I’ll never read Arthur Miller the same way again

Thinking to explore newly available records about the Prince family, I set about building out the family and antecedents of Jonathan Prince. I came across numerous references and documents and then was stunned to read that Jonathan’s great-great grandmother was one of the accused in the Salem witch trials of 1692!

Robert Prince was an early settler of the Massachusetts Bay colony, and owned land in Salem Village (Danvers, MA today). When he died in 1674 his children were all under age but his will mentions sons James and Joseph and daughter Elizabeth as well as his wife Sarah (ne. Warren). Sarah could not manage the farm on her own and so she purchased the contract for a “redemptioner” named Alexander Osburn (or Osburne) to help her work the farm. Unfortunately for her, she eventually married him. Apparently, it was not a happy marriage and later accounts paint a dismal picture of both physical and mental abuse. Sarah Osburn became depressed and took to her bed. She was accused by the young women of Salem as a witch and was brought before the court and questioned. Although she denied the testimony against her, she was jailed and transported to Boston where she died two months later.

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Anyone wanting to read more can visit this online exhibit which reviews the available records of the witch trials http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/category/uph1wit.html.

Robert’s sons James and Joseph were able to reclaim their inheritance and prospered in Salem. James married a Sarah Rea and they had six children, of whom their fifth child was David Prince. David and wife Phebe Fuller (b. 1706) moved from Salem Village to Sutton where they raised five children.  David died very early at the age of 35 years and guardianship records for sons Stephen and John show them placed with James Prince and John Fuller respectively.

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Stephen Prince married Abigail Perkins (1736-1820) and they raised thirteen children in Sutton as it transitioned from a British colony to a town in America. Stephen appears to have fought for the colonies during the American Revolution but print resources are jumbled and further research is necessary to build out his service. At some point in the late 1780’s the family removed to the town of Oxford. Numerous printed sources state that Stephen died in either 1780 or 1800 but he appears in the 1810 census with his sons Stephen Jr. and David. Jonathan had already removed to Sturbridge. There are also several mix ups concerning Stephen Sr’s wife Abigail Perkins and Stephen Jr’s wife Abigail Pratt.

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1810 US Census Oxford, Worcester, Massachusetts

Jonathan Prince, born in Sutton, moved with the family to Oxford where he married Patty Vinton. Shortly before the 1809 birth of his daughter Juley, the family relocated to Sturbridge and from there to Orwell, Pennsylvania.

Prince branch image

Joseph Bird of Hunterdon County, NJ

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:

LTJ

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.

Samuel and Sarah Lewis

This is going to be one of those “grrrr” blogs where I don’t have the answers I want but I am going to write the essay anyway.  I may never have all the information. But I am tired of waiting for the big genealogy balloon to drop.

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John Herr

I have this photograph of a man identified as John Herr. I have my father’s genealogy notes identifying him as the grandfather of Florence Lewis. Here is what I can piece together from other, incomplete resources:

Florence Lewis was the oldest child of Samuel Lewis and Sarah Herr.  She married Moses Wells and that story I have got a pretty good handle on.  Going back in time is the problem. Samuel Lewis appears with Sarah his wife from 1860 to 1885 in various state and federal censuses. As do their six children:

  • Florence Lewis (1859-1947) married Moses Wells
  • Pierce (Pierson) Lewis (1862-1926) married Clara Lamb
  • Josephine Lewis (1864-1936) married Harry Goodman
  • Ellsworth Lewis (1867-1890) married Keziah Platt
  • Colby Lewis (1869-1939) married Elsie Jackson
  • Clara Lewis (1875-1946) married William Marshall

I wonder: When did Samuel and Sarah get married? Was it a first marriage for both? Either? If Samuel is living next to John and Mary Herr (spelled Heers in the 1850 Census), why is his wife named Mary?  Is this the Samuel Lewis and Mary McKelvey who got married in 1842? Did she die and he remarried? Or is this actually Samuel and Sarah (name written WAY wrong) and they just waited 17 years to have their first child? And where does the family lore about the Herr’s potato chip fortune come into it? Wishful thinking? Or mixed up identities as there is a John Herr married to a Mary Ann out in Westmoreland County, PA. I’m pretty sure that’s not the same person.  But every family tree online seems sure that this is the case.

John Van Syckel (1786-1864)

Rarely do I find a will which so clearly outlines family ties for two generations!  And details the location of the family graveyard on the homestead! This week’s #52ancestors find is a real treasure.

John Van Syckel was born 12 November 1786 in Hunterdon County, NJ. He was the oldest son of Aaron Van Syckel and Catharine Opdyke Van Syckel. On 20 October 1808, he married Rachel Larison (1791-1851). They had four children: Catharine Van Syckel (1809-1890), Keziah Van Syckel (1811-1884), Elijah Van Syckel (1814-1891), and Lucinda Van Syckel (1816-1895).

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from the Library of Congress: Cornell and Van Derveer, 1851.

