Aaron Van Syckel

This week in #52ancestors I travel back six generations, which I am incredibly lucky to be able to identify, to Aaron Van Syckel, seventh son of Reinier Van Syckel.  Again this is one of my Dutch ancestors but this line settled in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
Aaron Van Syckel was born on 8 July 1764 to Reinier (1723-1803) and Maake “Mercy Longstreet” Langstraat (d. 1815) Van Syckel.  Aaron’s generation appears to have been the one that started transitioning from the original “Van Sickelen” to the current “Van Syckel.”  Of course, there are many variations currently, Van Sickel, Van Sickle, Vansickle, etc., but this branch seems to have settled on the “yckel” spelling.
Aaron married Catharine Opducke or Opdyke (1762-1851) in 1785 and the couple had eight children:
  • John Van Syckel (1786-1864)
  • Elijah Van Syckel (1788-1855)
  • Daniel Van Syckel (1790-1861)
  • Aaron Van Syckel (1793-1874)
  • Mercy Van Syckel (1796-1850)
  • William Van Syckel (1798-1859)
  • Alice Van Syckel (1803-1871)
  • Fanny Van Syckel (1805-1884)
van-syckels-tavern2-1Aaron Van Syckel inherited a sizable estate from his father totaling 240 acres, which he built into quite an empire.  In 1800, he purchased a tavern owned by David Reynolds in Bethlehem township, which he made his home.  There was also a store nearby which he ran with his son Aaron Jr. as well as a post office.  The tavern is listed on both state and National Historic Registers and I remember as a child going to see the buildings at Van Syckel’s corner.
Aaron Van Syckel was active in local political affairs.  The History of Hunterdon County notes that in addition to serving as a presidential elector in 1821, he was also elected to the General Assembly (1808-1814) and stood as Sheriff on several occasions (1803 and 1835).  On 11 November 1803, as sheriff he was responsible for carrying out the execution by hanging of Brom, an African American slave accused of murdering another slave.
Bethlehem Presbyterian Church markerAaron Van Syckel was a member of the Bethlehem Presbyterian Church and helped that congregation erect a stone church in 1830.  It is no longer standing but there is a marker noting the construction and, of course, the cemetery is still there.
Aaron Van Syckel died on 28 November 1838, and is buried in the cemetery at Bethlehem.  His will gives a clue as to the extensive holdings he acquired over his life.

Gettianna Vreeland Tompkins

Gettie_Anna_Tompkins_wife_of_Sam_rabbiittt40This week in #52Ancestors Gettianna Vreeland Tompkins is the subject, but her essay would be very brief without a mention of the family surrounding her.  Gettianna, or Gitty Ann as she was sometimes called, was the youngest child and only daughter of Nicholas (1789-1873) and Elizabeth Van Ripen (1803-1889) Vreeland.

Nicholas Vreeland was married twice: first to Annatje Winner (1794-1832), with whom he had one child, a son named Nicholas who lived a year (1816-1817) and then to Elizabet Van Ripen (1803-1889), with whom he had three children.  Of Annatje Winner Vreeland very little detail is known beyond her marriage date of 15 March 1814 and her life dates.

Nicholas and Elizabeth Vreeland had three children: Nicholas Vreeland (1836-1837), John Van Ripen Vreeland (1837-1912) and Gettianna Vreeland (1841-1918).  John V R, as he was known, was educated at Rutgers and appears to have made a living as a florist/gardener.  He moved his family out to Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1887 and is listed in Jersey City directories as a florist and in Cheyenne as a gardener.  He died at the home of his daughter in Los Angeles, CA in 1912 and is buried in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery as is his wife Anna Maria who died in 1915.

Gettianna Vreeland was born 14 March 1841, most likely in Bergen, Hudson County, New Jersey.  She married Samuel Dusenbury Tompkins at her parent’s home on 2 January 1868.  The couple lived with Nicholas and Elizabeth for the next few years, as they are together in the 1870 Census. As Samuel became more established in business, they moved to the house on Communipaw Avenue.  They had seven children:

  • Grace Elizabeth Tompkins (1869-1964)
  • Vreeland Tompkins (1870-1956)
  • Abraham Van Wagnen Tompkins (1870-1870)
  • Samuel Edward Tompkins (1875-1876)
  • James Haviland Tompkins (1877-1942)
  • Emma Louise Tompkins (1881-1971)
  • Harold Doremus Tompkins (1888-1951)

The Tompkins family was socially very active in Jersey City.  The Jersey Journal rarely went more than a month or two without a mention of a social gathering that included one or more of them.  I also know that Samuel and Gettianna traveled within the United States and than Gettianna accompanied her daughters Grace and Louise to the British Isles.

