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.

Lillie Jones

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Lillie Jones

I like to find ancestors with my birth date. It doesn’t happen very often but this week in #52Ancestors I get to come pretty close with Lillie Jones Weest.  I also got to follow leads presented when the person I was searching for disappeared from one census family and appeared in another.

Lillie Jones was born on 6 August 1867 to Benjamin and Mary Elizabeth Carrell Jones in Pemberton, New Jersey. She was baptized in 1868 at Grace Episcopal Church in Pemberton.

In 1870, she is living with the Jones family in Pemberton but in 1880 she is living with someone who gives me a clue about her mother’s family!!!!

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She is listed with a Joseph and Anna P. “Scraggy” and she her relationship to them is niece.  I don’t know how I missed this the first time around but thank you #52Ancestors!  This time I followed the lead as the Jones family is not linked to the Scraggy family.  It turns out it is the Scroggy family.  And Joseph is a Civil War veteran married to Anna P. Carrel.  Could this be Mary Elizabeth’s sister?   Joseph Scroggy is also enumerated in the 1885 New Jersey census with Annie P. and Lillie Jones.

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I am not sure why Lillie is not living with her birth family but I can’t argue with the records.  She is also with them in 1895.  Thank goodness for state census records!  They really fill the gap caused by the absence of the 1890 Federal Census. And this one presents another clue to the Carrel family: Eliza Carrel (aged over 60) is living with the Scroggy family as well as Lillie!  Mary Carrell Jones’ mother’s name was Eliza.

Now a little sleuthing work because Lillie Jones disappears.  A few newspaper leads on other family members lead me to the discovery that she married a man named George B. Weest.  This name really confounds many database searches which seem to have been programmed to ignore double vowels: I got a lot of unrelated West returns.  Lillie Weest appears in the 1910 Census in Pemberton living with husband George B. and daughter Mary.  They are living with George’s mother and sister.  Mary is noted as born in New York but I view this with suspicion as the record also shows her father is born in New York when two lines up he is clearly born in New Jersey.

Weest_George_advertisement_The_Fair_Haven_Era_Thu__Jun_7__1900_I did find George in the 1900 Census, living alone in the town of Hampton, NY.  This is right across the Vermont border from Poultney where a newspaper search shows that George has acquired a business.  A little more sleuthing unearths the news that 1910 marked the return of the family to New Jersey from Vermont.  In focusing on that I found that Mary was born in 1901 in Vermont according to her death certificate (dated 1957 in Pennsylvania from a brain tumor).

The family settled in Pemberton where George opens a machine shop.  George died in 1937 about a month after their 37th wedding anniversary.  I have yet to find a marriage record but a newspaper story confirms this date.  Jones_Lillie_marriage_The_Fair_Haven_Era_Thu__Feb_8__1900_And the newspaper is one of the best sources of information on Lillie, other than the Census.  Mary was apparently active in the Burlington County community, attending her friends weddings and holding parties.  Lillie is often noted as attending as well.  In the 1940 Census their household consists of Lillie, Mary and a boarder named William Sullivan and in 1941 he married Mary.

Lillie Jones Weest died 2 January 1946 and is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery in Pemberton.

I was able to fill in many blanks as I worked on this entry for #52Ancestors but I still have questions, which is probably why this exercise is so important.  I will continue to search for Lillie but one of my New Jersey relatives probably has several clues that will help fill in the blanks and now with this blog, they know what I want to know:

  • why did Lillie go to live with her aunt and uncle?  Too many Jones mouths to feed? Or was Anna frail and in need of help?
  • did the marriage of George and Lillie occur in NY or Vermont?
  • is there a better death notice than the tiny one that appears in the Philadelphia Inquirer?
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George B. Weest, Lillie Jones Weest and their daughter Mary Weest

George Cornell Prince

PrinceConcreteAdvertisementI grew up hearing stories about George Cornell Prince.  Unfortunately, I did not ask the right questions of the people who knew him and I am left with a life story with a few holes in it.  Perhaps one of my cousins will read this #52ancestors essay and can help fill in the blanks.

George C. Prince was born on 23 Mar 1869 in Bradford County, Pennsylvania to George M. and Elizabeth Alma Buttles Prince.  He was one of three children but one of two who lived to adulthood.  George grew up near Potterville, a very small community in Orwell township.

