Sometimes in genealogy you go sideways and squirrel off in a seemingly directionless research path that leads to fascinating discoveries. That’s what happened this week with my desire to post this lovely picture of Mortimer Oldham Heath. #52ancestors #52familyphotographs
I love his curls, the hat and the intense stare (which I know is probably due more to the discomfort of mid-nineteenth century photography than any message he is trying to send down the ages).
Mortimer O. Heath was born in Lytchett Maltravers, Dorset, England on 16 December 1853 to William Mortimer and Emma Heath. He emigrated to Littleton, North Carolina in 1872 where he lived among the vineyards in the area, sketching and drawing activities of those around him. In 1878, he returned to England for a short visit. In 1880, he returned to the US, landing in New York harbor. In perusing the passenger list, one also sees Miss Susan E. Jones, 26 year old spinster (as noted on the passenger list under occupation). Five years later on 25 November 1885, these two married at St. Clements’ Episcopal Church on Cherry Street in Philadelphia.
Susan Emlen Jones was the fourth of five children of Richard and Alice Woodmansie Davis Jones.
Sadly, Mortimer succumbed to tuberculosis on 27 April 1891 at a resort in Tryon, North Carolina. He is buried in St. Andrew’s burying ground in Mount Holly, NJ.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
This week in #52ancestors addresses the Buttles family ancestor who moved from Connecticut to Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Although the original family appears to have spelled the name Buttolphs, by the late 18th century it had settled into the Buttles spelling. This does not keep every index system in the world from corrupting that into Battles, Butler and Butter but hey this is all about discovery and having fun, right?
Jarvis Buttles was born 16 October 1800 in Hartland, Connecticut, one of nine children of Elihu and Lovisa Reed Buttles. Elihu migrated from Connecticut to South Hill, Pennsylvania during the winter of 1817-1818, and according to the published county histories: “He settled at South Hill, put up a factory and engaged in the manufacture of wooden dishes. He died in 1823 and was succeeded in the business by his son Jarvis who occupied the homestead until his death, Oct. 5, 1890, aged 90 years.” Whatever dishes they manufactured must not have a “Buttles” maker mark because I have scoured the world with no luck finding one of theirs.
Jarvis first married on 21 Oct 1828 to Alma Cowdrey (1805-1843). The marriage occured in Hartland, Connecticut, but the Hartland town marriage record notes that his residence was Orwell, Pennsylvania. It also noted that his occupation was “reverend.” They had nine children:
Otis Jarvis Buttles (1830-1918)
Lester Franklin Buttles (1831-1885)
Emily Jerusha Buttles (1832-)
Harlow Jonathan Buttles (1834-1924)
Samuel Foster Buttles (1836-1884)
Eliza Melissa Buttles (1838-1894)
Juliana Buttles (1840-1860)
Elizabeth Alma Buttles (1842-1906) (my great, great grandmother)
Elihu Buttles (1843-1843)
Alma may have died as due to complications in the birth of her last child as her death is recorded as 2 July 1843. Jarvis married a second time on 2 7 March 1848, to Sara Ann Horton (1816-1881). They had two children: Louisa Buttles (1850-1902) and Elihu Buttles (1851-1901). Louisa appears to have changed her name often over her short life. I found her in various records as Ellen, Levisa, Louisa and Ida Louisa.
In addition to manufacturing wooden bowls and farming, Jarvis Buttles served as the postmaster of South Hill in Bradford county from 1853 to 1857 and then from 1858 to 1871. The Post Office was then turned over to his son Samuel Buttles, who held the post until 1884 when Jarvis’s son Harlow Buttles took the post. Harlow served until 1904 when the PO passed out of direct Buttles hands.
According to the US Postal Service:
“The job of postmaster was an important one — candidates for the job were proposed by the outgoing postmaster, the local community, or local congressmen. Beginning in 1836, postmasters at the largest Post Offices were appointed by the President and usually received the job as a political plum. The Postmaster General continued to appoint postmasters at smaller Post Offices. The Post Office often was kept as a sideline to the postmaster’s primary occupation, such as storekeeper.”
Jarvis Buttles died on 5 October 1890 and is buried in South Hill Cemetery in Orwell, Pennsylvania.
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.
This week in #52Ancestors I continue to add to my knowledge of the Hine family. Isaac Hine Sr. appears to have moved himself and his children from Connecticut to Greene County, New York. His son, Isaac Jr., took his family the next step to Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
Isaac Hine, Jr. was born 4 Oct 1765 to Isaac (1730-1809) and Ann Bristoll Hine. He was the fourth of seven children.
An early history of the Hine family remarks that Isaac Sr. removed from Connecticut to Cairo but does not mention a year. One clue that the date might be earlier than 1800, is a mention of the early forge in Cairo, which was erected by an Enoch Hyde and a Benjamin Hall of Litchfield, Connecticut ca. 1788. Cairo was formed in 1803 by merging several villages (Coxsackie, Catskill and Freehold into the town of Canton. In 1808 the town was renamed Cairo.
