Joseph N. Gibbs and the Quaker connection

The Gibbs surname appears several times on my family tree, which is not surprising given that various portions of the family tree stayed in Burlington County, New Jersey for most of the 18th and 19th centuries. In the case of Joseph Gibbs (1781-1865) the intriguing part was reading the Quaker meeting records to get a better understanding of his family’s life and times.

MiddletownMonthlyMeeting_MinutesofFriends_p48_crop_Middletown
The Quakers were great record keepers, in part because you either joined the meeting or you had a “birthright” to belong. As New Jersey and Philadelphia became more settled in the 18th century, there was considerable movement of individuals and families between meetings.  This all had to be tracked through the monthly minutes as well as the committees. The commentary can be sometimes perfunctory, sometimes fascinating.

I first find Joseph Gibbs requesting permission in February 1809 to join the Upper Springfield Meeting. The record explains very little but much later in the year, Joseph Gibbs and Elizabeth Ellis begin the cumbersome process of requesting permission to marry.  The final marriage certificate states that Joseph Gibbs, son of Benjamin and Deborah Gibbs of Dedford in Gloucester County, and Elizabeth Ellis, daughter of John and Elizabeth Ellis of Upperfreehold, have declared their intention to wed. It is signed by those present, but I don’t understand why Benjamin Gibbs’ name is not listed while John Ellis and family are.

Joseph and Elizabeth Gibbs may have remained at Upper Springfield until 1817 but the membership records are lost. On 8 May 1817, they transferred to the Mount Holly Monthly Meeting and stayed until 9 May 1844. At the time they joined they had three children. Shortly afterward their family increased with the addition of two more girls:

  • Martha Dorsey Gibbs (1811-1885) married John W. C Evans MD (1809-1860)
  • Susannah Ellis Gibbs (1814-1837) married Richard Jones (1812-1890)
  • Rebecca Howard Gibbs(1816-1877) M1 John Corneau M2 Nathan Ellis
  • Elizabeth E Gibbs (1818-bef. 1850) married Owen Shoemaker (1816-1898)
  • Josephine Abigail Gibbs (ca 1829-1886) married Martin M Cox (ca 1814-1875)

This seems to have been a turbulent time for most of the meetings in the area, which seems reasonable given the rapid growth of the area and the introduction of new technologies. Joseph’s name appears in several records in the 1820’s and 30’s as he and several other men in the Meeting are cautioned, censured and dismissed for joining groups (the local grange would be such a group). Late in the 1830’s, Joseph seems to have made some bad financial decisions and occurs debt, which is a real problem for the Quakers. I could pair the monthly and men’s meeting records with newspaper notices which asked creditors to present themselves to Samuel Ellis by a certain date.

JosephGibbs_Debt_crop

In 1844, the Gibbs family requested that their certificate be moved to Middletown, Pennsylvania, in Bucks County, Joseph and Elizabeth were accompanied by their minor daughter Josephine and seem to have settled in Bristol for several years. They are there long enough to marry off daughter Elizabeth (to Owen Shoemaker) and to bury wife Elizabeth (death 15 October 1845), returning to Burlington County by 1849 when Joseph begins proceedings to join the Meeting there.  Fascinating sideways genealogy tidbit! In Quaker tradition all the Quakers at the meeting sign the marriage certificate: Richard Jones, Alice W. Jones, Benjamin Jones and Joseph G. Jones are all listed as signatures!

I need to do more research to find out what Joseph Gibbs does between 1849 and his death in 1865. On the census he is a gentleman (isn’t that just loaded with nuance) but I need to get into newspapers and other types of records to go beyond his acting as an elder in the Mount Holly meeting. Once again, if you have information, please share it!

Joseph Bird of Hunterdon County, NJ

I have long known that my great-great-great-grandfather Aaron Van Syckel Jr. married Mary Bird but I had not done much research on her line.  I took the #52ancestors challenge to see if I could complete the chain:

LTJ

I had an untraceable reference from a Van Syckel family history that Mary’s father was Joseph Bird.  Mary Bird was born 10 October 1799 and she married Aaron Van Syckel Jr. on 30 November 1816. I have yet to find a marriage record that names her father but in searching around online I found a family group sheet that outlined the Bird family and drew information from the family bible of Joseph Bird.  I have not been able to find the actual bible, but I hope that it is still out there and that someone would be nice enough to send me pictures of all the vital record pages.

That family group sheet really was a treasure trove of information, outlining the seventeen children of Joseph Bird (1770-1830) and Elizabeth Dilts (1777-1853). I will have to spend some time at the New Jersey Genealogical Society collection housed at the Alexander Library at Rutgers University. 

