Vreeland Tompkins

Tompkins_Family_1891001
ca. 1893 The Tompkins clan (from back left: Grace, Louise, Haviland, unknown lady, Vreeland, and Harold)

This week in #52Ancestors I am continuing to build out what I know about the five Tompkins siblings who were the children of Samuel Dusenbury and Gettianna Vreeland Tompkins.  Of the five who survived to adulthood, Vreeland Tompkins was the oldest, born 8 December 1870 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Smooth-On_advertisement_1900Vreeland was educated at Public School No. 12 and the Hasbrouck Institute, in Jersey City.  He graduated from Rutgers University in 1893 and was a member of Delta Phi fraternity.  After graduation he was employed as a chemist at Standard Oil Co., Bergen Port Works.  In 1895, he founded the Smooth-On Manufacturing Company, with his father serving as President and himself as lead chemist.  Vreeland invented the product Smooth-On was an iron cement compound.  I have a childhood memory of bookcases in our house and Louise Tompkins’ house which were made from the shipping containers from Smooth-On.  After Samuel D. Tompkins’ death in 1926, Vreeland assumed the presidency until 1953 and then in retirement served as chairman of the board.

On 18 May 1904, Vreeland Tompkins married Laura Towar of Jersey City.  They had three daughters: Margaret Vreeland (1906-1984), Grace Elizabeth (1909-2010) and Gertrude Vreeland (1912-1944).  In 1907, the family moved into 115 Bentley Ave from the Towar homestead at corner of Bentley and West Side ave.

In 1916, Vreeland compiled a history of the Rutgers College Class of 1893 and from this we glean some interesting details of his life.  He was active in social services in Jersey City, serving the Home of Homeless, Whittier Home Settlement and the Organized Aid Society.   He also served as the Shade Tree commissioner for Jersey City and as Mosquito Commissioner for Hudson County.

JerseyCity-StPaul'sEpisI was fascinated to discover that Vreeland Tompkins’ obituary described him as a life-long Episcopalian, first at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Jersey City, then at Calvary Church in Summit and finally at St. Paul’s in Chatham, New Jersey.  As one, myself, this gives me an extra connection to this interesting man.

Vreeland Tompkins died January 30, 1956, at the Hollywood Hotel in Southern Pines, North Carolina.  According to his obituary, he was living at 74 Oak Ridge Ave in Summit and had been since 1926.  At the time of death, he was listed as the chairman of the board at Smooth-On Manufacturing Co. and as a director of the Joseph Dixon Crucible Co.  He was also a life trustee at Rutgers University, having been a founding member of the College of Pharmacy.

Tompkins_Vreeland_signature

Samuel Howell Jones

This week in #52ancestors will celebrate one of my few Kentucky connections: Samuel Howell Jones.  Like his brother Richard Jones, Samuel was into a bit of everything but unlike Richard, he appears to have traveled extensively.

Samuel Howell Jones was born on 30 June 1818 to Benjamin (1767-1849) and Mary Howell (1778-1836) Jones.  He was the seventh of their eight children and although I have not been able to prove it, I believe he was born in Philadelphia because his birth is recorded in the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting minutes, along with the information that he was disowned in December 1850, likely due to marrying outside the faith.  He spent a year at Haverford College from 1833 to 1834.

Jones_Lydia_Bishop_grave_1860Samuel married twice.  He married Lydia H. Bishop (1828-1860) on 7 March 1849 but they had no children. They are enumerated in Philadelphia in the 1850 Census along with several of Samuel’s siblings: Mary B Jones Tobey and husband Samuel, Harriet Jones.   Samuel is listed with the occupation of merchant.  By 1860, the family has relocated to Burlington County, where Samuel and Lydia maintain a household that contains most of her family: Nathanial Bishop (cultivator of cranberries) and Harriet Bishop.  Samuel’s occupation is “manufacturing” and his personal worth is $50,000.

Jones_SamuelandKate_grave_LouisvilleThen he married Eliza Catherine Jacob (1835-1864) on 1 May 1862.  They had one child, a son named Samuel Howell Jones (1862-1894).  Sadly, “Kate” died in 1864.  I do not know what took him to Kentucky but I strongly suspect that it might have something to do with all the Louisville & Nashville Railroad stock in his estate accounts.  Either Samuel was an investor or he was diversifying the family assets out of iron pipes to iron rails. A review of the family archive at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania will be necessary to complete this chapter.

The next time I find Samuel is in 1870 where he and his son are living at the southern tip of Lake George in the town of Caldwell.  Their next door neighbor is a Mary Bishop, who may be a sister-in-law.  By 1880, the pair have returned to Philadelphia but are living in a hotel or boarding house.  They both appear in the 1882 Philadelphia city directory as living at 1010 Spruce St.  When Samuel Sr. dies in 1883, the pair have retired to St. Lucie, Florida due to Samuel’s poor health.

