Charles Abraham Yancey

Born: Nov. 4, 1833
Albemarle County
Virginia, USA
Died: Jul. 23, 1910
California, USA

An early California pioneer, Charles Abraham Yancey, otherwise known as Abe Yancey or C. A. Yancey and his wife Frances opened a store in the area known as "The Toll House" in about 1868 (Fresno Co., California). The community later came to be known as Tollhouse. His son Max ran the Max Yancey Cash Store on about the same location into the next century. The location has continued as a store almost continuously from 1868 to the present day.



A Memorial and biographical history of the counties of Fresno, Tulare and Kern, California page 785

C. A. YANCEY, rancher and hotel-keeper at Toll House, was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, in 1833. His father, R. H. Yancey was for many years the Sheriff of same County, and also operated the well-known Yancey Mill. He emigrated to Joe Daviess County, Illinois in 1835, and then carried on general farming. Young Yancey was educated at the public schools, and lived at home until 1850, when he came across the plains to California. He came with the Miller & Harper Emigrant Train, who charged for transportation one-half of first year's receipts. The company was quite large, and they divided at the junction of the Fort Hall and Salt Lake route, and after traveling over 1,000 miles - as a singular coincidence - the trains again united with the union of the two trails. and arrived at Hangtown, September 22,1850. Young Yancey then followed mining in Amador County about one year, and in 1852 bought a team and began freighting from Stockton to the mining districts, which he followed until 1856, and then bought a ranch and ran a hotel on the north side of the San Joaquin river. He followed ranching until 1858 and then went into the stock business, which he followed until 1868. He then came to Toll House and bought a claim of about 900 acres and built a hotel 18 x 90 feet, with a dining room 20 x 40 feet, and he has since built up the town around him-consisting of six dwellings, box factory 30 x 80 feet, blacksmith shop, store and the necessary barns and outbuildings, all of which he owns and rents. He is ever ready to build for a renter, but says he has nothing to sell.

Mr. Yancey went there without a dollar in ready cash, and the results speak volumes for his enterprise and business sagacity. He carries on general farming and all the deciduous fruits grow to advantage.

Mr. Yancey was, married at Millerton in 1860 to Mrs. Black, a widow with two children, a daughter of Judge Gillum Baley. Mr. and Mrs. Yancey have had nine children, but three only survive. They lost five children inside of eleven days in a terrible epidemic of diphtheria [in 1878].

Mr. Yancey was appointed postmaster of Toll House under the administration of President Hayes in 1876.

He was a charter member of the first Odd Fellow Lodge established at Millerton.

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This is a picture of the Yancey family posed in front of the Tollhouse Hotel. Abe Yancey is seated on the far right and his wife Frances (Baley) Yancey is seated holding the baby. I think the couple standing on the right is Virginia Mills and her husband. After Mrs. Yancey's first husband, August Block, died she married Abe Yancey and Frances had two children. Her son, Max Yancey, is standing on the left with his wife. I think the children are Millses, with exception of the baby, Georgia Yancey.



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This is the Yancey family and others on the porch of the hotel. Standing on the left is Max Yancey. To his right are the Chinese cook and his father, Abe Yancey, seated. I think the man with great mustache on the right is Mr. Mills, Max's brother in law. The other people are unidentified. Tollhouse was started and mostly owned by Abe and Frances Yancey and has remained in the family until today. The hotel was a dust- covered white in color. Note the horseshoe over the door.

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The Tollhouse Hotel had a smoking room where, traditionally, only men were allowed. It had a large kitchen and regularly served meals. Several rooms were available to those in need. The hotel was not a five star facility but it was functional and useful. It was owned by the Yancey family and was run at various times by Yancey relatives, the Mills and Dean families.


Grave Sites found at TollHouse Cemetery


Charles Abraham Yancey

America Frances "Frances" Baley Yancey

Born: Sep. 30, 1840
Platte County
Missouri, USA
Died Feb. 17, 1922
California, USA

Daughter of Gillum Baley and a widow to Mr Black, Frances married C A Yancey at Millerton in 1860. Together they had 9 children, but lost 5 of them to disease in a 2 week period in 1878.

