News of Yore: The Life and Times of C.E. Toles

1880 U.S. Federal Census
Home: Elmira, New York [327 Center Street]
Name / Age / Occupation
Adolphas Chidester(?) 64 Carpenter
Elizabeth Chidester(?) 54
Estella Toles 24 Dressmaker
Claude Toles 4
(His maternal grandfather was the head of the household.)

Childhood Photo

United Friends Entertainment.

The Elmira Telegram, 1/12/1890

They Aquit Themselves Proudly in Welcoming the State Grand Counsellor.
The six local councils of the order of United Friends gave an entertainment at Odd Fellows hall last evening in honor of the official visit of Grand Counsellor Dr. Eli H. Long, of Buffalo….Master Claude Toles did himself proud in his recitation “Adam and Eve.” He was decidedly a feature of the entertainment….

The Pupils of School No. 2 Grandly Observe Arbor Day.
The Elmira Telegram, 5/4/1890

…A chorus forest song by the entire school and the audience was invited to witness the dedication of the trees out of doors. The school children marched out to the inspiring martial music of two piccolos, two snare drums and a bass drum. An open air chorus, “Plant the Trees,” was sung, and then the first tree was dedicated…Claude Toles and Louis Uttrich, of the sixth grade, dedicated an elm tree to J.T. Trowbridge….

Class Graduation Photo

Williams’ Directory of Elmira City 1891
Toles Claude E., clerk, 311 E Water, bds 1306 Maxwell av

Williams’ Directory of Elmira City 1892
Toles Claude E., clerk, 311 E Water, bds 330 E Centre

Williams’ Directory of Elmira City 1893
Toles Claude E., artist Telegram, bds 324 E Centre

Elmira Telegram
The Telegram was a Sunday newspaper and Toles was on the staff in April 1893, if not earlier. Old Fulton New York Postcards has copies of the 1893 Telegram from April 30 to December 31; the April 30 issue has seven spot illustrations featuring portraits and column headings by him. He illustrated events like train wrecks, factory explosions and executions, plus portraits of politicians, performers and buildings, and, of course, editorial cartoons. Below are samples of his artistic versatility.


11/19/1893; original art is here.

Original art is here.

Williams’ Directory of Elmira City 1894
Toles Claude E., artist Telegram, bds 416 Mathews

And We Appreciate the Fact.

The Elmira Telegram, 1/21/1894

[From the Horseheads Reporter.]
The Telegram last Sunday contained an excellent cartoon, representing President Cleveland endeavoring to solve the mysteries of the Hawaiian puzzle. The picture was a palpable hit, the idea being very pat and the delineation first class. The sketch was designed and drawn by Claude Toles, a bright young artist of the Telegram force, and proves conclusively that he possesses both talent and originality—essential elements of success in his peculiar field.

Cartoonist of Much Promise.

The Elmira Telegram, 2/18/1894

[From the Elmira Star.]
The Observer has noted with increasing pleasure the work of young Claude Toles, who of late has been doing some of the caricaturing on the Telegram. The writer learns that Manager Brooks found him one day in the rear part of a dry goods store marking boxes with a brush and black ink. He was struck with the deft manner in which the youth handled the brush, and told him to come up to the Telegram office and he would do something for him. The result was that C.E. Toles is now drawing good pay for doing one or two funny pictures a week. The Observer notes that the caricaturist has a very wide and clear conception of the political situation and does his work so that it speaks for itself, and the Observer desires to observe that if this young man perseveres and studies, sticks to Mr. Brooks and does not allow his head to get too large, he will in short time make his mark in the profession he seems to have such a cinch upon.


Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 8/23/1894

C.E. Toles, the Telegram staff artist, has resigned his position with that paper, having been with the Telegram for nearly two years. Mr. Toles accepted a position with a southern firm and will do his work at home hereafter.


Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 11/27/1894

Claude Toles, formerly of the engraving department of the Elmira Telegram, now of New York city, is in town.

Williams’ Directory of Elmira City 1895
Toles Claude E., artist Telegram, bds 503 Baldwin


Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 4/25/1895

Claude E. Toles, the caricaturist and cartoonist, is recovering from a six weeks illness of grippe and typhoid fever and will soon be able to be upon the streets.

