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.
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.