This 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:
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.
They 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.
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.
Emmet Van Syckel was my very first lesson in “never assume people stay in one place.” Emmet was the third of four children of Chester (1838-1907) and Mary Jane Mount (1844-1917) Van Syckel and the only boy. His father was a prominent Flemington, NJ lawyer and he is mentioned in his father’s obituary in the New Jersey Law Journal (v. 30, 1907): “Emmet, who is engaged in the general merchandise business in the State of Washington.”
Emmet lead me a merry chase because he did not remove from New Jersey to Washington, nothing so simple. Emmet was born 1 June 1873 in Flemington and appears with the family in 1880. In 1887 he is baptized at the Flemington Baptist Church. In 1900, he is nowhere to be found in New Jersey. Luckily, he is not a Smith. After much searching, I ran him to ground in Diamondville, Uinta County, Wyoming, where he is employed as a clerk in a clothing store. I then found a newspaper article from October 1903 that said he had recently come from Pueblo, Colorado to work for the Washoe Company of Montana. However, on 3 May 1906, he accepts the position as postmaster of Finley, Benton County, Washington and he holds this position through 13 January 1908. I next found him in Idaho, where he is employed as a general merchandise salesman at a store in Buhl, in Twin Falls County.
I know he goes back to visit his family in the east because the Flemington newspapers also cover his comings and goings from 1903 to 1916.
Emmet next appears in Detroit, Michigan where he fills out a draft card on 12 September 1918 and appears in the census. And here he stays for at least twenty years, so the Census tells me. His sister Mary Van Syckel visits him in Detroit in 1925, where according to city directories, he is running a grocery store.
Louise Tompkins remembers that she and her sisters received a small legacy from him when he died, but she was not sure where he was living at the time. I eventually tracked him down to Tampa, Florida and wonder if this is where he retired.
The little family of five is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Flemington with a small marker for each person. The family name marker is not so small and sedate and appears to have been placed long after Chester died in 1907.
This week in #52Ancestors I am tracking Benjamin Walter Jones. He’s the youngest brother of Richard Jones and frequently pops up on other people’s trees in the mistaken belief that he is Richard’s son Benjamin (1833-1896). That would have made Richard a very precocious 9 year old but people don’t always do the math.
Benjamin Walter Jones was the youngest son of Benjamin (1767-1849) and his second wife Mary Howell (1778-1836) Jones. He was born 29 May 1821 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but appears to have spent the majority of his life in New Jersey. He attended Haverford College for one year in 1833.
On 1 June 1847 he married Harriet Woodmansie Davis (1827-1897) at Hanover, New Jersey. They had four children: Walter Moore Jones (1848-1849), Samuel Howell Jones (1849-1916), Ellen Emlen Jones (1854-1939), and Francis Woodmansie Jones (1852-1854).
I do not know much about Benjamin W. Jones’ business enterprises. In the 1850 Census, he is listed in Philadelphia as a merchant with $15,000 in real estate. He then appears in business with Richard Jones at Florence but that business dissolved in 1858. In the 1860 Census, the family is living near Richard Jones in Mansfield, Burlington County, New Jersey and his occupation is listed as founder. By 1870, Benjamin, Harriet and Ellen are living in Trenton, where his occupation is listed as none, with no real estate or personal property valued. However, Harriet does possess $10,000 in real estate and persona”l property valued at $25,000. In the 1880 Census, Benjamin is listed with Harriet and both children, and while his occupation is listed as travelling salesman, there is a check mark in the box marked “is the person sick or temporarily disabled so as to be unable to attend to ordinary business or duties.”
Benjamin W. Jones served in the Civil War as a Captain and commander of Company I, 1st New Jersey Volunteer Cavalry, mustering in on 29 August 1861. He was discharged due to disability on 20 September 1862. It is possible that this was a lingering condition and effected his ability to work.
Benjamin W. Jones appears in Trenton city directories from 1870 to 1880, but these never list an occupation. The house eventually gets and address of 365 W. State St. Benjamin also attended church at Trinity Episcopal Church, where he serves as a Convention delegate in 1874.
