I’ll never read Arthur Miller the same way again

Thinking to explore newly available records about the Prince family, I set about building out the family and antecedents of Jonathan Prince. I came across numerous references and documents and then was stunned to read that Jonathan’s great-great grandmother was one of the accused in the Salem witch trials of 1692!

Robert Prince was an early settler of the Massachusetts Bay colony, and owned land in Salem Village (Danvers, MA today). When he died in 1674 his children were all under age but his will mentions sons James and Joseph and daughter Elizabeth as well as his wife Sarah (ne. Warren). Sarah could not manage the farm on her own and so she purchased the contract for a “redemptioner” named Alexander Osburn (or Osburne) to help her work the farm. Unfortunately for her, she eventually married him. Apparently, it was not a happy marriage and later accounts paint a dismal picture of both physical and mental abuse. Sarah Osburn became depressed and took to her bed. She was accused by the young women of Salem as a witch and was brought before the court and questioned. Although she denied the testimony against her, she was jailed and transported to Boston where she died two months later.

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Anyone wanting to read more can visit this online exhibit which reviews the available records of the witch trials http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/category/uph1wit.html.

Robert’s sons James and Joseph were able to reclaim their inheritance and prospered in Salem. James married a Sarah Rea and they had six children, of whom their fifth child was David Prince. David and wife Phebe Fuller (b. 1706) moved from Salem Village to Sutton where they raised five children.  David died very early at the age of 35 years and guardianship records for sons Stephen and John show them placed with James Prince and John Fuller respectively.

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Stephen Prince married Abigail Perkins (1736-1820) and they raised thirteen children in Sutton as it transitioned from a British colony to a town in America. Stephen appears to have fought for the colonies during the American Revolution but print resources are jumbled and further research is necessary to build out his service. At some point in the late 1780’s the family removed to the town of Oxford. Numerous printed sources state that Stephen died in either 1780 or 1800 but he appears in the 1810 census with his sons Stephen Jr. and David. Jonathan had already removed to Sturbridge. There are also several mix ups concerning Stephen Sr’s wife Abigail Perkins and Stephen Jr’s wife Abigail Pratt.

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1810 US Census Oxford, Worcester, Massachusetts

Jonathan Prince, born in Sutton, moved with the family to Oxford where he married Patty Vinton. Shortly before the 1809 birth of his daughter Juley, the family relocated to Sturbridge and from there to Orwell, Pennsylvania.

Prince branch image

Alma Gage and the Gage connection

The Gage connection is through the Buttles line and the generation is three “greats” back. I have a lot of photographs of this generation, cabinet card and carte de visite photographs that were apparently shared with family like trading cards. Sometimes the annotations on the back lead to clues about marriages and other name changes. Sometimes they just leave me wondering.

My three times great grandmother Elizabeth Alma Buttles shared part of her name with her niece by her brother Harlow J. Buttles,  Alma Dolly Buttles was born 18 March 1866, most likely in Bradford County.  She married Charles H. Gage on 6 September 1893. He listed his occupation at the time of his marriage as farmer but I found evidence through newspaper notices that he and Alma may have moved down to Camden for a short period around 1900.  By 1905 the family is living in Broome County, NY, a stone’s throw away from Bradford County, PA. Charles and Alma Gage had three children but only one grew to adulthood: Harriet Gage (1894), Mary Eugenia Gage (1896-1941) and Karl Gage (1899-1900).

This photograph intrigues me for many reasons: who is Mary Fisher, who took the photograph and what are they sitting on?

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Joseph Bird of Hunterdon County, NJ

I have long known that my great-great-great-grandfather Aaron Van Syckel Jr. married Mary Bird but I had not done much research on her line.  I took the #52ancestors challenge to see if I could complete the chain:

LTJ

I had an untraceable reference from a Van Syckel family history that Mary’s father was Joseph Bird.  Mary Bird was born 10 October 1799 and she married Aaron Van Syckel Jr. on 30 November 1816. I have yet to find a marriage record that names her father but in searching around online I found a family group sheet that outlined the Bird family and drew information from the family bible of Joseph Bird.  I have not been able to find the actual bible, but I hope that it is still out there and that someone would be nice enough to send me pictures of all the vital record pages.

