Arthur Wells Jones

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Arthur Wells Jones

Arthur Wells Jones is the subject of this week’s #52ancestors essay and one who benefited from the recent online publication of the Camden Courier-Post.  With all sorts of news to work through I was able to find an obituary; unfortunately the obituary was filled with information which conflicted with what I had documented.

Arthur W. Jones was born on 10 Dec 1875 at Pemberton, New Jersey to Benjamin and Mary Elizabeth Carroll Jones.  He married Anna Mary “Annie” Wells on 3 July 1900.  She was the daughter of Moses K. and Florence Lewis Wells.  They lived at this time in Pemberton, but I am not sure when they moved to Camden. Arthur and Annie had one child, Barclay Gibbs Jones, born on 30 May 1901.

MikeMulliganandsteamshovelAlthough the obituary made it sound like a recent move, evidence in the 1910-1930 censuses show that the Jones family was in Camden as early as 1910. At that time he was a steam car engineer, possibly for the Pennsylvania/NJ Railroad.  Their home is listed as 136 Dudley St., Camden.  By 1915, the family has moved to 309 N. 40th St., and in this census Arthur is listed as a “portable engineer,” a job title which intrigued me.  According to the International Steam Engineer of 1914, this is “one who operates a boiler or machine which directly furnishes or transmits power for any machine, appliance or apparatus used on or in connection with building operations, excavations or construction work, but does not include an operator of a drill.”  A union newsletter gave a much more understandable description: “The steam or power shovel was first invented by William T. Otis in 1839, but it did not see extensive use until after the American Civil War, when it was developed as a railway workhorse. The men who operated the shovels were known as portable engineers, to distinguish them from the stationary engineers.”  Pretty cool to think of Arthur Jones as playing the role of Mike Mulligan in my favorite children’s book Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel.

In 1920, Arthur appears to have been employed as an engineer in a shipyard and it is not clear whether this is still railroad work or not.  By 1930, Arthur was retired from the steam shovel business and listed his employment as “salesman, tea and coffee.”  Family stories line up with this as operating a milk delivery route with a side line in groceries.

Arthur died at Cooper Hospital on 26 February 1936 and is buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Pemberton, NJ.

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Barclay Gibbs Jones 1901-1924

Jones_BarclayG_1901-1924008My essay this week in #52ancestors concerns my grandfather Barclay Gibbs Jones.  I never met this man because he died before even my father was born.  His legacy lives on, however, in both his name and his deep-set eyes.  As I look through family photographs  of the wedding trip taken by Barclay and Kathryn Prince Jones, I see aspects of my father, brother and nephews in the turn of his head, his smile and his eyes.

Barclay Gibbs Jones was born on 30 May 1901 to Arthur Wells and Anna Mary Wells Jones.  He was their only child, which makes his early death all the more tragic.  The family were active members of the Rosedale Baptist Church and Barclay appears often in the newspapers organizing young people’s events for the church, as well as other social gatherings.  And young Kathryn Prince is present at most if not all of these parties.  I do remember my father saying that my grandmother loved to go about socially and that as a youngster he was often dragged about as she did her visiting.

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Barclay and Kathryn Jones

Barclay and Kathryn were married on 25 June 1924 at the home of George C. Prince (212 N. 38th Street, Rosedale.  The newspaper articles describe in detail the quiet ceremony surrounded by snapdragons and carnations.  The bride wore white Canton crepe with stockings and shoes to match.  The honeymoon was in Niagara Falls, after which the bride and groom returned to 212 N. 38th St. while they waited for their own home on Scoville Ave. in Hillcrest to be finished.  I don’t know if they ever even lived there, as Barclay died on Christmas eve.

I found among the family archives a little photo album that Kathryn Prince Jones made documenting their short life together.  The wedding pictures appear to have been taken outside 212 N. 38th St. and, in particular show off some stunning concrete porch columns.  I wonder if these are examples of the work Prince Concrete did, as I know they did a lot of porches and garages.

