Where there’s a will there’s a way, right? Well, this week’s #52Ancestors really was a slog through wills, the absence of wills, probate, estate records, land sales, etc. But first, let’s start with the gentleman who inspired this blog: Cornelius Delos Vreeland.
Cornelius D. Vreeland was born in Paterson, New Jersey on 4 March 1813. At this time, Paterson was in Essex County but it eventually became Passaic County. Young Cornelius was duly baptized at the First Reformed Church in Totowa, a small community just outside of Paterson. On 29 September 1836 he married Rachel Beach and they settled on a farm in Wayne township. They six children: Josiah Pierson (1841-1895), Maria Mottear (1842-1844), Elizabeth Derrom (1846-1924), Adelia (1850-1893), Cornelius (1852-1854) and Jonathan Beach (1855-1911).
Cornelius D. dies at the Vreeland Homestead in Wayne on 6 July 1890, and is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Caldwell. This is all quite straightforward. However, apparently Cornelius did not leave a will and this is where the search gets interesting. By 1870, the homestead is valued at $20,000 and the personal property at $7,000. Tax records will tell us more but all of this leads me to wonder, why no will? Josiah and Adelia are still in the area, Elizabeth has married and is out in California setting up a vegetable farm and Beach, as he was called, is in Charlotte, North Carolina due to his wife’s poor health.
Interestingly, Beach is left to file the articles of administration, which speak to the need for the estate to be inventoried. Although Passaic County has an online index, the case files themselves have not been put online, so a request for a paper copy has been made.
Happy Birthday, Cornelius Delos Vreeland! You helped me delve into some records I propably would have avoided, left to my own devices. And thank you, @amyjohnsoncrow for challenging me to dig a little deeper.
This week in #52ancestors I am simply trying to fill in a few blanks. I know I don’t have the full story, but I may never have the full story on this family. I have branches of my family tree that frustrate me, some challenge me, some just irritate me. The Vreelands exhaust me. There are so many of them and they all have the same first and last names and no one cares about the women, beyond whom they marry and whether there are male children. Okay, I know, cry me a river already.
The Vreelands arrive in the area now known as Jersey City, Hoboken and Bayonne in the 17th century. They bring their talent for farming and their strong business sense and their shear fecundity. Each direct ancestor in my line has at least ten children, although the rate of infant mortality is astonishing. I think this is one of the reasons that the same names are used over and over.
My great, great, grandfather Nicholas Vreeland (1789-1873) had nine such brothers and sisters. It is the next youngest, Daniel Vreeland, that I write about today.
Daniel Vreeland was born on 27 February 1791 in Jersey City to Michael (1758-1825) and Geertje Sickles (d. 1815) Vreeland. Of course, it wasn’t Jersey City then, but Bergen, which was part of Bergen County. On 23 January 1813, Daniel married Cornelia Newkirk. They had seven children, all of whom were born in Bergen: Jane (1813-1895), Michael D. Vreeland (1817-1893), Aaron N. (1819-1901), Gertrude Sickles (1822-1909), Cornelius V. R. (1825-1894), Nicholas D. (1828-?) and Daniel S. (1831-?).
I have found the family in each Census since 1830, simple farmers in a large farming community. Unfortunately, because I have been unable to look at an agricultural census for New Jersey that lists individual farms, I have had to rely on statistical data like the 1850 and 1860 analyses of agricultural produce.
This, and the value of the family farm in 1860, $25,000 in real estate, lead me to believe that the farm was productive. If it was part of the Vreeland celery farms collective, I do not know, but these seem to have been well respected.
Daniel Vreeland died on 22 August 1867 and the funeral was held at the home of his grandson, William H. Speer, who was the son-in-law of Daniel’s oldest daughter Jane. Daniel left a will, which was quite helpful in spelling out his children’s marital status and favor in his sight. His wife Cornelia was to receive a money through a trust administered by their oldest son Michael. The first five children receive equal shares outright. Daniel S. Vreeland is to receive one share in trust to be distributed “from time to time.” One share was to be held in trust for the “use and benefit of the children of Nicholas D. Vreeland the net income thereof to be paid to them from time to time according to the discretion of my said executors.”
