Vincent Van Nest

Van_Nest_Vincent_burial_1911This week of #52Ancestors lead me to Vincent Van Nest, whose birthday is 25 April 1837 and who joins the family tree by marrying Margaret Ann Mount, older sister to my direct ancestor Mary Jane Mount (1844-1917).  The Van Nest surname can hide in records as Van Nest, VanNest and Vannest, making it a bit tricky to find them.  Also I discovered this family marrying Mounts in many generations.  But the really interesting discovery happened when I tried to document Vincent’s parents.

Vincent Van Nest, born 25 April 1837, was one of two sons of Abraham (1799-1871) and Harriet Chamberlin Dye (1799-1872) Van Nest.  Vincent married Margaret Ann Mount (1840-1900) on 17 January 1861 at East Windsor and the couple had four children: Harriet, Hiram, Catherine, and Susan.  Margaret preceded her husband in death on 12 February 1900, and Vincent died 12 November 1911.  Vincent’s obituary remarks that he was “one of the best know and most respected me of this section” and he certainly had to take on quite a bit of responsibility at a young age.

Once I opened my searches to include all the possible variations on Van Nest, I was able to discover a bit more about Vincent’s family. His father was Abraham Van Nest, born 27 November 1799, in Hightstown, New Jersey (part of Middlesex County at this point).  He married Harriet Dye (born 3 December 1799, nee Chamberlin), who was the widow of Vincent Dye.  I find this naming pattern intriguing, as I don’t know many men who would willingly name their son after their wife’s dead spouse.

Abraham and Harriet Van Nest have two sons: Vincent D. Van Nest and Abram Bergen Van Nest.  I am not sure what happens to Abram Van Nest.  He appears in the 1863 Civil War draft records but by the 1870 Census his wife and son are living with Abraham and Harriet.  And the wills of both these people are fascinating.

Abraham Van Nest prepares a will in 1868 in which he divides his estate between his “beloved wife” Harriet and his daughter in law, Sarah E. Van Nest and her son Richard.  Everything is to go to his son Vincent upon the deaths of these two women.  The language about Abram is odd, mostly directing Sarah E. to receive income only if she remains married, otherwise the money reverts to Richard W. and is controlled by Vincent Van Nest, son and executor.  The will is probated on 15 February 1871.

Harriet Van Nest dies shortly after her husband on 1 November 1872.  Her will disposes of various bequests and then leaves the bulk of her estate divided between her son Vincent Vannest and her daughter in law Sarah E. Vannest “now or late the wife of my son Abram B. Vannest.”  She does not mention her grandson Richard W. Vannest at all, so possibly he has died.

This would be a case where the public record leaves me with little understanding of the family dynamics and there must have been some.  But Vincent should be remembered on his birthday and so I wish you a Happy Birthday, Vincent D. Van Nest!

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Joseph Huddell Roach

This week in #52Ancestors another “oh, this one will be easy, look what a unique name he has!”

Joseph Huddell Roach was born 17 April 1822 to Isaac (1786-1848) and Mary Huddell (1788?-?) Roach.  He was raised in Philadelphia and attended the University of Pennsylvania between 1836 and 1840. He married Eliza Walter Jones (1820-1894, daughter of Walter Moore Jones) on 15 April 1846.  They had two children, Joseph Chandler Roach (1847-1888) and Mary Huddell Roach (1848-1912).

This was one research project that irritated.  It is hard not to project my 21st century sensibilities onto this family but the men were mostly coasting on the previous generation’s income and the women barely get mentioned in any records, including obituaries!  Mary Huddell Roach does not even merit a mention in husband Isaac’s death notice, although none of his children do, either.

stpeters-epis-yardJoseph Roach is listed in records as a merchant, but I can find little to document what and where he did business.  He is more likely to get mentioned for his memberships in the Schuylkill Skating Club or the Social Art Club (later the Rittenhouse Club).  He also served in Captain John Cadwalader’s Artillery Company in 1844.  In 1876 he was elected to the vestry of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, but he died a month later on 16 May 1876.  He is buried in St. Peter’s Churchyard, but don’t look for his wife there.  After much searching, I discovered that she was Catholic and was buried in New Cathedral Cemetery, at 2nd and Butler Streets.  Although I found cemetery record books that show this and also show her buried near her son Joseph Chandler, he appears to have a monument near his wife, as well, in St. Denis Cemetery, Haverford.

I keep thinking that there should be more out there on this whole family, but I think I will have to pay a visit to a few archives in Philadelphia to fill in the blanks.  Int he meantime, Happy Birthday, Joseph Huddell Roach!

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Grace Elizabeth Tompkins

AVTAlbum5.GraceETompkinsThis week of #52ancestors brings us to Grace Elizabeth Tompkins, eldest daughter of my great grandfather Samuel Dusenbury Tompkins (1839-1926).  I had the wrong birth date in for her but this entry gave me a chance to interview Louise Tompkins about her memories and so I am posting it on 4/10 as opposed to 10/4!