According to his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Samuel held property in Louisville, KY as well as over 25,000 acres in New Jersey.  The final statement says it all:  “He was a man noted for his quiet and unostentatious liberality in many public and private channels, and although excessively retiring in his disposition, was much beloved by the limited circle of friends who both knew and esteemed him.”Jones_SamuelH_obit_The_Philadelphia_Inquirer_Mon__Jan_29__1883_

A review of Samuel H. Jones’s Will and estate provides further enlightenment on the myriad things that Samuel was involved in and also gives some pause as to the family dynamics.  The will establishes right off an annuity to be paid to brothers Richard and Benjamin W. Jones.  The rest of the estate, including the lovely description “remainder of my estate real, personal and mixed whatsoever and wheresoever in possession, reversion, or remainder” was put in a trust to benefit the children of his son Samuel H. Jones Jr.  The person responsible for maintaining this trust was Anthony Jones Morris, Samuel’s nephew.  There is a considerable amount of money and assets at stake here and I would imagine that Anthony J. Morris was busy juggling the demands of family for some time.  However, in 1887 he appears to have petitioned the courts to request that the trust be administered by the Camden Trust Company.

 

 

Samuel appears to have felt that his brothers, especially, needed looking after.  I imagine that the demands of family life were a trial for this quiet man.  I especially like this description of him from an agriculture writer:

 

 

 

 

Joseph Huddell Roach

This week in #52Ancestors another “oh, this one will be easy, look what a unique name he has!”

Joseph Huddell Roach was born 17 April 1822 to Isaac (1786-1848) and Mary Huddell (1788?-?) Roach.  He was raised in Philadelphia and attended the University of Pennsylvania between 1836 and 1840. He married Eliza Walter Jones (1820-1894, daughter of Walter Moore Jones) on 15 April 1846.  They had two children, Joseph Chandler Roach (1847-1888) and Mary Huddell Roach (1848-1912).

This was one research project that irritated.  It is hard not to project my 21st century sensibilities onto this family but the men were mostly coasting on the previous generation’s income and the women barely get mentioned in any records, including obituaries!  Mary Huddell Roach does not even merit a mention in husband Isaac’s death notice, although none of his children do, either.

stpeters-epis-yardJoseph Roach is listed in records as a merchant, but I can find little to document what and where he did business.  He is more likely to get mentioned for his memberships in the Schuylkill Skating Club or the Social Art Club (later the Rittenhouse Club).  He also served in Captain John Cadwalader’s Artillery Company in 1844.  In 1876 he was elected to the vestry of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, but he died a month later on 16 May 1876.  He is buried in St. Peter’s Churchyard, but don’t look for his wife there.  After much searching, I discovered that she was Catholic and was buried in New Cathedral Cemetery, at 2nd and Butler Streets.  Although I found cemetery record books that show this and also show her buried near her son Joseph Chandler, he appears to have a monument near his wife, as well, in St. Denis Cemetery, Haverford.

I keep thinking that there should be more out there on this whole family, but I think I will have to pay a visit to a few archives in Philadelphia to fill in the blanks.  In the meantime, Happy Birthday, Joseph Huddell Roach!

Happy-Birthday-Write-On-Ballon-Graphic

Elizabeth Brightly Jones

Jones_ElizabethBrightly_signatureI chose Elizabeth for my second #52Ancestors because I had life dates for her but little else and she had what for the Jones family is an unusual name.  I thought I would learn all there was to know just by stringing her census records together, since she apparently never married.  Little did I know.

Elizabeth Brightly Jones was born in Brooklyn, NY on 9 January 1887, to Richard Woodmansie and Elizabeth Walsh Brightly Jones.  Sadly, her mother appears to have died later in January of complications from childbirth.  Although Richard Jones remarries in 1904, Elizabeth kept variations of her mother’s name as she grew to adulthood, which helped me to find her; one of the hardest names to research is Elizabeth Jones.

122_hopsital_1893bElizabeth trained as a nurse at Bryn Mawr Hospital, graduating in 1912 and working in New York, Missouri and Pennsylvania.  She served during World War I at the American Red Cross Military Hospital in Paris, France.  There is great information about this in both her passport application, which contains letters from her employers vouching for her credentials, but also in her Veterans Compensation application, which details her training and work history.  Of note is also the article that appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle welcoming her home after the war.

Jones_ElizabethBrightly_Nurse_BrooklynDailyEagle_22Dec1919_Crop

Interestingly enough, it is through these and other records that I found evidence that she used a hyphenated version of her name, Brightly-Jones as well as spelling out her middle name. Perhaps this was a way of honoring her mother.