That family group sheet really was a treasure trove of information, outlining the seventeen children of Joseph Bird (1770-1830) and Elizabeth Dilts (1777-1853). I will have to spend some time at the New Jersey Genealogical Society collection housed at the Alexander Library at Rutgers University. 

Joseph Bird, born 21 Dec 1770 and died 21 December 1830, lived his entire life in Hunterdon County and is buried in Bethlehem Presbyterian Church, near Clinton, NJ. His wife, Elizabeth Dilts was born 11 May 1777 and died 11 August 1853. Joseph appears to have been a farmer who died young. His will, made out in 1830, disposes almost everything to his wife and underage children. In an interesting side note, Joseph comments that having already given each of his adult children $400 to get them started in the world, the rest of the estate is to benefit the younger children and to provide for his widow.

So I have some clues and places to look, but I have confirmed that Mary is connected to Joseph Bird, and that will have to suffice for now.

I went looking for her parents and found a slave

Well, this essay was supposed to be about something completely different, about someone completely different. And then a simple check of the 1860 Census brought me up short: nowhere in my growing knowledge bank of New Jersey history was there a mention that slavery was legal in 1860.  No that’s not a typo: slavery ended in New Jersey with the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865.

It began as a straight forward “fill in the missing ancestor” exercise. As I was verifying something in RootsMagic,  I noticed that I had never filled in the parents of my great grandmother.  In typical Squirrel fashion, I diverted for a moment to do a bit of research on the parents of Catherine Fisher (wife of Thomas Hiram Mount). I had a family notation that it was John Fisher but nothing further. Since this family was firmly settled in Mercer County, NJ by the middle of the 18th century, I started there and quickly found many references to John Fisher, born circa 1792, resident of West Windsor township. In bringing up the 1860 Census I was STUNNED to see the names and occupations of the people living in that household:

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Diana Updike, 76 year old female, black, Slave servant, born New Jersey.  Wait, what?!? Well, a deep dive into state history and I unearthed the fascinating fact (sarcasm much?) that although New Jersey had abolished slavery in 1804, that pertained to incoming or new slaves.  Resident slaves in 1804 remained slaves and their children served lengthy periods of indentured servitude and were freed at the will of their owners.  Slavery was abolished in 1865 in New Jersey the same way it was abolished in Kentucky, by the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

And that is where Diana/Dina fits in.  She is enslaved in 1804, she is enslaved and named in the 1860 Census and she is inherited by John Fisher’s wife Susan by deed of his will, probated after his death in 1863.

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I discovered that in 1865, upon the ratification of the 13th Amendment, New Jersey freed 16 slaves.  I have yet to find their names.  Diana/Dina, if you were one of those slaves, I would like to do you the honor of telling your story. I will continue to research this topic as I am able.

For now let me simply end the story with a bit of advice for anyone who thinks they have all the answers: you don’t know what you don’t know.

 

 

Abigail Warner

Welcome to the family, Abigail.  I apologize for misidentifying you as Abigail Russell Davis and squirreling down rabbit hole after rabbit hole looking for you. I’m sure Abigail R. Davis was a perfectly nice woman but she’s not my relative. Lesson learned yet again about taking time to follow each lead to its natural end. #52ancestors or bust!

FamilytreeimageI have already written about my great, great grandfather Moses K. Wells. This post is about his mother and father: Abigail Warner Wells and Samuel Wells.  However, this is also a work in progress as I know very little about the Wells family and even less about the Warner line.

Abigail Warner appears to have been born in 1824, possibly in Atlantic County, New Jersey. She married Samuel Wells before 1853.  I have no idea how they met, as Samuel is living with his parents Samuel and Mercy Wells in the 1850 census in Southampton, Burlington County.  However, when the 1855 NJ state census is taken five years later, Samuel and Abigail have settled in Weymouth Township in Atlantic County and have two small boys, Michael and Moses, living with them. The complete list of their children is:

  • Michael M. Wells (1851-1937)
  • Moses K. Wells (1854-1925)
  • John H. Wells (1857-1920)
  • Samuel J. Wells (1859-1936)
  • Sarah Ann Wells (1861-1934)
  • Mary E. Wells (1863-1943)
  • Margaret A. Wells (1865-)

The family seem to have moved back to Burlington County by 1860 however, and stay there.  Although Abigail appears to have died in Cumberland County on 6 October 1884, she is possibly buried in Methodist Cemetery in Pemberton. Samuel Wells is living with son Michael and his wife Jennie Leeds Wells in 1900.  Samuel died shortly after that census on 9 October 1900 and is possibly buried in the Methodist Cemetery in Pemberton.

