Rachel Vrooman

ID # 1474, (1781-)
FatherAdam Vrooman (1753-1810)
MotherMargaret Mattice (1759-)
BirthRachel Vrooman was born in 1781. 
MarriageShe married (--?--) Smith in 1798.
According to the story provided by descendants of Daniel Vrooman, son of Admiral Nelson Vrooman, Rachel was never married to 'Smith'. Based on Nelson's birth in 1799, we can only approximate the year of Rachel's relationship with 'Smith' who was said to be an English soldier.
MarriageShe married Solomon Skinner on 2 October 1800 at St. Mark's Anglican Church, Niagara-On-The-Lake.
Vital Records of Upper Canada/Canada West, Volume 1: Part 2, Niagara District 1792-1849
Walker and Stratford-Devai/Global Genealogy


St. Mark's Anglican Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1792-1815

Weddings Niagara 1800

Solomon Skinner to Rachel Vrooman, 2 Oct. 1800

The page from the marriage book of Robert Addison of St. Mark's shows Solomon as a bachelor and Rachel as a spinster. See MS545 reel 1. The page is signed by Robert Addison.
MarriageShe married George Washington Russell in 1804.
For the moment, this researcher has no idea when Rachel Vrooman married George Washington Russell. By all reasonable means, Solomon Skinner should have been the father of at least Margaret. It is now found that he was living much later, late enough that he could even reasonably be the father of Luther and Elizabeth Ann. This contravenes such information as Elizabeth Ann provided herself in her two latter marriage registrations. More confusion as added by the fact that we have evidence that Solomon Skinner was living probably as late as 1831, but certainly as late as 1830. This is still being actively researched, but based on what is now known to this point it's entirely possible that Rachel's marriage to Solomon Skinner was of short duration.

The 1949 Vrooman Family history book shows daughter Margaret as a Russell and we may reasonably document from census information that she was born about 1805. In line with this, the marriage of Rachel Vrooman to George Russell is shown as 1804. The real story may be quite different.
NoteThe first documentation for Rachel Vrooman thus far found is in a list of 'Return of Persons under the Description of Loyalists, Specifying the Numbers, Ages and Sexes of each family in Capt. William Caldwell's Company in the Corps of Rangers at Niagara 30 November 1783.' This is taken from Norman K. Crowder's transcription as it appears on page 4 of his book Early Ontario Settlers, A Source Book, 1993, Genealogical Publishing Company. This shows us Serj. Adam Vroman, Margrit Vroman, and Rachel Vroman, age 2. This statement is no doubt accurate and predates the birth of Rachel's siblings. Later information should be examined with some care.

The Vrooman Family book of 1949 shows Rachel Vrooman's first husband as Smith, given name unknown. It is now possible to say, based in part on a conversation with a family descendant, that Rachel was not married to 'Smith'. The story passed down through the family tells that Rachel's relationship with 'Smith', an English soldier, was a liason of which Admiral Nelson Vrooman was, in 1799, the result and the family story is that it created a scandal at the time. The descendant was unaware of Rachel's marriage to Solomon Skinner, but understands that Admiral Nelson Vrooman was adopted by George Washington Russell. However this may be, and there are problems with such a situation, Admiral Nelson Vrooman kept his mother's surname, the name with which he was born.

Rachel's marriage to Solomon Skinner on 2 October, 1800, at St. Mark's Anglican Church at Niagara-on-the-Lake is documented and we have confirmation of this in the application of Rachel Skinner's petition for land in 1801 based upon her being the daughter of Adam Vrooman, UE. We may note here that the marriage of Rachel and Solomon, as entered into St. Mark's marriage record book, shows Rachel as a spinster. This appears to confirm the family story of Rachel's previous unmarried state.

If in fact daughter Margaret, born approximately 1805, was a Russell, then either Solomon Skinner's life was of short duration (not the case) or his marriage to Rachel Vrooman was of short duration. Whoever provided the information for the death registration of John Edwin Tucker, Margaret's son, certainly believed that his mother Margaret's maiden name was Russell. (see notes under John Edwin Tucker). The 1949 Vrooman Family history shows Margaret's maiden name as Russell as well.

If Margaret, born approximately 1805, was indeed the daughter of George Washington Russell, then what follows is an outline of the difficulty.

Clear evidence exists by way of the will of Benjamin Skinner, Solomon's father, that Solomon Skinner had a brother (actually a half-brother) Jephtha, and a Stamford land transaction exists from 1818 between Jephtha Skinner of Beverly and Solomon Skinner of Ancaster. We have clear evidence in the form of a land transaction that Solomon was still living in Ancaster in 1825. There is reasonable evidence that he was living in Ancaster as late as 1830 (based on an Abstract Index of a land transaction). One only has to look at the birth years of Rachel's children to see the problem. Divorce in Upper Canada in those years would have been exceedingly difficult, yet we are left with both Luther and Elizabeth Ann, born in 1822 and 1826 respectively, claiming to be Russells. (That the marriage of Rachel and Solomon was annulled is a possibility.)

A land transaction from 1848 documents Rachel as being the wife of George Russell. This should be long after they were married.

