Aaron Van Syckel

This week in #52ancestors I travel back six generations, which I am incredibly lucky to be able to identify, to Aaron Van Syckel, seventh son of Reinier Van Syckel.  Again this is one of my Dutch ancestors but this line settled in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
Aaron Van Syckel was born on 8 July 1764 to Reinier (1723-1803) and Maake “Mercy Longstreet” Langstraat (d. 1815) Van Syckel.  Aaron’s generation appears to have been the one that started transitioning from the original “Van Sickelen” to the current “Van Syckel.”  Of course, there are many variations currently, Van Sickel, Van Sickle, Vansickle, etc., but this branch seems to have settled on the “yckel” spelling.
Aaron married Catharine Opducke or Opdyke (1762-1851) in 1785 and the couple had eight children:
  • John Van Syckel (1786-1864)
  • Elijah Van Syckel (1788-1855)
  • Daniel Van Syckel (1790-1861)
  • Aaron Van Syckel (1793-1874)
  • Mercy Van Syckel (1796-1850)
  • William Van Syckel (1798-1859)
  • Alice Van Syckel (1803-1871)
  • Fanny Van Syckel (1805-1884)
van-syckels-tavern2-1Aaron Van Syckel inherited a sizable estate from his father totaling 240 acres, which he built into quite an empire.  In 1800, he purchased a tavern owned by David Reynolds in Bethlehem township, which he made his home.  There was also a store nearby which he ran with his son Aaron Jr. as well as a post office.  The tavern is listed on both state and National Historic Registers and I remember as a child going to see the buildings at Van Syckel’s corner.
Aaron Van Syckel was active in local political affairs.  The History of Hunterdon County notes that in addition to serving as a presidential elector in 1821, he was also elected to the General Assembly (1808-1814) and stood as Sheriff on several occasions (1803 and 1835).  On 11 November 1803, as sheriff he was responsible for carrying out the execution by hanging of Brom, an African American slave accused of murdering another slave.
Bethlehem Presbyterian Church markerAaron Van Syckel was a member of the Bethlehem Presbyterian Church and helped that congregation erect a stone church in 1830.  It is no longer standing but there is a marker noting the construction and, of course, the cemetery is still there.
Aaron Van Syckel died on 28 November 1838, and is buried in the cemetery at Bethlehem.  His will gives a clue as to the extensive holdings he acquired over his life.

Stella Mae Jones

Jones_Mary_StellaMay_imageThis week on #52ancestors I am writing about Mary “Stella May” Jones.  She was the ninth child of Benjamin (1833-1896) and Mary Elizabeth Carrell (1840-1922) Jones, born on 22 June 1881.  My great grandfather Arthur Wells Jones was her older brother.  I am not sure exactly why or when she became “Stella May” but that is the name she went by most of her adult life.

The first time I found her in the census was in the 1885 New Jersey state census, where she is called May.  I thought it might have been a misspelling of Mary.  But in the 1895 NJ Census, she is also called May.  In 1900, She is living with her mother and two sisters and is identified as Stella Mae.  Marriage notices in local papers used this spelling as well:

Ayres_Jones_wedding_The_Freehold_Transcript_and_The_Monmouth_Inquirer_Fri__Apr_18__1902_

Stella Mae and Oscar lived most often in Freehold in Monmouth County but seem to have come back to Pemberton regularly.  Oscar appears to have worked with his father as a monument maker but also is listed in various Census and military draft records as a clerk, railroad worker and as a motor delivery man for the Courier-News.

Ayres_Mae_grave_PembertonMethodistCemeteryThey had a little girl in 1909 named Mae Ayres, who died shortly after birth and is buried in the Methodist Cemetery in Pemberton.  They do not, however, appear to have been active in the Methodist Church.

According to her obituary and other newspaper articles I found, Stella Mae does not appear to have been robustly healthy towards the end of her life.  She may have suffered from complications from an appendectomy.  Estella Mae Ayres died on 18 December 1946 at Seaside Park, NJ at the home of her nephew Arthur Rue after a stroke.  She is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery.Ayres_EstellaM_grave_1946_MountHollyCemetery

Names can evolve over a person’s lifetime.  This can present a challenge when trying to determine if the record you are viewing is, in fact, the person you are researching.  The trick, I think, is being open to the fact that your ancestor may have used different names in different contexts.  My own mother could slide fluidly back and forth from Anne Tompkins Jones to Mrs. Barclay G. Jones to Annebo, depending on the circumstances.