James Haviland Tompkins

Tompkins_Family_1891001
ca. 1893 The Tompkins clan (from back left: Grace, Louise, Haviland, unknown lady, Vreeland, and Harold)

This week my #52Ancestors post focuses on James Haviland Tompkins, the fifth child of Samuel Dusenbury and Gettianna Vreeland Tompkins.  Haviland (apparently his preferred name) was born on 15 July 1877 in Jersey City.

Tompkins_James_Haviland_NYLSgraduation_The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Fri__Jun_15__1900_
Clipping from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle 15 June 1900

He graduated from New York Law School in 1900 and opened a commercial law practice in Jersey City.  An interesting side note about New York Law School: it was established in 1891 by a group of Columbia College School of Law faculty, students, and alumni who were at odds with Columbia’s trustees’ desire to interfere with the faculty teaching practices.

In addition to his law practice, Haviland is also listed as the Secretary of the Smooth-On corporation.  He and his brothers all seem to have been involved in the family business in one way or another.

Haviland married Eleonore Heike around 1908.  An engagement announcement is as close as I can get to an exact marriage date as shortly after the engagement is announced, the scandal that rocked the Heike family also breaks.  Charles R. Heike was the secretary of the American Sugar Refining Company was tried and convicted in 1910 of conspiracy to defraud the government in a case of fraudulent weighing.  The sentence was waived when the judge determined that Heike was in such poor health that he would die in prison, and instead he died at home.  His family was terribly affected by it as Eleonore (whose death may have been directly caused by something else) died in 1912 shortly after the birth of her daughter Eleonor Marie Tompkins in 1910.  Heike’s sister later committed suicide and her brother left the country and was later committed to a mental institution.

367_WoodlandAve_SouthOrange
367 Woodland Ave. South Orange, NJ

Haviland and Eleonor appear to have moved back to the Tompkins home on Communipaw Ave.  Seven years later, Haviland married Elizabeth Carol Baldwin (1891-1950) of Jersey City on 27 December 1919.  Early on in their marriage they lived at 117 Bentley Ave, which was loaded with Tompkins relations.  Eventually, they made their home in South Orange, New Jersey, where they raised Eleonor and their two children Carol Tompkins (1920-2016) and  James Haviland Tompkins (1922-1995).

Tompkins_Elizabeth_Baldwin
Elizabeth Baldwin Tompkins painting surrounded by Katherine Tompkins, Louise Tompkins, Tom (James Haviland Jr.) Tompkins, Mary Tompkins, Carol Tompkins, Anne Tompkins and Harold D. Tompkins standing holding his box camera.

Sadly, Haviland died suddenly while vacationing in Southern Pines, North Carolina on 4 March 1942.  He is buried at Arlington Cemetery in Kearny, New Jersey.

 

 

Aaron Van Syckel

This week in #52ancestors I travel back six generations, which I am incredibly lucky to be able to identify, to Aaron Van Syckel, seventh son of Reinier Van Syckel.  Again this is one of my Dutch ancestors but this line settled in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
Aaron Van Syckel was born on 8 July 1764 to Reinier (1723-1803) and Maake “Mercy Longstreet” Langstraat (d. 1815) Van Syckel.  Aaron’s generation appears to have been the one that started transitioning from the original “Van Sickelen” to the current “Van Syckel.”  Of course, there are many variations currently, Van Sickel, Van Sickle, Vansickle, etc., but this branch seems to have settled on the “yckel” spelling.
Aaron married Catharine Opducke or Opdyke (1762-1851) in 1785 and the couple had eight children:
  • John Van Syckel (1786-1864)
  • Elijah Van Syckel (1788-1855)
  • Daniel Van Syckel (1790-1861)
  • Aaron Van Syckel (1793-1874)
  • Mercy Van Syckel (1796-1850)
  • William Van Syckel (1798-1859)
  • Alice Van Syckel (1803-1871)
  • Fanny Van Syckel (1805-1884)
van-syckels-tavern2-1Aaron Van Syckel inherited a sizable estate from his father totaling 240 acres, which he built into quite an empire.  In 1800, he purchased a tavern owned by David Reynolds in Bethlehem township, which he made his home.  There was also a store nearby which he ran with his son Aaron Jr. as well as a post office.  The tavern is listed on both state and National Historic Registers and I remember as a child going to see the buildings at Van Syckel’s corner.
Aaron Van Syckel was active in local political affairs.  The History of Hunterdon County notes that in addition to serving as a presidential elector in 1821, he was also elected to the General Assembly (1808-1814) and stood as Sheriff on several occasions (1803 and 1835).  On 11 November 1803, as sheriff he was responsible for carrying out the execution by hanging of Brom, an African American slave accused of murdering another slave.
Bethlehem Presbyterian Church markerAaron Van Syckel was a member of the Bethlehem Presbyterian Church and helped that congregation erect a stone church in 1830.  It is no longer standing but there is a marker noting the construction and, of course, the cemetery is still there.
Aaron Van Syckel died on 28 November 1838, and is buried in the cemetery at Bethlehem.  His will gives a clue as to the extensive holdings he acquired over his life.