Has Recovered.
The Elmira Telegram, 6/30/1895

C.E. Toles, the well-known newspaper artist, has nearly recovered from a long illness of pneumonia.

Hanford’s Elmira City and Elmira Heights Directory 1896
Toles Claude E., artist, h 503 Baldwin

Miss High Kick

Trenton Sunday Advertiser, 9/27/1896

Miss High Kick to the Rescue
Panel 1
Miss High Kick—What’s the matter, little boy?
Little Boy—Kite’s caught in tree. Boo hoo—can’t get it. Boo hoo!

Panel 2
Miss High Kick—Don’t cry, I’ll get it for you!!!$$???

Panel 3
Little Boy—Oh, thank you, ma’am.

Hanford’s Elmira City and Elmira Heights Directory 1897
Toles Claude E., artist, h 503 Baldwin

Why They Are Thankful.
The Elmira Telegram, 11/21/1897

Claude E. Toles—”That he is still the whole ‘Comic Sketch club.’ “

Outshines All Others.

The Big Bazaar-Carnival Opens on Thursday.
The Elmira Telegram, 2/6/1898

…The greatest art exhibit of its kind ever seen in this part if the state will be at this fair. The exhibition contains the collections of cartoons and caricatures of Eugene Zimmerman, of Horseheads, known the world over under the name of “Zim.” This collection embraces eighty-four of Zim’s original pen drawings and his collection of pictures by other artists loaned by him to the bazaar-carnival. Claude E. Toles, the well-known Elmira artist, has loaned forty of his pen drawings, including the best examples of his work in portraiture of up-to-date bicycle girls, piquant soubrettes, airy summer girls, shapely ballet girls, also his broadly humorous drawings, as well as his collections of pictures by other artists. The gallery will contain drawings by Phil May, the famous caricatures of London Punch, Bernhard Gillam, Joseph Keppler, E.W. Kemble, F. Opper, Fithian, A.D. Rahn, Hy Mayer, and twenty-seven others, the best known magazine artists in the country. The gallery will be put in shape under the direct supervision of Mr. Toles….

Why Elmirans Would Enlist
Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 3/2/1898

Claude Toles—”To make war sketches.”

Artists Wanted.
Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 3/8/1898

Claude Toles, the artist, has gone to Baltimore, where he was called by a telegram from the president of the Baltimore Sketch Club, asking him to come to that city and be in readiness to sign a year’s contract.

Struggling in the Water
Bohemia Was All Excitement Last Night.
The Occupants of a Boat Were Thrown into the River—Thought They Were Drowning in Three Feet of Water—Brave Men to Rescue.
Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 6/13/1898

…Yesterday afternoon there were four occupants in the two boats, the party going out for a spin on the river. The Grit was manned by Editor John R. Joslyn, who was a visitor at Meneyata [sic] cottage, and Claude E. Toles, while the new boat had as its occupants Attorney Charles Marvin and Roy B. Delo. The two boats pulled away by sturdy oarsmen pointed out to the middle of the stream and then began a battle for supremacy.

The Dasher…capsized and two forms were seen struggling in the water….

…Editor Joslyn forgot all the rules he had ever learned about rescuing drowning people in his eagerness to get an item and hastily taking out his note book began to take down the frightened utterances of the now almost exhausted young men. Claude Toles was also glued to the boat without power to render assistance. His artistic abilities did not leave him for an instant however and he was soon sketching the scene for the next issue of the Police Gazette….

…the two young men in the water had demonstrated to their own satisfaction that they could not swim they began to sink only to find that the water was only a little above their knees and that they in reality had been in no danger at all. They waded to shore…

…The incident illustrates the need of a life saving station and it is probable that Mayor Bundy will call the attention of the common council of Bohemia to the fact at the next meeting, also to adopt suitable resolution and prepare a leather medal for Messrs. Joslyn and Toles who by leaving the young men alone allowed them to reach the shore in safety.

Hanford’s Elmira City and Elmira Heights Directory 1899
Toles Claude E., artist, h 503 Baldwin

A Great Team.
Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 8/10/1899

For several years Claude E. Toles of this city, a well known artist, has been connected with the Baltimore Comic sketch club, which furnishes illustrations and articles to newspapers and magazines—syndicates them. Recently C.B. Lewis, known to the reading public as “M Quad,” joined forces with the sketch club and Mr. Toles has been assigned to illustrate his article in the future. These two will make a pretty strong team and ought to greatly enhance the popularity of the sketch club.