Nicholas D. and Daniel S. Vreeland have been hard to track through public records, but both seem to have had trouble maintaining themselves and their families. This may be the reason they are excluded from a direct legacy in the will. Nicholas appears to have fought in the Civil War in the 22nd Regiment, NJ Volunteers. He is hard to track in the Census but when he is listed his occupation is carpenter and he is enumerated within another family household. He appears in newspaper entries as running a public house which has a contentious relationship with law enforcement. He may appear in city directories as a garden farm laborer. He and his wife Catherine are mentioned occasionally due to very public marital problems. Daniel is also enumerated with family with an occupation of wheelwright but he also appears in newspapers on drunk and disorderly reports. He also may appear in city directories as a gardener. It is something to follow up on but I have seen enough Civil War veteran stories to think that these two might be suffering from what we now think of as PTSD. At the very least, they do not seem to have come home and settled back happily on the farm.
Cornelia followed her husband in death on 30 March 1870, and again, the funeral is from the home of William H. Speer. Both Cornelia and Daniel are buried in the Old Bergen churchyard in Jersey City. It is possible that Nicholas and Daniel are buried nearby but more information is needed to make that certain. Always more to do!
If there were a household I could go back in time to visit, it would probably be the one headed by Richard Jones. This week in #52Ancestors I would like to explore the life of a person who oddly intimidates me from the grave and for whom my brother and I have many heirlooms passed down through the generations.
Richard Jones was born 21 February 1812, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Benjamin (1767-1849) and Mary Howell (1778-1836) Jones. His birth is recorded in Quaker meeting records as one of the first five of what would ultimately be seven children. Benjamin was in the iron business and rose from iron monger to gentleman, if city directories have any real say in the matter. The family appears to have divided their time between Philadelphia and Hanover, New Jersey. Burlington county is across the Delaware River from Philadelphia but my mind boggles at the idea of transporting a crowd of children back and forth using whatever transportation was available.
Richard married his first wife, Susan Ellis Gibbs (1814-1837) on 13 June 1833 and they had two boys, Benjamin Jones (1833-1896) and Joseph Gibbs Jones (1834-1895). Sadly, Susan died in 1837. Richard then married Alice Woodmansie Davis in 1841 and they had five children.
Although Richard appears to have gone to work early in the family foundry business at Hanover, NJ, he also seems to have been interested in diversifying the family holdings. He and his brother Samuel Howell Jones established and dissolved several businesses in Hanover, Florence and Trenton between 1845 and 1870. The pipes used in the Boston Water Works in 1847 came from Hanover Furnace. In 1850 Richard was a principle in the New Jersey Exploring and Mining Company. He established the New Jersey Zinc Paint Company, most likely as a result of his experiments with and eventual patents on zinc oxide extraction (1854 and 1869). Richard was definitely something of a chemical genius but I am not sure about his business expertise. The iron industry in the 19th century was a risky business. with many smaller operations failing due to pressures of the economy and production expenses.
By the mid 1870’s, Richard and Alice Jones are back in Philadelphia, residing at 1818 Delancy Street. Richard died here on 29 October 1890, and is buried in the churchyard cemetery at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Mount Holly, New Jersey. Many items have come down through the family, including three lovely chairs, part of what was probably a much larger set. I think of the dinner parties and other conversations that those chairs have witnessed over the years and wonder…
This week for the #52Ancestors challenge I am writing about someone I knew: my Granny. I only knew her for a short while but her daughters (Anne, Mary and Louise) kept her alive in my mind with their stories. I have some of my own memories as well, although they have the haze of childhood about them.