Gettianna Vreeland Tompkins

Gettie_Anna_Tompkins_wife_of_Sam_rabbiittt40This week in #52Ancestors Gettianna Vreeland Tompkins is the subject, but her essay would be very brief without a mention of the family surrounding her.  Gettianna, or Gitty Ann as she was sometimes called, was the youngest child and only daughter of Nicholas (1789-1873) and Elizabeth Van Ripen (1803-1889) Vreeland.

Nicholas Vreeland was married twice: first to Annatje Winner (1794-1832), with whom he had one child, a son named Nicholas who lived a year (1816-1817) and then to Elizabet Van Ripen (1803-1889), with whom he had three children.  Of Annatje Winner Vreeland very little detail is known beyond her marriage date of 15 March 1814 and her life dates.

Nicholas and Elizabeth Vreeland had three children: Nicholas Vreeland (1836-1837), John Van Ripen Vreeland (1837-1912) and Gettianna Vreeland (1841-1918).  John V R, as he was known, was educated at Rutgers and appears to have made a living as a florist/gardener.  He moved his family out to Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1887 and is listed in Jersey City directories as a florist and in Cheyenne as a gardener.  He died at the home of his daughter in Los Angeles, CA in 1912 and is buried in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery as is his wife Anna Maria who died in 1915.

Gettianna Vreeland was born 14 March 1841, most likely in Bergen, Hudson County, New Jersey.  She married Samuel Dusenbury Tompkins at her parent’s home on 2 January 1868.  The couple lived with Nicholas and Elizabeth for the next few years, as they are together in the 1870 Census. As Samuel became more established in business, they moved to the house on Communipaw Avenue.  They had seven children:

  • Grace Elizabeth Tompkins (1869-1964)
  • Vreeland Tompkins (1870-1956)
  • Abraham Van Wagnen Tompkins (1870-1870)
  • Samuel Edward Tompkins (1875-1876)
  • James Haviland Tompkins (1877-1942)
  • Emma Louise Tompkins (1881-1971)
  • Harold Doremus Tompkins (1888-1951)

The Tompkins family was socially very active in Jersey City.  The Jersey Journal rarely went more than a month or two without a mention of a social gathering that included one or more of them.  I also know that Samuel and Gettianna traveled within the United States and than Gettianna accompanied her daughters Grace and Louise to the British Isles.

Vreeland and Tompkins_membersLafayetteChurch_cropSamuel and Gettianna attended Lafayette Church around the 1884-5 period.  This church apparently started off as a Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in 1863 but may have merged with other churches towards the end of the century.

Tompkins_Vreeland_GoldenJubilee_Jersey_Journal_1918-01-09_2Gettianna and Samuel Tompkins celebrated their golden wedding anniversary about a month before she died on 9 February 1918 of pneumonia.  The article in the paper states that this happened in the same house they were married in but this bears further research as even as Jersey City consumed the village of Bergen, the addresses do not match city directories and census records.  It should also be noted that her youngest child, my grandfather Harold Doremus Tompkins was absent from the festivities due to his involvement in World War I.  His military training prior to shipping overseas took him to Camp McClellan, where his great grandson Barclay G. Jones IV also completed some of his extensive military training in 2017-18, about one hundred years later.

Gettianna and Samuel were initially buried in the Old Bergen burying ground but were moved to Arlington Cemetery when the old grounds were demolished.

 

 

 

 

Samuel Howell Jones

This week in #52ancestors will celebrate one of my few Kentucky connections: Samuel Howell Jones.  Like his brother Richard Jones, Samuel was into a bit of everything but unlike Richard, he appears to have traveled extensively.

Samuel Howell Jones was born on 30 June 1818 to Benjamin (1767-1849) and Mary Howell (1778-1836) Jones.  He was the seventh of their eight children and although I have not been able to prove it, I believe he was born in Philadelphia because his birth is recorded in the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting minutes, along with the information that he was disowned in December 1850, likely due to marrying outside the faith.  He spent a year at Haverford College from 1833 to 1834.

