01 January 2015

52 Ancestors: A Fresh Start with George Vanhorn

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small, has again this year put forth her 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Essentially each week, using optional weekly prompts, we examine one ancestor. That is, one ancestor each week. 

This week’s prompt: “Seems appropriate for the beginning of the year. What ancestor had a fresh start? What ancestor has been so confusing to research that you’d like to have a fresh start?” 

A fresh start is exactly what I need on my VanHorn line. Chrispin P VanHorn is my 3rd great grandfather. His parents, which I have documented, are George W. VanHorn (1815-1878) and Jane Dudbridge (1811-?). George’s lineage is where I have things all tangled. I have his parents as John and Jane VanHorn but I have seen many others list his parents as Nicholas and Catharine VanHorn. None of us have it documented as to George’s parents. I am setting aside what I think I know of George and starting a fresh!  

I have to admit I have never thrown away, so to speak, an ancestor before! What do I do now? Go back to the beginning of course! 

I first “met” George through my Aunt Helen. She is my great grandfather’s sister. Well, was. She passed in 1995. She was the youngest of Franklin Still and Sarah Jennie VanHorn’s children. Sarah Jennie’s parents were Chrispin Pierson VanHorn and Maria Rice. Aunt Helen and I visited, wrote and chatted often about the family. 

Most of her letters and conversations centered around the Still line specifically but she did tend to throw in bits and pieces here and there about everyone else. Going through her old letters, she included a family tree which she had transcribed from the family bible which she had in her possession. She wrote that George Van Horn (she left a space between the Van and the Horn) was the son of John and Jane Van Horn. George married Jane Dubridge, the daughter of Wm. & Joanna Dubridge, on 10 January 1839.  

George was 24 years and seven days old when they married. Jane was 27 years, 11 months and 14 days. That would put George born 1815 and Jane in 1812. She lists their children as: Chrispin P. (10 Sept. 1839 0 1902), Asher W. (27 May 1841 – 3 June 1842), Benjamin (born 8 March 1843), Martha Elizabeth (23 June 1845 – 6 June 1915), Joanna D. (11 March 1848 – 20 January 1915), Geo W. (4 November 1850 – 14 Feb. 1851), and Wm. G. (born 11 Feb. 1852). 

So, going by that (family bible & my now late Aunt Helen), George is the son of John and Jane … and I am right back where I started from. 

I also had in my files the 1850 and 1860 census records for George. He shows up on the 1850 census in Kensington, Philadelphia. He is a 34 year old sawyer, born in Pennsylvania. Jane is 37. This fits especially when considering children. Also living there are: 10 year old Pierson, seven year old Franklin (this would be Benjamin Franklin), five year old Martha, and two year old Joanna. A Samuel Taylor, 30, also lives there. He is a Team Driver. Ages and names all fit. The 1860 Census shows George, Jane, Chrispin P., Benjamin F., Martha E., Joanna, and William G. living in Valley Township, just outside Coatesville. George and Chrispin are farmers.  

That still does not help with his parents though. Then I found a baptismal record for George Washington Vanhorn. George was born 3 August 1814 to John and Jane Vanhorn! He was 63 when he was baptized on 22 June 1878 at the Bridesburg Methodist Church, Philadelphia. He was baptized the same day as his granddaughter, Anna Louisa. Anna Louisa is the daughter of Chrispin Pierson VanHorn and Maris Rice so I am pretty confidant that this George is Chrispin’s father and therefore, I have just documented George’s parents as John and Jane Vanhorn! 

The 1828 Northampton, Bucks County, PA Tax Records show a John Vanhorn listed. He is listed in the parent column. While it says Parents Names, it only lists the fathers. It the child column is an eight year old George W Vanhorn and a 6 year old Rachel Vanhorn. Two things should be mentioned here. First, If George was born in 1814 then he should be 14 years old, not eight. The second thing, is that Rachel is crossed out, just a single line so it can still be read.  

The 1829 Northampton, Bucks County, PA Tax Records offers more information. The reason these are listed in tax records is because it is prefaced by this statement: :List of children whose parents are unable to pay for school and whose education is not otherwise provided for in Northampton Township, 1829.” Wow! Both 11 year old George W. and nine year old Rachel are listed next to their father, John Vanhorn. 

If my George is the George listed in these two tax records then he was probably born in 1819 not 1814.  Since these dates are closer to his birth, they are more apt to be correct than the later records. This contradicts the info in the family bible where it states how old he is when he marries.  

Did he make the conscious decision to change his age? If so, did he simply do so to impress Jane, who was born in 1812?  

I have many unanswered question about George and John and John’s lineage still. I feel good that I can comfortably say John and Jane are George’s parents … and I found a sister Rachel! As for more information on George and John’s lineage, that will be continues another day. While I can cross off #8 of my Genealogical Goals for the year, I will now add #21 – Gather more information about John, his wife Jane, their lives together, and his lineage. 

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 785 

The Bucks County Historical Society; Doylestown, Pennsylvania; Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Tax Records, 1782-1860; Collection: Title No. 102; Roll Number: 16 


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is a weekly genealogical challenge issued by Amy Johnson Crow,
of No Story Too Small. Look for my weekly posts each Thursday!  
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.