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.

Negus_OxfordHotel_Masons
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.

Negus_will_1886_2_crop

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!

John Van Syckel (1786-1864)

Rarely do I find a will which so clearly outlines family ties for two generations!  And details the location of the family graveyard on the homestead! This week’s #52ancestors find is a real treasure.

John Van Syckel was born 12 November 1786 in Hunterdon County, NJ. He was the oldest son of Aaron Van Syckel and Catharine Opdyke Van Syckel. On 20 October 1808, he married Rachel Larison (1791-1851). They had four children: Catharine Van Syckel (1809-1890), Keziah Van Syckel (1811-1884), Elijah Van Syckel (1814-1891), and Lucinda Van Syckel (1816-1895).

VanSyckelsCorners
from the Library of Congress: Cornell and Van Derveer, 1851.

He was a farmer with extensive land holdings in and around Bethlehem township. Three of his children settled nearby, and the reason for this appears to be that he loaned them the use of the farms on which they lived.

John Van Syckel died on 21 April 1864 in Hunterdon County, N.J. and is buried in Bethlehem Baptist Cemetery in Pattenburg. His will (dated 1859, with codicils in 1864) is one of the best family tree outlines I have yet to see, showing once again that will records have many uses.

The will starts with the usual legal establishment of who the executors are: “Bennet Van Syckel and Joseph Van Syckel, sons of my brother Aaron.” The will goes on to distribute his land holdings, each time identifying the person and how they are related to him.  This is exceptionally helpful as the names are generously repeated through each sibling line: John Van Syckel my grandson, my son Elijah Van Syckel, my daughter Catharine wife of Adrian Kinney, my daughter Keziah Warn, my son in law Stephen Warn, my  daughter Lucinda wife of Peter S Sigler, my grandchild Hannah Phillips daughter of my daughter Keziah Warn, my grandson John Van Syckel, son of my son Elijah Van Syckel, John V Kinney and H W Kinney children of my son in law Adrian Kinney, Rachel Van Syckel and James Van Syckel children of my son Elijah, Rachel Sigler daughter of my daughter Lucinda, John V Sigler, son of my daughter Lucinda, and Phineas Van Syckel son of my son Elijah.

And then the piece de resistance: “I hereby except and reserve from that portion of my homestead farm devised to my son Elijah’s use all that grave yard in the orchard on said farm wherein my wife Rachel is buried…” Although now many of the family, including Rachel Larison Van Syckel, are buried in the Baptist Cemetery in Pattenburg, clearly there may have been a grave removal project at some time.

VanSyckel_John_HunterdonWill_p42-43_graveyard
John Van Syckel Will, Hunterdon County, 1859, p. 43

A codicil dated 19 March 1864, states that Adrian Kinney has departed this life. Yet another clue to follow up.

Joseph Van Syckel

The last of the siblings of Chester Van Syckel! This week #52ancestors lead me to Clinton, NJ. Joseph Van Syckel was the only one of Aaron‘s children to show a real interest in the store and farm established by his father.

 

 

VanSyckelsCorners
from the Library of Congress: Cornell and Van Derveer, 1851.

Joseph was born on 18 June 1818 on a farm near Norton, NJ in Hunterdon County. He was educated locally and began to work in the family store at Van Syckel’s corners. After buying out his father in 1853, he continued to operate the store for another five years. He also built up the farm where he was born, and appears to have branched out into bloodstock as I found a notation about him owning trotting horses: Lotta V. foaled 1885 by Bayonne Prince and the Mitchner Mare bred by Joseph B. Bird passed to Joseph Van Syckel, 1890.  He was also instrumental in the creation and management of the Clinton National bank (1856) and served as bank president from 1876 on.

VanSyckel_Catherine_graveOn 16 June 1842, Joseph Van Syckel married Catherine I. Smith (1823-1855), with whom he had three children: John Van Syckel (1843-1879), Helen Van Syckel (1849-1851) and Mary Van Syckel (1851-? died young?). After Catherine’s death, Joseph married Cyrena Martin (1830-1901) with whom he had two children: Frank Van Syckel (1859-1864) and Kate Van Syckel (1860-1943).

Joseph Van Syckel died on 19 February 1904 at home on the farm near Norton, NJ where he was born.  He is buried in Bethlehem Baptist Cemetery,  Pattenburg, NJ.

VanSyckel_Joseph_death_The_Courier_News_Thu__Feb_25__1904_P1

I was lucky enough to be in Hunterdon County last month and got the chance to explore the town of Clinton (beautifully situated on the south ranch of the Raritan River). Driving around the countryside gave me some insight into where this branch of the family came from and how settling in Bethlehem, Clinton, and Flemington probably allowed these sibs to stay in touch without sitting on top of each other.

Mercy Van Syckel Dilley Carter

This post is a fishing expedition: I know next to nothing about Mercy Van Syckel and her two husbands but I would like to know more. Help! #52ancestors

FindAGrave_Dilley_SamuelCMercy Van Syckel was born 14 April 1820, the oldest daughter of Aaron Van Syckel and Mary Bird Van Syckel. She married Samuel C. Dilley (1827-1852) in 1846 in Hunterdon County. She had one son by Samuel, Chester Van Syckel Dilley. However, after Samuel’s death in 1852, she appears to have married Henry Carter on 12 February 1861.  I find the marriage record in Greenwich, Warren County, NJ.

My questions:

  • What killed Samuel C. Dilley at such a young age.  He was a farmer in Hunterdon County, so it could have been anything.
  • Who is Henry Carter? Life dates?

In 1870, Mercy is living with Chester on land he is farming in Hunterdon County.  However, Mercy’s worth has increased from $2500 in 1860 to $17,000 in 1870.  That’s a jump by any standard. Then, Mercy died on 24 December 1875.  Details?  Inquiring minds and all that. If you can shed any light on this at all, please let me know!