Katharine (with an A, thank you) VanSyckel Tennant was the first child born to Anne Vansyckel and George Grant Tennant. She was born 15 February 1899 in Jersey City where her father and mother lead a fairly high profile life. George Tennant was a lawyer, judge and member of the school board. Their social life is tracked in the Jersey Journal quite regularly.
One of the first news articles about Katharine appeared shortly after her birth but was not a birth announcement. “Miss Tennant’s Musicale” was her first according to the article in the Jersey Journal on 31 May 1899, and although it is remarked that she did attend, the evening was a pleasant one with violin, cello, piano and singing.
Katharine was soon joined by a brother George Grant Jr. (1900-1982) and a sister Jean Cardiff Tennant (1905-1990). She and her siblings attended Lincoln High School, which their father was instrumental in establishing. Katharine went on to attend Vassar College, graduating with the class of 1920. After college she met and married Harold Doremus Tompkins (1888-1951). Their engagement and wedding were closely tracked by the Jersey Journal, and there seems to be disappointment in the tone of the articles reporting on the parties and ceremony attended only by family and close friends. They stopped in Bermuda on their wedding trip but I’m not sure where else they traveled to, as they were gone three weeks.
Harold and Katharine brought three little girls into the world: my mother Anne Van Syckel Tompkins (1923-1994), Mary Vreeland Tompkins (1925-) and Louise Tompkins (1928-). They lived at 132 Bentley Avenue in Jersey City. There were family vacations in Dorset, Vermont, and Central Valley, New York and work with various organizations to fill her time. In 1940 the family moved from Jersey City to Summit, New Jersey to a big house on Oak Ridge Avenue. Here Katharine joined the Central Presbyterian Church, the Summit College Club AAUW, the Fortnightly Club, the Vassar College Club and the YWCA.
After Harold’s death in 1951, Katharine moved into smaller quarters at 35 Valley View Ave. This is the house I remember. There was a large front yard with several big trees and after drawing a picture on a big white sheet of paper, we would go out to the front yard to collect fallen twigs with which we made a picture frame. We also ironed pretty fall leaves between pieces of wax paper and other crafty activities. I think my brother was off playing with some neighborhood boys and these were my consolation prizes. I also remember tasting Fluffernutter spread here for the first time but my mother insisted that Granny would never have fed me such garbage, so I guess we’ll just have to disagree on that.
Katherine Tompkins died at home on 1 February 1972. Her heart had never been strong and one night it just gave out. The funeral on the 5th was at Central Presbyterian and she is buried next to her husband in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny. I don’t remember the funeral but I do remember the trip to the cemetery which I thought very disturbing. For over a decade after, every spring vacation was spent in Princeton with Louise Tompkins and we would trek up to the cemetery on the way to spring shopping at the Short Hills Mall. The ivy growing on their grave was tenacious and we would trim and thin it (by we I mean my brother and I would watch my mother and aunt do this) and haul the cuttings to the trash. It is my understanding that the ivy has been removed in the name of landscaping, and I can’t say I’m sorry.
Happy Birthday, Katharine Van Syckel Tennant Tompkins!
This week of #52Ancestors brings me back to the Mount family, but focuses on the branch of the family that migrated out to Ohio. How helpful it would have been to have known about this group when I actually lived in Ohio. I chose Burns Wilson Mount because his birthday falls in this week and because the prompt this week is “favorite name.”
It can be especially challenging for research when your subject has a really unusual name that is made up of very common words. Initial searches lead me to many people who died of burns near Mount Healthy.
Burns Wilson Mount was born on 7 February 1897 in Warren County, Ohio to Addison and Clara Moses Mount. Addison Mount migrated from Hightstown, New Jersey when he was 17 years old and his children are the first generation to be born in Ohio. Burns was the youngest of six sons raised on a farm in Butler County. When he was 17 two major life events happened for him: he married Kathleen Frazee and he enlisted in the Ohio National Guard, eventually serving as a private in the 166th Infantry in World War I.
