Daniel Vreeland

This week in #52ancestors I am simply trying to fill in a few blanks.  I know I don’t have the full story, but I may never have the full story on this family.  I have branches of my family tree that frustrate me, some challenge me, some just irritate me.   The Vreelands exhaust me.  There are so many of them and they all have the same first and last names and no one cares about the women, beyond whom they marry and whether there are male children.  Okay, I know, cry me a river already.

The Vreelands arrive in the area now known as Jersey City, Hoboken and Bayonne in the 17th century.  They bring their talent for farming and their strong business sense and their shear fecundity.  Each direct ancestor in my line has at least ten children, although the rate of infant mortality is astonishing.  I think this is one of the reasons that the same names are used over and over.

My great, great, grandfather Nicholas Vreeland (1789-1873) had nine such brothers and sisters.  It is the next youngest, Daniel Vreeland, that I write about today.

Daniel Vreeland was born on 27 February 1791 in Jersey City to Michael (1758-1825) and Geertje Sickles (d. 1815) Vreeland.  Of course, it wasn’t Jersey City then, but Bergen, which was part of Bergen County.  On 23 January 1813, Daniel married Cornelia Newkirk.  They had seven children, all of whom were born in Bergen: Jane (1813-1895), Michael D. Vreeland (1817-1893), Aaron N. (1819-1901), Gertrude Sickles (1822-1909), Cornelius V. R. (1825-1894), Nicholas D. (1828-?) and Daniel S. (1831-?).

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1850 Agricultural Census analysis

I have found the family in each Census since 1830, simple farmers in a large farming community.  Unfortunately, because I have been unable to look at an agricultural census for New Jersey that lists individual farms, I have had to rely on statistical data like the 1850 and 1860 analyses of agricultural produce.

 

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1860 Agricultural Census Analysis

This, and the value of the family farm in 1860, $25,000 in real estate, lead me to believe that the farm was productive.  If it was part of the Vreeland celery farms collective, I do not know, but these seem to have been well respected.

 

Daniel Vreeland died on 22 August 1867 and the funeral was held at the home of his grandson, William H. Speer, who was the son-in-law of Daniel’s oldest daughter Jane.   Daniel left a will, which was quite helpful in spelling out his children’s marital status and favor in his sight.  His wife Cornelia was to receive a money through a trust administered by their oldest son Michael.  The first five children receive equal shares outright.  Daniel S. Vreeland is to receive one share in trust to be distributed “from time to time.” One share was to be held in trust for the “use and benefit of the children of Nicholas D. Vreeland the net income thereof to be paid to them from time to time according to the discretion of my said executors.”

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Daniel Vreeland Will 1867

Nicholas D. and Daniel S. Vreeland have been hard to track through public records, but both seem to have had trouble maintaining themselves and their families.  This may be the reason they are excluded from a direct legacy in the will.  Nicholas appears to have fought in the Civil War in the 22nd Regiment, NJ Volunteers.  He is hard to track in the Census but when he is listed his occupation is carpenter and he is enumerated within another family household.  He appears in newspaper entries as running a public house which has a contentious relationship with law enforcement.  He  may appear in city directories as a garden farm laborer.  He and his wife Catherine are mentioned occasionally due to very public marital problems.  Daniel is also enumerated with family with an occupation of wheelwright but he also appears in newspapers on drunk and disorderly reports.  He also may appear in city directories as a gardener.  It is something to follow up on but I have seen enough Civil War veteran stories to think that these two might be suffering from what we now think of as PTSD.  At the very least, they do not seem to have come home and settled back happily on the farm.

Cornelia followed her husband in death on 30 March 1870, and again, the funeral is from the home of William H. Speer.  Both Cornelia and Daniel are buried in the Old Bergen churchyard in Jersey City.  It is possible that Nicholas and Daniel are buried nearby but more information is needed to make that certain.  Always more to do!

 

Richard Jones

If there were a household I could go back in time to visit, it would probably be the one headed by Richard Jones.  This week in #52Ancestors I would like to explore the life of a person who oddly intimidates me from the grave and for whom my brother and I have many heirlooms passed down through the generations.

Jones_RIchard_portraitRichard Jones was born 21 February 1812, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Benjamin (1767-1849) and Mary Howell (1778-1836) Jones.  His birth is recorded in Quaker meeting records as one of the first five of what would ultimately be seven children.  Benjamin was in the iron business and rose from iron monger to gentleman, if city directories have any real say in the matter.  The family appears to have divided their time between Philadelphia and Hanover, New Jersey.  Burlington county is across the Delaware River from Philadelphia but my mind boggles at the idea of transporting a crowd of children back and forth using whatever transportation was available.

Richard married his first wife, Susan Ellis Gibbs (1814-1837) on 13 June 1833 and they had two boys, Benjamin Jones (1833-1896) and Joseph Gibbs Jones (1834-1895).  Sadly, Susan died in 1837.  Richard then married Alice Woodmansie Davis in 1841 and they had five children.

Jones_Richard_Patent_1869Although Richard appears to have gone to work early in the family foundry business at Hanover, NJ, he also seems to have been interested in diversifying the family holdings.  He and his brother Samuel Howell Jones established and dissolved several businesses in Hanover, Florence and Trenton between 1845 and 1870.  The pipes used in the Boston Water Works in 1847 came from Hanover Furnace.  In 1850 Richard was a principle in the New Jersey Exploring and Mining Company.  He established the New Jersey Zinc Paint Company, most likely as a result of his experiments with and eventual patents on zinc oxide extraction (1854 and 1869).  Richard was definitely something of a chemical genius but I am not sure about his business expertise.  The iron industry in the 19th century was a risky business. with many smaller operations failing due to pressures of the economy and production expenses.

