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Eliza, Mary and Charles Toland, DeWitt County

Eliza J. Toland (1873 - 1923) and her siblings first appear in the record in the 1880 census, when she was living in New Jersey with her mother and father, John and Mary (McLoughlin) Toland. They were Irish immigrants with four children: Mary, Eliza, Charles and Margaret. Although Eliza speaks of two brothers, only Charles is included in the roll of the NYJA, and Margaret does not appear there.

Eliza felt that she had made a good choice in her guardian, but doesn't state how she chose -- did she choose the well dressed woman or the plainly dressed woman? What a dramatic and important moment in her young life. There were two different Barclay households in DeWitt County in 1880, one from Scotland (in Texas, IL) and one from Ohio (in Harp, IL), so we can't pinpoint a family where she would have lived.

In her first letter to the asylum (1888), fourteen year old Eliza seemed very sad when she wished that her parents would write to her. She thought that Mary would be "better contented" if only their parents would write. Eliza was attending school in the winter term, but during the summer term there was too much work for her to attend school.

Mary wrote a letter to the asylum in 1889. She and Eliza wrote letters to each other every month. She felt satisfied with her home and said she had "everything a girl could wish for." She criticized herself: "We do let our tempers get the better of us a great many times, and I wonder how our guardians can be so patient when we are so trying." An orphan could not expect very much, or life would be constantly disappointing them!

Eliza was a very petite girl and in 1890, when she was 16 years old, she weighed just eighty five pounds. She must have been ecstatic when Mary came to spend two weeks with her at the end of her indenture.

In her final letter, Eliza reported that Mary had returned to New York and no further records could be found of Mary.

Eliza married in DeWitt County on Christmas Eve 1894 to James Thomas Bean. They had four children: Oliver, Margaret, Cecil and Lillian. The first years of their marriage they lived in DeWitt County on a rented farm, but by 1910 they owned their own farm in Saline County, very far from their beginnings in DeWitt County. Eliza died July 6, 1923 in Saline County and was buried in the Douglass Cemetery in Eldorado.

Charles J. Toland appears in the census in 1900 in New York City, where he lived with his older sister, Catherine Quinn and her family, as well as his sister Margaret. In 1910 Charles was living in Illinois again, in the same town where Eliza's husband grew up: Harp, DeWitt County. He was 31 years old and working for a young farmer there. No further trace of Charles could be found.


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