Barclay worked at Prince Concrete Co. and was apparently carrying cement blocks when he tripped over an oil can, the tip of which pierced his body.  I remember my father once telling me that the injury developed into blood poisoning which was what caused his death.  The final indignity of it all was to have his name so grossly misspelled in the paper that it took me ages to find it.

Barclay’s funeral took place in the same room he was married in seven months previously and he is buried under a simple marker at Bethel Memorial Park, Pennsauken.

 

 

Philip Hine Prince

In this #52Ancestors essay I am going to explore the life of a person I only remember dimly: Philip Hine Prince, the brother of my grandmother Kathryn Marie Prince Jones Preston.  He died when I was about 9, but I have a very vague memory of being with my family at my grandparent’s house at 22 Euclid Ave. in Merchantville, New Jersey and being told that this slight, spare man was my great uncle.  Not being well versed in genealogical terms, my young mind struggled to comprehend how someone so slight could be “great.”

Philip Hine Prince was born on December 3, 1896, to George Cornell and Minnie Arabella Hine Prince. While his older brother George Raymond Prince was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, Philip was the first child born in New Jersey after the family moved to New Jersey.  My grandmother came along several years later in 1904.

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1918 Philip and his mother Minnie Hine Prince

Both Raymond and Philip have Census entries marked for World War I service but I have only been able to document Philip’s service.  He joined up on 2 June 1918 at Fort Slocum, NY and was assigned as a private to Company B, 548th Engineers.  Before shipping out to France, Philip was promoted to sergeant.  The 548th was classed as an Engineer Service Battalion, and was  attached to the 20th Engineers. The 548th arrived in Cherbourg just as the Armistice was consummated, and were utilized in the great drive to keep the A. E. F. warm during the ensuing winter. Most of their service was in the northern districts and the upper Loire basin.

With his brother Raymond, Philip joined the family business, Prince Concrete Co.  On 3 February 1923, Philip married Gertrude Helen Williams (1893-1969), daughter of David C. and Martha Jane Reynolds Williams.  They had two children:

  • Phyllis Martha Prince (1926-1985) married John Howard Walter Perkins
  • Janet Rae Prince (1928-) married George W. Johnson
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Rosedale Baptist Church (image from Camden Courier Post

Philip and Gertrude were active in the Baptist church, attending and serving in many capacities at Rosedale Baptist Church.  I have quite a few memories of this church from summers spent with my grandparents Kathryn and Leonard Preston (Kay’s second husband.)  This was the first church in my memory that had a full immersion baptismal pool and I remember staring at it in wonder.  My grandfather carefully explained that it was not a swimming pool.  I had not, at the age of ten, ever seen anyone baptized, either infant or adult, so I am sure I pestered him with questions.

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Image from Rivertonhistory.com

Philip eventually rose to become vice president under his father at Prince Concrete.  He also served on the Pennsauken school board for two terms between 1954 and 1956, and then as president in 1957.

Philip Prince died 31 October 1974 at West Jersey Hospital in Camden and is buried at Bethel Memorial Park.

 

George Mortimer Prince and his two wives

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George Mortimer Prince

This week in #52ancestors I bring you quite the character: George Mortimer Prince.  He was born on 27 September 1837, the third of six children of George Washington (1808-1888) and Emmaline Terrell (1810-1884) Prince.

George M. served in the US Civil War in the 5th Regiment, New York Cavalry as a corporal in Co. G.  His dates of service are October 1861- November 1862. He is not mentioned in regimental histories and his military service was interrupted by a bad case of chronic diarrhea for which he was discharged.  But more on that later.

George M. Prince married Elizabeth Alma Buttles (1842-1906) on 5 March 1864. They had three children:

  • George Cornell Prince (1869-1959)
  • unnamed daughter (22 June 1875-23 June 1875)
  • Edna Mabel “Ted” Prince (1878-1947)
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George and Alma Prince

They lived in Bradford county, Pennsylvania until the late 1890’s when they relocated to Federalsburg, Maryland, bringing their daughter Edna Prince (Ted) with them.

