Eighteenth century genealogy research is always exciting and challenging due to the disparity (and often lack of) public records. I’ve always been intrigued by the David VanHook / Thankful Williams family in southern New Jersey in trying to sort out the various Van Hook families of that period. Some believe Thankful Williams to be the daughter of John Williams and Thankful Barlow – but I’m not sure this has ever been proven. This post examines this family – and what I believe is Thankful Williams earlier marriage and first family. (I apologize in advance if this blog entry is well known information to those that have researched these lines).
The item that started this thinking is the “well known” genealogy of Joseph Cramer (1782-1846), who married Deborah Van Hook, the daughter of David Van Hook and Thankful Williams of Port Elizabeth, NJ. This family “fact” and connection appears widely across the Internet. Probably the earliest source of this was on page 758 of The History of Camden County, New Jersey, published in 1886 by George Reeser Prowell. It notes in that book that David Van Hook was the owner of a mill at Schooner Landing where he and his wife died, each at the advanced age of nearly one hundred years (seems a bit of an exaggeration). This information is basically repeated in Genealogical and Memorial History of the State of New Jersey : a Book of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1910., Page 136.
Many genealogies show David Van Hook and Thankful Williams (no marriage record located) had 5 children – the above Deborah, followed by Sophia (1795), William (1798), Henry (1800) and Isaac (1806) – birth years approximate. The inconsistency that triggered my curiosity on this family is that from the records Deborah appears to have a birth date much earlier than the rest of the children – probably earlier than 1780. It would be very odd for a family to have a gap of 15 years between the first and second child. After investigation – it seems Deborah Van Hook might have been a step-daughter of David Van Hook, and actually a daughter of Thankful Williams and a first husband.
From New Jersey marriage records we find a William Crandle (or Crandel/Crandall/Crandol) and Thankful Williams marriage dated 22 Dec 1777 (apparently in Cape May County). John Foster was the surety on this marriage bond, and the witnesses were Daniel and Hannah Smith.
Most genealogies show a single daughter of this union – a Rachel Crandall, born about 1778 in Leesburg, Cumberland Co., NJ – died 10 Aug 1860 in Millville, NJ. Rachel married 23 Jan 1799 in Cumberland County, John Donnelly(1774-1857). On Rachel Donnelly’s death record – it shows a “father’s name” as “Thankful Crandle”.
Now back to Deborah. She married Joseph Cramer on 23 Apr 1805 in Port Elizabeth, NJ. Joseph died in 1846. So where was Deborah in the 1850 federal census? She is found living (as Deborah Crammer) with John and Rachel Crandall Donnelly in Maurice River, Cumberland, NJ. Deborah’s age is given as 72 at this time, and Rachel is shown age 70.
It is known that Joseph and Deborah Cramer had a daughter named “Rachel Donnelly Cramer” (1807-1857) – apparently named for the Rachel Donnelly in the above census record. This looks like Deborah Van Hook Cramer is in all likelihood the older sister of Rachel Crandall Donnelly. If this is the case – Deborah Van Hook Cramer is really the first child of William Crandall and Thankful Williams. This is further supported by the information that William Crandall’s parents were William Edwin Crandall and Deborah, making this child Deborah likely named for her paternal grandmother. It looks like after this first marriage ended (presumably William Cramer died), Thankful Williams married second David Van Hook.
Now – was there also a third daughter? In New Jersey marriage records, a John Lee married a Jemimah Crandall 10 Nov 1798. This Jemimah was living with (presumably) a son, also named John Lee, in 1850 and 1860 (from census records) in Maurice River, NJ. We find a New Jersey death record dated 8 Feb 1870 for a Jemimah Lee – born in Cape May County, NJ – showing parents names of William Crandel and Thankful Crandel. It sure looks like there were 3 daughters – Jemimah, Deborah and Rachel from this first marriage of Thankful Williams.
One further note – John Lee and Jemimah Crandall’s had a son, Edward Lee, born about 1811 in New Jersey. He was married (much later in life – probably not a first marriage) 27 Sep 1888 in Dallas County, Iowa, to a Lorisa J. Clark. On that marriage record, Edward Lee gives his parents as John Lee and Jemima Crandle.
Therefore – I believe Thankful Williams married William Crandle (Crandall, etc.) in 1777 and had 3 daughters – Jemimah, Deborah and Rachel. William died sometime in the 1780’s, and Thankful remarried to David VanHook – probably in the early 1790’s – and had 4 more children – Sophia, William, Henry and Isaac. David died 8 Aug 1839 and Thankful died 19 May 1843 – both in Cumberland County, NJ.