James W. Angus
My second great grandfather James Winans Angus was born in New York City on 10 May 1810 to carpenter Jacob Baker Angus (b. Albany, NY) and Mary Winans Angus, (b. Elizabeth, NJ). Two sisters and one brother followed: Abigail Winans Angus, b. 1812; Martha Winans Angus, b. 1818, and Job Winans Angus, b. 1821.
In 1820, the family was living at 123 Pump Street*. Pump Street has since been renamed. According to the website www.oldstreets.com, in the late 18th to early 19th centuries, Pump Street was initially a street in the Delancey Farm Grid, from the Bowery east to Division Street. About 1800 it absorbed Nicholas Street, thereby extending the name west to the present Centre Street. In 1829 Pump Street itself was merged into Walker Street. Since 1855. most of the former Pump Street has been part of Canal Street.
Of course, Lower Manhattan was a vastly different place +/- 200 years ago. If you’re familiar with Manhattan, you know that today Canal Street runs through Chinatown. The below image from 1836 shows the bustling world in which New Yorkers of that era went about their day-to-day activities.
Broadway, New-York. Showing each Building from the Hygeian Depot corner of Canal Street, to beyond Niblo’s Garden. Date: 1836; Drawn & Etched by T. Hornor. Aquatinted by J. Hill. Printed by W. Neale. Published by Joseph Stanley & Co. Entered according to Act of Congress by Jos. Stanley & Co. in the Clerks Office of the Southern District of New York. January 26th, 1836. From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York – http://collections.mcny.org/
Tragedy struck the family on 27 November 1824, when Mary died, leaving Jacob with four children aged 3-14. Jacob remarried according to family records*, although unfortunately at the time, no one saw to it to write down the name of the second wife—so her identity remains a mystery, as far as I know. When Jacob died several years later on 29 March 1828, James, 17, and his siblings went to live with their *Uncle Elias Winans, their mother Mary’s brother. Elias’ wife, Abby, likely took the leading role in looking after the children.
Street Scenes, Canal, Copy of Old Time Engraving. Date: 1910; An engraving by G. Gibson (?); subject is Canal Street, depicted when the canal still existed, descriptive caption accompanies engraving. From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York. http://collections.mcny.org/
According to p. 6 of Harriet Stryker-Rodda’s genealogical research paper One Line of Descendants of James Angus (1751 – 1806 [grandfather of this James]):
Elias Winans was appointed “guardian of James W. Angus, minor, his father having died intestate* (Orphans Court Record Docket 2653, recorded in Guardianship Letters Book A:329, Essex
County, N. J.), but there are no court records showing that any of the other children were legally made wards of their uncle Elias.
James Angus attended elementary school in Elizabeth, N.J., where he lived with his uncle, Elias Winans, following the death of his parents. (Stryker-Rodda, p. 9) I am wondering if perhaps James went to live with Elias prior to his father’s death since he was already 17 at that time and would otherwise not have been in Elizabeth for more than his last year or two of high school. Certainly the two youngest children would have attended elementary school there, but not James.
**Tombstone inscription, 1st Presbyterian Churchyard, Elizabeth, NJ
Further down page 9, Stryker-Rodda records that On 25 April 1835 James [age 24] was working at his trade [carpenter, wood craftsman, & coach-maker] in Paterson, N. J., [Passaic Co.] where he purchased a house lot for $200 on the southeast corner of Parke Street (Essex County Deed Book Y3:38). In October of the same year he and George R. Skinner paid $1200 for a piece of land in Paterson on the west side of Union Street, 120′ x 167′(B4:280).
This was followed in November by the purchase for $550 of a house on a lot 15′ x 56′ on the west side of Marshall Street in Paterson. In May of 1836 he sold the land on Marshall Street for the same price he had paid for it (F4:53l). James Angus’ and George R. Skinner’s partnership ended about the time James married. On the 8th of February, 1839, orders were recorded for a Sheriff’s sale of their holdings in Elizabeth [Essex Co.], on the west side of Union Street, a lot 122’xl67’xl09«, which they had purchased from George W. Halsted. The sale was to satisfy debts owed to Jacob G. Crane and William Mulford. It was carried out on 3 December 1839 at Gaylord’s Hotel (Essex County Deed Book D5.-245 ff).
Men’s Fashion plate,1826. Image from U. of Washington Library Digital Collections http://content.lib.washington.edu (Wikimedia: In public domain in US due to expired copyright)
It’s worth noting that the above just-mentioned happenings coincided with a major nationwide economic recession stemming from “the panic of 1837,” a financial crisis that went on to last almost a decade. The mood in the country was one of enormous pessimism. Economic policy was no doubt a hotly debated topic. Sounds strangely familiar…
James was bouncing around quite a lot back then, not surprising for a single young man in his twenties. Thanks to all that bouncing around, we are privileged to have more information about James from the publication Testimony in the New Jersey Contested Election: May 26, 1840. Apparently his place of residence, and hence the legitimacy of his vote, was at issue in the 1838 NJ elections. And that hotly contested election was a really big deal at the time. For an excellent write-up on what all the fuss was about, visit this blog post on the Blue Jersey website.
