Where Rosanna Toy Lived

By | 2 August 2013

Whenever possible, I like to go beyond the events and dates of genealogy and learn a bit more about how and where my ancestors lived.

Beers MapThis particular bit of research starts with the Brandywine Banks inset found in the Pomeroy and Beers 1868 Atlas of Delaware. Included in this map, and show at left, is the Henry Clay area that includes the E.I. DuPont Powder Mills, which directly and indirectly provided a livelihood for the Toy family for many years. If you look closely (click for larger image), you can see the ‘J. Toy Hotel’ identified, which was run by James A. Toy, son of Daniel and Rosanna Toy. If you look even more closely, down and to the right of the hotel, you see an annotation for ‘Miss Toy’. The question is, which Miss Toy is this? Rosanna was still alive in 1868, but she would most likely been referred to as Mrs. Toy.


The second piece of the puzzle comes from the Hagley Museum Library. During a recent visit to the library, I was shown a map completed by Hagley in 1980 that identifies the buildings in Henry Clay Village using the dwelling numbers from the 1870 US Census for Christiana Hundred.

Hagley Map

Looking through my database of Toy family members I find several with records in the 1870 census. Here I find dwelling unit 771 occupied by Rosanna Toy and her granddaughter Martha. Martha was the daughter of James A Toy and his first wife Ann Curren (or Curran). Martha was 22 or 23 at the time of the census. She doesn’t marry John Doran until 1879, so she would certainly qualify as the ‘Miss Toy’ shown in the Pomeroy and Beers Atlas. It’s interesting to note that Rosanna, not Martha, is recorded as the head of house in the 1870 census. It’s possible that this house is where Rosanna and Daniel lived during the time he worked as a powderman at the DuPont mills.

Time for a drive-by with my wife and brother-in-law (both Toys) as well as my sister-in-low (surname Brown and the subject of future research). I’m generally familiar with this area, but I’m hoping that the “School House No. 23” shown on both the Hagley and Beers maps will be a landmark that will help me find the right street. When we arrive at what I believe is the right location and walk the neighborhood there is only one large structure that could be a schoolhouse, but it doesn’t appear large enough to have been a school.

We’re noticed peering at the house and strike up a conversation with a gentleman who tells us the house is currently unoccupied. He is there doing some general maintenance and cleanup for the owner, and says we’re welcome to come inside and look around. Once inside, the place looks even less like it had been a school – rooms were too small and you can see where past renovations had actually removed walls to create more space. On the other hand, there are some unusual accent pieces in the main living area; several very small school desks.

Public School

On the outside of the building we notice some sort of engraving in a concrete plaque embedded in the wall near the peak of the house. It was too worn and too far away to be read from the ground, but I did take several photographs of the plaque in hopes of deciphering it later. Enlarged on the computer and enhanced to increase contrast, the lettering is still hard to see but if you stare long and hard enough, you can make out the words:


Public School

District N 23 & 75

Erected A.D.1851

We had the right place! Looking again at the Hagley map, dwelling unit 771 would be three units away. The photograph below is what I found at this location. I believe that Rosanna (and perhaps Daniel) lived on the right side of this duplex. The right side has gone through several renovations and I believe that the original façade was more like the unit on the left. I still have a bit more work to do to confirm my suspicions, but it was all in all a good weekends work!

Rosanna's House

5 thoughts on “Where Rosanna Toy Lived

  1. hanne huisjes

    Are you aware of this URL?


    entry of December 17

    The passengerlist I referred to earlier mentions passengers from Londonderry for Robert Taylor, Market street, Philadelphia
    Daniel Toy , Neil Toy and William Coyle came over in 1832

    Must be another, later generation. You know more about it than I.

    ciao, Hanne

    1. Rhys Post author


      You got me curious so I did a bit more research:

      I looked at that passenger list. What is shows is that Neil Toy and William Coyle arrived in 1832 and the cost of their passage was charged to Daniel Toy, suggesting he was the one that sent for them. Typically, du Pont would pay the cost of the passage and then deduct it from the employee’s account.

      I have also confirmed that Bogan’s store became Hagee’s. The store passed from the Bogans to a fellow named John H. Dorman. He died in 1929, and his sister Lizzie took over the store. In 1933, his niece, Agnes, and her husband William Hagee received a license to dispense alcoholic beverages. One other item of note is that Paul Bogan and James Toy were originally partners in the store. In 1843, James sold his interest in the property to Paul Bogan. I’m assuming he used the proceeds to start his own store and tavern.

      – Reese

  2. Marian Knowles

    Got 50 lbs. of corn. Feeding the ducks In Front of the Toy Hotel. Found out Harry Toy owned a sheet metal shop around Union Street. His daughter was a Nun and he and his wife are buried in Cathedral Cemetery. Met a lady who used to work for him at the Henry Clay Post Office. What luck. Also talked to a man named Jack Taylor who used to rent the Toy Hotel from Charlotte. he grew up down there and is making a documentary about the area.

    1. Reese Post author

      You have all the luck, Marian. I’ve spent hours in the vicinity of the tavern and never met anyone! Do you know when Jack Taylor rented from Charlotte? Any more information on the upcoming documentary?

      1. marian Knowles

        I gave Jack Taylor your name and website and told him you did all the research. The lady who runs the bronze gallery above the Post office called Jack Taylor on the phone for me from the gallery. He had been in the gallery talking to her about his research on the area, left his phone number and asked her to give it to anyone who might come in asking about the area. He told me he lived there until he was about 11. He came back as an adult and rented the Toy hotel which is now apparently two units with two mailboxes and two different addresses, 6 and 8 I think. I also met Diane, who renovated the
        Haggee. she told me where to get the corn to feed the ducks.
        also met George Fitzgerald who owns Toy Hotel. He is not very friendly. Says Coley DuPont didn’t do a very good job with the renovations to the Toy. I asked him if there were ghosts in the house and he said he didn’t believe in that. He didn’t get that I was joking. I think he was afraid of me. kinda paranoid. Older gentleman in bib overhauls with a white beard. Oh well…..


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