Harold Doremus Tompkins

I never met either my maternal or my paternal grandfathers.  This week in #52Ancestors I attempt to get to know a man about whom I have only heard stories.

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

Harold Doremus Tompkins was born 17 February 1888 to Samuel D. (1838-1926) and Gettianna Vreeland (1841-1918) Tompkins.  He was the youngest child of seven, 5 of whom lived to adulthood.  As his oldest sister was born almost nineteen years before him, many of the stories I have heard are of the “darling little baby of the family” variety.  Certainly, this picture puts his position in perspective.  His siblings were literally adults by the time he was old enough to know what was what.

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Hasbrouck Institute In September 1893 the Hasbrouck Institute opened at the corner of Crescent and Harrison Avenues, now the site of Lincoln High School, with 305 students. The school first opened at 53-55 Mercer Street when it was founded in 1856. It then relocated to the Lyceum Classical School (1839-59) founded by William L. Dickinson at 109 Grand Street. Washington Hasbrouck (c. 1824-1895) established the private school with the goal to prepare young men in Jersey City for university and later public service. In 1880, the school became coed. The Jersey City Board of Education purchased the Hasbrouck Institute and grounds in 1912 and erected a new high school: Lincoln High School.

Harold was baptized at Lafayette Church in Jersey City, NJ and attended the local public school, and the Hasbrouck Institute for high school.  He took classes at Rutgers University, attending long enough to join Delta Phi fraternity like his older brother Vreeland.  He then went on to study mechanical engineering at Cornell University.  I am not sure how he had time as his senior yearbook also has him playing baseball, football, lacrosse, and being a member of the Mandolin Club.

After college he returned to Jersey City, where he was active in local activities, especially amateur sports.  He served with the New Jersey National Guard in the signal corps and I have seen one mention of his serving in the Mexican Expedition in 1916 but I have not verified that he actually went to Mexico to take part in the US response to Pancho Villa’s Mexican Revolution.

However, his service there does seem to have made it possible for him to get a commission as a lieutenant in Company C, 101th Signal Battalion, 29th Division.  As commonly occured during World War I, companies were reorganized constantly.  I found a mention of Harold in the History of the 29th Division which placed him in Company A, 104th Signal Corp, where he was in charge of the company that set up the communications net used to communicate the news each day.   He served in France and remained there after the war to take classes at the University of Bordeaux.

By 1920, he is back in Jersey City living with his father Samuel and working at Smooth-On.  He is 32 years old at this point and the family tells the story that his older brother told him that he needed to “grow up, get married and get out.”  As the baby of the family, I imagine this was received with due respect (ha, ha) but he managed to meet, get engaged to and marry Katharine Van Syckel Tennant, so he must have taken it to hear.  They were married 4 November 1922.

Tompkins_Tennant_wedding_Jersey_Journal_1922-11-06_8Harold and Katharine Tompkins had three children: Anne Van Syckel (1923-1994), Mary Vreeland (1925- ) and Louise (1928-).  By the 1930 Census, they are living at 132 Bentley Ave., close to family but on their own.  Shortly after 1940, the entire family moved to Summit, New Jersey to a large house at 160 Oakridge Avenue.  Many adventures occurred in this house, but I only knew about the house Granny moved into after he died, on Valley View Rd.

Harold D. Tompkins died on 27 November 1951 and is buried at Arlington Cemetery in Kearny, NJ.

Burns Wilson Mount

This week of #52Ancestors brings me back to the Mount family, but focuses on the branch of the family that migrated out to Ohio.  How helpful it would have been to have known about this group when I actually lived in Ohio.  I chose Burns Wilson Mount because his birthday falls in this week and because the prompt this week is “favorite name.”

It can be especially challenging for research when your subject has a really unusual name that is made up of very common words.  Initial searches lead me to many people who died of burns near Mount Healthy.

Burns Wilson Mount was born on 7 February 1897 in Warren County, Ohio to Addison and Clara Moses Mount.  Addison Mount migrated from Hightstown, New Jersey when he was 17 years old and his children are the first generation to be born in Ohio.  Burns was the youngest of six sons raised on a farm in Butler County.  When he was 17 two major life events happened for him: he married Kathleen Frazee and he enlisted in the Ohio National Guard, eventually serving as a private in the 166th Infantry in World War I.

Burns and Kathleen Mount had two children, Arthur B. and Ralph E., both of whom also served in the military during World War II.  After serving in WWI, Burns returned to Ohio and got a job in a steel mill, where he worked for the next twenty years at least.  Unfortunately, creative searching strategies have not lead me to any images of Burns although I did find entries for his two boys in the Young Patriots of World War II publication.Mount_ArthurandRalph_WWIIYoungPatriots_crop

Burns Mount died 29 October 1959 and is buried with military honors at Woodhill Cemetery in Franklin, Ohio.  His wife Kathleen (1897-1968) is buried next to him.  As recently as 2012 someone had decorated the grave with an American flag, which is fitting for a 20 year old who went off to France so many years before.  Happy Birthday, Burns Wilson Mount!

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