Shortly after the death of his wife Alma (15 May 1906), George placed an advertisement in the York Gazette.  I find the summary of his story here somewhat confusing: he appears to have written to the postmaster stating that he had recently lost his wife by death and would “be pleased to correspond with a Hanover widow of forty-five or fifty years of age, with a view to matrimony.”  I don’t know if the rest of his letter explained his relationship with the people of Hanover, or if the postmaster simply assumed that a Civil War veteran writing fondly of Hanover must have fought in the battle at Hanover.  However, George Prince had already been discharged due to disability in November 1862, which to my mind would make it very tricky to take part in a battle that happened on June 30, 1863.  The 5th Cavalry was definitely there, engaged in hand to hand combat with Stuart’s cavalry, but George should have been at home by then.

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Hattie Duff Prince

He did, however, find a wife.  And this is where the story gets complicated.  My first inkling of this was in looking through a box of family photographs that came from my dad’s side of the family.  The photos all seemed to be identified by my grandmother, which made me wonder if my father had sat her down and made her look through them.  Among the Prince family images was a photo of a woman identified as “Hattie Duff, George M. Prince’s second wife?”  The question mark was part of her name.  When the dickens did he remarry?  Elizabeth Alma died in 1906 and George M. died in 1909 so this must have been a whirlwind romance, or something.

According to George’s Civil War pension record, George M. married Hattie E. Duff (ne Jessop, widow, aged 55 years (more likely 62 years)) on 10 November 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland.  Hattie Duff had apparently lived in Baltimore for some time with her first husband and children, but had been a widow since 1904.  George M. Prince died on 28 February 1909, leaving everything to his new wife.  She inherited everything, including his veteran’s pension.

This leaves me wondering just how his two surviving children felt about this.  Perhaps it is summarized in that question mark on the back of her photograph.

Here are two images of George Mortimer and Alma Buttles Prince at the end of their lives.

 

Chester Van Syckel

This week in #52Ancestors I am writing about Chester Van Syckel, a well educated and well connected attorney of Flemington, New Jersey.  I fear he may not have been well liked but I hesitate to cast aspersions on my great, great grandfather without actual data to back it up.

Chester Van Syckel was born on 6 June 1838 at Van Syckel’s Corners, a tiny burg in Union township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey.   He was the tenth child of Aaron (Jr., 1793-1874) and Mary Bird (1799-1863) Van Syckel.   An early letter from Chester to his brother Sylvester talks a bit about what life in Van Syckel’s Corners was like:

Lafayette College Pardee HallHe appears to have been sent away to school as a teen, first to Dr. John Vandeveer’s school and then to Lafayette College, both in Easton, Pennsylvania.  A bit of map-stalking will show that Easton is due west of Bethlehem, NJ, where the family was located in the 1850 Census.  Chester also benefited from having a famous and well placed brother: Bennett Van Syckel studied law at Princeton University, graduating in 1846 and he went on to serve as a justice on the NJ Supreme Court from 1869 to 1904.  This may have been what made it possible for Chester Van Syckel to attend Princeton, where he earned a Bachelors degree in 1862.

F._Childs_Lithograph_ca._1860_AC177_Box_1Shortly after graduation, Chester was admitted to the bar as an attorney and five years later in 1867 he was admitted as Counsellor at law.

For two years he was in business with his
brother Bennett, and afterwards was a member of the successive law firms of Bird, Voorhees & Van Syckel and Voorhees & Van Syckel, later practicing alone. He was a special Master in Chancery and a Commissioner of the Supreme Court. His legal opinions were very highly esteemed.  His obituary in the New Jersey Law Journal also mentions his active participation in affairs in Flemington, serving on the village board of trustees.

Chester married Mary Jane (Jane) Mount on 19 December 1865 in Hightstown, New Jersey.  The Mount family was an established Mercer County family but I have no information on how they met or courted.  Possibly, Chester was working for a client or on a case in the area.