Benjamin Walter Jones died 15 December 1883 in Philadelphia and is buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. His death notice in the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that his brother hosted the funeral at his home at 1818 Delancey Place. He left no will, which is not a surprise as his wife Harriet appears to have owned everything.
This week in #52Ancestors I’d like to finish the other half of the Richard Jones story: his first wife Susan Ellis Gibbs, from whom I am descended. She was born 9 May 1814, the second daughter of Joseph N. (1781-1865) and Elizabeth Ellis Gibbs (1785-1845). She appears to have resided her entire short life in Burlington County, New Jersey.
The Gibbs family appears in Quaker meeting records moving from Upper Springfield meeting to Mount Holly meeting in 1817, but the next time I find them is in 1835, when the entire family is being “disowned” by the Mount Holly meeting. This may be due to the fact that Susan and her sisters seem to have each married outside the faith. The marriage for Richard Jones and Susan Gibbs was performed by a justice of the peace in Burlington County on 13 June 1833.
Susan and Richard had two sons, Benjamin Jones (1835-1896) and Joseph Gibbs Jones (1834-1895). Susan died 22 February 1837 and is buried at Juliustown, in Arney’s Mount Friends Burying Ground, as is her father Joseph N. Gibbs. Although this cemetery is so named, there seem to be a number of “lapsed” Quakers buried there.
While I know that Richard Jones lived at Mary Ann Furnace later in the 1840’s I do not know if this is where Susan E. Gibbs lived with him during their short marriage. Because she entered and left the family history between two censuses and because her two boys had so little time with her, it is hard to find details.
This is the 1849 Map of Burlington County by A.W. Otley and E. Whiteford, which provides the most detailed view of Mary Ann Forge and its small village of worker housing.
This essay was originally published on 1 May 2018. It contained erroneous information and so I have updated and corrected it as of 2 June 2018.
I recently received the pension packet from the National Archives for Benjamin Jones and his widow, Mary E. Jones. It added a great deal of information to what I now know about this couple. It also presented the problem of how to update this essay. Rather than start from scratch I am going to try to incorporate the new information into the original.
This week in #52ancestors I am going to write about a woman who fascinates me. She is not someone famous, or who had a public talent that everyone talked about. She was a wife, mother, daughter, neighbor. Just an ordinary woman, and yet she intrigues me. Possibly it is because of a family story about her, which I cannot prove or disprove. Possibly it is because her children loved her so.
Mary Elizabeth Carroll (records also use the spelling Carrol, Currel, Curl, Carrel) was born on 1 May 1840 or 1841 in Juliustown, Burlington County, New Jersey. Her parents were William Carrel and Eliza F. Cox. William Carroll of Juliustown is proving to be elusive but I have now discovered that although the family does not seem to hit the Census very often, Mary E. appears to have been the middle daughter of three: Anna P. (1839-1902), Mary E. and Martha (1843-1905).
Mary Elizabeth Carroll married Clayton Taylor (son of Samuel G. and Mary Ann Taylor), on 14 March 1861 at Columbus in Springfield township, NJ. Clayton appears to have been born around 1833 in Recklestown, NJ. Sadly, Clayton died later that year on 13 October when his dog bumped his hunting rifle.
Mary E. Taylor then marries Benjamin Jones, recently returned Civil War veteran, on 20 October 1863. They were married by a Justice of the Peace. This is the crux of a family mystery. The story is that Benjamin Jones compromised a young lady in the employ of the family, a maid or laundress. Having gotten her pregnant, he was forced to marry her and his father, Richard Jones, disowned him. It’s a great story but the supporting factual details elude me. Having now found a marriage date, it does highlight that their first child was born 7 months later. Benjamin returned from the war a broken man. His pension application is filled with details of his inability to work at any manual labor for any length of time. Mary E. seems to have helped support the family by “working out” which means she did cleaning and housework for pay. It is possible that this is how she met Benjamin.