He was a farmer with extensive land holdings in and around Bethlehem township. Three of his children settled nearby, and the reason for this appears to be that he loaned them the use of the farms on which they lived.

John Van Syckel died on 21 April 1864 in Hunterdon County, N.J. and is buried in Bethlehem Baptist Cemetery in Pattenburg. His will (dated 1859, with codicils in 1864) is one of the best family tree outlines I have yet to see, showing once again that will records have many uses.

The will starts with the usual legal establishment of who the executors are: “Bennet Van Syckel and Joseph Van Syckel, sons of my brother Aaron.” The will goes on to distribute his land holdings, each time identifying the person and how they are related to him.  This is exceptionally helpful as the names are generously repeated through each sibling line: John Van Syckel my grandson, my son Elijah Van Syckel, my daughter Catharine wife of Adrian Kinney, my daughter Keziah Warn, my son in law Stephen Warn, my  daughter Lucinda wife of Peter S Sigler, my grandchild Hannah Phillips daughter of my daughter Keziah Warn, my grandson John Van Syckel, son of my son Elijah Van Syckel, John V Kinney and H W Kinney children of my son in law Adrian Kinney, Rachel Van Syckel and James Van Syckel children of my son Elijah, Rachel Sigler daughter of my daughter Lucinda, John V Sigler, son of my daughter Lucinda, and Phineas Van Syckel son of my son Elijah.

And then the piece de resistance: “I hereby except and reserve from that portion of my homestead farm devised to my son Elijah’s use all that grave yard in the orchard on said farm wherein my wife Rachel is buried…” Although now many of the family, including Rachel Larison Van Syckel, are buried in the Baptist Cemetery in Pattenburg, clearly there may have been a grave removal project at some time.

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John Van Syckel Will, Hunterdon County, 1859, p. 43

A codicil dated 19 March 1864, states that Adrian Kinney has departed this life. Yet another clue to follow up.

James Edwin Hine

This week in #52ancestors finds me back in Bradford County, Pennsylvania looking into my great, great grandfather James Edwin Hine and his family.

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James Edwin Hine

James Edwin Hine was born 28 April 1837 in Orwell to Henry W. (1806-1868) and Mary Craw Frost (1808-1889) Hine.  He and his siblings Erasmus and Harlow were baptized on 8 August 1847 by the Reverend John Iveson of the Presbyterian Church of Rome.  He does not appear in 1850 with his family, or even with close relatives.  However, after paging through 32 pages of the 1850 Census for Orwell, Pennsylvania, I found a possible match in Edwin Hines, 13 years, living with a Uri Cook.  Two of the entries on the page, James O. Frost and Chauncey Hill are distant relatives (James being the son of Aaron and Polly Craw Frost and brother to Mary Hine). Perhaps he was hired out to work for as farm hand having expressed an interest in farming. His father was a tailor and his brother a shoemaker, so agriculture might not have followed naturally.  Oddly, in 1860 he appears in Willet, New York living with a farmer named Orleans Brigham.  If there is a relationship there, I must not have all the pieces.

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Kate Tyrrell Hine

In 1862, he is back in Bradford county where he married Catherine Tyrrell on 30 December 1862.  Catherine or Kate was born on 13 May 1842, the daughter of William Tyrrel (1813-4 Aug 1852) and Lucy Charlotte Doane (1820-1887).  James and Kate Hine had two children:

  • Martha Eliza “Mattie” Hine  (1864-1913)
  • Minnie Arabella Hine (1866-1931)

Sadly, Kate Hine died on 18 May 1868.  James later married a second time, on 1 April 1870 to Ann E Phillips (1859-1929).  James and Ann Hine had one child, a son Arthur T. Hine (1874-1962).  I had the pleasure of knowing Arthur’s daughter Edith, but I digress.

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Anna E. Phillips Hine

James Edwin Hine appears to have gone by Edwin within the family but as James in more formal situations, which makes finding him a bit of a challenge.  He appears to have spent most of his life’s work on his farm, appearing in Census records and little more that I can find.  James died on 23 March 1915 and is buried at Tioga Point Cemetery.

George Mortimer Prince and his two wives

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George Mortimer Prince

This week in #52ancestors I bring you quite the character: George Mortimer Prince.  He was born on 27 September 1837, the third of six children of George Washington (1808-1888) and Emmaline Terrell (1810-1884) Prince.

George M. served in the US Civil War in the 5th Regiment, New York Cavalry as a corporal in Co. G.  His dates of service are October 1861- November 1862. He is not mentioned in regimental histories and his military service was interrupted by a bad case of chronic diarrhea for which he was discharged.  But more on that later.

George M. Prince married Elizabeth Alma Buttles (1842-1906) on 5 March 1864. They had three children:

  • George Cornell Prince (1869-1959)
  • unnamed daughter (22 June 1875-23 June 1875)
  • Edna Mabel “Ted” Prince (1878-1947)
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George and Alma Prince

They lived in Bradford county, Pennsylvania until the late 1890’s when they relocated to Federalsburg, Maryland, bringing their daughter Edna Prince (Ted) with them.