By the mid 1870’s, Richard and Alice Jones are back in Philadelphia, residing at 1818 Delancy Street. Richard died here on 29 October 1890, and is buried in the churchyard cemetery at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Mount Holly, New Jersey.  Many items have come down through the family, including three lovely chairs, part of what was probably a much larger set.  I think of the dinner parties and other conversations that those chairs have witnessed over the years and wonder…

Happy Birthday, Richard Jones!

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Katharine Van Syckel Tennant Tompkins

This week for the #52Ancestors challenge I am writing about someone I knew: my Granny.  I only knew her for a short while but her daughters (Anne, Mary and Louise) kept her alive in my mind with their stories.  I have some of my own memories as well, although they have the haze of childhood about them.

0013_Tompkins_Katharine_1_resizeKatharine (with an A, thank you) VanSyckel Tennant was the first child born to Anne Vansyckel and George Grant Tennant.  She was born 15 February 1899 in Jersey City where her father and mother lead a fairly high profile life.  George Tennant was a lawyer, judge and member of the school board.  Their social life is tracked in the Jersey Journal quite regularly.

One of the first news articles about Katharine appeared shortly after her birth but was not a birth announcement.  “Miss Tennant’s Musicale” was her first according to the article in the Jersey Journal on 31 May 1899, and although it is remarked that she did attend, the evening was a pleasant one with violin, cello, piano and singing.

Lincoln_High_school_postcard_Large_JCFPLKatharine was soon joined by a brother George Grant Jr. (1900-1982) and a sister Jean Cardiff Tennant (1905-1990).  She and her siblings attended Lincoln High School, which their father was instrumental in establishing. Katharine went on to attend Vassar College, graduating with the class of 1920.  After college she met and married Harold Doremus Tompkins (1888-1951).  Their engagement and wedding were closely tracked by the Jersey Journal, and there seems to be disappointment in the tone of the articles reporting on the parties and ceremony attended only by family and close friends. They stopped in Bermuda on their wedding trip but I’m not sure where else they traveled to, as they were gone three weeks.

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132 Bentley Ave.

Harold and Katharine brought three little girls into the world: my mother Anne Van Syckel Tompkins (1923-1994), Mary Vreeland Tompkins (1925-) and Louise Tompkins (1928-).  They lived at 132 Bentley Avenue in Jersey City.  There were family vacations in Dorset, Vermont, and Central Valley, New York and work with various organizations to fill her time.  In 1940 the family moved from Jersey City to Summit, New Jersey to a big house on Oak Ridge Avenue.  Here Katharine joined the Central Presbyterian Church, the Summit College Club AAUW, the Fortnightly Club, the Vassar College Club and the YWCA.

After Harold’s death in 1951, Katharine moved into smaller quarters at 35 Valley View Ave.  This is the house I remember.  There was a large front yard with several big trees and after drawing a picture on a big white sheet of paper, we would go out to the front yard to collect fallen twigs with which we made a picture frame.  We also ironed pretty fall leaves between pieces of wax paper and other crafty activities.  I think my brother was off playing with some neighborhood boys and these were my consolation prizes.  I also remember tasting Fluffernutter spread here for the first time but my mother insisted that Granny would never have fed me such garbage, so I guess we’ll just have to disagree on that.

Katherine Tompkins died at home on 1 February 1972.  Her heart had never been strong and one night it just gave out.  The funeral on the 5th was at Central Presbyterian and she is buried next to her husband in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny.  I don’t remember the funeral but I do remember the trip to the cemetery which I thought very disturbing.  For over a decade after, every spring vacation was spent in Princeton with Louise Tompkins and we would trek up to the cemetery on the way to spring shopping at the Short Hills Mall.  The ivy growing on their grave was tenacious and we would trim and thin it (by we I mean my brother and I would watch my mother and aunt do this) and haul the cuttings to the trash.  It is my understanding that the ivy has been removed in the name of landscaping, and I can’t say I’m sorry.

Happy Birthday, Katharine Van Syckel Tennant Tompkins!

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Burns Wilson Mount

This week of #52Ancestors brings me back to the Mount family, but focuses on the branch of the family that migrated out to Ohio.  How helpful it would have been to have known about this group when I actually lived in Ohio.  I chose Burns Wilson Mount because his birthday falls in this week and because the prompt this week is “favorite name.”

It can be especially challenging for research when your subject has a really unusual name that is made up of very common words.  Initial searches lead me to many people who died of burns near Mount Healthy.

Burns Wilson Mount was born on 7 February 1897 in Warren County, Ohio to Addison and Clara Moses Mount.  Addison Mount migrated from Hightstown, New Jersey when he was 17 years old and his children are the first generation to be born in Ohio.  Burns was the youngest of six sons raised on a farm in Butler County.  When he was 17 two major life events happened for him: he married Kathleen Frazee and he enlisted in the Ohio National Guard, eventually serving as a private in the 166th Infantry in World War I.

Burns and Kathleen Mount had two children, Arthur B. and Ralph E., both of whom also served in the military during World War II.  After serving in WWI, Burns returned to Ohio and got a job in a steel mill, where he worked for the next twenty years at least.  Unfortunately, creative searching strategies have not lead me to any images of Burns although I did find entries for his two boys in the Young Patriots of World War II publication.Mount_ArthurandRalph_WWIIYoungPatriots_crop

Burns Mount died 29 October 1959 and is buried with military honors at Woodhill Cemetery in Franklin, Ohio.  His wife Kathleen (1897-1968) is buried next to him.  As recently as 2012 someone had decorated the grave with an American flag, which is fitting for a 20 year old who went off to France so many years before.  Happy Birthday, Burns Wilson Mount!

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