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.

Sabrina Hine Hines

Hine_Sabrina_ArzillacropMy first introduction to Sabrina Arzilla Hine was in 1990 or so.  I was visiting Dad’s cousin Edith Hine in Athens, Pennsylvania, and she handed me an envelope and asked me to take good care of the contents.  Inside were some family letters to Sabrina from her brothers written during the 1860’s.  How cool! And how honored I was to receive such a gift.  And so it is with pleasure that I share these treasures this week of #52ancestors, especially as she is an aunt although not maiden one!

Sabrina Arzilla (or Arzeally) Hine, known as Brina, was born 4 April 1845 to Henry W. (1806-1868) and Mary Craw Frost Hine (1808-1889).  The Hines are from New York, but it’s the part of New York that is called the southern tier, and the boarder between Bradford and Tioga counties didn’t mean much to the farmers, loggers and merchants who settled the area.  Sabrina was the youngest of six children and the two closest to her age were Erasmus Percival Hine and Harlow Augustus Hine.  Wonderful names.

Camp SceneSabrina’s brother Percival joined the 141 Pennsylvania Volunteers at the start of the American Civil War, and served in Company D along with many friends and neighbors.  This was the war in which the Americans would learn that while on paper the idea of serving with your brothers and neighbors might look like it would inspire bravery, but in reality it destroyed whole communities when their young men were wiped out in a single battle.  Percy’s letters comment on his comrades, many of whom Sabrina knew, including their own father.

Although she lost her brother to typhoid fever on 30 Dec 1862, Sabrina was proud of her family’s military heritage.  I recently found the record of her Daughters of the American Revolution application under her maternal connection to Aaron Frost who served as a private in the Connecticut militia.

Sabrina married Joseph Hines, a local drug store owner in Athens, on 31 December 1863.  They had no children.  Sabrina died on 2 March 1914 and both she and Joseph are buried at Tioga Point Cemetery in Athens.

I hope that both Sabrina and Edith know that I am taking very good care of their legacy and that they would be pleased that I am sharing their story with you today.  Happy Birthday, Sabrina Hine Hines!

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Lois Buttles Whitney

This week in #52Ancestors brings me to a westward migration story that made me rethink some of my historical assumptions.  For those of you that had always pictured the westward parade of settlers to be young men out to seek their fortune or newly weds looking for adventure, this family definitely bucks that trend.

Whitney_SamuelandLois_cemeterymonument_Lois Buttles was born on 17 March 1782 in Granby, Connecticut to Jonathan and Lois Viets Buttles.  Even in 2018, Granby is described as a rural town, located in the foothills of the Litchfield Hills of the Berkshires…and… the outskirts of town are filled with dense woods and rolling hills and mountains. Imagine it in the 1820’s.  Lois married Samuel Platt Whitney on 10 March 1799 in North Granby and they preceded to have 12 children, all but one living to adulthood.

  • Samuel Hart Whitney (1800-1874)
  • Lois Whitney (1802-1885)
  • Jonathan Rasselas Whitney (1804-1886)
  • Agnes Whitney (1806-1893)
  • Marcus Israel Whitney (1807-1893)
  • William Lewis Whitney (1809-1836)
  • Seth Whitney (1812-1875)
  • Nelson Whitney (1814-1836)
  • John Viets Whitney (1816-1888)
  • Lucy Susanna Whitney (1819-1828)
  • Harriet Atwood Whitney (1821-1894)
  • Lurena Whitney (1824-1909)

The family lived in East Granville, Massachusetts for most of their early marriage (the first 25 years), farming the land, attending church, and in the case of Samuel, voting in every election. Then, in 1834, they moved westward to Montville, Ohio to join Jonathan and Seth in what is now Geauga County .  This must have represented a huge upheaval for the family.  By 1834, seven of their children are over 21 years and at least four of them are married with families.  Of their children, six relocate to Ohio, and settle in or around Montville.  The 1840 Census shows Samuel’s family of four people: Samuel and Lois with one son between 20 and 29 years, and one daughter 10 to 14 years.  Seth Whitney and wife are listed on the same page and so are living nearby.   Jonathan R. Whitney is listed on the next page with six children.  Clearly moving to Montville agrees with this family.

Whitney_SilverWeddingAnniversary_Plain_Dealer_1870-04-14_2In 1870, they celebrated their silver wedding anniversary at the home of their son John Viets Whitney.  This story not only made the local Geauga press paper but also appears in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Lois survives her husband’s death in 1871 but dies just before son Seth on 19 August 1875.  She and her husband are buried in the Montville Cemetery.  Once again, I find myself discovering Ohio roots after living in that state for so many years.  I see a road trip in my future!

Happy Birthday, Lois Buttles Whitney!

