Glass Negative Photos supplied courtesy of Drake Well Museum
Jacob Toy (1826 – 1912), the son of William Toy and Mary Ann Bowser, and his wife, Catherine Goldinger (1828), were both born in Armstrong County, but in the late 1850s they moved to Venango County, PA. Jacob worked as a carpenter, building some of the early derricks along Oil Creek. Nevada Feely’s journal suggests he was nicknamed “Bull Wheel”; whether it was for his strength or because he was in some way involved with the actual bull wheel of an oil rig, is unknown. The 1900 census lists him as a manufacturer of Bull Wheels, so perhaps that is where the name began. The early oil prospectors had little ready–made technology or experts among them, other than salt well drillers, blacksmiths, carpenters, and the tools of their trades. His wife, Catherine, worked as a seamstress to earn extra money, and was an invalid in her later years. They lived in Cornplanter Township initially, and then moved to Cherrytree Township, just above Rouseville, PA, in an area known as Kaneville. Jacob bought a house and land along the Little Cherry Run, also known as Kane’s Run, in 1894 from a man named C.G. Dempsey. The nearby town of Petroleum Center, along Oil Creek, was known as “The wickedest place east of the Mississippi”.
Catherine Goldinger was the daughter of Major John Goldinger and Hannah McKallip. Hannah’s parents were Archibald McKallip (born 1774 - d. 1842) and Catherine Kipp (b.1779 - d.1844), who was born on the present site of Gettysburg, in Adams Co. Archibald was born aboard ship to Henry McKallip and his wife, of whom little is known, other than they were Scotch- Irish. Archibald taught school in Westmoreland and in Armstrong Co. near Apollo. He and his wife are buried in Elder’s Ridge Cemetery, in Indiana County.
Jacob Toy and Catherine Goldinger had 7 children:
1) Mary Jane Toy, born 1852 in Armstrong Co. She died about 1922 in Simcoe Canada. She married George Downs (born 1845 in Simcoe(?) Canada) sometime around 1869. They had 1 known child, Pearl Downs, but another child is listed in the 1870 census – a Mary Downs, who was two months old at the time of the census. George Downs reported his occupation on the census as carpenter, so presumably he was working in the oil industry. When and why they moved back to Canada is presently unknown, although I wonder if the family story of the man who bit off the ear of a traveling show strongman and had to leave the country might not be referring to George Downs.
2) William Matthew Toy, born 1853/54 in Armstrong Co. Died June 27, 1904 from injuries sustained in a fall from an oil derrick. He was a carpenter alongside his father in the oil business. Very little is known of him, because of his untimely demise, though his sister, Sarah Agnes describes him as a dutiful son, a good husband, and a loving father. He married Rachel Klotz ( 1857 -1924), the daughter of Jonathan Klotz (1826-1903) and Catherine McIntyre (b. Apr. 1825-1900). William and Rachel had 9 children. Rachel's mother, Catherine McIntyre Klotz, was remembered vividly by her grandson, Jacob Vance Toy as quite a personality. Born in Armstrong County, PA, to Andrew McIntyre and his wife, Elizabeth, she was the second child of five. Catherine was listed in the 1850 Census as being unable to read or write, though her husband was not only literate; he helped to found a school in Perry township, where they lived. She was known as a midwife, smoked a corncob pipe, and drove her buggy unassisted and unchaperoned by menfolk. In later years she made the circuit among her three daughters helping them quilt, preserve, and stock for winter. Her grandson, Jake Toy, remembers being awakened by her at times, to go and gather herbs by the light of the moon.
3) John Toy, born 1858. Died 1872 in Venango Co. Aged 14 years. It is believed he was involved in racing horses at the time of his death.
4) Sarah Agnes Toy, born 1861 in Venango Co. Died 1955. She married James E. Darling (born 1861- died 1891) in 1890. James was an experienced well shooter, but on September 24, 1891, according to an article in the Venango Citizens’ Press, while he and another man, A.S Ferry, were engaged in blowing out stumps using nitroglycerin, he was killed instantly. They had 1 child, Floyd Darling (born 1891- died 1929). “Ag” inherited her father’s farm as payment for caring for him and her mother in their later years. She is reputed to have worn hip boots to clean out her creek and once fired a pistol to frighten off some boys who were throwing rocks back into it. She supplied both bantam (“banty”) chicken eggs and herbal medicinals (Digitalis for Minnie B.) to the family. She also wrote a column for the Venango Citizens Press, starting about 1904, about the local “News” in Kaneville (see excerpts from The Venango Citizens Press). I have written more about "Ag" in this post.
5) Hannah Toy, born April, 1864 in Venango Co. She married Orla Loomis Siple (b. Dec. 7, 1867 in Ohio – died Jan. 13, 1947) in 1889. Sometime prior to 1900 she and her husband moved to Summerland, Santa Barbara, California. In the 1900 census Orla is listed as a helper for an oil company; in 1910 his job is described as “laborer”, and by 1920 he is working as a farmer. The 1900 census lists three children: Naomi (b. Sept. 1891), Dolores (b. June 1893), and Alvilda (b. March 1899). Naomi married Gordon R. Littlefield May 29, 1909, in Summerland, Ca. They had two children, listed in the 1920 census: Gordon (b. 1918) and Thelma (b. 1919) Littlefield. It appears that Gordon died sometime between 1912 and 1920, as Naomi is living again with her parents in the 1920 census. Alvilda, or Alwilda, as her name appears in the 1930 census, married Theodore James Reed (b. Nov. 1893 CA), the son of Theodore L. Reed (b. Apr. 1855 NJ) and Louisa Maria Henkel (b. June 1858 GER), and they had 2 children.
6) Alvilda Toy, born? It is believed she died in infancy. There is little known of this child, except for her name; Hannah Toy Siple named one of her children this same name and it is possible that her daughter is the only Alvilda in the family.
7) Jacob Toy, born? He is believed to have died in infancy.
The names of the two infants who died were provided by Kathy Kulling Holmgren from a book of family history written by her grandmother, Nevada Feely Toy. It is believe that Nevada received the information from Agnes Darling, with whom she was known to have been close.