A Wedding of Two Popular Elmirans That Occurred Wednesday Last.
Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 9/25/1899

The marriage of Miss Maude O. Drake, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. E.G. Drake, to Claude Eldridge Toles occurred Wednesday, September 20th, the Rev. W.T. Henry officiating. Mr. Toles is an artist of ability, whose work is in demand by the best publications, and his bride is a young woman of accomplishments. The good wishes of a host of friends go out to the happy couple.

1900 United States Federal Census
Home: Elmira, New York [503 Baldwin Street]
Name / Age
C E Toles [blank]
Maud Toles [blank]
J T White 41 [Boarder]
Mrs Estella Toles [blank]

Philadelphia Sunday Press
1900 and 1901 panel cartoons

Exhibition of Drawings.
A Large Number of People Were Present Last Evening and Viewed the Collection—Interesting Paper by Mrs. Jabin Secor.
Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 2/22/1900

…The display of sketches by Claude Toles occupies one entire side of the room. The variety shown in his sketches called forth much comment from the visitors, all of whom praised his drawings highly. A number of sketches of pretty girls drawn by him were myth admired, while the caricatures included in the series of “Caricature Portraits of Men in the Public Eye,” comprised all the well known personages famous in many lines. A number of sketches on political themes were also noticed in Mr. Toles’ exhibit. A drawing of the Meneyata cottage, the home of the Pine Cliff club of Bohemia on the Chemung, attracted the attention of many familiar with the scene of the sketch.

Elmira talent was well represented by the work of Mr. Toles and a drawing by Edward A. Wader, while the display of Zim’s drawings reflected much credit upon the village of Horseheads.

Early in the evening Mrs. Jabin Secor read a paper giving a brief sketch of the many artist represented. The following paragraphs relative to the three best known in this city are selected from her paper:

…”A very attractive and interesting collection of pen drawings is the work of Claude E. Toles, which well shows his talent and versatility. Mr. Toles is a member of the International syndicate, which has its headquarters in Baltimore. This distributing bureau sends electrotypes of sketches to the newspapers subscribing to their service throughout the United Sates and to some portions of Europe. Ex-Vice Consul Wildman wrote that he found several of Mr. Toles’ sketches in a Hong Kong paper and at several English ports. The artist is not a specialist, although he has a distinct and very attractive type, but draws pretty girls, also grotesques, high society—gutter snipe society, political cartoons, animal life, under the signature of ‘Dix;’ war scenes, in both the army and navy, portraits, legitimate and caricature, and general newspaper illustrations. Well worth study are his series of present day caricatures of people now in the public eye. Many of these have not been published. Elmira may well be proud of this young artist, who has his home among us. He was born here and received his education in our schools. He belongs to the army of young illustrators who have come to the front of late by virtue of great talent and industry.”

With reference to several other artists and their work, Mrs. Secor closed by saying:
“I ought not to stop speaking without adding that the success of this exhibit is due largely to the co-operation of Mr. Toles, who from the first has given a great deal of his time to the details of the work, and without him the exhibition could never have been.”

Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 3/31/1900

Claude E. Toles, Elmira’s talented artist, and his wife, will move to Baltimore, Md., Monday, where they will reside in the future.

Claude and Maud lived at 1620 Madison Avenue in Baltimore. Their daughter was Virginia Neilson Toles, born 1900 in Baltimore.

Hanford’s Elmira City and Elmira Heights Directory 1901
Toles Claude E., artist, h 503 Baldwin

Comics Page

Duluth News Tribune, 6/30/1901

Art by Toles dominates the page which includes Jean Mohr, “Midget”, and another.

Hugh Morris pseudonym

Duluth News Tribune, 7/28/1901

Panel 1
Mr. Bobbin—”Young man, do you smoke cigarettes?”
Little Boys—”Oh! no, sir. Tobacco contains nicotine, one drop of which will kill a dog. Cigarettes cause organic disturbances of the brain, stomach, heart, lungs and liver, ending in St. Vitus’ dance, epilepsy, dyspepsia, apoplexy, bronchitis, consumption, insanity and death.”

