Military Wiki
James C. Toy
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
In office
October 5, 1869 – December 5, 1871
Succeeded by Peter J. Carter
Personal details
Born circa 1838
Hickory, Harford County, Maryland
Died February 1914
Washington, District of Columbia
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Toy
Children sons, daughters
Residence Petersburg
Washington, D.C.
Profession farmer, politician, printer

James C. Toy (July 1836 – April 7, 1889), a Harford County, Maryland native, led the 2nd Regiment Cavalry, U.S. Colored Troops in the American Civil War, then farmed on Virginia's Eastern Shore, where he became active in the Republican Party, serving in the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1868 and the Virginia House of Delegates representing Northampton County, Virginia , before a war-related disability caused him to move to Petersburg and then to Washington, D.C. where he worked for the Government Printing Office until shortly before his death.

Early and family life

Born some time between 1836 and 1841 in rural Hickory, Harford County, Maryland to Eleanor Toy (1853–) and her husband, carpenter and farmer John Toy (1803–c.1872), James was the third of six sons; the family also included five daughters but no slaves.[1][2]

He married Mary Toy in 1874. Their son William was born in 1876 and daughter Rose in 1883.


During the American Civil War, James Toy and two of his brothers volunteered to serve for three year terms in the Union Army. All were initially sent to Maryland's Eastern Shore, a hotbed of Confederate sympathizers, perhaps because of its agricultural dependence on slavery. James Toy joined the Purnell Legion, Maryland Cavalry in December 1861 and would ultimately muster out of that unit as a sergeant.[3] His elder brother George Toy received a commission as lieutenant of the 1st Regiment Eastern Shore Maryland Volunteer Infantry, and would later serve with the 11th Regiment Maryland Volunteer Infantry. His younger brother Edward Toy would serve the entire war in the 2nd Maryland Infantry, Eastern Shore, enlisting as a private and rising to sergeant.[4]

On January 3, 1864, James Toy volunteered to lead colored troops then being organized at Fort Monroe in Virginia, and received a commission as 1st lieutenant of the 2nd Regiment Cavalry, U.S. Colored Troops, first helping to lead company H and later rising to the rank of captain and leading Company D.[5] The unit participated in the Siege of Petersburg and related actions until February 1865, and then was sent to Norfolk and assigned duties on Virginia's Eastern Shore before being dispatched to Texas in June 1865,[6] although Toy would be mustered out in Maryland in February 1866.[7]

Toy returned to Virginia's Eastern Shore to farm. In Virginia's first postwar election, Captain Toy and Edward K. Snead were elected as Republicans to represent Northampton and neighboring Accomac County at the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1868.[8] After that Constitution was adopted, Northampton voters elected Toy to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1869 and re-elected him to the part-time position the following year.[9] In 1871, in a close election, former slave and Union veteran Peter J. Carter won the seat, and would remain a major force in the Republican party on the Eastern shore for more than the next decade.[10]

Toy continued to farm in Northampton County in 1880,[11] but moved to Petersburg and in April 1881 applied for a veterans pension because of a disability.[12] By 1894, Toy and his wife had moved to Washington, D.C. where Toy had a job as a messenger, and by 1897 worked at the Government Printing Office as a result of a nomination from Virginia's first Congressional District (which includes Northampton County which Toy once represented in the state legislature).

Death and legacy

James C. Toy resigned his government job for health reasons in January 1914, and died in Washington, D.C. the following month, survived by his second wife, a daughter and a son. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, although his gravestone incorrectly lists him as a former Maryland legislator.[13]


  1. 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Harford County District 3, family 400 lists his age as 10, the 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Bel Air, Harford County gives his age as 23 and the August 1862 draft registration record for Harford County, Maryland lists his age as 27. The 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Washington DC District 121 gives his birthdate as July 1836 and his wife's as August 1856. All these records available on
  2. 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Bel Air, Harford County, Maryland family No. 313
  3. cites txt-only source M388 roll 12, and does not indicate in which company he served, since the three had different assignments and fates--company B seeing the most action, including at the Battle of Gettysburg before being merged into Purnell Legion, Maryland Infantry.
  4. History and Roster of Maryland Volunteers in the War of 1861-5 (Baltimore: Guggenheimer Weil & Co. 1898) pp. 628, 646, available at
  5. enlistment in U.S. Colored Troops service records, and U.S. veterans gravesite records, both available at
  6. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"Union - U.S. Colored Troops Cavalry". Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  7. military record at
  8. Pulliam, David Loyd (1901). The Constitutional Conventions of Virginia from the foundation of the Commonwealth to the present time. John T. West, Richmond. ISBN 978-1-2879-2059-5.  at p. 141 declining to give biographies of Republicans or African Americans; also available at <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"Hathi Trust".
  9. Cynthia Miller Leonard, The General Assembly of Virginia: 1619-1978 (Richmond: Virginia State Library 1978) pp. 506, 511
  10. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"Carter, Peter Jacob (1845–1886)". Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  11. 1880 U.S. Federal census, family
  12. U.S. military pension records at

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