Evidence found thus far indicates that Rachel's daughter Elizabeth Ann was born a Russell. Elizabeth's marriage to John Butler Jones identifies her parents as George and Rachel Russell; her marriage to Thomas King identifies them as George Russell and Rachel Vrooman. Discussed elsewhere, we have circumstantial evidence linking Elizabeth Ann to Margaret. We now have rather more direct evidence linking Admiral Nelson Vrooman and Luther B. Russell to Rachel.

The 1949 Vrooman Family history tells that Rachel received her Crown Grant of land where the 'City of Toronto now stands'. No evidence has been found to support this. Her grant, provided to her as the daughter of an enrolled United Empire Loyalist, was for the full 200 acres of lot 2 in the 4th concession of King Township. This is part of the present day County of York, but well north of the City of Toronto.

(A note here: The Crown Grant that Rachel received in King Township was found following the trail indicated by the microfiche file available at the Archives of Ontario. Rachel Skinner's petition was found as was her warrant, or ticket, with which to attend at the Surveyor General's office to obtain her grant. Her petition is made based on the fact that she is the daughter of Loyalist Adam Vrooman. Also noted is a reference from Robert Hamilton, JP, who describes her as the wife of Solomon Skinner.)

The Abstract Index page for this lot and concession presents us with information still the subject of research, but it does show Rachel Skinner receiving her grant in December of 1802.

Following this entry on the abstract page there is a break of some years and information is obviously missing. It should be kept in mind that the Abstract Indexes were not written until 1867. It is possible that the missing entry or entries relate to destroyed documentation during the burning of York in the War of 1812. The Abstract Indexes for the 4th and adjacent concessions have been examined. Where the crown patent holders sold their land after the War of 1812, there is a clear flow of records of sale and purchase; where the patent holders' lands were sold prior to the War of 1812, there are breaks in the information.

The next entry is in September of 1815 when a Jeremiah Smith and wife sell the land to David Van Every. There is nothing to indicate a transaction between Rachel Skinner and Jeremiah Smith. There are several transactions thereafter up to 1848 and the land is obviously in possession of individuals other than Rachel or any family member.

Then on 11 February 1848, in what appears to be a normal 'bargain and sale' transaction, Rachel Russell, wife of George Russell, sells the full 200 acre lot to Admiral Nelson Vrooman of Dumfries Township. This is interesting for she is not in possession of it, but appears to be by the way of establishing a claim. It is not followed up in any manner by Nelson and people in possession of the land continue to transact sales and purchases. In 1852 the land came into the possession of James John Hunter.

On 26 April 1854, Rachel Russell of Stamford issued a Quit Claim to James John Hunter. This was for 76 dollars and considerably less than the land was worth.

Still later, in July of 1866, Luther B. Russell issued a second Quit Claim to James John Hunter, this time for the amount of 200 dollars, on behalf of Rachel's heirs, unnamed.

This has the look as though the Second Heirs and Devisees Commission should have been involved, but no evidence for such has been found. A Second Heirs' file might have explained the basis for Rachel's claim. Without it, we are left guessing.

By the time of the 1866 Quit Claim transaction, Rachel is said to be deceased.

The attractive aspect of the Abstract Index page for Rachel's Crown Grant is that it ties her directly to Admiral Nelson Vrooman and to Luther Russell. Prior to this, all we have to go on is the 1949 Vrooman Family history. The 1949 book has its problems, but is certainly a verification of the family's connection.

We may note here that Rachel's daughter Margaret was born around 1805; son Luther was born about 1822 and daughter Elizabeth Ann about 1826. It's possible that there were other children, but no records for such have been found.

The 1848 apparent sale of Rachel's Crown Grant to Admiral Nelson Vrooman states that she is the wife of George Russell and that she resides in Stamford Township. Rachel's Quit Claim issued to John James Hunter, as mentioned above, is dated 26 April 1854. George Russell isn't mentioned, but, again, she is said to be of Stamford Township. The Russells do not appear in the 1851 every-person census at Stamford, but the Canada Archives collection of microfilm reels states that what we have of the 1851 census for Stamford is incomplete.

As to James John Hunter, who as noted above came late to the ownership of the King Township property, Rachel's quit claim of 1854 describes him as a medical doctor who is resident in Whitchurch Township. Luther's quit claim to Hunter describes him as a physician of New Market. Page 455 of volume 2 of History of Toronto and County of York, 1885, provides us with an interesting history of Hunter and his family and the 1837 rebellion against the Family Compact. As to the property that was granted to Rachel Vrooman Skinner decades previous, Hunter, according to the Abstract Index page, held an interest in the property until at least 1884.

The little we know of Rachel's life presents us with questions. We do not know the duration of her life with Solomon Skinner; we know next to nothing of George Washington Russell; and we know nothing of when Rachel's life came to an end or where she is buried. We know she was born in approximately 1781 and since her Quit Claim is recorded in 1854, we may then say she made it to at least 73 years of age.

One final comment. In 1854 Stamford Township was afflicted with an epidemic of cholera. The focus of it appears to have been the shanty town that grew up around the suspension bridge though the cholera certainly spread. The suspension bridge access was located in Elgin, later known as Clifton. We do not know if Rachel and George were in fact located there, but there were numbers of deaths and, probably, hurried burials. Such a situation was no doubt the occasion for a lack of records at the time. It may or may not have had anything to do with Rachel and George. 

Child of Rachel Vrooman and (--?--) Smith

Children of Rachel Vrooman and George Washington Russell

Last Edited16 Aug 2019