Panel 2
Mr. Bobbin—”Oh! well, if you feel that way about it I’ll just throw away this box of cigarettes I was going to give you.”

The Rev. O. Shaw Fiddle, D.D.
A selection of strips is here.

Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 10/30/1901

Word comes from Baltimore that Claude E. Toles, formerly of this city, is the winner of a billiard tournament recently finished in that place. Twelve crack Baltimore players contested for four prizes and Mr. Toles won first place and a beautiful billiard cue.

Claude E. Toles
Death of the Well Known Artist Who Formerly Resided in This City.
Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 12/17/1901

Claude E. Toles, a former well known resident of this city died last evening at 6 o’clock, at the home of his father-in-law, Dr. E.G. Drake, at Cornwall-on-the-Hudson. A telegram to that effect was received in the city last evening by the deceased’s mother, Mrs. Estelle M. Toles, widow of the late Wallace Toles, who resides at 503 Baldwin street. The particulars of the unexpected demise of the young man have not been learned. For a couple of years past he has resided in Baltimore.

Claude E. Toles was twenty-five years old. He was born in Elmira and was educated in public schools here, later being engaged as clerk in Harris’ dry goods store. For several years past he has been widely known for his exceptional talent in drawing and cartoon work. He began his artist’s career with the Elmira Telegram. In a short time he was able to conduct his work independently, until he received an offer from the New York Herald which he accepted at the same time contributing considerable work to other illustrated periodicals.

Mr. Toles’ ability was widely recognized and he became connected with an art syndicate publishing company in Baltimore, which position he occupied at the time of his death. He secured the high place in his work not alone through ability, though that was exceptional, but his indefatigable energy and perseverance were always noticeable and worthy of emulation.

The deceased was a few years ago married to Miss Maude Drake, daughter of Dr. E.G. Drake, a former West Church street physician. He is survived by an infant daughter besides his wife and mother. The remains will be brought to Elmira for interment.

Claude E. Toles.
Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 12/18/1901

The body of the late Claude E. Toles arrived in the city over the Erie this morning at 3 o’clock and was taken to the home of his mother, 503 Baldwin street, where the funeral will be held at 2:30 o’clock Thursday afternoon. The interment in Woodlawn will be private. Rev. Dr. Henry will officiate.

Saturday’s Column of Fact, Fancy and Gossip.
Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, 12/21/1901

When Claude E. Toles the artist, whose untimely death this week came as a severe shock to his friends, first entered business life it was as a cash boy in a dry goods establishment in this city. In that capacity he failed to reach the degree of excellence attained by the model cash boy who rises step by step until he becomes a member of the firm and hires boys himself. Young Toles, on the contrary, spent most of his time at the counter where the wrapping paper was stored and there were few customers who did not carry home evidence of the genius that was in a few years to make him one of the best known newspaper illustrators in the land. The proprietors of the dry goods emporium decided at various times to discharge Toles, but they would run across some humorous sketch he had drawn and laugh and give him a new lease of life, which showed, perhaps, that they were human but not good business men. About the time that Toles business career hung in balance his work came to the notice of “Zim,” the famous cartoonist of Judge, who, with other friends, started the young man in the right direction. He did work for various publications until the goal was apparently reached when he had a page in colors in an Easter number of the New York Herald. Shortly thereafter came a cablegram signed by James Gordon Bennett asking the young artist to go to New York and live and become a member of the Herald‘s staff of artists. The offer was declined and Toles associated himself with a Baltimore syndicate, later retiring to form a similar organization of his own, at the head of which he remained to the time of his death. His work made the service of the syndicate eagerly sought after. It was marked by bold originality and many preferred it to that of Gibson or Wenzell. When the casket was lowered into the ground at Woodlawn this week, after a few comforting words had been said by a good minister, the loss was almost as great to lovers of good, clean drawing as to the bereaved family of the young man.

[A photo of Toles and other cartoonists is here. A look at his talent is here. The Claude Eldridge Toles Collection (1875-1901) is here. A family tree at said his wife’s full name was Maud Ophelia Drake. She remarried to W.G. Muldoon (mentioned in the June 30, 1903, Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press), and passed away in 1978. A photo of her is here.]

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