Grace Elizabeth Tompkins

AVTAlbum5.GraceETompkinsThis 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.”

Diary_GlasgowI 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.

USSCaroniaAfter 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).

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117 Bentley Ave.

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.

Chester Van Syckel Dilley

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).

Dilley_ChesterV_obituary_The_Courier_News_Sat__Mar_29__1913_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.

Happy Birthday, Chester Van Syckel Dilley!

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Clarence Brearley Mount

 

This week in #52Ancestors allowed me to correct a name spelling.  I selected Clarence B. Mount, whom I had mistakenly identified as Clarence Burnley.  One obituary and a few corroborating documents later, I had the correct name: Clarence Brearley Mount.

Clarence was born on 22 March 1876 in Hightstown, New Jersey to William (1848-1922) and Catherine Brearley (1853-1926) Mount. My family joins the Mount tree with Mary Jane Mount (1844-1917), my great great grandmother. Mary Jane and Clarence’s father William were siblings.

Clarence B. Mount was the oldest of seven children.  On 17 November 1898, he traveled to New York, NY to marry Fairy Mount (1879-1960).  They had two children: Erva Louise (1899-1971) and Carl F. (1903-1983).

When I first captured Clarence Mount, I found him either as Clarence B. or Clarence Bumley or Burnley.  I did not have a good read on his mother, other than that her name was Catherine.  Newly accessible resources such as the digital archive of the Trenton Evening Times allowed me to see the obituary for Clarence, which spelled out his full name, while other articles allowed me to see information about his wife and children that furthered my knowledge on the Brearley connection.

One detail about Clarence that I have not been able to gather is the fact that he married a Mount.  Fairy Mount to be exact.  Fairy Mount was also from Mercer County, and even from Hamilton township.  I tracked her back two generations from father David C. Mount to grandfather Samuel Mount and, as best I can determine, we are not tightly related, as neither of these appear on the list of Mounts we are related to, but it gave me pause, nonetheless.  Why did they travel to New York, if there was nothing to hide?  1898 is not a year known for its destination weddings.

Mount_Clarence_B_Trenton_Evening_Times_1953-05-11_4Unfortunately, the obituary (Trenton Evening Times) is how I learned the most about Clarence Brearley Mount.  He was involved in the insurance business, namely the Automobile Club of Central New Jersey and the Loyalty Group Insurance Company.  More locally, he was an overseer of the poor and a director of emergency relief in Hamilton Township.  He and his wife Fairy were actively involved in the Presbyterian Church, appearing in newspaper story after story about this church fete or that.  He was a member of several fraternal organizations: the Mount Moriah Lodge 28 (F&AM), the Knights Templar, the Masons, the IOOF, and the Railroad Square Club.  His funeral services reflect this as both Presbyterian and Baptist ministers officiated at his funeral and the Masonic Temple held a separate service.

As I add more names to the ever more complicated tree, it becomes more and more difficult to track back and fill in blanks.  Challenges like #52Ancestors are good prompts for second and third looks at branches of the tree.  Happy Birthday, Clarence Brearley Mount!

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Cornelius D. Vreeland

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.

Vreeland_CorneliusD_1882_cropCornelius 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.

Vreeland_Cornelius_AppointmentAdmin_1892_cropInterestingly, 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.

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Daniel Vreeland

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-?).

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1850 Agricultural Census analysis

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.

 

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1860 Agricultural Census Analysis

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.”

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Daniel Vreeland Will 1867

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!

 

Katharine Van Syckel Tennant Tompkins

This week for the #52Ancestors challenge I am writing about someone I knew: my Granny.  I only knew her for a short while but her daughters (Anne, Mary and Louise) kept her alive in my mind with their stories.  I have some of my own memories as well, although they have the haze of childhood about them.

0013_Tompkins_Katharine_1_resizeKatharine (with an A, thank you) VanSyckel Tennant was the first child born to Anne Vansyckel and George Grant Tennant.  She was born 15 February 1899 in Jersey City where her father and mother lead a fairly high profile life.  George Tennant was a lawyer, judge and member of the school board.  Their social life is tracked in the Jersey Journal quite regularly.