Jones_Lydia_Bishop_grave_1860Samuel married twice.  He married Lydia H. Bishop (1828-1860) on 7 March 1849 but they had no children. They are enumerated in Philadelphia in the 1850 Census along with several of Samuel’s siblings: Mary B Jones Tobey and husband Samuel, Harriet Jones.   Samuel is listed with the occupation of merchant.  By 1860, the family has relocated to Burlington County, where Samuel and Lydia maintain a household that contains most of her family: Nathanial Bishop (cultivator of cranberries) and Harriet Bishop.  Samuel’s occupation is “manufacturing” and his personal worth is $50,000.

Jones_SamuelandKate_grave_LouisvilleThen he married Eliza Catherine Jacob (1835-1864) on 1 May 1862.  They had one child, a son named Samuel Howell Jones (1862-1894).  Sadly, “Kate” died in 1864.  I do not know what took him to Kentucky but I strongly suspect that it might have something to do with all the Louisville & Nashville Railroad stock in his estate accounts.  Either Samuel was an investor or he was diversifying the family assets out of iron pipes to iron rails. A review of the family archive at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania will be necessary to complete this chapter.

The next time I find Samuel is in 1870 where he and his son are living at the southern tip of Lake George in the town of Caldwell.  Their next door neighbor is a Mary Bishop, who may be a sister-in-law.  By 1880, the pair have returned to Philadelphia but are living in a hotel or boarding house.  They both appear in the 1882 Philadelphia city directory as living at 1010 Spruce St.  When Samuel Sr. dies in 1883, the pair have retired to St. Lucie, Florida due to Samuel’s poor health.

According to his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Samuel held property in Louisville, KY as well as over 25,000 acres in New Jersey.  The final statement says it all:  “He was a man noted for his quiet and unostentatious liberality in many public and private channels, and although excessively retiring in his disposition, was much beloved by the limited circle of friends who both knew and esteemed him.”Jones_SamuelH_obit_The_Philadelphia_Inquirer_Mon__Jan_29__1883_

A review of Samuel H. Jones’s Will and estate provides further enlightenment on the myriad things that Samuel was involved in and also gives some pause as to the family dynamics.  The will establishes right off an annuity to be paid to brothers Richard and Benjamin W. Jones.  The rest of the estate, including the lovely description “remainder of my estate real, personal and mixed whatsoever and wheresoever in possession, reversion, or remainder” was put in a trust to benefit the children of his son Samuel H. Jones Jr.  The person responsible for maintaining this trust was Anthony Jones Morris, Samuel’s nephew.  There is a considerable amount of money and assets at stake here and I would imagine that Anthony J. Morris was busy juggling the demands of family for some time.  However, in 1887 he appears to have petitioned the courts to request that the trust be administered by the Camden Trust Company.

 

 

Samuel appears to have felt that his brothers, especially, needed looking after.  I imagine that the demands of family life were a trial for this quiet man.  I especially like this description of him from an agriculture writer:

 

 

 

 

Stella Mae Jones

Jones_Mary_StellaMay_imageThis week on #52ancestors I am writing about Mary “Stella May” Jones.  She was the ninth child of Benjamin (1833-1896) and Mary Elizabeth Carrell (1840-1922) Jones, born on 22 June 1881.  My great grandfather Arthur Wells Jones was her older brother.  I am not sure exactly why or when she became “Stella May” but that is the name she went by most of her adult life.

The first time I found her in the census was in the 1885 New Jersey state census, where she is called May.  I thought it might have been a misspelling of Mary.  But in the 1895 NJ Census, she is also called May.  In 1900, She is living with her mother and two sisters and is identified as Stella Mae.  Marriage notices in local papers used this spelling as well:

Ayres_Jones_wedding_The_Freehold_Transcript_and_The_Monmouth_Inquirer_Fri__Apr_18__1902_

Stella Mae and Oscar lived most often in Freehold in Monmouth County but seem to have come back to Pemberton regularly.  Oscar appears to have worked with his father as a monument maker but also is listed in various Census and military draft records as a clerk, railroad worker and as a motor delivery man for the Courier-News.

Ayres_Mae_grave_PembertonMethodistCemeteryThey had a little girl in 1909 named Mae Ayres, who died shortly after birth and is buried in the Methodist Cemetery in Pemberton.  They do not, however, appear to have been active in the Methodist Church.

