Emmet Van Syckel was my very first lesson in “never assume people stay in one place.” Emmet was the third of four children of Chester (1838-1907) and Mary Jane Mount (1844-1917) Van Syckel and the only boy. His father was a prominent Flemington, NJ lawyer and he is mentioned in his father’s obituary in the New Jersey Law Journal (v. 30, 1907): “Emmet, who is engaged in the general merchandise business in the State of Washington.”
Emmet lead me a merry chase because he did not remove from New Jersey to Washington, nothing so simple. Emmet was born 1 June 1873 in Flemington and appears with the family in 1880. In 1887 he is baptized at the Flemington Baptist Church. In 1900, he is nowhere to be found in New Jersey. Luckily, he is not a Smith. After much searching, I ran him to ground in Diamondville, Uinta County, Wyoming, where he is employed as a clerk in a clothing store. I then found a newspaper article from October 1903 that said he had recently come from Pueblo, Colorado to work for the Washoe Company of Montana. However, on 3 May 1906, he accepts the position as postmaster of Finley, Benton County, Washington and he holds this position through 13 January 1908. I next found him in Idaho, where he is employed as a general merchandise salesman at a store in Buhl, in Twin Falls County.
I know he goes back to visit his family in the east because the Flemington newspapers also cover his comings and goings from 1903 to 1916.
Emmet next appears in Detroit, Michigan where he fills out a draft card on 12 September 1918 and appears in the census. And here he stays for at least twenty years, so the Census tells me. His sister Mary Van Syckel visits him in Detroit in 1925, where according to city directories, he is running a grocery store.
Louise Tompkins remembers that she and her sisters received a small legacy from him when he died, but she was not sure where he was living at the time. I eventually tracked him down to Tampa, Florida and wonder if this is where he retired.