One of the first news articles about Katharine appeared shortly after her birth but was not a birth announcement.  “Miss Tennant’s Musicale” was her first according to the article in the Jersey Journal on 31 May 1899, and although it is remarked that she did attend, the evening was a pleasant one with violin, cello, piano and singing.

Lincoln_High_school_postcard_Large_JCFPLKatharine was soon joined by a brother George Grant Jr. (1900-1982) and a sister Jean Cardiff Tennant (1905-1990).  She and her siblings attended Lincoln High School, which their father was instrumental in establishing. Katharine went on to attend Vassar College, graduating with the class of 1920.  After college she met and married Harold Doremus Tompkins (1888-1951).  Their engagement and wedding were closely tracked by the Jersey Journal, and there seems to be disappointment in the tone of the articles reporting on the parties and ceremony attended only by family and close friends. They stopped in Bermuda on their wedding trip but I’m not sure where else they traveled to, as they were gone three weeks.

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132 Bentley Ave.

Harold and Katharine brought three little girls into the world: my mother Anne Van Syckel Tompkins (1923-1994), Mary Vreeland Tompkins (1925-) and Louise Tompkins (1928-).  They lived at 132 Bentley Avenue in Jersey City.  There were family vacations in Dorset, Vermont, and Central Valley, New York and work with various organizations to fill her time.  In 1940 the family moved from Jersey City to Summit, New Jersey to a big house on Oak Ridge Avenue.  Here Katharine joined the Central Presbyterian Church, the Summit College Club AAUW, the Fortnightly Club, the Vassar College Club and the YWCA.

After Harold’s death in 1951, Katharine moved into smaller quarters at 35 Valley View Ave.  This is the house I remember.  There was a large front yard with several big trees and after drawing a picture on a big white sheet of paper, we would go out to the front yard to collect fallen twigs with which we made a picture frame.  We also ironed pretty fall leaves between pieces of wax paper and other crafty activities.  I think my brother was off playing with some neighborhood boys and these were my consolation prizes.  I also remember tasting Fluffernutter spread here for the first time but my mother insisted that Granny would never have fed me such garbage, so I guess we’ll just have to disagree on that.

Katherine Tompkins died at home on 1 February 1972.  Her heart had never been strong and one night it just gave out.  The funeral on the 5th was at Central Presbyterian and she is buried next to her husband in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny.  I don’t remember the funeral but I do remember the trip to the cemetery which I thought very disturbing.  For over a decade after, every spring vacation was spent in Princeton with Louise Tompkins and we would trek up to the cemetery on the way to spring shopping at the Short Hills Mall.  The ivy growing on their grave was tenacious and we would trim and thin it (by we I mean my brother and I would watch my mother and aunt do this) and haul the cuttings to the trash.  It is my understanding that the ivy has been removed in the name of landscaping, and I can’t say I’m sorry.

Happy Birthday, Katharine Van Syckel Tennant Tompkins!

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Ellsworth Lewis

My challenge this for this weeks’ #52Ancestors is Ellsworth Lewis, my great, great grandmother’s brother.  The Lewis family is for me, one of those family lines that comes to you rife with stories and suppositions but very little fact.  I have, in an earlier blog, written about Moses K. Wells who married Florence Lewis.  Florence was one of six children and her younger siblings all have great names that should make it so easy to find them in records.

I had a birth date for Ellsworth but nothing else.  According to the Census, he spent his entire life in Pemberton, Burlington County, New Jersey.  Sadly, I discovered that his story abruptly ends in 1890.  On 15 May 1890, he married Keziah Platt in the First Methodist Church at Mount Holly.  And by 14 August 1890, he is dead.  Someday on a trip to the New Jersey State Archives, I will look up his death certificate and find out what happened and where he is buried.  That is for another day.Lewis_Ellsworth_marriage_1890_crop

Interestingly enough, the part that really caught my attention was the difficulty most of my search engines and databases had with variant spellings of Ellsworth (Ellesworth, Elsworth).  It is important to remember that not all databases work the way Ancestry does.  If at first you don’t get any hits, try again.  Many locally produced systems operate on a “what you type is what you get” system which can be frustrating for those used to Ancestry’s algorithms.

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The prompt for this week’s #52ancestors was invite to dinner.  Hmmm, I think I would invite Ellsworth and his new bride Keziah and gently grill them on all the local gossip!

Happy Birthday, Ellsworth!

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