Bergen, Passaic, and Union Counties, 1838. Image cropped from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection Author: Bradford, Thomas G. Date: 1838; Short Title: New Jersey. Publisher: Weeks, Jordan & Co. Boston Publisher: Wiley and Putnam. New York (www.davidrumsey.com)
Various individuals testified about James’ vote. I’m including a map here that shows the 1838 borders of Bergen, Passaic, and Essex counties. You may find it useful to refer to as the borders have changed since then. According to Wikipedia’s entry for Essex County: In 1837, Passaic County was formed from portions of Essex and Bergen County. In 1857, Union County was created from parts of Essex County. Today Elizabeth is in Union County, but back then, it fell within Essex County. James’ 1838 vote was recorded in Elizabethtown (then part of Essex Co.).
Martin Van Buren, US President (1833-1837) Wikipedia
From the testimony of Luke H. Higgins, we learn that James was working in Bergen Co. — either in Hoboken or Jersey City — in the summer of 1838. When Higgins challenged him for voting in Elizabethtown, James said he worked in Bergen Co., and had his washing and mending done in Elizabethtown, and considered Elizabethtown to be his residence. Higgins ascertained that James was a Whig and and that he stood in opposition to the Van Buren administration. (Many blamed Van Buren, who opted against government intervention during and after the panic of 1837, for the countries economic woes.)
Testimony in the New Jersey Contested Election, May 26, 1840 (Published by US House of Representatives: 12 May 1840), p. 335.
Early Baltimore and Ohio Railroad passenger equipment of the 1830s, displayed at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. (Wikipedia: © James G. Howes)
The second individual to testify was John Chatterton, who claimed to have known James for about 10 years. He said James was in Jersey City in 1838, working for the railroad, building cars, and that he saw James in Elizabethtown, but could not say whether James resided in Elizabethtown or not. He knew James got his washing and mending done there. He also knew of James having work in Newark as well, and knew James’ political views and that he was in the Whig party. Upon cross-examination, Chatterton said he knew Mr. Winans [Elias, I presume] was one of James’ links to Elizabethtown and that he thought James boarded with a sister [Martha (never married) or Abigail Angus Woodruff (married to Henry King Woodruff)]. Chatterton stated James had a shop in town that still had James’ sign outside of it and that the shop may have been owned jointly with Skinner [a reference to the aforementioned George R. Skinner]. Chatterton knew nothing of how James voted during the 1838 election.
Testimony in the New Jersey Contested Election, May 26, 1840 (Published by US House of Representatives: 12 May 1840), p. 336.
The Whig Party from The Whig Almanac and Politicians Register for 1838
The last person to testify was the aforementioned Jacob G. Crane, who said he believed James’ place of residence the year prior to the elections was Elizabethtown, and that James lived with his aunt [Elias’s wife Abby Winans (Elias was still alive at this point) or one of Mary Winans Angus’s sisters?]. Jacob thought James was usually in Elizabeth from Fridays through Sundays, and thought James’ carriage-making business had been up and running in Elizabethtown for two-three years before the 1838 election, but that he broke it up right before the election. Crane said James worked in Jersey City building carriages and remained residing with his aunt until he married in February 1839 [the marriage actually took place on January 26, 1839]. Then when cross-examined, Crane said James and his new wife [Wealthy Ann Jaques] lived for a time with James’ aunt, but that they then moved to Jersey City, where James’ work was. Another reference to James’ business with Skinner was made. Crane commented that he knew James had paid his taxes in Elizabethtown.
Testimony in the New Jersey Contested Election, May 26, 1840 (Published by US House of Representatives: 12 May 1840), p. 361.
Ultimately, a vote was taken as to whether James’ vote was lawful, and indeed it was:
Testimony in the New Jersey Contested Election, May 26, 1840 (Published by US House of Representatives: 12 May 1840), p. 76.
Testimony in the New Jersey Contested Election, May 26, 1840 (Published by US House of Representatives: 12 May 1840), pp. 718-719.
The World of Fashion, May 1838 (Wikimedia Commons – In Public Domain in US due to expired copyright)
Well, that’s all I have for today. More on James Winans Angus in an upcoming post… As always, comments, corrections, additions are most welcome.
A side note: In my hunt for information on James, I also came across newspaper articles between 1834-1836 referring to a bill in the New Jersey legislature to allow “James Angus, of Patterson” to divorce his wife (once named as ‘Ann’ and another time as ‘Mary’). I’m sure this is a red herring, but for the sake of satisfying my curiosity, I would love to visit NJ state archives to find out what this case was about. Apparently, at that time, in certain situations, people were able to have their marriages dissolved by the legislature. In this case, the bill to dissolve this James Angus’ marriage was eventually passed on Saturday morning, January 24, 1835***.
Elias and Abby Winans’ **tombstone inscriptions, 1st Presbyterian Churchyard, Elizabeth, NJ
June ?, 1843, ad in the New York American newspaper; evidently, the family’s involvement with Crane was ongoing. (Ad courtesy of http://www.fultonhistory.com)
*ONE LINE OF DESCENDANTS OF JAMES ANGUS (1751 – 1806) including outlines of related Winans and Jaques Families of New Jersey by Harriet Stryker-Rodda, Certified Genealogist (Elizabeth, NJ, 1969) (Project commissioned by Alfred Carpenter Angus Jr., son of James Winans Angus Jr. and Anna M. Carpenter, grandson of James Winans Angus and Wealthy Ann Jaques)
**Wheeler, Wm Ogden. Inscriptions on tombstones and monuments in the burying grounds of the First Presbyterian church and St. Johns church at Elizabeth, New Jersey.1664-1892. New Haven: Press of Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, 1892.
***p. 228 of Minutes of Votes and Proceedings of the 59th General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, 1835