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

Minnie Arabella Hine

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Minnie Hine Prince

This week in #52ancestors #52familyphotographs Minnie Arabella Hine takes center stage as a good example of incorrect information in a marriage record.  Corroborate, double check and check again! Minnie was my great grandmother and figuring out her real mother set me a merry chase.

Minnie was born on 1 August 1866 in Orwell, Pennsylvania.  Her father’s name was James Edwin Hine.  Her mother’s name was Catherine Tyrrel or Terrell.  She was the second of two daughters of this couple.  Martha or Mattie, her older sister, clearly lists her mother on her marriage record as Catherine but Minnie lists her mother as A. E. Hine.  James Hine married Ann E. Phillips in 1870 when Minnie was about 4, and she may not have had any memories of her birth mother.  Luckily, I happen to have James’ bible which records Catherine’s death and his remarriage.

Minnie married George Cornell Prince on 9 July 1894 up in Bradford County.  George was living in Philadelphia at the time, employed as a stenographer with the Philadelphia Typewriter Exchange.  I am not sure when he went down to Philadelphia, but he appears in city directories from 1895 to 1904.  The family lived in Philadelphia until 1897, when the directory notes that his home is in Rosedale, New Jersey.

Minnie and George Prince had four children, the first born in Philadelphia and the rest in Camden:

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Minnie Hine Prince with George? and Philip?

I don’t know much about her life in Camden.  I know she went home to Bradford County occasionally as her visits are tracked in the local paper.  Her father and step-mother had one son, Arthur Hine and she appears to have visited him and her sister.

Minnie Prince died at home on 23 June 1931 and is buried in Bethel Memorial Park in Pennsauken, NJ.  Her obituary mentions her children and grandchildren but does not highlight any other activities.

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.