Alice Van Syckel Killgore

I think the thing that amazes me about Alice Van Syckel Killgore is that she had eleven children in fourteen years.  I realize that that is not a world record, or even the most children per union on my family tree, but can you even imagine? No multiples, fourteen pregnancies. I stand in awe. #52ancestors

Killgore_AliceVS_grave
Found on Find a Grave

Alice Van Syckel was the third child of Aaron Van Syckel and Mary Bird Van Syckel.  She was born on 14 January 1822 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.  On 3 January 1843 she married Robert James Killgore (1820-1898).  Robert Killgore, a Kentucky transplant to NJ,  owned a farm in Raritan township and held various clerical and public service positions in Bethlehem and Raritan township until October 1875, when he became the Editor of the Hunterdon County Democrat.  He is listed as a Justice of the Peace in 1863 and a Surrogate from 1869 to 1874, all of which probably gave him great insights into the citizenry of Hunterdon County.

Alice and Robert Killgore had eleven children, five of whom died young:

  • Mary Van Syckel Killgore (1844-1928)
  • Lucy Ficklin Killgore (1845-1860)
  • Louisa Graves Killgore (1846-1855)
  • Alice Killgore (1847-1928)
  • Robert Killgore (1847-1922)
  • Charles Killgore (1849-1940)
  • Jonathan Killgore (1851-?)
  • Lora Killgore (1852-1922)
  • Sylvester Van Syckel Killgore (1854-1855)
  • Anthony Killgore (1856-1922)
  • John T. Killgore (1858-1875)

Two of her sons went on to have careers as chemists: Robert was a druggist in Dover, NJ.  You can find bottles with his name on them. And Charles went to Utica, NY where he invented a machine that would compress powder into tablets. Charles later moved to New York City and retired to Short Hills.

Kilgore, Rob't. Druggist, Dover, NJ med (2)

Alice Van Syckel Killgore died of consumption in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 26 January 1875.  She is buried in Bethlehem Baptist Cemetery in Pattenburg, NJ.

Killgore_grave

 

Fanny Van Syckel Leigh

Investigating women of the 19th century can be trying. Birth, marriage, children, death, burial are often all that can be found. This week in #52ancestors I continue with my quest to document each of the siblings of Chester Van Syckel.

Leigh_Fanny_VanSyckel_grave
photograph taken by Mark Alexander Oliver (FindAGrave)

Fanny Van Syckel was born 12 April 1824 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, most likely in Van Syckel’s Corners, the fourth child of Aaron and Mary Bird Van Syckel.  I do not know if she was formally educated. Really her life as documented by what was left behind starts on 11 January 1844 when she married John Taylor Leigh, a local farmer. Fanny and John produced seven children between 1845 and 1858, only two of whom died in infancy:

  • Sylvester V. Leigh (1845-1848)
  • Milton Leigh (1847-1862)
  • Bennett Van Syckel Leigh (1850-1929)
  • Mary V. Leigh (1852-1875)
  • Emily B. Leigh (1855-1937)
  • Charles W. Leigh (1857-1926)
  • John T. Leigh (1858-1888)

Fanny died of consumption shortly after the birth of her youngest son, on 8 March 1860, in Clinton, New Jersey where she and John T. Leigh had settled. I am not sure if she ever lived in the immense Leigh house John had built around 1860 but this is where her children grew up after her death.

 

The_Courier_News_Tue__Oct_8__1929_
from the Bridgewater Courier News, 8 October 1929

John T. Leigh remarried after Fanny’s death to Mary Van Syckel, Fanny’s first cousin. They went on to have ten additional children bringing the total to seventeen. Again, two died in infancy.

Fanny is buried in Bethlehem Baptist Cemetery in Pattenburg, New Jersey.

Sylvester Van Syckel

This week my #52ancestors continues the line of Chester Van Syckel’s siblings with Sylvester Van Syckel.

NJ-Hunterdon-County-New-Jersey-1905-Map-by-CramSylvester Van Syckel was the fifth child of Aaron Van Syckel and Mary Bird Van Syckel.  He was born 21 February 1826, most likely in Union township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Like his other male siblings, Sylvester was well educated and eventually made his way to the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), graduating with a BA in 1846.  He then went on to study medicine at New York University and worked at Bellevue Hospital. He graduated from NYU in 1849 and by 1850 he was back in Clinton, New Jersey establishing a medical practice.  Interestingly enough the medical association noted him as an allopath, which apparently means that he practiced traditional medicine rather than homeopathy.

Sylvester married Mary E. Carhart (1830-1917) on 24 March 1853 and they proceeded to have six children:

  • John Carhart Van Syckel (1854-1944)
  • George C. Van Syckel (1855-1860)
  • Chester V. Van Syckel (1858-1861)
  • William C. Van Syckel (1863-1942)
  • Lamar Van Syckel (1866-1948)
  • Mary C. Van Syckel (1868-1872)

The three little children have lovely grave markers in Riverside Cemetery in Clinton. The three boys who survived went on to have productive professional careers.

Van_Syckel_Sylvester_houseIn 1868 the family moved into the home on Center St. that remained in the family for forty years. Sylvester died in 1906 and his widow appears to have gone to live with William and his wife Elizabeth who had taken over the Carhart family farm outside of Clinton. Mary Van Syckel died 20 February 1917.  Both Sylvester and Mary Van Syckel are buried in Riverside Cemetery in Clinton.

I have childhood memories of driving down from Ithaca to visit my aunt Louise Tompkins in Princeton, New Jersey.  Most often our route was via the Delaware River Gap, which took us through Clinton.  It is a pretty drive and I seem to remember that there is a Stewart’s ice cream stand somewhere around there that we would stop at to refuel.