That women have made a positive success in practically every field of life, and even in those undertakings requiring capacity and experience for which men used to be regarded as alone equipped, is demonstrated in such a story as that of Mrs. America Frances Yancey, long identified with one of the well-known hostelries of California. She is the daughter of Judge Gillum Baley, a native of Illinois, where he was born not far from Springfield, on June 19, 1813. He died in November, 1895. Her mother was Permelia Eleanor Meyers before her marriage, and she was born in West Tennessee on June 22, 1819. Their marriage took place in Missouri, and in that State, before he came West to California, Mr. Baley was engaged in farming and stock-raising. He was also judge there for a couple of years ; and the reader will recall that Missouri court decisions in those days generally meant a short-cut to justice. In 1849 her father crossed the great plains with two of his brothers, and at once went to mining, continuing in that hazardous enterprise until 1851, when he returned to Missouri. After seven years more in the Iron State, he started again to cross the continent hoping once more to enjoy the good things of this promised land. He started in a caravan of ox teams, but when the party reached the Colorado River, they were robbed by the Indians. He therefore put back to Albuquerque, N. M., and remained there ten months. A new mule-team party was later made up and, joining it, Mr. Baley came to California by way of Yuma. In December, 1860, he reached Visalia, and soon came on to Fort Miller in Fresno County. He located at the town of Millerton, and again tried his luck at mining  - this time along the San Joaquin River. He- followed mining up to 1866, when he was elected County Judge, and that high office he held for twelve years, serving the last term in Fresno where both he and his wife passed away. He was also County Treasurer for a couple of years. At one time he bought a grocery store, but in the spring of 1898 he sold it again. In the same town he ran a boarding house for a number of years, Mrs. Baley being an experienced housewife and manager. Mrs. Yancey was born in Platte County, Mo., on September 30, 1840, and came with her parents to California and Fresno County; and while en route to California she was married in New Mexico, on September 9, 1859, to August Block, a native of Nockel, Prussian Poland, who was journeying to California with the Judge Baley train. Mr. Block died on March 15, 1864, having followed farming until his death, leaving two children : Minnie, who married Thomas Dean, and died in San Francisco; and William, who makes his home with Mrs. Yancey. Later, in July, 1865, Mrs. Block married Charles Abraham. Yancey, a native of Virginia who came to California in 1854 and followed mining and teaming, continuing in that line until 1868. The first of August in that year, Mr. and Mrs. Yancey opened the Toll House, the first hotel in that section; and while managing that he also engaged in farming and stock-raising. Mr. Yancey passed away on July 23. 1911, and the responsibilities he had cheerfully borne then devolved upon the brave woman who had been so truly a helpmate. Like Mr. Block and. indeed like Mr. Baley. Mr. Yancey left behind him an enviable record as citizen, neighbor and husband. Mr. and Mrs. Yancey, through their generosity and kindness, endeared themselves to every one and were familiarly known as Uncle Abe and Aunt Frank. By her marriage to Mr. Yancey she had two children: Mrs. Virginia E Mills, who, with her husband, later ran the Toll House; and Max, who was engaged in general merchandising at Tollhouse. After her husband's death, Mrs. Yancey continued to live at Tollhouse, having turned the management of the hotel over to her daughter. Mrs. Virginia Mills. Aside from her Tollhouse ranch of over 700 acres, she with Mrs. Mills and her nephew, Robert AI. Johnson, once owned the Johnson ranch of 1,000 acres in the Pine Ridge School district, which was well watered and wooded and an ideal ranch for stock-raising, and on this place Mrs. Yancey enjoyed spending her summers. She was an old-timer, and it was interesting to hear her tell of early-day events. 

Five Children in one family lost to Diphtheria within 11 days.

Mr. and Mrs. Yancey have had nine children, but three only survive. They lost five children inside of eleven days in a terrible epidemic of diphtheria [in 1878].
A story passed down from Tollhouse pioneers talked of a herd of sheep that had been marched up tollhouse grade in the summer. The sheep did not have enough water, and almost the entire herd died at the hands of an inexperienced sheepherder.  The sheep were pushed off into a ditch, no attempt was made to bury the carcasses. During the rainy season later in the year, water washed down the gully where the carcasses lay. The water fed directly into the small town's water supply.  While most of the townspeople got sick from drinking the water, the children fared much worse, many of the small town's children died within 2 weeks of each other.