Burns and Kathleen Mount had two children, Arthur B. and Ralph E., both of whom also served in the military during World War II. After serving in WWI, Burns returned to Ohio and got a job in a steel mill, where he worked for the next twenty years at least. Unfortunately, creative searching strategies have not lead me to any images of Burns although I did find entries for his two boys in the Young Patriots of World War II publication.
Burns Mount died 29 October 1959 and is buried with military honors at Woodhill Cemetery in Franklin, Ohio. His wife Kathleen (1897-1968) is buried next to him. As recently as 2012 someone had decorated the grave with an American flag, which is fitting for a 20 year old who went off to France so many years before. Happy Birthday, Burns Wilson Mount!
Have you ever started out on a research journey and gotten distracted by one of the tools you found along the way? Well, that happened this week in my #52Ancestors task. My goal was to find and document a death date for Hermina Prince Eastabrook. Yes, I know the prompt for this week is to look in the Census but…
My father’s mother’s family has deep roots in northeastern Pennsylvania. Namely Bradford County. Apparently, a group of folks from Connecticut started out west in the late 18th century to prove Connecticut’s claim to a western boarder on the Pacific Ocean. I find this bit of American history fascinating, especially when I was living in Ohio and often had to explain to people why the northeast corner of the state was called the Connecticut Western Reserve and therefore the land records are in the Connecticut State Archives.
The Prince family is one of my lines and as near as I can tell Jonathan Prince (1769-1831) bundles his wife and children up in a wagon and sets off shortly after his 1792 marriage to Patty Vinton. They make it as far west as Bradford County and decide to stop. But that is the very beginning of the story. Let’s fast forward to his son George Washington Prince who has six children in Bradford County, one of whom is Hermina G. Prince, born on 29 January 1839.
I had found a burial record years ago, showing that Hermina and her husband Charles J. Eastabrook were buried in the Rome Cemetery in Bradford County. At the time, I had no further information. So my challenge this week was to try to find an obituary or death record. I hit pay dirt when I discovered that Ancestry and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission have partnered to put the state death certificates online. What a treasure trove!
Thus began my OCD journey to search out every possible Pennsylvania death on my tree occurring between 1906 and 1964. I will warn you that the indexing is very poor. Apparently, there was no ability to use the printed index to connect with the original certificates. If you decide to explore, search on the name and if no results, try just a first name and a death date or variations like that. I found Eastabrook, Eastabrooks, Eastbrook, etc. when the written record quite clearly indicated Eastabrook. Nevertheless, I added ten new spouses, and scores of death dates and burial places to my database. What a lovely, fruitful distraction.
My challenge this for this weeks’ #52Ancestors is Ellsworth Lewis, my great, great grandmother’s brother. The Lewis family is for me, one of those family lines that comes to you rife with stories and suppositions but very little fact. I have, in an earlier blog, written about Moses K. Wells who married Florence Lewis. Florence was one of six children and her younger siblings all have great names that should make it so easy to find them in records.
I had a birth date for Ellsworth but nothing else. According to the Census, he spent his entire life in Pemberton, Burlington County, New Jersey. Sadly, I discovered that his story abruptly ends in 1890. On 15 May 1890, he married Keziah Platt in the First Methodist Church at Mount Holly. And by 14 August 1890, he is dead. Someday on a trip to the New Jersey State Archives, I will look up his death certificate and find out what happened and where he is buried. That is for another day.
Interestingly enough, the part that really caught my attention was the difficulty most of my search engines and databases had with variant spellings of Ellsworth (Ellesworth, Elsworth). It is important to remember that not all databases work the way Ancestry does. If at first you don’t get any hits, try again. Many locally produced systems operate on a “what you type is what you get” system which can be frustrating for those used to Ancestry’s algorithms.
The prompt for this week’s #52ancestors was invite to dinner. Hmmm, I think I would invite Ellsworth and his new bride Keziah and gently grill them on all the local gossip!