I feel a sense of connection with Elizabeth because in 1990 when I broke my ankle in a riding accident (the horse bucked on purpose but I fell off by accident), I was taken to the Bryn Mawr hospital emergency room and later had surgery at that hospital to pin the ankle back together.  This Veteran’s Day I will make it a point to honor her service during World War I.   Happy Birthday Elizabeth Brightly-Jones!

My Tennant conundrum

When I first started putting my family tree together, my mother’s side had all sorts of information gathered by my uncle and various other Tompkins, Van Syckel and Mount family members.  But one line really tested my genealogical mettle: the Tennants.  The direct line back was clear, as this simple family chart shows.

Tennant_decent

However, when I turned the tree around and tried to work out the siblings and other details, I constantly ran into people I had never heard of, and connections I couldn’t quite make.  This line is one that I come back to every six months or so to plug in a random search in Google or Ancestry just to see if anything new has come up.  I don’t have all the pieces yet and I am not sure I ever will.  The family story is that we are Scots-Irish through this line.  Thomas Tennant clearly identifies on every census as born in Ireland, and I think I have found a connection to County Carlow.  However, the family lived in Jersey City, New Jersey, and I can find no links to the very Irish Catholic community there.  In fact, I find that Thomas, and his son George, seem to have distanced themselves from the “Irish element” as much as possible.

Jersey City history fascinates me.  From its Dutch settlement in the 17th century, on into the 21st century, the city plays an important role as a conduit through which immigrants first settled, then passed through on their way west.  Street names highlight the early Dutch families, Revolutionary heroes and railroad history so central to Jersey City’s place in the 19th century transportation explosion.  Although the Tennants appear on the scene at the mid-century point, their story is one of settlement and achievement.

JerseyCity_1848

I am going to focus on Thomas and Hannah in this essay, with later essays going into greater detail about their children.  That way if people have bits to add, they can do so closest to the person or family.

Thomas Tennant was born in 1824 in Ireland.  His naturalization records date his arrival in the US as April 1847 and sometime between then and 1852 he marries Hannah Cardiff (I have yet to find a marriage record but their first child is born in 1853, so…).  I find Thomas and Hannah in the Census from 1860 to 1895 (US and NJ census, that is) with Thomas listed as a carpenter first and then a foreman with the railroad from 1870 on.  I cannot find either Thomas or Hannah in the 1850 Census, even though I have paged through the Jersey City part of Hudson County one name at a time. Thomas’ city directory entries start in the 1860’s and corroborate the census occupations.  He is listed as a member of Hercules Engine No. 3, a fire company formed in 1844, along with several neighbors and I also find him listed as a Mason in the Enterprise Lodge No. 48, of which his son George G. Tennant was also a member.  His story is the quintessential “start with nothing and by shear determination build a life”.

I know less about Hannah Tennant ne Cardiff.  She appears in records primarily as Thomas’s wife or as the mother of children.  Hannah’s New Jersey death certificate gives some interesting details about her:  born in Ireland, resided in New Jersey for 45 years by 1896 and parents John and Martha Cardiff.  And speaking of children, here was my greatest surprise: Thomas and Hannah appear to have had ten children!  Sadly only three survive to adulthood, but the birth and death records have lead me to other records and further insights into the lives of Hannah and Thomas.  Initially, I found many of the children listed in Ancestry’s Births and Christenings of New Jersey, but had no idea what records were providing that information.  Later, I found that many of their children were baptized and buried through various Episcopal churches in Jersey City.

Tennant_Thomas

According to church records, Thomas and Hannah are buried with their infant children in Bayview-New York Bay Cemetery.  I visited the cemetery and found the monument in the section “O.”  There is one monument for the entire family, with Thomas and Hannah listed on the front, the children on the left side and what appear to be Thomas’ parents listed on the right.  The cemetery office has a burial record for Thomas’s mother Eliza (Elizabeth), but no burial for Robert.  It may be that he is not buried in the United States.

Bayview_Tennant_Monument_front_2017-12-27_crop

Thomas and Hannah lived at addresses on Newark Ave, Railroad Ave, and finally 4th St., all of which have drastically changed over the years but I have found images of Railroad Ave contemporary to their lives.

81RailroadAvenue_20Dec1909

I would also like to know whether Hannah came to this country alone or as part of a family group.  Did she come already attached to (married to) Thomas?  Did they come from the same area in Ireland?  I don’t know much about her, but Hannah calls to me.  What a struggle of a life she must have lived, so many babies, so many deaths, and yet her son George grew up to be a lawyer and judge and is counted as a force in the development of public education in Jersey City.  Others must have other parts of this story and I hope that by writing this, I have created a place where people can add what they know.