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.

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