This was one of those essays I almost did not write. I know so little about these two and it would have been so easy to just put it off until later.  However, on the theory that people don’t know I am looking if I don’t tell them, I am putting this out there in the hopes that someone can help fill in the blanks.

 

 

Fanny Van Syckel Leigh

Investigating women of the 19th century can be trying. Birth, marriage, children, death, burial are often all that can be found. This week in #52ancestors I continue with my quest to document each of the siblings of Chester Van Syckel.

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photograph taken by Mark Alexander Oliver (FindAGrave)

Fanny Van Syckel was born 12 April 1824 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, most likely in Van Syckel’s Corners, the fourth child of Aaron and Mary Bird Van Syckel.  I do not know if she was formally educated. Really her life as documented by what was left behind starts on 11 January 1844 when she married John Taylor Leigh, a local farmer. Fanny and John produced seven children between 1845 and 1858, only two of whom died in infancy:

  • Sylvester V. Leigh (1845-1848)
  • Milton Leigh (1847-1862)
  • Bennett Van Syckel Leigh (1850-1929)
  • Mary V. Leigh (1852-1875)
  • Emily B. Leigh (1855-1937)
  • Charles W. Leigh (1857-1926)
  • John T. Leigh (1858-1888)

Fanny died of consumption shortly after the birth of her youngest son, on 8 March 1860, in Clinton, New Jersey where she and John T. Leigh had settled. I am not sure if she ever lived in the immense Leigh house John had built around 1860 but this is where her children grew up after her death.

 

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from the Bridgewater Courier News, 8 October 1929

John T. Leigh remarried after Fanny’s death to Mary Van Syckel, Fanny’s first cousin. They went on to have ten additional children bringing the total to seventeen. Again, two died in infancy.

Fanny is buried in Bethlehem Baptist Cemetery in Pattenburg, New Jersey.

Minnie Arabella Hine

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Minnie Hine Prince

This week in #52ancestors #52familyphotographs Minnie Arabella Hine takes center stage as a good example of incorrect information in a marriage record.  Corroborate, double check and check again! Minnie was my great grandmother and figuring out her real mother set me a merry chase.

Minnie was born on 1 August 1866 in Orwell, Pennsylvania.  Her father’s name was James Edwin Hine.  Her mother’s name was Catherine Tyrrel or Terrell.  She was the second of two daughters of this couple.  Martha or Mattie, her older sister, clearly lists her mother on her marriage record as Catherine but Minnie lists her mother as A. E. Hine.  James Hine married Ann E. Phillips in 1870 when Minnie was about 4, and she may not have had any memories of her birth mother.  Luckily, I happen to have James’ bible which records Catherine’s death and his remarriage.

Minnie married George Cornell Prince on 9 July 1894 up in Bradford County.  George was living in Philadelphia at the time, employed as a stenographer with the Philadelphia Typewriter Exchange.  I am not sure when he went down to Philadelphia, but he appears in city directories from 1895 to 1904.  The family lived in Philadelphia until 1897, when the directory notes that his home is in Rosedale, New Jersey.

Minnie and George Prince had four children, the first born in Philadelphia and the rest in Camden:

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Minnie Hine Prince with George? and Philip?

I don’t know much about her life in Camden.  I know she went home to Bradford County occasionally as her visits are tracked in the local paper.  Her father and step-mother had one son, Arthur Hine and she appears to have visited him and her sister.

Minnie Prince died at home on 23 June 1931 and is buried in Bethel Memorial Park in Pennsauken, NJ.  Her obituary mentions her children and grandchildren but does not highlight any other activities.