Grace Elizabeth Tompkins was born on 4 October 1869, in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Her parents, Samuel D. and Gettianna Vreeland Tompkins had married the previous year and were settled in residence with her parents, Nicholas and Elizabeth Vreeland.  Educated in Jersey City schools, Grace went on to Vassar College, graduating in 1892.  She returned home to the big family house on Communipaw Ave. where she is listed in the 1900 Census with no occupation, but the society pages of the Jersey Journal mention numerous fancy parties and entertainments both hosted and attended.  She was involved in Vassar alumna events as well as a group called the Odd Volumes which appears to have been a kind of book club.  Louise Tompkins shared her memory of the Odd Volumes: “everyone was a member, Florence (Voorhees), Aunt Lou (Louise Tompkins Voorhees), my mother and grandmother (Ann Van Syckel Tennant and Katharine Tennant Tompkins).  They reviewed books and that sort of thing.”

Diary_GlasgowI know Grace took one extended trip with her mother and sister Louise because she left a diary among her possessions and it has come down to me.  I do not know what year the trip is but it is some time before 1918 as it mentions her mother and Gettianna dies in February 1918.  I think it may be 1907 as the diary starts with a family send off and she mentions that she is sailing on the S. S. Carpathia.  Anyone familiar with the story of the Titanic knows this ship was probably busy in April of 1912 and Grace starts the diary on April 27th.  The diary gives descriptions of ship life, ports of call and also mentions land travel, especially in the British Isles.  I note especially that Grace attended services at Glasgow Cathedral on August 26th, the same cathedral visited by Louise Tompkins and myself over 100 years later on a never-to-be-forgotten visit to the Scottish Highlands.

USSCaroniaAfter her mother’s death in 1918, Grace traveled with her father as well as acting as hostess at various social events at the house on Communipaw Ave. Although I know that Grace traveled abroad extensively before this, one trip caught my attention because it was mentioned in the newspapers.  In 1927, Grace traveled abroad to Europe with an interesting intersection of female relatives: Louise Tompkins Voorhees, Florence Voorhees, Eleanor Tompkins (her niece) and Miss Ethel Hodsdon (a cousin from the Tennant side of the family).

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117 Bentley Ave.

After her father’s death Grace moved from the Communipaw Ave house to a smaller home at 117 Bentley Ave.  I don’t know why she is missing from the 1930 Census but 117 is skipped.  She was in town, as I have stalked her through the newspapers and she is either attending or hosting events in April, 1930 from 117 Bentley Ave. Again, talking to Louise Tompkins gave me a little insight: “Auntie Grace lived up the street from us in a house that was divided.  She had a maid and a chauffeur.  The chauffeur’s name was David, he was a Scotsman and very nice to us children.  We used to roller skate in the driveway because we didn’t have one at our house.” Louise Tompkins also remembered that Grace owned Cocker Spaniels and that she was a very astute investor, like her brothers.

Grace Tompkins eventually moved to 2600 Boulevard (called the Duncan then) to the same building as her sister and niece, Florence Voorhees.  Louise and Grace both had corner apartments on different floors with identical floor plans and sweeping views of the Meadowlands. I remember visiting Florence much later on and thinking she had a lovely view.  Grace died on 26 June 1964 and is buried at Arlington Cemetery in Kearny.  When my brother and I were children, my mother Anne Tompkins Jones and her sister Louise would take us to the cemetery each spring to clean up the landscape around the family plots.  It is a beautiful old cemetery with lovely monuments.  It is also a short drive from the Short Hills Mall but that is another story for another day.

Sabrina Hine Hines

Hine_Sabrina_ArzillacropMy first introduction to Sabrina Arzilla Hine was in 1990 or so.  I was visiting Dad’s cousin Edith Hine in Athens, Pennsylvania, and she handed me an envelope and asked me to take good care of the contents.  Inside were some family letters to Sabrina from her brothers written during the 1860’s.  How cool! And how honored I was to receive such a gift.  And so it is with pleasure that I share these treasures this week of #52ancestors, especially as she is an aunt although not maiden one!

Sabrina Arzilla (or Arzeally) Hine, known as Brina, was born 4 April 1845 to Henry W. (1806-1868) and Mary Craw Frost Hine (1808-1889).  The Hines are from New York, but it’s the part of New York that is called the southern tier, and the boarder between Bradford and Tioga counties didn’t mean much to the farmers, loggers and merchants who settled the area.  Sabrina was the youngest of six children and the two closest to her age were Erasmus Percival Hine and Harlow Augustus Hine.  Wonderful names.

Camp SceneSabrina’s brother Percival joined the 141 Pennsylvania Volunteers at the start of the American Civil War, and served in Company D along with many friends and neighbors.  This was the war in which the Americans would learn that while on paper the idea of serving with your brothers and neighbors might look like it would inspire bravery, but in reality it destroyed whole communities when their young men were wiped out in a single battle.  Percy’s letters comment on his comrades, many of whom Sabrina knew, including their own father.

Although she lost her brother to typhoid fever on 30 Dec 1862, Sabrina was proud of her family’s military heritage.  I recently found the record of her Daughters of the American Revolution application under her maternal connection to Aaron Frost who served as a private in the Connecticut militia.

Sabrina married Joseph Hines, a local drug store owner in Athens, on 31 December 1863.  They had no children.  Sabrina died on 2 March 1914 and both she and Joseph are buried at Tioga Point Cemetery in Athens.

I hope that both Sabrina and Edith know that I am taking very good care of their legacy and that they would be pleased that I am sharing their story with you today.  Happy Birthday, Sabrina Hine Hines!

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