enrollment records for the school are also available at Hagley and a search here turns of one relevant entry. Anne Toy, age 11, entered the school on June 28, 1829. She was student number 314. Her father is given as John Toy, identified as a laborer and a Catholic. It is recorded that Anne had “Gone to Philadephia” in October 1830.
The October 1830 date is consistent with John’s departure from du Pont employment at the end of August 1830 so I’m pretty sure we have the right person and know that John had a daughter Anne born about 1818.
Wilmington Irish Roots
From the Sunday School records we know that John was Catholic. The best source for information about Catholics in Wilmington, Delaware before 1900 is the Wilmington Irish Roots website maintained by Joe Lalley and his team of volunteers. This site contains transcribed and indexed nineteenth century sacramental records for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington. This source also turns up just one relevant record. On August 16, 1829, John Toy and his wife Margaret McDermod have a daughter baptized in the Coffee Run Parish. Her name is Elenor Toy, and she was born in Christiana Hundred on July 15, 1829. Her sponsors where Charles Doherty and Bridgit Carroll.
1830 US Census
If John and family didn’t leave for Philadelphia until October 1830, then he should appear in the 1830 census for Christiana Hundred and that is indeed the case. John Toy with a family of five appears on page 31 of the census (Daniel appears on page 32).
The family includes two adults born between 1791 and 1800, which is the same census age group for Daniel Toy, so we don’t know if John was older or younger. The family includes one daughter born between 1816 and 1820 (Anne) and a daughter born between 1825 and 1830 (Elenor). The family includes an unknown son fitting between Anne and Elenor (1821-1825). We also know that one of the adults was an alien – “foreign born and not naturalized” (Ireland?)
There is a peculiar relationship between the petit ledger entries and the birth of the children. The first child is born in 1818 and John starts working in the powder yard. A son is born between 1821 and 1825 and John leaves du Pont in 1823. Looking for better work? The third child is born in 1829 and John moves to Philadelphia in 1830. I’ll never know if there is a relationship.
Given the pattern of chain emigration among Hagley workers and the fact that they lived under the same roof for a period of time, I feel confident that Daniel and John are related, but have no idea if they are brothers, cousins or even nephew and uncle.
Given that John appears in the du Pont records two year before Daniel, I feel that John must be the older of the two, but it could just be that John was single and more able to pull up roots and travel to the United States.
One last bit of intriguing information, which shows that someone from the du Pont community sponsored Daniel’s emigration, is found in an entry at the beginning of the petit ledger for 1827-1828. I’ve seen this type of entry several times, and it appears to be a list of money that is owed by employees but not yet paid. This entry reads:
A list of our men for whom we went security for passage money to be repaid if they came
Line seven on the list reads “ Danl. Toy” 2 adults and one child. In other situations, the sponsor is the one who would be charged for the passage money. Could John Toy be the sponsor? I couldn’t find the payment in the petit ledger for either John or Daniel.
If anyone has information about this John Toy family, or has other lines of investigation to suggest, please contact me!