Bennet and Mary Elizabeth Sloan Van Syckel

Continuing on my journey through the siblings of Chester Van Syckel, this week in #52ancestors brings us to Bennet Van Syckel. Due to his having served on the state Supreme Court, Bennet is relatively easy to track.  His wife and children, however, were not documented as prominently.

yuw25wuy_originalBennet Van Syckel was born 17 April 1830 to Aaron Van Syckel and Mary Bird Van Syckel of Hunterdon County, New Jersey. He was something of a prodigy, entering Princeton at thirteen and graduating three years later with high honors. He then studied law under Alexander Wurts, of Flemington, but he was forced to wait to take the bar exam due to his being under 21 by some years. He practiced law in Flemington until 1858, when Governor Theodore Fitz Randolph  appointed him to the New Jersey Supreme Court.  At that time the Supreme Court was still a circuit court and Bennet covered Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic and Cape May, and I would be jealous of his shore time except I am pretty sure he was traveling by horse. When the districts were readjusted, he took over Union and Ocean counties. He was reappointed five times, retiring from the court in 1904 due to poor health. One of the more significant opinions he delivered had to do with race track gambling and this lead to a change in the state constitution.

Bennet married Mary Elizabeth Sloan (1839-1899) on 21 July 1857 in Flemington.  She was the daughter of William Henry and Caroline Imlay Sloan of Hunterdon County.  Sloan was a noted attorney in the area.  Bennet and Mary E. Van Syckel had five children:

  • William Van Syckel 1858-1939
  • Mary Van Syckel 1861-1882
  • Charles Sloan Van Syckel 1864-1963
  • Bessie Van Syckel 1871-1946
  • Bennet Van Syckel 1873-1873

William Van Syckel was an attorney in Trenton, New Jersey. He attended the Trenton Academy, Trenton Business College, and was a member of the Mercer County Bar Association.

Charles Van Syckel remained in Trenton, as well. According to a Princeton alumni publication “Charlie” prepared for Princeton at the Trenton Model School, entered college in the fall of 1882 and graduated in 1886.  After graduation he took a Continental trip and then became assistant superintendent of the Mercer Rubber Company at Trenton. By 1890, he was the treasurer of Greenwood Pottery Company and the Greenwood China Company. He was married October 11, 1888, to Isabel S. Stephens, of Trenton, and had four children: James Stephen Van Syckel, born September 5,
1889; Mary Elizabeth Van Syckel, born March 12, 1892, died August 24, 1910;
Isabel Van Syckel, born June 18, 1897, and Helen Van Syckel, born December
24, 1901.

Bessie Van Syckel lived for most of her life with William in their parent’s home on Greenwood Ave.  She was active socially in Trenton and involved with various heritage societies.

Chester Van Syckel

This week in #52Ancestors I am writing about Chester Van Syckel, a well educated and well connected attorney of Flemington, New Jersey.  I fear he may not have been well liked but I hesitate to cast aspersions on my great, great grandfather without actual data to back it up.

Chester Van Syckel was born on 6 June 1838 at Van Syckel’s Corners, a tiny burg in Union township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey.   He was the tenth child of Aaron (Jr., 1793-1874) and Mary Bird (1799-1863) Van Syckel.   An early letter from Chester to his brother Sylvester talks a bit about what life in Van Syckel’s Corners was like:

Lafayette College Pardee HallHe appears to have been sent away to school as a teen, first to Dr. John Vandeveer’s school and then to Lafayette College, both in Easton, Pennsylvania.  A bit of map-stalking will show that Easton is due west of Bethlehem, NJ, where the family was located in the 1850 Census.  Chester also benefited from having a famous and well placed brother: Bennett Van Syckel studied law at Princeton University, graduating in 1846 and he went on to serve as a justice on the NJ Supreme Court from 1869 to 1904.  This may have been what made it possible for Chester Van Syckel to attend Princeton, where he earned a Bachelors degree in 1862.

F._Childs_Lithograph_ca._1860_AC177_Box_1Shortly after graduation, Chester was admitted to the bar as an attorney and five years later in 1867 he was admitted as Counsellor at law.

For two years he was in business with his
brother Bennett, and afterwards was a member of the successive law firms of Bird, Voorhees & Van Syckel and Voorhees & Van Syckel, later practicing alone. He was a special Master in Chancery and a Commissioner of the Supreme Court. His legal opinions were very highly esteemed.  His obituary in the New Jersey Law Journal also mentions his active participation in affairs in Flemington, serving on the village board of trustees.

Chester married Mary Jane (Jane) Mount on 19 December 1865 in Hightstown, New Jersey.  The Mount family was an established Mercer County family but I have no information on how they met or courted.  Possibly, Chester was working for a client or on a case in the area.

Chester and Mary Jane Van Syckel had four children:

  • Mary Van Syckel (1867-1953)
  • Anne Van Syckel (1870-1938)
  • Emmet Van Syckel (1873-1955)
  • Jean “Jennie” Van Syckel (1875-1952)

Chester had settled in Flemington by 1860 and remained there after marriage to raise his family.  In December 1906, he traveled to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for an operation and never recovered his health.  He died on 3 March 1907 and is buried in the family plot in Prospect Hill Cemetery.

VanSyckel_Chester_Gravemarker_1907

You may very well wonder why I might think that such a well respected man might not have been well liked.  There is a family story, one I am not sure I can corroborate with evidence, that makes me think he may have fit the bill of the late Victorian patriarch.  I have been told that one of his daughters tried to harm him at the dining room table one day as a result of her disappointment over a suitor her father turned away.  Other than this story, I have only the census record showing her stay in the state mental hospital in Trenton.  Whatever event put her there happened after 1895 (she is still at home in the 1895 NJ census) and before 1900 when she is in Trenton.  I would like to know more, if only to address the family memory.