This week my #52Ancestors post takes me deep into a side line of the Van Syckel family. The Van Syckels test my genealogical mettle every time I try to organize them and they have taught me more about not following a straight line of succession than any other group.
In trying to get a handle on my great great grandfather Chester Van Syckel, I ended up researching all of his siblings, as many seemed to name a child after him. Interestingly enough, he seems to have been a bit of a tartar and so this “honor” fascinates me. This brings me to Chester Van Syckel Dilley. Chester was the only child of Samuel (1827-1852) and Mercy Van Syckel Dilley (1820-1875). He was born on 25 March 1847, and raised in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. On 20 September 1873, he married Anna Besson Thatcher (1845-1925) and they proceeded to have five children: Mary Chester Dilley (1874-1946), Sylvester Van Syckel Dilley (1876-1950), Robert Thatcher Dilley (1877-1958), Samuel C. Dilley (1879-1880) and Joseph V. Dilley (1881-1933).
Chester appears to have suffered a heart attack on 26 March 1913 and died at home. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Clinton. There is no will, and he was a relatively young man. In 1915, the New Jersey state census puts his widow Anna living with her daughter’s family in North Readington. Later this family will move to Elizabeth and Anna goes with them. It is possible that the farm was sold, as the sons do not appear to have followed their father’s occupation.
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.
Cornelius 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.
Interestingly, 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.
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-?).
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.
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.”
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!
Well, it took three weeks but I finally got Research Scope Creep. You know what I mean. That moment when you completely ignore the #52Ancestors project criteria (find one new thing on one person on your family tree) and gleefully go down the rabbit hole, gathering bits and pieces as you go. Three hours later, you are banging your head against the desk and crying “I know I found three new census records, his marriage record and four city directory entries, but I WANT his obituary!”
It wasn’t pretty folks, but I pulled back, hunkered down and entered what I had into RootsMagic and called “time.” So here goes:
Eugene Tompkins was born in 1855 to Abraham Van Wangenin and Caroline Brown Tompkins. Abraham and Caroline lived in Dutchess County, New York, on a farm outside of Hyde Park. This family is another source of genealogical frustration for me as the Tompkins are rife in Dutchess County and the surrounding area and each generation named their children after their favorite siblings, creating confusing swirls of Michaels, Rachels, James, Anns, Gilberts and Johns. To make it even more frustrating, Abraham dies at a relatively early age in 1869, and his children are dispersed throughout the Tompkins clan. So I found Eugene easily enough in the 1860 and 1870 Census but I had let the search drop several years ago in the face of easier quarry.
My initial task for the #52Ancestors challenge was to find Eugene Tompkins in the 1880 Census. I re-searched on Dutchess County with no luck. I then broadened the search to include surrounding counties. After weeding out all the wrong Eugenes, I was left with the question “did the census taker really get his information that wrong, or is he just not in New York?” I went back to the sibling list and followed his oldest brother, my great, great grandfather Samuel Dusenbury Tompkins, to New Jersey. At the time of the 1880 Census, Samuel is living in Jersey City, NJ with his wife and three children and his youngest brother James Tompkins. But no Eugene. So I followed one of Amy Johnson Crow’s “5 Online Search Strategies…” and searched on Eugene Tompkins, born NY in 1855, living anywhere and BINGO. Top of the list is a guy living in Colorado. Who knew?
Well, it turns out that several of Abraham’s sons went west to Colorado, but that is a story for another day and another blog. This story is going to wrap up what I now know about Eugene. Which is not everything I want to know but THAT IS NOT THE EXERCISE.
I found Eugene living in Denver in the 1900 Census with his wife Arizona. They have two children, Mabel and Percy both of whom are born in Colorado. And potentially, they appear to be living with Arizona’s parents. Mabel E. Tompkins was born in August of 1883, so I looked for a marriage in 1882 and found an entry in an index for 1882. Eugene is employed as a shipping clerk, which was probably a good job to have on the frontier, as Denver still was in 1900.
By 1910, the family has added some new strings for me to follow up on: Eugene is the manager of a wholesale fruit company, Arizona and Percy are at home, Mabel has married and buried a husband named Warhurst and Arizona’s mother has moved in with them. Ancestry coerced me into clicking on one of their leaves and I found a potential death date through a Find A Grave entry and most interesting of all, a city directory listing for Eugene and Mary A. Tompkins as President and vice president of a brokerage firm “Tompkins Brokerage Co.”
The Denver Public Library has an awesome newspaper obituary index up on their page and through this I was able to glean obituary information on Eugene. He died at home on 26 October 1927 and is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery. Interestingly, Mabel is listed as Mabel E. Stewart, so perhaps another husband?
So many links and possibilities. But time has been called. I did not find Eugene in the 1880 Census. I have some really good leads on where to go next and maybe next year I will do #52Ancestorfollowups but this year I am stopping now. Happy Birthday, Eugene Tompkins!
One of my most prolific lines in the Mount family. This is an old, old, old New Jersey family, coming over from England before New Jersey was even a state. They are also one of those families that had at least ten children per marriage and named each child after a beloved sister or brother, so the names circle around and around, and I have to chart out each person to figure just who they are and who their immediate kin are. As part of my 2018 #52Ancestors challenge to do something on one person each week, I am inspired by Catherine’s birthday this week to look at her a bit more closely.
I have just the barest facts on Catherine. She was born on 4 January 1859 to Thomas Hiram and Catherine Fisher Mount and was one of their twelve children. She married Peter Voorhees Perrine on 2 January 1883 in Hightstown and they have two boys, Charles M. and Thomas A. Sadly, Thomas A. comes into the world in 1891 and leaves it in 1892, a common occurrence in the nineteenth century, but it must have been devastating, nonetheless. She died suddenly on 8 January 1929 and is buried in the Cranbury Cemetery (also known as Brainerd Cemetery).
Census records can give a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors, but the five to ten year gaps between them are frustrating. From the Census I can glean that Peter V. Perrine was a farmer, son of a farmer, trained his son to be a farmer. Catherine was a farmer’s wife. The 1910 Census tells me that she did indeed have two children, only one living by 1910. But what about the in between times? Here, I find newspaper archives to be more entertaining. Small town, big city, rural community, whatever, newspapers are a treasure trove of the bits and pieces of our forebears lives.
It is from the Trenton Times that I discovered that Peter and Catherine were active members of the First Baptist Church in Hightstown. In 1914, the church held a harvest celebration and Peter was on the decorating committee. And in 1916, the Perrines lent their support to a lecture series through the Chautauqua on “Community Welfare.” A family birthday celebration in 1913 gives me a few more clues about siblings and relationships. While it is odd to note what gets into the paper, if you look beyond obituaries and marriage notices, you can find all sorts of things.
This year’s challenge lead me to obituaries for both Peter and Catherine, giving me more information than I had previously had. So Happy Birthday, Catherine!