Joseph Bird, born 21 Dec 1770 and died 21 December 1830, lived his entire life in Hunterdon County and is buried in Bethlehem Presbyterian Church, near Clinton, NJ. His wife, Elizabeth Dilts was born 11 May 1777 and died 11 August 1853. Joseph appears to have been a farmer who died young. His will, made out in 1830, disposes almost everything to his wife and underage children. In an interesting side note, Joseph comments that having already given each of his adult children $400 to get them started in the world, the rest of the estate is to benefit the younger children and to provide for his widow.

So I have some clues and places to look, but I have confirmed that Mary is connected to Joseph Bird, and that will have to suffice for now.

William Tyrrell of Bradford County, Pennsylvania

William Tyrrell, and the whole Tyrrell clan, should be as easy to research as the Buttles, the Cowdrys, the Princes and the Hines. But, despite my best efforts, they remain shrouded in mystery. Staying true to my #52ancestors quest, I will write about them but I don’t have a lot of answers.

Map showing TyrrellMy Great-great-grandmother Catherine Tyrrel married James Edwin Hine.  Her parents were William L. Tyrrell and Lucy Charlotte Doane Tyrrell. Both of these families were active in the early settlement of Bradford County and the Tyrrell’s even have a hill named after them but William died at a young age, and Lucy remarried. But I am getting ahead of the story.

William Tyrrell was born around 1813, possibly in Bradford County but also possibly in Connecticut. On 8 November 1840 he married Lucy Charlotte Doane (25 January 1820-25 October 1887). They had five children:

  • Catherine E. Tyrrell (1842-1868)
  • Joseph Tyrrell (1844-1864)
  • Jane Tyrrell (1847-?)
  • Eliza Tyrrell (1848-1863)
  • Seymour Tyrrell (1851-1917)

William Tyrrell died on 9 August 1852 and is buried in the Tyrrell Hill Cemetery. Lucy found herself with five children under ten years of age.  William does not appear to have left a will and his $1000 worth of real estate (1850 Census) must have been held in trust for his children. Although the will index showed no William Tyrrell, I found an 1866 newspaper notice noting a partial account of C G Gridley guardian of Jennie and Seymour Tyrrell. The children do appear to have been split up amongst family as Catherine and Joseph are living with H C and Almira Tyrrell. Eliza and Seymour are living with Lucy and her second husband (a truly mixed family as Orinn Ross appears to have children from his first marriage, Lucy and Williams’s and then two new children oddly named Lucy and William).

Only two of William’s five children live beyond their twenties. Seymour stays in the Bradford County environs but Jane appears to have married a man named Camp and moved to the deep Midwest, eventually settling in Oklahoma.

There are other Tyrrells in the Bradford County area, but as I cannot find William’s parents, I have not been able to track his siblings. I will keep coming back to this branch but an examination of land and probate/guardianship records will probably get me a few more details. Interesting observation though: most of the family on my father’s side started off on the north side of the Susquehanna River in Bradford County.

 

 

I went looking for her parents and found a slave

Well, this essay was supposed to be about something completely different, about someone completely different. And then a simple check of the 1860 Census brought me up short: nowhere in my growing knowledge bank of New Jersey history was there a mention that slavery was legal in 1860.  No that’s not a typo: slavery ended in New Jersey with the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865.

It began as a straight forward “fill in the missing ancestor” exercise. As I was verifying something in RootsMagic,  I noticed that I had never filled in the parents of my great grandmother.  In typical Squirrel fashion, I diverted for a moment to do a bit of research on the parents of Catherine Fisher (wife of Thomas Hiram Mount). I had a family notation that it was John Fisher but nothing further. Since this family was firmly settled in Mercer County, NJ by the middle of the 18th century, I started there and quickly found many references to John Fisher, born circa 1792, resident of West Windsor township. In bringing up the 1860 Census I was STUNNED to see the names and occupations of the people living in that household:

1860_US_Census_NJ_Mercer_WestWindsor_268_crop

Diana Updike, 76 year old female, black, Slave servant, born New Jersey.  Wait, what?!? Well, a deep dive into state history and I unearthed the fascinating fact (sarcasm much?) that although New Jersey had abolished slavery in 1804, that pertained to incoming or new slaves.  Resident slaves in 1804 remained slaves and their children served lengthy periods of indentured servitude and were freed at the will of their owners.  Slavery was abolished in 1865 in New Jersey the same way it was abolished in Kentucky, by the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

And that is where Diana/Dina fits in.  She is enslaved in 1804, she is enslaved and named in the 1860 Census and she is inherited by John Fisher’s wife Susan by deed of his will, probated after his death in 1863.

Fisher_John_Will_1863_p2_crop

I discovered that in 1865, upon the ratification of the 13th Amendment, New Jersey freed 16 slaves.  I have yet to find their names.  Diana/Dina, if you were one of those slaves, I would like to do you the honor of telling your story. I will continue to research this topic as I am able.

For now let me simply end the story with a bit of advice for anyone who thinks they have all the answers: you don’t know what you don’t know.