James Thomas Tosh (16 May 1838-7 Apr. 1894)

James T. Tosh was born in Roanoke County, Virginia. His parents were possibly Jonathan J. Tosh (1812-ca. 1840) and his wife, Jane M. F. Clark (ca. 1814-ca. 1840), though that assertion needs additional supporting evidence. (lorbot@cox.net)

Young Tosh attended the Virginia Military Institute, from which he graduated in 1860. He attended the University of Virginia in session 37 (1860-1861). In the year before the Civil War started, the students at the University organized themselves into three companies, including the “Sons of Liberty” of which Tosh was the captain. (Patton) The Sons of Liberty participated in the Confederate attack on Harper’s Ferry, but saw little action. When the University units were disbanded to allow them to serve in the regiments of their home states, Tosh became aide de camp to Confederate Brigadier General R. E. Colston (in the 16th Virginia Infantry (Colston’s Regiment, 26th Virginia Infantry Regiment)), a position in which he served until the end of the war.

He married Ida Ragland (b. ca. 1846) of Petersburg, VA, on 5 Jan. 1864, and the couple had the following children: Charles W., Evelyn R., Madeline Robards, Mary Ingles, Reuben Ragland, Thomas Lewis, Rhoda C., Josephine J., James T., Andrew L. Tosh. Another child, Lilian Charlestine Tosh (b. 1883) is found in the Virginia Birth Records (1853-1896), but she is not seen on any census. Mr. Tosh settled in Petersburg and became a tobacconist—a tobacco manufacturer. (U.S. Censuses; lorbot@cox.net)

Petersburg, April  7 [1894].—This city was visited by a terrible catastrophy [sic] this afternoon occasioned by the fire and explosion of powder at the fireworks factory of Romaine Bros. Eleven men were killed and a large number seriously if not fatally injured. Among the killed are Charles N. Romaine and John R. Bland [the owners of the factory], manufacturers, and members of the city council, and Capt. James T. Tosh, a prominent citizen. … This afternoon about 3 o’clock an alarm of fire was turned in and was soon followed by a loud explosion. …  These explosions were distinctly heard for over a mile. … There were three explosions. The first was a small affair. As soon as it occurred Messrs. Romaine, Bland and Tosh rushed into the drying room and then the second and fatal explosion occurred and they were killed. A number of girls, employed in the fireworks factory, escaped just before the second explosion.” (“Eleven Killed”)

The body of Captain Tosh was not found until about 6 o’clock. The Captain was a candidate for Commissioner of the Revenue, and while he lived in the western part of the city [Petersburg], was at the time of the fire in Blandford, prosecuting his canvas. He felt very hopeful of a nomination by the Democratic primary…He leaves a widow and nine children.” (“Awful holocaust.”)

The funeral of Captain James T. Tosh was attended by large numbers of people, including the members of A.P. Hill Camp of Confederate Veterans, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and members of the Tobacco Exchange. He was interred in Blandford Cemetery. (“To aid the sufferers.”)

In the 1920 U.S. Census, Ida Tosh was living with her daughters, Evelyn and Mary, in Richmond, Virginia.


  • “Awful holocaust.” Richmond Dispatch (Richmond, VA), 8 April 1894, p.8.
  • Brock, R. A. & Virgil A. Lewis. Virginia and Virginians. Richmond. VA, 1888, v.2, p. 657.
  • “Eleven killed.” The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA), 8 April 1894, p.1.
  • “James Thomas Tosh, ID 790.” in Virginia Military Institute. Archives, Historical Rosters Database. http://www9.vmi.edu/archiverosters/
  • Laura (Lorbot@cox.net). Descendants of Thomas Tosh & Mark Evans of Roanoke. [database online] Last updated: 1 Nov. 2008.
  • Patton, John S. & Sallie J. Doswell. The University of Virgina; glimpses of its past and its present. [Charlottesville, VA?] 1900, p. 63.
  • “To aid the sufferers.” The Times (Richmond, VA), 11 April 1894, p.2.
  • Tosh family tombstones, Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg, VA. Findagrave.com.
  • “United States Census, 1860,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MHMW-674 : accessed 10 Oct 2014), James T Tosh, Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia, United States; citing “1860 U.S. Federal Census – Population,” Fold3.com; p. 15, household ID 92, NARA microfilm publication M653; FHL microfilm 805378.
  • “United States Census, 1870,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MFL5-ZDP : accessed 10 Oct 2014), James T Tosh in household of Ruben Ragland, Virginia, United States; citing p. 21, family 144, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 000553142.
  • “United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MCPB-W25 : accessed 10 Oct 2014), James T Tosh, Namozine, Dinwiddie, Virginia, United States; citing sheet 182C, NARA microfilm publication T9.
  • “United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MMJG-7YR : accessed 10 Oct 2014), Ida R Tosh, Petersburg city Ward 3, Dinwiddie, Virginia, United States; citing sheet 5B, family 138, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1241736.
  • “United States Civil War Soldiers Index, 1861-1865,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F9L8-FW1 : accessed 10 Oct 2014), James T. Tosh, 1861-1865; citing military unit 16th Regiment, Virginia Infantry, Confederate Soldier, NARA microfilm publication M382, roll 56 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d); FHL microfilm 881450.
  • “Virginia, Births and Christenings, 1853-1917,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VRR8-MYW : accessed 10 Oct 2014), James T. Tosh in entry for Lilian Charlestine Tosh, 1883; citing Petersburg, Prince George, Virginia, reference ; FHL microfilm 33442.
  • “Virginia, Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X51S-LTL : accessed 10 Oct 2014), J.T Tosh, 07 Apr 1894; citing Petersburg, Virginia, reference p 6 ln 204; FHL microfilm 2048594.
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