Vreeland and Tompkins_membersLafayetteChurch_cropSamuel and Gettianna attended Lafayette Church around the 1884-5 period.  This church apparently started off as a Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in 1863 but may have merged with other churches towards the end of the century.

Tompkins_Vreeland_GoldenJubilee_Jersey_Journal_1918-01-09_2Gettianna and Samuel Tompkins celebrated their golden wedding anniversary about a month before she died on 9 February 1918 of pneumonia.  The article in the paper states that this happened in the same house they were married in but this bears further research as even as Jersey City consumed the village of Bergen, the addresses do not match city directories and census records.  It should also be noted that her youngest child, my grandfather Harold Doremus Tompkins was absent from the festivities due to his involvement in World War I.  His military training prior to shipping overseas took him to Camp McClellan, where his great grandson Barclay G. Jones IV also completed some of his extensive military training in 2017-18, about one hundred years later.

Gettianna and Samuel were initially buried in the Old Bergen burying ground but were moved to Arlington Cemetery when the old grounds were demolished.

 

 

 

 

Vincent Van Nest

Van_Nest_Vincent_burial_1911This week of #52Ancestors lead me to Vincent Van Nest, whose birthday is 25 April 1837 and who joins the family tree by marrying Margaret Ann Mount, older sister to my direct ancestor Mary Jane Mount (1844-1917).  The Van Nest surname can hide in records as Van Nest, VanNest and Vannest, making it a bit tricky to find them.  Also I discovered this family marrying Mounts in many generations.  But the really interesting discovery happened when I tried to document Vincent’s parents.

Vincent Van Nest, born 25 April 1837, was one of two sons of Abraham (1799-1871) and Harriet Chamberlin Dye (1799-1872) Van Nest.  Vincent married Margaret Ann Mount (1840-1900) on 17 January 1861 at East Windsor and the couple had four children: Harriet, Hiram, Catherine, and Susan.  Margaret preceded her husband in death on 12 February 1900, and Vincent died 12 November 1911.  Vincent’s obituary remarks that he was “one of the best know and most respected me of this section” and he certainly had to take on quite a bit of responsibility at a young age.

Once I opened my searches to include all the possible variations on Van Nest, I was able to discover a bit more about Vincent’s family. His father was Abraham Van Nest, born 27 November 1799, in Hightstown, New Jersey (part of Middlesex County at this point).  He married Harriet Dye (born 3 December 1799, nee Chamberlin), who was the widow of Vincent Dye.  I find this naming pattern intriguing, as I don’t know many men who would willingly name their son after their wife’s dead spouse.

Abraham and Harriet Van Nest have two sons: Vincent D. Van Nest and Abram Bergen Van Nest.  I am not sure what happens to Abram Van Nest.  He appears in the 1863 Civil War draft records but by the 1870 Census his wife and son are living with Abraham and Harriet.  And the wills of both these people are fascinating.

Abraham Van Nest prepares a will in 1868 in which he divides his estate between his “beloved wife” Harriet and his daughter in law, Sarah E. Van Nest and her son Richard.  Everything is to go to his son Vincent upon the deaths of these two women.  The language about Abram is odd, mostly directing Sarah E. to receive income only if she remains married, otherwise the money reverts to Richard W. and is controlled by Vincent Van Nest, son and executor.  The will is probated on 15 February 1871.

Harriet Van Nest dies shortly after her husband on 1 November 1872.  Her will disposes of various bequests and then leaves the bulk of her estate divided between her son Vincent Vannest and her daughter in law Sarah E. Vannest “now or late the wife of my son Abram B. Vannest.”  She does not mention her grandson Richard W. Vannest at all, so possibly he has died.

This would be a case where the public record leaves me with little understanding of the family dynamics and there must have been some.  But Vincent should be remembered on his birthday and so I wish you a Happy Birthday, Vincent D. Van Nest!

Happy-Birthday-Write-On-Ballon-Graphic

 

 

 

Cornelius D. Vreeland

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.

Vreeland_CorneliusD_1882_cropCornelius 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.

Vreeland_Cornelius_AppointmentAdmin_1892_cropInterestingly, 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.

Happy-Birthday-Write-On-Ballon-Graphic

 

Daniel Vreeland

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-?).

1850AgNJCensus
1850 Agricultural Census analysis

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.

 

1860AgNJCensus
1860 Agricultural Census Analysis

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.”

Vreeland_Daniel_ProbateWill_1867_1
Daniel Vreeland Will 1867

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!