Thursday, June 7, 2012

James Hixon Van Sickle

I noticed that has updated their U.S. Passport Applications.  I love looking through these, especially since many of them contain photographs.  So of course I searched for the Van Sickle name!  The early Van Sickles named James are a very tricky bunch, but I recognized James Hixon Van Sickle's name when I came across it.  I checked my file and noticed that though I had some specific information on the gentleman and his descendants, Mr. Van Sickle's ancestry was incomplete.

Passports can contain a lot of important information.  James Hixon Van Sickle's passport lists his date of birth, city and state of birth, and the name and birth place of his father.  It confirmed the educator's biography which was published in the Encyclopedia of Massachusetts, Volume 3.  James, the son of John Landis Van Sickle (1821-1891) and Alexina CURTIS (1828-1875), was born in South Livonia, Livingston county, New York in 1852.  Previous research showed that John was the son of James Van Sickle (1796-1871) and Hannah LANDIS (1802-1884).

Photograph of James Hixon Van Sickle
taken from passport issued 17 June 1920

A simple Google search resulted in finding out that James Hixon Van Sickle died in 1926, but I wanted to know the specific date of his death.  It was no problem to locate an obituary for such an accomplished gentleman:

  Boston Herald
13 February 1926

Feeling confident that all that I had researched on James Hixon Van Sickle's ancestry thus far was correct, I felt it time to focus my attention on James Van Sickle and Hannah Landis, the earliest known ancestors of James Hixon Van Sickle.  I was having a big issue with this couple.  I was having a hard time locating the couple in any early census records.  I also could not find their marriage record.
I know that James Hixon Van Sickle was born in Livingston county, New York in 1852.  Trying all sorts soundex and various other searches finally showed the couple living exactly where they should have been, in the town of Livonia from 1830 through 1880.  Remember my post on the spelling of the surname?  The family was listed in the 1850 Census Index as "VANLISLE".  The actual image listed "VAN SICLE".  This search was so frustrating but it may end up being very rewarding, for in the household of the family was an Ann Sicle, age 75 (born circa 1775), and born in Pennsylvania.  Perhaps this Ann was James's mother, an aunt, or maybe even an ancestor of Hannah Landis (and was just listed incorrectly as a Van Sickle).  It is a name worth remembering.
James Hixon Van Sickle's passport had one more important bit of information.  It listed that his father was born in Warren county, New Jersey.  Formed from Sussex county in 1824, a great many of the Van Sickle lines resided in Warren county in the early 19th century (and they still do).  John Landis Van Sickle was born in 1821, before Warren county existed.  He was most likely born in the then Sussex county.  It is a good place to check for a marriage record for his parents. 
There was no decent match when I searched the marriage records of Sussex county for a James Van Sickle, but I found that in 1819, the index shows there was a Hannah Landis who married a Mr. James VAN DYKE.  I have seen the Van Sickle name spelled in various ways, but never Van Dyke, a legitimate name of its own.  Once again, I checked the actual document, and this is what I found.  The last line reads:

"Dec. 16- James Vansyckle Jr to Hannah Landis
both of Oxford"
Now my research has taken me about to another generation, to a James Van Sickle, Senior, who may or may not have been married to a lady called Ann, born circa 1775.  And now I am stuck.
There were a few called James Van Sickle (Van Syckle, etc), who lived in 18th century Sussex county.  At least one of them lived in Warren county after it's formation, and he is buried there in the First Presbyterian Churchyard.  This James Van Sickle, according to his gravestone, died on August 1, 1830 at the age of 83 years, 2 months, and 9 days (making his birth date 23 May 1747).  His wife was buried there as well, along with others with the surname.  He is likely the brother of Andrew Van Sickle.

And there is actually another James Van Sickle who lived in Livingston county, New York!  This James was born circa 1776, and was married to Miss Rachel ALBERTSON in Sussex county, New Jersey on 7 February 1799.   I doubt this James is the father of the one who lived in Livonia and was married to Hannah Landis, since his marriage date is three years after the birth of James Van Sickle of Livonia.  But (1)  Perhaps James Van Sickle, husband of Rachel Albertson, had been married twice or (2) James, husband of Rachel Albertson, is a cousin of James, husband of Hannah Landis.  First names are repeating, a common occurrence in family lines of the 18th century.  It does drive me a bit crazy sometimes!

To top it off, I think they are all likely connected to one Jacobus Van Sicklen, who was also referred to as James in John Waddell Van Sickle's book.  I do not think this was in error.  Jacobus/James are often interchangeable (see an explanation at Wikipedia). 

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