And yet, apparently regardless of his ability to do prolonged manual labor, Benjamin and Mary proceed to have 11 children:
Susan Gibbs Jones (1864-1895)
William Carroll Jones (1865-1937)
Lillie Jones (1867-1946)
Elwood Andrew Jones (1869-1940)
Alice W. Jones (1871-1937)
Elizabeth Watts Jones (1873-1900)
Arthur Wells Jones (1875-1936)
Horace Jones (1878-1884)
Mary “Stella May” Jones (1881-1946)
Rebecca Clevenger Jones (1883-1963)
Martha Evans “Mattie” Jones (1885-1891)
The couple lived in Pemberton apparently in a house held in trust for Benjamin and Mary (I need to find more information on this as it is outlined in the pension documents) to be used during their lives. After Benjamin died in 1896, Mary lived at Egbert Street through the 1910 Census. In 1915, Mary is living with her daughter Alice and son-in-law Charles Wills. After that, according to the 1920 Census, Mary moved in with daughter Lillie (married to George Weest). For most of this time she is surviving on her widow’s pension and what “work out” she can get.
Mary Jones died on 29 May 1922 in Vincentown and is buried in the Methodist Cemetery in Pemberton. Her passing received far more attention than Benjamin’s and several months after her death her children post a memorial to her in the newspaper:
Mount Holly Herald, 7 October 1922
In Memoriam: In loving memory of our dear mother, Mary Elizabeth Jones. Four months have passed since that sad day, when one we loved was called away, God took her home, it was his will, but in our hearts she is living still. Sadly missed by sons and daughters.
I am still in search of many pieces of this story but the goal of #52ancestors is to get what you know down in print, so here it is. I would love to find out more about Frank Earl, who is the trustee of the house where Benjamin and Mary live. How did this come about? And now that I know a bit more about Mary Carroll’s parents I can try to put together that part of the story.
This week of #52Ancestors lead me to Vincent Van Nest, whose birthday is 25 April 1837 and who joins the family tree by marrying Margaret Ann Mount, older sister to my direct ancestor Mary Jane Mount (1844-1917). The Van Nest surname can hide in records as Van Nest, VanNest and Vannest, making it a bit tricky to find them. Also I discovered this family marrying Mounts in many generations. But the really interesting discovery happened when I tried to document Vincent’s parents.
Vincent Van Nest, born 25 April 1837, was one of two sons of Abraham (1799-1871) and Harriet Chamberlin Dye (1799-1872) Van Nest. Vincent married Margaret Ann Mount (1840-1900) on 17 January 1861 at East Windsor and the couple had four children: Harriet, Hiram, Catherine, and Susan. Margaret preceded her husband in death on 12 February 1900, and Vincent died 12 November 1911. Vincent’s obituary remarks that he was “one of the best know and most respected me of this section” and he certainly had to take on quite a bit of responsibility at a young age.
Once I opened my searches to include all the possible variations on Van Nest, I was able to discover a bit more about Vincent’s family. His father was Abraham Van Nest, born 27 November 1799, in Hightstown, New Jersey (part of Middlesex County at this point). He married Harriet Dye (born 3 December 1799, nee Chamberlin), who was the widow of Vincent Dye. I find this naming pattern intriguing, as I don’t know many men who would willingly name their son after their wife’s dead spouse.
Abraham and Harriet Van Nest have two sons: Vincent D. Van Nest and Abram Bergen Van Nest. I am not sure what happens to Abram Van Nest. He appears in the 1863 Civil War draft records but by the 1870 Census his wife and son are living with Abraham and Harriet. And the wills of both these people are fascinating.
Abraham Van Nest prepares a will in 1868 in which he divides his estate between his “beloved wife” Harriet and his daughter in law, Sarah E. Van Nest and her son Richard. Everything is to go to his son Vincent upon the deaths of these two women. The language about Abram is odd, mostly directing Sarah E. to receive income only if she remains married, otherwise the money reverts to Richard W. and is controlled by Vincent Van Nest, son and executor. The will is probated on 15 February 1871.
Harriet Van Nest dies shortly after her husband on 1 November 1872. Her will disposes of various bequests and then leaves the bulk of her estate divided between her son Vincent Vannest and her daughter in law Sarah E. Vannest “now or late the wife of my son Abram B. Vannest.” She does not mention her grandson Richard W. Vannest at all, so possibly he has died.
