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.
Cornelius 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.
Interestingly, 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.
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-?).
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.
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.”
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!