George Grant Tennant and Anne Van Syckel

This week in #52Ancestors I took the opportunity to put several people into context, as George Grant Tennant is one of the few Tennant children who lived to adulthood.

AVTAlbum8_GeorgeGTennantGeorge Grant Tennant was the son of Thomas and Hannah Cardiff Tennant, born 1 Feb 1869 in Jersey City.  He was baptized at St. Mark’s Chapel, Jersey City.  George was educated in the public schools, namely Public School No. 1 and later the High School, from which he graduated in 1888.  He graduated from Columbia University Law School in 1891 and was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1892 as an attorney and as a counselor in 1895.  He went into practice with John W. Queen.

Tennant_McBurney_wedding_Jersey_Journal_1893-06-02_3George Tennant married Zora McBurney (1863 or 1869-1895) on 1 June 1893.  She died shortly after the birth of their son Donald McBurney Tennant (5 June 1895-22 January 1896).  Both mother and child are buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

George married again on 12 April 1898 in Jersey City to Anne Van Syckel daughter of Chester and Mary Jane Mount Van Syckel.  Anne Van Syckel was born 23 Aug 1870 in Flemington, New Jersey and baptized in 1883 at Flemington Baptist Church.  She attended Vassar College and graduated in 1893.  We have wonderful photographs of her playing a part in a Greek play, which I have now learned was Antigone.

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Front row: Anne VS Tennant, Anne VS Tompkins, George G. Tennant, Louise Tompkins, Mary TOmpkins is the little girl on the right, Harold and Katharine Tompkins are back row, second and third from the right.

 

VanSyckel_Anne_VassarPlay_The_Inter_Ocean_Sun__May_28__1893_George and Anne Tennant had three children: Katharine Vansyckel Tennant (1899-1972), George Grant Tennant Jr. (1900-1982), and Jean Cardiff Tennant (1905-1990).

George Tennant was a member of the New Jersey House of Assembly from 1900 to 1902.  His candidate bio in the Jersey Journal in 1899 stated that he was one of the most popular young Democrats in the Ninth Ward.  At that time he attended the First Presbyterian Church, where he taught Sunday School.  A year later, when he ran again, the paper was a little less supportive, as an article appearing in the Jersey Journal of 1 November 1900 spent two columns shredding Tennant and everything he had stated in print that year.  He served as the president of the Jersey City Board of Education from 1908 to 1913.

Tennant was a friend of Jersey City Mayor H. Otto Wittpenn and assisted in the nomination of Woodrow Wilson for President in 1912.  In 1913, George Tennant was appointed a Common Pleas judge by Governor James F. Fielder, serving from 1913 to 1918.  Towards the end of his lift he became a member of the Old Bergen Reformed Church and was active in the Everyman’s Bible Class there.  He was also a 32nd degree Mason and a member of the Scottish Rite.

Anne Tennant was active in the Jersey City College Club and was a member of the Odd Volumes Club, a sort of social book club to which many of the Tompkins women also belonged.  George and Anne vacationed in Dorset, Vermont.

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Dorset, VT

Anne died at home (613 Bergen Ave.) on 9 March 1938 and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.  George died at Lea Haven, a nursing home in Madison, NJ while recovering from an appendectomy on 3 February 1948 and is also buried in Green-Wood.

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Katharine T. Tompkins and Anne VS Tennant

Elijah Van Syckel

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Kennedy watercolor of 2nd and Market Sts. from the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

This week in #52Ancestors I follow the trail of Elijah Van Syckel from Hunterdon County, New Jersey to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Elijah Van Syckel was the second child of Aaron (1764-1838) and Catharine Opdyke (1762-1851) Van Syckel.  The majority of his siblings stay in the Hunterdon County area but by the time Elijah turns thirty he is in Philadelphia with an established grocery on N. 2nd St. He married Sarah Belinda Smith (1799-1871) of Doylestown on 22 January 1818.  They had nine children:

  • Amanda G. Van Syckel (1818-1902)
  • Robert S. Van Syckel (1820-1855)
  • Mary S. Van Syckel (1822-1892)
  • James Janeway Van Syckel (1824-1858)
  • Emmett Armstrong Van Syckel (1827-1864)
  • Sarah Van Syckel (1829-1897)
  • Catherine Opdyke Van Syckel (1833-1839)
  • Alfred Van Syckel (1838-1839)
  • Helen Van Syckel (1841-1891)

VanSyckel_Elijah_Retirement_1849Elijah appears to have established his grocery and then expanded it to sell liquor.  He then gave up the grocery business and solely sold wine and liquor.  He appears in city directories and merchant listings fairly continuously from 1818 until 1850.  During the 1830’s he was in business with John Garrison but in 1835 this is dissolved and Elijah continues on alone, eventually adding his sons to the concern.  One curious discovery: in 1824, Elijah was granted relief from the US government because three hundred and fifty-two cases of sugar were destroyed in a fire in 1822, upon which $4217 in duties were due.   Elijah apparently appealed for aid in paying the duties as the sugar had not been insured.

Van Syckel_Elijah_politics_The_National_Gazette_Tue__Oct_9__1827_He also appears to have been active in local politics as he has an unsuccessful bid for election to the Common Council in Philadelphia in 1827.  In 1839 he  is appointed to a committee to examine and report on the state of the Schuylkill Bank.

Elijah retired in 1849 and left the business to his sons.  Several sources noted that the business was worth close to one million dollars at that time.

Elijah Van Syckel died on 11 February 1855 and was buried four days later in Laurel Hill Cemetery.VanSyckel_burials_LaurelHillCemetery_crop

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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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.