This would be a case where the public record leaves me with little understanding of the family dynamics and there must have been some. But Vincent should be remembered on his birthday and so I wish you a Happy Birthday, Vincent D. Van Nest!
This week of #52ancestors brings us to Grace Elizabeth Tompkins, eldest daughter of my great grandfather Samuel Dusenbury Tompkins (1839-1926). I had the wrong birth date in for her but this entry gave me a chance to interview Louise Tompkins about her memories and so I am posting it on 4/10 as opposed to 10/4!
Grace Elizabeth Tompkins was born on 4 October 1869, in Jersey City, New Jersey. Her parents, Samuel D. and Gettianna Vreeland Tompkins had married the previous year and were settled in residence with her parents, Nicholas and Elizabeth Vreeland. Educated in Jersey City schools, Grace went on to Vassar College, graduating in 1892. She returned home to the big family house on Communipaw Ave. where she is listed in the 1900 Census with no occupation, but the society pages of the Jersey Journal mention numerous fancy parties and entertainments both hosted and attended. She was involved in Vassar alumna events as well as a group called the Odd Volumes which appears to have been a kind of book club. Louise Tompkins shared her memory of the Odd Volumes: “everyone was a member, Florence (Voorhees), Aunt Lou (Louise Tompkins Voorhees), my mother and grandmother (Ann Van Syckel Tennant and Katharine Tennant Tompkins). They reviewed books and that sort of thing.”
I know Grace took one extended trip with her mother and sister Louise because she left a diary among her possessions and it has come down to me. I do not know what year the trip is but it is some time before 1918 as it mentions her mother and Gettianna dies in February 1918. I think it may be 1907 as the diary starts with a family send off and she mentions that she is sailing on the S. S. Carpathia. Anyone familiar with the story of the Titanic knows this ship was probably busy in April of 1912 and Grace starts the diary on April 27th. The diary gives descriptions of ship life, ports of call and also mentions land travel, especially in the British Isles. I note especially that Grace attended services at Glasgow Cathedral on August 26th, the same cathedral visited by Louise Tompkins and myself over 100 years later on a never-to-be-forgotten visit to the Scottish Highlands.
After her mother’s death in 1918, Grace traveled with her father as well as acting as hostess at various social events at the house on Communipaw Ave. Although I know that Grace traveled abroad extensively before this, one trip caught my attention because it was mentioned in the newspapers. In 1927, Grace traveled abroad to Europe with an interesting intersection of female relatives: Louise Tompkins Voorhees, Florence Voorhees, Eleanor Tompkins (her niece) and Miss Ethel Hodsdon (a cousin from the Tennant side of the family).
After her father’s death Grace moved from the Communipaw Ave house to a smaller home at 117 Bentley Ave. I don’t know why she is missing from the 1930 Census but 117 is skipped. She was in town, as I have stalked her through the newspapers and she is either attending or hosting events in April, 1930 from 117 Bentley Ave. Again, talking to Louise Tompkins gave me a little insight: “Auntie Grace lived up the street from us in a house that was divided. She had a maid and a chauffeur. The chauffeur’s name was David, he was a Scotsman and very nice to us children. We used to roller skate in the driveway because we didn’t have one at our house.” Louise Tompkins also remembered that Grace owned Cocker Spaniels and that she was a very astute investor, like her brothers.
Grace Tompkins eventually moved to 2600 Boulevard (called the Duncan then) to the same building as her sister and niece, Florence Voorhees. Louise and Grace both had corner apartments on different floors with identical floor plans and sweeping views of the Meadowlands. I remember visiting Florence much later on and thinking she had a lovely view. Grace died on 26 June 1964 and is buried at Arlington Cemetery in Kearny. When my brother and I were children, my mother Anne Tompkins Jones and her sister Louise would take us to the cemetery each spring to clean up the landscape around the family plots. It is a beautiful old cemetery with lovely monuments. It is also a short drive from the Short Hills Mall but that is another story for another day.