Moses Cowdrey and family

I have already written about the Buttles line of the family that made the move from Connecticut to Pennsylvania but as I mentioned there, Jarvis Buttles returned to Connecticut for his bride Alma Cowdrey. I’ve been working on this line lately and thought I would put it out into the genealogical stratosphere in the hopes that someone knows more than I do. The Cowdrey line is complicated due to the wild spelling changes that occurred during the 19th century as various branches of the family chose “their” spelling: Cowdrey, Cowdery, Cowdry.


Alma Cowdrey was the fifth child of Moses Cowdrey (1773-1858) and Zeruiah Phelps Cowdrey (1776-1861). The Cowdrey’s were settled in the north west corner of Hartland Township in Hartford County, Connecticut. Many of Alma’s siblings scattered across the midwest but a few stayed in Hartford and surrounding counties. Here is a breakdown of what I know of each:

  • Lester Cowdrey (1798-1813): lived just long enough to merit a death notice in the Hartford Courier.
  • Lucy Cowdrey (1800-1862): twin to Lydia, she married Samuel Gates and had four children: Infant (1819), Orson Cowles Gates (1820-1885), Unwin Cooper Gates (1824-1859) and Jemuel Clinton Gates (1829-1915). They appear to have stayed in Hartford. Samuel is involved in the settlement of Phelps Cowdrey’s estate.
  • Lydia Cowdrey (1800-): twin to Lucy, she married Lemuel Foster (born in Barkhamsted, Connecticut in 1799, graduated Yale Seminary in 1831). In 1832 Foster was commissioned by the American Home Missionary Society to Illinois, arriving in Jacksonville, Illinois on October 10, 1832.  A journal (kept first by him, then by her) describes their home missionary experiences in Illinois during the mid 19th century.
  • Phelps Cowdrey (1803-1811): died young.
  • Alma Cowdrey (1805-1843): married Jarvis Buttles and moved to Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Interesting that the 1850 Census for Moses and Zeruiah includes Julina Buttles, daughter of Alma and Jarvis. She died young and I am not sure if she had been sent east for medical treatment.
  • Jerusha Cowdrey (1809-1838): married Samuel Jones Hayes in McLean County, Illinois. They both died very young with no issue.
  • Phelps Cowdrey (1811-1853): married Emily Holcomb and had four daughters: Zeruiah Miriam, Lydia Foster, Emily Jerusha and Alma E.Cowdrey. He died insolvent and without a will, a fact gleaned from his estate record and the notices appearing in the Connecticut Courant August 1853.
  • Lester Cowdrey (1814-1899): married Emeline Emmons, remained in Hartland his entire life. They had one daughter Sarah Jane Cowdrey Bushnell (1844-1918).
  • Julina Cowdrey (1816-1899): married Milo Hart (1811-1895) and settle on a farm in Watertown, Connecticut. They have six children:  Melissa Hart, Lucius Hart, Rachel Janet Hart, Adaline Hart, Owen Hart, and Foster Hart.
  • Melissa Cowdrey (1817-1885): born when her mother was 43! Married Lucius L. Loomis and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where they had three children: Gertrude Loomis, Lysander Loomis and Luella Loomis.

This family scattered all over the place and I would imagine that they kept in touch by mail. However, I don’t have much beyond the record of marriages and deaths that Alma C. Buttles passed on to her children. If anyone has insights, please share.

Adventure comes in many forms

This week in #52ancestors the theme is Adventure and I decided to write about the farthest flung family on my tree: the Negus family.  The Negus line hangs off the Van Syckel line in Hunterdon County, New Jersey as one of Aaron Van Syckel’s grandchildren (by Daniel (1790-1861)) Isabella Van Syckel married James Engle Negus of Philadelphia.

Negus_James_Engle_theft_Arkansas_Washington_Telegraph_Wed__Jun_21__1854_James Engle Negus (1809-1884) starts out in Philadelphia where he is a wealthy merchant and chief weight clerk at the U. S. Mint in Philadelphia. However, in June of 1854, Negus is exposed for short weighting gold at the Mint. He made immediate restitution (for tens of thousands of dollars, if the newspapers are to be believed) and flees with his family to England. He later returns to the US and settles with his mother Susan, his wife Isabella and daughter Susan Engle in Somerset County, New Jersey where he owned a great deal of farmland. This may explain why I cannot find the family in the 1860 Census, and then find them in Franklin township, Somerset, NJ in 1870. James apparently saw the error of his ways, as he becomes a successful gentleman farmer in Franklin. His mother dies there, as do Isabella and Susan.

James Engle Negus and Isabella Van Syckel Negus have four children: Robert Patterson Negus (1838-1884), Susan Engle Negus (1840-1915), James Engle Negus (1842-1903) and William Shippen Negus (1844-1914).  William S. Negus appears to have been in finance. James E. Negus served with distinction in the Civil War and settled in Greenville, Mississippi where he was a banker. Susan Engle Negus never married but was active in many women’s organizations including the DAR. Robert Patterson Negus is the traveler and the one who caught my eye when the topic of adventure came up.

A group of Masons in front of the Oxford Hotel, Sydney, Australia. Robert P. Negus is in front with his right hand over his heart.

