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 in #52ancestors I bounce back to my father’s family with a picture of three generations of women on the Jones side of things. This weeks #52familyphotographs looks at a photograph of Mary Elizabeth Jones (1840-1922) standing next to her daughter Alice Jones Wills. To Alice’s left is a young woman whom I believe to be Alice’s youngest child, known as Polly.
Alice W. Jones was born 29 April 1871 in Pemberton, NJ. on 30 September 1891 she married Charles Colkett Wills (1868-1936). They lived in Vincentown, NJ where they had three children: Horace Wills (1892-1943), Helen Wills (1898-1901) and Mary Wills (1906-1927). Alice died on 23 June 1937, and is buried in the Mount Holly Cemetery.
The photograph isn’t dated but Polly appears to be about 11 or 12 so I guess this is about 1918. The women are posing at the bottom of the steps to the side porch to 133 Main St. Vincentown, NJ. If you look carefully, you can see that the porch mill work is original.
This week of #52ancestors I want to give a face to a woman around whom there are many stories and #52familyphotographs gives me that opportunity.
Mary Van Syckel was born on 1 February 1867 to Chester and Mary Jane Mount Van Syckel. The family story says that she fell in love with a man whom her father would not allow her to marry. He then married her best friend (the height of perfidy) and she she attempted to stab her father to death. She does appear to have had a mental break, as in 1900 she is at the state hospital in Trenton, NJ. Her hospital records are very sad and bewildering as the staff describe her as quite insane (babbling, harming herself and them, unable to function in anyway) until one day her father comes to talk to her. After the visit she gets dressed and comes down to the dining room for mealtime and proceeds to act quite restored to her senses. Her parents come for her and the hospital staff agree to send her home. An astonishing recovery. I wonder what he said.
Mary was artistic and is rumored to have attended the Arts Student League in New York. Still working on documenting that. But she did make things. My cousin Susie grew up in a house where the rag rugs in the bathrooms were made by Mary. And my Aunt Louise tells stories about the way Mary and her sister put up all sorts of fruit and vegetables from their garden in Flemington, NJ.
Mary lived her entire life (minus the brief stay in Trenton) in Flemington, NJ. She died on 18 January 1953 at a nursing home in Chatham and is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery up at the top of the hill in Flemington.
This week in #52ancestors I dedicate this photograph of Benjamin Jones, Civil War veteran and beloved father.
Benjamin was born 12 December 1833, at Hanover Furnace (Burlington County, NJ) to Richard and Susan Ellis Gibbs Jones. He was educated by a Mr. Gibbs who ran a school in nearby Plattsburgh, a small village that appears to have ceased to exist. He worked for his father and uncle Samuel Howell Jones and also appears to have taught school. In 1861, like many of the young men in his generation, he joined the Union Army and went off to war. Sadly, his experience as a soldier appears to have destroyed his physical health and he returned from the war in 1862 a broken man.
He married Mary Elizabeth Carrell Taylor on 20 October 1862 and they eked out an existence in Pemberton, New Jersey. Benjamin’s post-Civil War pension and other military documentation is voluminous, giving repeated evidence that he could no longer support himself and family doing hard physical labor such as farming or iron work. He appears to have gotten employment as a lamp lighter, and done other odd jobs in the community.
Benjamin and Mary Elizabeth Jones had eleven children together, two of whom died before reaching adulthood.
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 year for #52Ancestors I am going to focus on family photographs. I have so many and I think others will get as much amusement and interest out of them as I do. So ring in 2019 with #52FamilyPhotographs !
I just love this image: the car positioned across the street, the outfits on the ladies in the back seat, the chauffeur’s cap on the driver. The photograph identifies Harlow Buttles as the bearded gentleman in the front seat.
Harlow was born in 1834 in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. He was a farmer and the postmaster of South Hill, Pennsylvania. He married Susan Amelia Hill in 1862. They had two daughters, Hellen and Alma Dolly. He died in 1924 and is buried in South Hill Cemetery, Orwell.
Last January 2018 I decided to try an experiment: from the birthday list generated by my RootsMagic program, I would make a list of ancestors and blog about one person per week for 52 weeks. I knew that I would have trouble following the schedule and topics outlined in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. My job as well as various commitments would have derailed me if I had not been able to write the blogs ahead of time and schedule them to publish each week. But the weekly inspiration from those who were following Amy were really helpful and when I could I tagged my blog with her topic.
What I learned
It is really hard to write 52 fully researched, carefully prepared, fully documented and illustrated essays. But that’s not the point of the exercise, so please keep reading.
The birthday theme only goes so far. Some weeks I just gave up on finding the perfect match and just picked someone I thought interesting.
My writing got boring. I found myself writing every post in chronological order: born, married, died, buried.
I really resented having to stop researching and just start writing. I found myself saying “just one more source” way too often. When this happened I had to remind myself that this was not “the end.” I could always come back if I found more.
Some ancestors just aren’t that interesting. “Lives of quiet desperation” aside, quite a few of my female ancestors, especially, just left me very little to work with.
You really can write 300-700 words quite easily if you just start writing.
You can have really interesting conversations with family members around what you got right and wrong (in their opinion) and learn new tidbits of information as you go.
What I want to do in 2019
52 weeks of family photographs. I am going to try to post a picture of a family member, group or dwelling place, write a short post identifying what I know and what I don’t.
I am also going to try to go back to all the folks I passed by on my birthday list. This may not result in long essays but I really enjoyed giving a voice to these people, and I want to continue writing.