 

 

Katharine Van Syckel Tennant Tompkins

This week for the #52Ancestors challenge I am writing about someone I knew: my Granny.  I only knew her for a short while but her daughters (Anne, Mary and Louise) kept her alive in my mind with their stories.  I have some of my own memories as well, although they have the haze of childhood about them.

0013_Tompkins_Katharine_1_resizeKatharine (with an A, thank you) VanSyckel Tennant was the first child born to Anne Vansyckel and George Grant Tennant.  She was born 15 February 1899 in Jersey City where her father and mother lead a fairly high profile life.  George Tennant was a lawyer, judge and member of the school board.  Their social life is tracked in the Jersey Journal quite regularly.

One of the first news articles about Katharine appeared shortly after her birth but was not a birth announcement.  “Miss Tennant’s Musicale” was her first according to the article in the Jersey Journal on 31 May 1899, and although it is remarked that she did attend, the evening was a pleasant one with violin, cello, piano and singing.

Lincoln_High_school_postcard_Large_JCFPLKatharine was soon joined by a brother George Grant Jr. (1900-1982) and a sister Jean Cardiff Tennant (1905-1990).  She and her siblings attended Lincoln High School, which their father was instrumental in establishing. Katharine went on to attend Vassar College, graduating with the class of 1920.  After college she met and married Harold Doremus Tompkins (1888-1951).  Their engagement and wedding were closely tracked by the Jersey Journal, and there seems to be disappointment in the tone of the articles reporting on the parties and ceremony attended only by family and close friends. They stopped in Bermuda on their wedding trip but I’m not sure where else they traveled to, as they were gone three weeks.

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132 Bentley Ave.

Harold and Katharine brought three little girls into the world: my mother Anne Van Syckel Tompkins (1923-1994), Mary Vreeland Tompkins (1925-) and Louise Tompkins (1928-).  They lived at 132 Bentley Avenue in Jersey City.  There were family vacations in Dorset, Vermont, and Central Valley, New York and work with various organizations to fill her time.  In 1940 the family moved from Jersey City to Summit, New Jersey to a big house on Oak Ridge Avenue.  Here Katharine joined the Central Presbyterian Church, the Summit College Club AAUW, the Fortnightly Club, the Vassar College Club and the YWCA.

After Harold’s death in 1951, Katharine moved into smaller quarters at 35 Valley View Ave.  This is the house I remember.  There was a large front yard with several big trees and after drawing a picture on a big white sheet of paper, we would go out to the front yard to collect fallen twigs with which we made a picture frame.  We also ironed pretty fall leaves between pieces of wax paper and other crafty activities.  I think my brother was off playing with some neighborhood boys and these were my consolation prizes.  I also remember tasting Fluffernutter spread here for the first time but my mother insisted that Granny would never have fed me such garbage, so I guess we’ll just have to disagree on that.

Katherine Tompkins died at home on 1 February 1972.  Her heart had never been strong and one night it just gave out.  The funeral on the 5th was at Central Presbyterian and she is buried next to her husband in Arlington Cemetery, Kearny.  I don’t remember the funeral but I do remember the trip to the cemetery which I thought very disturbing.  For over a decade after, every spring vacation was spent in Princeton with Louise Tompkins and we would trek up to the cemetery on the way to spring shopping at the Short Hills Mall.  The ivy growing on their grave was tenacious and we would trim and thin it (by we I mean my brother and I would watch my mother and aunt do this) and haul the cuttings to the trash.  It is my understanding that the ivy has been removed in the name of landscaping, and I can’t say I’m sorry.

Happy Birthday, Katharine Van Syckel Tennant Tompkins!

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Hermina Prince Eastabrook

Have you ever started out on a research journey and gotten distracted by one of the tools you found along the way?  Well, that happened this week in my #52Ancestors task.  My goal was to find and document a death date for Hermina Prince Eastabrook. Yes, I know the prompt for this week is to look in the Census but…

My father’s mother’s family has deep roots in northeastern Pennsylvania.  Namely Bradford County.  Apparently, a group of folks from Connecticut started out west in the late 18th century to prove Connecticut’s claim to a western boarder on the Pacific Ocean.  I find this bit of American history fascinating, especially when I was living in Ohio and often had to explain to people why the northeast corner of the state was called the Connecticut Western Reserve and therefore the land records are in the Connecticut State Archives.

The Prince family is one of my lines and as near as I can tell Jonathan Prince (1769-1831) bundles his wife and children up in a wagon and sets off shortly after his 1792 marriage to Patty Vinton.  They make it as far west as Bradford County and decide to stop.  But that is the very beginning of the story.  Let’s fast forward to his son George Washington Prince who has six children in Bradford County, one of whom is Hermina G. Prince, born on 29 January 1839.

