Abraham VanWagnen Tompkins

Tompkins_AbrahamVW_portraitThis week in #52ancestors, I successfully resolved the questionable legitimacy of Samuel D. Tompkins by finding the correct marriage date of his parents, Abraham Van Wagnen and Caroline Sleght Brown Tompkins.

Abraham Van Wagnen Tompkins was born on 24 December 1816 in Dutchess County, New York to Michael and Rachel Schryver Tompkins.  I know very little of his early life and schooling.

On 21 February 1838, he married Caroline Sleght Brown (1818-1878), the daughter of John Dusenbury (1788-1875) and Mary Sleght (1785-1856) Brown.  It pays to keep asking the same question of different types of documents: I was able to more accurately pinpoint this marriage date which conflicts by a year and a day with the Velie family bible.  The Poughkeepsie Eagle printed a marriage notice for Abraham and Caroline on 9 March 1838 which made a huge difference in the legitimacy of their first child!

They went on to have nine children in total:

  • Samuel Dusenbury Tompkins (1838-1926)
  • John A. Tompkins (1841-)
  • Jane Ann (Jennie) (1844-1927)
  • Jacob M. (1846-1908?)
  • George Edward (1848-1869)
  • Frederick H. (1850-1897)
  • Mary Haviland (1852-1855)
  • Eugene (1855-1927)
  • James Lennard (1858-1944)

Abraham was a farmer.  Our branch of the family has very little documentation on him and I know of no object that was owned by him in the family holdings.  I did find him in the 1850 Agricultural census (Dutchess County, NY, 19 August 1850) which shows that he owned 100 acres of improved land and 27 acres unimproved.  The cash value of the farm was $7000, with an additional $300 worth of farm equipment.  He owned an unsurprising mixture of livestock and he was growing rye, corn, oats, potatoes, buckwheat and hay.  His dairy herd produced 400 lbs of butter, which was at the low end compared to other farmers in the area.

NY-Dutchess-County-New-York-1897-Map-Rand-McNally-Poughkeepsie
1897 Dutchess County atlas

In the 1860 federal census, Abraham had $10,000 worth of real estate and $1300 in property, which could show an improvement in his circumstances.  His eight surviving children are living in the household and they employ a woman named Mary Purdy, an African American domestic servant.  Also living in the house is a Catharine Sleight, aged 66, but I am not sure of her relationship to Caroline.  She is possibly an aunt, as her mother had a sister named Catharine.

Abraham died 7 January 1869, which is too early to get included in the 1870 mortality schedule.  It would have been nice to know who was living where at that point.  I await with bated breath the digitization of the Guardianship records for Dutchess County for 1869-1870, as these may answer some questions. As nearly as I can piece together, the children are scattered among the family, with one going here and another going there.  That is a puzzle for another day.

Tompkins_AbrahamVW_gravemarkerAbraham was buried 10 January 1869 at Freedom Plains Cemetery.  Caroline Brown Tompkins appears in the 1870 census to reside in the state asylum in Oneida and is still there in 1875.  She dies 1878 and is buried beside her husband.

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