According to her obituary and other newspaper articles I found, Stella Mae does not appear to have been robustly healthy towards the end of her life.  She may have suffered from complications from an appendectomy.  Estella Mae Ayres died on 18 December 1946 at Seaside Park, NJ at the home of her nephew Arthur Rue after a stroke.  She is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery.Ayres_EstellaM_grave_1946_MountHollyCemetery

Names can evolve over a person’s lifetime.  This can present a challenge when trying to determine if the record you are viewing is, in fact, the person you are researching.  The trick, I think, is being open to the fact that your ancestor may have used different names in different contexts.  My own mother could slide fluidly back and forth from Anne Tompkins Jones to Mrs. Barclay G. Jones to Annebo, depending on the circumstances.

Chandler Prince

BradfordCountyMapThis week in #52ancestors I once again come up against that age old genealogical principal of looking for one record and finding not that record but another that solves a different mystery.
I can track back to George Mortimer Prince (born Bradford Co. PA 1837, died Federalsburg, Md. 1909) with great assurance but the leap to George Washington Prince (1808-1888) is more difficult and further back is going to require feet on the ground in Massachusetts doing hard research.  If I am correct in my conclusion that George Washington Prince is the father of George Mortimer, then Chandler Prince is an uncle.  Confused much?
Jonathan (1769-1831) and Patty Vinton (1770-1831) Prince had nine children, all born in Massachusetts, the first five in Oxford and the last four possibly in Sturbridge.  The fourth child in birth order is Chandler Prince, born 14 June 1797 in Oxford, MA, and the eighth is my ancestor, George Washington Prince, born 17 July 1808 in Sturbridge.
  • Chester Prince (1792-1867)
  • Lydia Prince (1793- )
  • John Prince (1795- )
  • Chandler Prince (1797-1852)
  • Dolly Prince (1799-1866)
  • Sanford Prince (1803-1872)
  • Merrick Brainard Prince (1805-1862)
  • George Washington Prince (1808-1888)
  • Julia Prince (1809- )
I find Chandler as the head of household with a family in the Census in 1830 in Orwell, Pennsylvania as well as in 1840 and 1850.  From this I draw the conclusion that Chandler married Sally [possibly Lovette] prior to 1825, but I have not been able to find a marriage record yet.
PresbyterianChurchOrwelChandler and family appear to have been involved in the Presbyterian Church, as on 14 January 1845, Chandler Prince puts up $5.00 toward the building of a Presbyterian church in Rome, Pennsylvania.
The next time I find mention of Chandler is in the burial inscriptions from the Orwell Valley Cemetery, Bradford County, Pennsylvania: Chandler H. Prince, died 9 Feb 1852, aged 55 years.
No will or estate is listed in the index to Registers for Chandler Prince but I did discover that the Index to Register’s Docket is up online through  FamilySearch.  And there, nestled between Chester and Ermina Prince is none other than George W. Prince’s will.  Now I am off to write the Bradford Clerk of Courts for a copy of that will, which appears to have been executed by none other that George M. Prince.
Bradford_County_Index_to_Registers_Docket_p601_Prince_crop

Mary Sleght Brown

2007_03_Mary_Sleght_lock-of-Hair_Magazine-1Mary Sleght Brown is a recent discovery and an excellent reminder to return to people every few years for whom you have had no success.  For some time I knew that Abraham V.W. Tompkins had married a Caroline Brown, but I could find no firm information about where she came from.  Then one day I returned to Abraham, thinking surely by now, someone has put up some record on this family.  I searched Ancestry.com and beautiful digital images of the Brown family bible and the John Sleght family record appeared.  There were also two primers, one of which contained a lock of Mary’s hair.  What a legacy!  And there was Caroline, daughter of John Dusenbury (1788-1875) and Mary Sleght (1785-1856) Brown.
Brown_JohnDusenbury_FamilyBible_Marriages_cropAccording to the bible, Mary Sleght was born on 4 June 1785 and married John D. Brown in 1812.  Oddly, the bible gives detailed dates for all but this event.  The couple then had six children: John S. (1813-1893), Caroline (1818-1878), Martha Jane (1819-1911), Eliza (1821-1875), and a set of twins Ann and Rachel born in 1825.
This information gave me enough ammunition, so to speak, to go looking for church and burial records.  I found death and burial information in the church records of the Pleasant Valley Freedom Plains Presbyterian Church.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnfortunately the church records do not start until 1827, so still no marriage date.  The bible record and the church record agreed on the date for Mary’s death on 19 September 1856. And I was then able to find an image of the grave marker.
These two family bible records have probably been out there for some time but I did not have the clues necessary to connect all the dots.  It really pays to loop back to ancestors that are not completely fleshed out.  New information and digital documents are being added to archives daily.  This #52Ancestors challenge has been really helpful in reminding me of this!