Although Isaac Sr. does die in Greene County, I think it is possible that he traveled simply to be near his sons Benjamin and Isaac, as it is their names that appear in the early records of town history. As early as 1803, Benjamin Hine is listed as one of the first town officers and in 1804 he served as one of the inspectors on the election results. Isaac Hine Jr. was one of the incorporators of the Canton Bridge Company, formed in 1805.
The History of Greene County also mentions that the Hine family was involved in the establishment of Calvary Episcopal Church in Cairo, with Hiram Hine and Horatio Hine both serving as early vestry.
Isaac Hine Jr. married Rhoda Wright, possibly in 1791 but I have not been able to find a marriage record. The couple had twelve children. I am not sure where the dates of birth on the children come from but several sources corroborate these dates. However, I am not sure how one has a child on October 1st and then on December 25 of the same year. I think it is more likely that Henry W. was born in 1805 as most of his Census entries agree with this date. Henry goes on to Bradford County, PA and is my ancestor, his brother Hiram appears to have stayed in Greene County, NY, dying on 16 May 1841 and leaving a wife Sally and son Revillo Charles Hine who settle in Wisconsin.
Isaac appears to have made his living as a carpenter. I do not know if this translated into furniture making but his estate (he appears to have died without a will) shows 12 Windsor chairs in the “East Front Room” around the dining room table and 12 chairs in the “West Front Room.” Well, you had to have somewhere to seat yourself and your twelve children! I do think that household inventories are fascinating. A list of things which, in 1825, were considered worth counting against the overall worth of a person. In this case, there is nothing too surprising, as this family is comfortably well off and has an agricultural base of support to assist with the carpenter skills of Isaac Hine. I have been able to find out that the “brittania tea pot” referred to on page 2 is a pewter teapot but would love to know more about the “Liverpool plates.”
Isaac Hine died 23 March 1825 and is buried in the Cairo Cemetery. Rhoda followed him on 11 October 1826 and she is buried next to him.
I don’t feel I know enough about this branch of the family tree. I would like to know more about Rhoda and where she came from. I would like to know more about their experience in Green County. Someday, I may get to the local archive and be able to find more personality to go with what must have been an amazing settlement experience. One thing that popped up unexpectedly and needs some followup is the fact that Isaac’s oldest son Lewis Hine is the grandfather of the famous photographer Lewis Hine. How cool is that?!?
Once again I select a name for my #52ancestors essay so unusual that I should have no trouble picking up the thread of his life story. And once again, I re-learn the lesson about common words in names and geographic location. This time I picked Francis Mumford Gibbs.
Francis was born on 17 September 1898, most likely in Burlington County, NJ but also possibly Monmouth as that is where the family is living in 1895, to Barclay White (1868-1957) and Elizabeth Watts Jones (1873-1900) Gibbs. He was the youngest of three children but the only one to see his thirtieth birthday. His sister Mattie J. Gibbs was born in 1892 but died in 1919 and his brother Elton Russell was born in 1894 but died in 1917. Their mother, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jones Gibbs died in 1900.
The family moved to Philadelphia, where Barclay worked as a machinist and there Barclay married Jennie S. Greenwood on 12 November 1902. Ten years later the family is living in York, PA where Barclay Gibbs was employed by Gulf Gas and Oil as a manager. It is in York that the family lost both Mattie and Elton, Mattie to tuberculosis and Elton to a heart defect. Francis married York native Margaret Elmira Herman sometime around 1925. Francis also seems to have moved around a lot as each of their four children are born in different places:
William Bruce Gibbs (1926-1954) b. Philadelphia
Francis Mumford Gibbs Jr. (1930-2012) b. Michigan
Barclay White Gibbs 2nd (1933-2010) b. Camden, NJ
John H. Gibbs (1936- ) Trenton?, NJ
Francis eventually settled in Trenton, NJ where he worked for a company called Thermoid, which made rubber brake pads. The children all appear to have come of age in Hamilton township.
Francis died suddenly from a heart attack on 25 April 1959. He is buried in Ewing Cemetery and shares a headstone with William Bruce, who tragically died in an automobile accident in 1954.
The most complicated part of investigating this story was the family name: the Gibbs family is an old and fertile family in New Jersey and many of the branches named their children after other branches. The name Barclay, for instance, pops up all over the place, most likely because it too is a place name. Most concentrated in Burlington and Camden counties, which made parsing out this line more difficult than I expected. Also, I came to realize that Francis Mumford Gibbs may have gotten his name from his mother’s sister Susan Gibbs Jones, who married Francis Mumford, whom I know absolutely nothing about. But that is for another essay.