I had found a burial record years ago, showing that Hermina and her husband Charles J. Eastabrook were buried in the Rome Cemetery in Bradford County.  At the time, I had no further information.  So my challenge this week was to try to find an obituary or death record.  I hit pay dirt when I discovered that Ancestry and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission have partnered to put the state death certificates online.  What a treasure trove!

Eastabrook_Hermina_deathCertificate_1915

Thus began my OCD journey to search out every possible Pennsylvania death on my tree occurring between 1906 and 1964.  I will warn you that the indexing is very poor.  Apparently, there was no ability to use the printed index to connect with the original certificates.  If you decide to explore, search on the name and if no results, try just a first name and a death date or variations like that.  I found Eastabrook, Eastabrooks, Eastbrook, etc. when the written record quite clearly indicated Eastabrook.  Nevertheless,  I added ten new spouses, and scores of death dates and burial places to my database.  What a lovely, fruitful distraction.

Happy Birthday, Hermina Prince Eastabrook!

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Elizabeth Brightly Jones

Jones_ElizabethBrightly_signatureI chose Elizabeth for my second #52Ancestors because I had life dates for her but little else and she had what for the Jones family is an unusual name.  I thought I would learn all there was to know just by stringing her census records together, since she apparently never married.  Little did I know.

Elizabeth Brightly Jones was born in Brooklyn, NY on 9 January 1887, to Richard Woodmansie and Elizabeth Walsh Brightly Jones.  Sadly, her mother appears to have died later in January of complications from childbirth.  Although Richard Jones remarries in 1904, Elizabeth kept variations of her mother’s name as she grew to adulthood, which helped me to find her; one of the hardest names to research is Elizabeth Jones.

122_hopsital_1893bElizabeth trained as a nurse at Bryn Mawr Hospital, graduating in 1912 and working in New York, Missouri and Pennsylvania.  She served during World War I at the American Red Cross Military Hospital in Paris, France.  There is great information about this in both her passport application, which contains letters from her employers vouching for her credentials, but also in her Veterans Compensation application, which details her training and work history.  Of note is also the article that appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle welcoming her home after the war.

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Interestingly enough, it is through these and other records that I found evidence that she used a hyphenated version of her name, Brightly-Jones as well as spelling out her middle name. Perhaps this was a way of honoring her mother.

I feel a sense of connection with Elizabeth because in 1990 when I broke my ankle in a riding accident (the horse bucked on purpose but I fell off by accident), I was taken to the Bryn Mawr hospital emergency room and later had surgery at that hospital to pin the ankle back together.  This Veteran’s Day I will make it a point to honor her service during World War I.   Happy Birthday Elizabeth Brightly-Jones!

Catherine Fisher Mount Perrine

Mount_Peter_Catherine_CemeteryMonumentOne of my most prolific lines in the Mount family.  This is an old, old, old New Jersey family, coming over from England before New Jersey was even a state.  They are also one of those families that had at least ten children per marriage and named each child after a beloved sister or brother, so the names circle around and around, and I have to chart out each person to figure just who they are and who their immediate kin are.  As part of my 2018 #52Ancestors challenge to do something on one person each week, I am inspired by Catherine’s birthday this week to look at her a bit more closely.

I have just the barest facts on Catherine.  She was born on 4 January 1859 to Thomas Hiram and Catherine Fisher Mount and was one of their twelve children.  She married Peter Voorhees Perrine on 2 January 1883 in Hightstown and they have two boys, Charles M. and Thomas A.  Sadly, Thomas A. comes into the world in 1891 and leaves it in 1892, a common occurrence in the nineteenth century, but it must have been devastating, nonetheless. She died suddenly on 8 January 1929 and is buried in the Cranbury Cemetery (also known as Brainerd Cemetery).

Census records can give a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors, but the five to ten year gaps between them are frustrating.  From the Census I can glean that Peter V. Perrine was a farmer, son of a farmer, trained his son to be a farmer.  Catherine was a farmer’s wife.  The 1910 Census tells me that she did indeed have two children, only one living by 1910.  But what about the in between times?  Here, I find newspaper archives to be more entertaining.  Small town, big city, rural community, whatever, newspapers are a treasure trove of the bits and pieces of our forebears lives.

It is from the Trenton Times that I discovered that Peter and Catherine were active members of the First Baptist Church in Hightstown.  In 1914, the church held a harvest celebration and Peter was on the decorating committee.  And in 1916, the Perrines lent their support to a lecture series through the Chautauqua on “Community Welfare.” A family birthday celebration in 1913 gives me a few more clues about siblings and relationships.  While it is odd to note what gets into the paper, if you look beyond obituaries and marriage notices, you can find all sorts of things.

This year’s challenge lead me to obituaries for both Peter and Catherine, giving me more information than I had previously had.  So Happy Birthday, Catherine!