Chester and Mary Jane Van Syckel had four children:

  • Mary Van Syckel (1867-1953)
  • Anne Van Syckel (1870-1938)
  • Emmet Van Syckel (1873-1955)
  • Jean “Jennie” Van Syckel (1875-1952)

Chester had settled in Flemington by 1860 and remained there after marriage to raise his family.  In December 1906, he traveled to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for an operation and never recovered his health.  He died on 3 March 1907 and is buried in the family plot in Prospect Hill Cemetery.

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You may very well wonder why I might think that such a well respected man might not have been well liked.  There is a family story, one I am not sure I can corroborate with evidence, that makes me think he may have fit the bill of the late Victorian patriarch.  I have been told that one of his daughters tried to harm him at the dining room table one day as a result of her disappointment over a suitor her father turned away.  Other than this story, I have only the census record showing her stay in the state mental hospital in Trenton.  Whatever event put her there happened after 1895 (she is still at home in the 1895 NJ census) and before 1900 when she is in Trenton.  I would like to know more, if only to address the family memory.

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.

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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.

Thomas Hiram Mount

This week in #52ancestors I got to explore guardianship records when an ancestor died intestate leaving minor children.  Thomas Hiram Mount was born on 11 April 1812 in East Windsor, Mercer County, NJ.  He was one of four children of Hiram (1786-1847) and Margaret Allen (1790-1865) Mount.

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He lived in a house purchased by his father in 1834 (online information incorrectly names his father as Ejirain) on One Mile Road in East Windsor where he brought his wife Catherine Fisher when he married her 14 January 1835.  She was known as Kate.  They had twelve children, nine of whom survived them:

  • Rebecca Ely Mount (1836-1898)
  • Mary Elizabeth Mount (1838-1849)
  • Margaret A. Mount (1840-1900)
  • John Mount (1842-1871)
  • Mary Jane Mount (1844-1917)
  • Hiram Mount (1846-1920)
  • William Mount (1848-1923)
  • Addison Mount (1850-1851)
  • Susan Matilda Mount (1852-1918)
  • Thomas Addison Mount (1855-1935)
  • Catharine Fisher Mount (1859-1929)
  • George C. Mount (1861-1911)

Thomas operated a brickyard and kiln, Thomas H. Mount and Company, at “Buzzard’s Point,” the intersection of Dutch Neck Road and Stockton Street.

On the last Census taken before Thomas’s death, the household consisted of Thomas and Catharine, son Hiram (age 23), son William (age 21), son Addison (age 15), daughter Matilda (age 17), daughter Catharine (age 11), and son George (age 8).  There are also two female servants, Anna Dutchess and Dina Laning.

Kate Fisher died on 9 July 1872 and is buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hightstown, New Jersey.  When Thomas died shortly thereafter (8 September 1876), he did not leave a will.  His son Hiram returned to New Jersey from Ohio and with his sister Rebecca E. Applegate and brother in law Vincent Van Nest, applied for letters of administration.  There are a few confusing pieces here as various documents seem to mix the identify of Thomas’s sister Rebecca with that of his daughter Rebecca.  Rebecca Mount (1814-1892) married and Abijah Ely and then married George Cox.  Thomas named his daughter Rebecca Ely Mount, after his sister.  That Rebecca married Enoch Applegate.  Both seem to be entered into various records as Rebecca Ely Mount, which is most confusing.

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Hiram requests a complete inventory of his father’s farm and holdings.  One intriguing bit is the “heap of mail” at the depot, making it sound as though no one made it into town to pick up the mail for some time before Thomas’s death. This is entirely possible as he died of a fever and the household may have been focused on nursing him.

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Although there is nothing in the estate record to point to a guardianship, there were two minor children:

  • Catharine Fisher Mount. She is assigned to Rebecca Mount Cox in the guardianship record but by 1880 is living with Rebecca Ely Mount, married to Enoch Applegate
  • George C. Mount.  His guardian of record is Hiram Mount, and he goes to live in Bethel Township, Miami County, Ohio with Hiram and Lucy Chamberlain Mount.

Thomas Hiram Mount buried next to his wife at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hightstown, NJ.  Three of his children appear to have moved west to Ohio (Hiram, Thomas Addison and George), the remainder stayed closer to home, most dying in Mercer County.