On 9 July 1894, George married Minnie Arabella Hine.  They were both residents of Bradford County at the time, and their first child, George Raymond Prince was born there on 28 April 1895.  However, by the time their second child was born (Philip Hine Prince (3 Dec 1896-31 Oct 1974), the family was living in Camden, New Jersey.

They do not appear on a census until 1910, at which point they have three living children: George R., Philip H., and my grandmother Kathryn Marie (1903-1993).  I learned through the New Jersey birth index that there was a fourth child, Edwin Everett Prince who was born 9 June 1898 but who died 24 Feb 1899.

Prince_Concrete_Courier_Post_Mon__Dec_19__1955_So this is the first mystery:  why did they pull up roots in Bradford County and move down to New Jersey?  Philip is born there as are Edwin and Kathryn but the family does not appear in either the federal 1900 census or the 1905 New Jersey census.  And yet, in a 1955 Camden Courier-Post article, George C. Prince is credited with forming the Prince Concrete Company in 1905.

This article provided clues to George Prince’s public service: he served on the Camden City Council as well as the School Board.  Widening the search to include Philadelphia area newspapers found articles about his election as President of the Camden Baptist Church Extension Society as well as a member of the Bradford County Society of Philadelphia.  One intriguing article talked about the role Prince Concrete played in the construction of the new Camden High School, which opened in 1926.  My father Barclay Gibbs Jones attended that high school.

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George Prince died on 20 December 1959 at the home of Kathryn and Leonard Preston (22 Euclid Ave.).  His wife Minnie preceded him in death on 23 June 1931.  They are buried in the Prince family plot in Bethel Memorial Park in Pennsauken, NJ.  My grandparents Kathryn and Leonard still owned that property when I was a child and my cousin would terrify me with ghost stories about all the relatives who died in that home.  I was too young, and too modern, to realize that being able to die at home surrounded by family was probably the best way to go.

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Mary Elizabeth Carroll Jones

Carrell_MaryElizabeth_jpegThis 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.

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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.

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Mary Elizabeth Carroll Jones, William Carroll Jones, Harley Roscoe Jones, Merie Vivian Jones (original photograph held by Louise Jones)

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.

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.

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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Richard Jones

If there were a household I could go back in time to visit, it would probably be the one headed by Richard Jones.  This week in #52Ancestors I would like to explore the life of a person who oddly intimidates me from the grave and for whom my brother and I have many heirlooms passed down through the generations.

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Richard Jones (original tintype held by W. Thomas Worrell)

Richard Jones was born 21 February 1812, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Benjamin (1767-1849) and Mary Howell (1778-1836) Jones.  His birth is recorded in Quaker meeting records as one of the first five of what would ultimately be seven children.  Benjamin was in the iron business and rose from iron monger to gentleman, if city directories have any real say in the matter.  The family appears to have divided their time between Philadelphia and Hanover, New Jersey.  Burlington county is across the Delaware River from Philadelphia but my mind boggles at the idea of transporting a crowd of children back and forth using whatever transportation was available.

Richard married his first wife, Susan Ellis Gibbs (1814-1837) on 13 June 1833 and they had two boys, Benjamin Jones (1833-1896) and Joseph Gibbs Jones (1834-1895).  Sadly, Susan died in 1837.  Richard then married Alice Woodmansie Davis in 1841 and they had five children.

Jones_Richard_Patent_1869Although Richard appears to have gone to work early in the family foundry business at Hanover, NJ, he also seems to have been interested in diversifying the family holdings.  He and his brother Samuel Howell Jones established and dissolved several businesses in Hanover, Florence and Trenton between 1845 and 1870.  The pipes used in the Boston Water Works in 1847 came from Hanover Furnace.  In 1850 Richard was a principle in the New Jersey Exploring and Mining Company.  He established the New Jersey Zinc Paint Company, most likely as a result of his experiments with and eventual patents on zinc oxide extraction (1854 and 1869).  Richard was definitely something of a chemical genius but I am not sure about his business expertise.  The iron industry in the 19th century was a risky business. with many smaller operations failing due to pressures of the economy and production expenses.

By the mid 1870’s, Richard and Alice Jones are back in Philadelphia, residing at 1818 Delancy Street. Richard died here on 29 October 1890, and is buried in the churchyard cemetery at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Mount Holly, New Jersey.  Many items have come down through the family, including three lovely chairs, part of what was probably a much larger set.  I think of the dinner parties and other conversations that those chairs have witnessed over the years and wonder…

Happy Birthday, Richard Jones!

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