I have long known that my great-great-great-grandfather Aaron Van Syckel Jr. married Mary Bird but I had not done much research on her line. I took the #52ancestors challenge to see if I could complete the chain:
I had an untraceable reference from a Van Syckel family history that Mary’s father was Joseph Bird. Mary Bird was born 10 October 1799 and she married Aaron Van Syckel Jr. on 30 November 1816. I have yet to find a marriage record that names her father but in searching around online I found a family group sheet that outlined the Bird family and drew information from the family bible of Joseph Bird. I have not been able to find the actual bible, but I hope that it is still out there and that someone would be nice enough to send me pictures of all the vital record pages.
That family group sheet really was a treasure trove of information, outlining the seventeen children of Joseph Bird (1770-1830) and Elizabeth Dilts (1777-1853). I will have to spend some time at the New Jersey Genealogical Society collection housed at the Alexander Library at Rutgers University.
Joseph Bird, born 21 Dec 1770 and died 21 December 1830, lived his entire life in Hunterdon County and is buried in Bethlehem Presbyterian Church, near Clinton, NJ. His wife, Elizabeth Dilts was born 11 May 1777 and died 11 August 1853. Joseph appears to have been a farmer who died young. His will, made out in 1830, disposes almost everything to his wife and underage children. In an interesting side note, Joseph comments that having already given each of his adult children $400 to get them started in the world, the rest of the estate is to benefit the younger children and to provide for his widow.
So I have some clues and places to look, but I have confirmed that Mary is connected to Joseph Bird, and that will have to suffice for now.
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.
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.
On 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week my #52ancestors continues the line of Chester Van Syckel’s siblings with Sylvester Van Syckel.
Sylvester 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.
In 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.