I am learning that amazing connections come from #52ancestors and putting my stories out there online so that people can add to them. Enter my newest discovery: Eleonore Heike’s wedding date and picture. I can’t thank my cousins enough for sharing these treasures with me!
It’s February and the stores are filled with heart shaped boxes of candy, so romance in on my mind as I select this weeks’ #52ancestors and #52familyphotographs. I don’t know when it was taken but I think the location is the back porch of James Haviland Tompkins‘ house in South Orange, NJ. This is Joseph Fairfield Poland and Eleonor Marie Tompkins. If it is courtship, then it is pre-1935 wedding.
I always wondered what it would have been like if my father and Joe Poland could have communicated more easily (email, whathaveyou) as their careers intersected in so many ways. Joe was an early force in the field of engineering geology and had a world wide reputation, known by Italians as the “savior of Venice” for his research on why that city was slowly becoming a puddle. Back in the states, he was instrumental in helping California deal with some of its many water issues.
I know far less about Eleonor, the grown up. I know that after her mother’s early death, Eleonor lived with the Tompkins clan in Jersey City. Haviland depended on his sisters Louise and Grace to take care of the little girl while he worked. It was a sad day for them when he married for the second time to Elizabeth Carol Baldwin and set up a new household which included Eleonor and two new children. The family story is that none of his children could leave Jersey City until Samuel D. Tompkins died. It bears out as shortly after his 1926 death, Haviland and family moved to South Orange.
Joe and Eleonor lived in Sacramento and had five children, who will not be named here because they are still alive and this is the internet after all.
Apparently my grandfather was a genius at photographing children. In both of these photographs you see the joy in each person for the other. #52ancestors #52familyphotographs
Jean Van Syckel was born on 28 July 1875, probably in Flemington, New Jersey, to Chester and Mary Jane Mount Van Syckel. She was the youngest of their four children and the Flemington, She never married but the Flemington, Jersey City and Detroit, Michigan newspapers tracked her visits with her brother and sister. Louise Tompkins tells stories about the house and garden at 182 S. Main St. where she “vacationed” as a child. Mary and Jean kept a large garden and small orchard in the back yard of that house. Mary succumbed to dementia on Christmas day in 1952.
This week of #52Ancestors and #52Familyphotographs I am going back to an image I used last year but failed to identify all the characters. It’s not cheating, it’s added value! This image has several generations, as well as folks who rarely got photographed together. I do not know what the occasion was.
There are actually several versions of this photograph, each one taken by a different man so that the couples could be photographed. This is the one Granny gave to my mother which shows both Harold and Katharine Tompkins.
Below is the one Granny gave to Louise Tompkins.
In this image the people are a little less posed.
The back row is Jean Stubenbord, William Stubenbord Sr., Helen Tennant, Katharine Tompkins, George Tennant Jr., and Ethel Hodsdon.
The front row is Anne V. S. Tennant, Anne V. S. Tompkins, George Tennant Sr., Louise Tompkins, Eliza Tennant Hodsdon, Mary Tompkins and Grace Tompkins.
This 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!
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.
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.
Abraham 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.
This week in #52Ancestors brings me to my namesake, Louise Tompkins. Emma Louise Tompkins was the youngest daughter of Samuel D. and Gettianna Vreeland Tompkins. She was born 11 October 1881 in Jersey City, New Jersey. She lived with her parents at 533 Communipaw Ave. and there are many newspaper articles describing her participation in family trips and Jersey City social events. She may also have been something of a singer, as there is a Louise Tompkins who is listed as soloist for various church and social gatherings. She appears to have preferred Louise to Emma when she had the choice but occasionally there will be a record that refers to her as Emma. All the family stories I heard growing up referred to her as “Aunt Lou.”
One such record is her marriage to John J. Voorhees on 23 November 1918. John J. or Jack as he was called, took over his father’s company, the Voorhees Rubber Company. He was born on 9 April 1876 and had been educated in Jersey City at the Lafayette College. He married first Florence Eliot Voorhees (no relation) who was the daughter of Abraham and Martha Voorhees of New Brunswick, New Jersey. They had one daughter, Florence Eliot Voorhees (1908-2000). Florence died tragically in a carriage accident on 16 July 1910. The family was traveling in a horse drawn carriage when a train rattled through on the tracks below the street. The horse bolted and dragged the carriage over the embankment. Florence was killed and her husband and daughter were both injured.
Louise and Florence lived together after the death of Jack on 23 December 1948. At some point they moved out of the house on Duncan Ave. and moved across the street to the apartment building on the opposite corner. Louise Voorhees died 13 February 1971 and is buried at Arlington Cemetery.