Did Thomas Hillen Sanders and Isabella V. Hotaling have any children?

Thomas Hillen Sanders, the elder brother of my grandfather, Beverley Constantine Sanders, was born in Baltimore MD in 1845.  He served in the Confederate Army as a private, later corporal in Company K and/or Company L of  the 1st Virginia Cavalry; he was captured and confined Ft McHenry 10/16/62.  Exchanged 11/10/62.  Transferred Co C, 1st MD Cavalry.  We have a photograph of him in uniform dated Richmond 1865. He may have suffered war injuries, based on events in his later life (see below.)  

We found the following marriage certificate in the NJ Archives [drawer 300, pl 36, #S29]: Thomas Hillen Sanders, 192 Roseville Ave, Newark, age 41, first marriage, occupation: none. Married Isabella Hotaling, born US, residing 193 Roseville Ave Newark, age 28 [but see below]. Father: Conrad Hotaling born US, mother: Eliza Vandenberg, born US. Date of marriage: Sept 13, 1886 at Rectory, House of Prayer, by K Goodwin, Newark New Jersey. Notice that the bride and groom lived across the street from each other; the groom's address was his parents' home.  The bride's father, a coal agent, still resided at the above address in 1891, according to the Newark city directory for that year.

We want to determine if there were any children of this marriage, and (if so) if there are any living descendants, and how we might find them. In the Genealogical Magazine of NJ, Vol 1 (1925), pg 14, there is an article entitled "Gravestone Records from the Cemetery of the North Branch Reformed Church." In it is listed: Sanders, Thomas Hillen, 1845-1903; w. Isabelle V. Hotaling 1847- . [spellings corrected based on my visit to the cemetery.] The indications are that the plot (an 8 grave plot with a handsome obelisk "Sanders" monument) was bought by Mrs. Isabelle Sanders. This suggests that her birth year is correctly given as 1847, which would make her 38 (not 28) at the time of the marriage. That makes the prospect of children of the marriage somewhat questionable. The absence of a burial date for Isabelle suggests that she is not buried in the plot -- notwithstanding the assertion in the Kassak's "Descendants of Mathys Coenratsen Hooghteeling" ( p 321) that she is. (The Kassak's seem to have mistaken Thomas' death date for Isabelle's.)  The only other person inscribed on the headstone is a James Van Pelt (1842-1884) -- no apparent relation (Isabelle's mother's maiden name was Vandenberg).

The article goes on to say that the cemetery is located in Branchburg Township, Somerset County, on the old Ten Eyck Farm.  The Church is across the River in Bridgewater Township.  We have not (yet) applied to North Branch Township for records of who else might be buried there.

Also tending to support the conclusion that THS and Isabelle had no children is a reference to them is and entry in Anna Hotaling's "Hotaling-Houghtaling Genealogy" [1988 edition, page 127]:  Isabella V., b. 1847; m Thomas Hillen Sanders, [1845-1903]. No children.  (The Kassak work makes no mention of any children, either.)

We have not found NJ death certificates for THS or Isabelle. THS might have died in Philadelphia or New York (see below, although we have not found a death record for him in New York City); Isabelle might have remarried; died under a different name, been buried elsewhere.

Finally, in a handwritten copy of an 1897 THS will there is no mention of any heirs: "..It is my earnest desire and will that at my death, my dear Wife Isabell F. Sanders, [notice it's V on the gravestone] in consideration of her untiring love, devotion and kindness to me, shall have and enjoy a life interest in whatever estate, wherever found, in which I am now or may become possessed of, the same at her death to be equally divided [among] my brothers and sisters and their descendants..."

On the other hand, in three letters from THS' brother Beverley Sanders (my grandfather), reference is made to children: October 12, 1899: "Am glad that Baby is better. Rett (BCS' wife) and the babies (their children were 7 and 3 at the time) join me in love to you all." January 11, 1900: "Loretta and the children join me in love and kisses to you all. The children often speak of little Eleanor, and wish for her..." (Later in 1900): "Pleased to receive picture of Alva -- haven't seen her since she was a baby." So, there is a suggestion of at least two children: Eleanor and Alva.

There's a good possibility that Eleanor and Alva were not THS' children. In the 1900 Philadelphia census, in the MacRorie household [along with THS] shows up an Eleanor V Stuart [b 6/1893] -- who was a grandniece of Mary Robina MacRorie [THS' sister.]  There was another grandniece of about the same age named Alva Palmer. Mary Robina and Archibald MacRorie had no children of their own and evidently played host to young relatives -- maybe for long visits.

So, our conclusion is that THS and Isabelle probably did not have children, and that Eleanor and Alva were someone else's children.  But it would be nice to have some conclusive evidence that this is the case.

And then there is the question of what happened to Isabelle. The absence of a death date on the monument suggests (but not conclusively) that she isn't buried with THS. Did she rear their children (if any)?  Did she remarry?  When did she die?  Where is she buried, and with who?  Did she leave a will?  In limited looking into the Hotaling family history, there was a Mayor of East Newark by that name. But I have found no census or death certificate/obituary references to Conrad (Isabelle's father). And there do not appear to be any other Hotalings buried near the Sanders plot in North Branch. And, why North Branch? It is not particularly near Newark or any of the other known addresses for THS and Isabelle.  The Kassaks claim to have found Thomas and Isabelle in the 1900 census for Somerset County; I have not been able to find that record myself.  Nor could I find them in the New York State census for 1900.


Any help or leads in sorting this out would be appreciated. Please email John Konvalinka with any information or ideas.


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