Shortly after the death of his wife Alma (15 May 1906), George placed an advertisement in the York Gazette.  I find the summary of his story here somewhat confusing: he appears to have written to the postmaster stating that he had recently lost his wife by death and would “be pleased to correspond with a Hanover widow of forty-five or fifty years of age, with a view to matrimony.”  I don’t know if the rest of his letter explained his relationship with the people of Hanover, or if the postmaster simply assumed that a Civil War veteran writing fondly of Hanover must have fought in the battle at Hanover.  However, George Prince had already been discharged due to disability in November 1862, which to my mind would make it very tricky to take part in a battle that happened on June 30, 1863.  The 5th Cavalry was definitely there, engaged in hand to hand combat with Stuart’s cavalry, but George should have been at home by then.

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Hattie Duff Prince

He did, however, find a wife.  And this is where the story gets complicated.  My first inkling of this was in looking through a box of family photographs that came from my dad’s side of the family.  The photos all seemed to be identified by my grandmother, which made me wonder if my father had sat her down and made her look through them.  Among the Prince family images was a photo of a woman identified as “Hattie Duff, George M. Prince’s second wife?”  The question mark was part of her name.  When the dickens did he remarry?  Elizabeth Alma died in 1906 and George M. died in 1909 so this must have been a whirlwind romance, or something.

According to George’s Civil War pension record, George M. married Hattie E. Duff (ne Jessop, widow, aged 55 years (more likely 62 years)) on 10 November 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland.  Hattie Duff had apparently lived in Baltimore for some time with her first husband and children, but had been a widow since 1904.  George M. Prince died on 28 February 1909, leaving everything to his new wife.  She inherited everything, including his veteran’s pension.

This leaves me wondering just how his two surviving children felt about this.  Perhaps it is summarized in that question mark on the back of her photograph.

Here are two images of George Mortimer and Alma Buttles Prince at the end of their lives.

 

Abraham VanWagnen Tompkins

Tompkins_AbrahamVW_portraitThis week in #52ancestors, I successfully resolved the questionable legitimacy of Samuel D. Tompkins by finding the correct marriage date of his parents, Abraham Van Wagnen and Caroline Sleght Brown Tompkins.

Abraham Van Wagnen Tompkins was born on 24 December 1816 in Dutchess County, New York to Michael and Rachel Schryver Tompkins.  I know very little of his early life and schooling.

On 21 February 1838, he married Caroline Sleght Brown (1818-1878), the daughter of John Dusenbury (1788-1875) and Mary Sleght (1785-1856) Brown.  It pays to keep asking the same question of different types of documents: I was able to more accurately pinpoint this marriage date which conflicts by a year and a day with the Velie family bible.  The Poughkeepsie Eagle printed a marriage notice for Abraham and Caroline on 9 March 1838 which made a huge difference in the legitimacy of their first child!

They went on to have nine children in total:

  • Samuel Dusenbury Tompkins (1838-1926)
  • John A. Tompkins (1841-)
  • Jane Ann (Jennie) (1844-1927)
  • Jacob M. (1846-1908?)
  • George Edward (1848-1869)
  • Frederick H. (1850-1897)
  • Mary Haviland (1852-1855)
  • Eugene (1855-1927)
  • James Lennard (1858-1944)

Abraham was a farmer.  Our branch of the family has very little documentation on him and I know of no object that was owned by him in the family holdings.  I did find him in the 1850 Agricultural census (Dutchess County, NY, 19 August 1850) which shows that he owned 100 acres of improved land and 27 acres unimproved.  The cash value of the farm was $7000, with an additional $300 worth of farm equipment.  He owned an unsurprising mixture of livestock and he was growing rye, corn, oats, potatoes, buckwheat and hay.  His dairy herd produced 400 lbs of butter, which was at the low end compared to other farmers in the area.

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1897 Dutchess County atlas

In the 1860 federal census, Abraham had $10,000 worth of real estate and $1300 in property, which could show an improvement in his circumstances.  His eight surviving children are living in the household and they employ a woman named Mary Purdy, an African American domestic servant.  Also living in the house is a Catharine Sleight, aged 66, but I am not sure of her relationship to Caroline.  She is possibly an aunt, as her mother had a sister named Catharine.

Abraham died 7 January 1869, which is too early to get included in the 1870 mortality schedule.  It would have been nice to know who was living where at that point.  I await with bated breath the digitization of the Guardianship records for Dutchess County for 1869-1870, as these may answer some questions. As nearly as I can piece together, the children are scattered among the family, with one going here and another going there.  That is a puzzle for another day.

Tompkins_AbrahamVW_gravemarkerAbraham was buried 10 January 1869 at Freedom Plains Cemetery.  Caroline Brown Tompkins appears in the 1870 census to reside in the state asylum in Oneida and is still there in 1875.  She dies 1878 and is buried beside her husband.