Robert Patterson Negus (1838-1884) was born and raised in Philadelphia. I have seen mention of his education in Europe as an engineer. He may have gotten the travel bug as the family flitted about England and Wales. He was in New Zealand in 1863 when he married Mary Ann Hargrave (1838-1881), daughter of Captain William Hargrave of Sandridge. They had seven children:

  • Mary Ann Isabella Negus (1864-1950) married David James Bardwell Smith
  • Susan Engle Emiline Negus (1866)
  • Charlotte Ernestine Negus (1868-1949) married Edward V. French
  • William James Hargrave Negus (1871) 
  • Selinda Parry Negus (1872-1959) married twice
  • Horatio Van Syckel Negus (1874-1966)
  • Virginia Louise Negus (1876-1956)

However, neither Robert nor Mary Ann Negus would live to see their 45th birthday. Mary Ann died in 1881 and Robert died 2 October 1884. This tragedy meant that four of the seven children needed a new home. Mary Ann Isabella Negus, while the eldest, could not take on the raising of her siblings. She married shortly after her father’s death, and was possibly courting David Smith when all this was going on. Courtship of a young woman is one thing, taking on a ready made family quite another. In any case, the four younger siblings are sent back to America to live with their grandmother Isabella VS Negus and aunt Susan Engle Negus.


Interesting side note: the guardianship proceedings distinguish between Charlotte who is over 14 and the three children under 14. Each is noted as having about $500 to their name. James Engle Negus seems to have helped manage some of these proceedings but by my reckoning he is settled in Mississippi at this time with a wife and three children. However, William Shippen Negus appears to have settled in Bound Brook and so he may also have been involved in retrieving the children. Possibly their adventure was travelling by steamer across the world without an adult!

This line represents a fascinating side trip and I want to thank cousin Melanie Ealey for bringing it to my attention. Her email to me was exactly what I was hoping would happen when I started this blog!

The Elliott family connection

Helen Elliott (1902-1962)

I haven’t posted any photographs recently, so here goes! This weeks’ #52ancestors #52familyphotographs brings a breakthrough on the Wells family line. My great grandmother was a Wells from Burlington County, New Jersey.  However, her father’s sister Mary married a Lippincott and they settled in Cumberland County.

I had not ever been able to make the connection between the Mamie who wrote notes on the backs of these adorable postcards and my tree. Today I decided to conquer this line of the Wells family and low and behold, Henry and Mary Wells Lippincott had two daughters, Mamie and Abbie.

Mamie (or Margaret, she went as both) married Harry Bishop Elliott in 1901 and they had two children: Helen Elliott (1902-1962) and Walter Scott Elliott (1914-1999). I hope the Elliott family descendants find these images as interesting as I did. I love the look on Walter’s face, as I have similar pictures of my father with that “butter would not melt in his mouth” look.


Johannis Van Ryper becomes John Van Riper

I find it amusing that my genealogical Waterloo falls to a man who actually died near Waterloo (New York, that is). I have been working on building out my direct lines and making sure I had surnames for wives and other housekeeping. My Van Ripen/VanRiper line switches spelling mid 19th Century and I am not sure if this is universal to the Dutch or if something else was going on. I need to read more general history of the Dutch settlements in New Jersey. But I digress, let’s get back to John Van Riper.

The Van Riper clan landed in New Jersey very early (still working on that). John Van Riper is born into an established farming family. In the records of the Dutch Reformed Church, his name varies from Johannis Van Ryper to Jon Van Ripen with everything in between. And with a name like John…


John Van Riper was born on 30 August 1766 and was baptized on 21 September 1766 in the church at Acquackanonk (now Passaic). On 11 March 1798 he married Geertje Doremus at Acquackanonk. Interesting side note: Geertje can Anglicize to Gertrude or Charity or Gitty and this Geertje did all at different times in her life.


Johannis and Geertje had many children and I am still working on the definitive list. This is what I have so far:

  • Antje Van Riper (1799-?) Not sure if she survives infancy, but I have a birth/baptism record. Is this the Anne who married Garret A Van Riper who is mentioned in John Van Riper’s will?
  • Peter Van Riper (1801-1881) Moves to Seneca County, NY and is mentioned in John’s will
  • Peggy Van Riper (1802-) Is this the Margaret mentioned in John’s will as Margaret Vreeland, widow of Michael Vreeland?
  • Elizabeth Van Riper (1803-1889) married Nicholas Vreeland (1789-1873) This is my great grandmother, married Nicholas Vreeland.
  • John G Van Riper (1805-?) No birth/baptism but John’s will is full of this man and his son Henry Doremus Van Riper and his wife Sarah
  • Mary Ann/Polly Van Riper (1810-1890) no birth/baptism record but mentioned in John’s will
  • Emeline Van Riper (1812-1890) no birth/baptism record but mentioned in John’s will
  • Simeon Van Riper (1816-1910) birth/baptism record, not mentioned in will, lived in Iowa and died in California
  • Garret Van Wiper (1819-?) birth/baptism record, mentioned in John’s will (NOT Garret A Van Riper), does this Garret go off to Michigan?
  • Henry Van Riper (? – ?) no birth or baptism but appears in John’s will as “son”


This one is truly a work in progress. I have scrolled through the Dutch Reformed church records online in Ancestry and have pieced together some of the children.  Other online family trees give me lots of names but no records to back them up. Due to some of the naming conventions, I do not want to make any assumptions about exact parentage, and so I have checked records for Acquackanonk, Passaic, Persepeney (now Montville).

I did get parent’s names to pencil into the tree but way more research needs done before I declare that information. Thanks to #52ancestors I am adding names to the tree and records to my files!

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