Admiral Nelson Vrooman

ID # 1573, (1799-1882)
Father(--?--) Smith
MotherRachel Vrooman (1781-)
BirthAdmiral Nelson Vrooman was born on 19 December 1799 at Queenston, Ontario. 
MarriageHe married Rachel Coleman, daughter of John Coleman and Elizabeth Lawrason, in 1826.
A descendant of Admiral Nelson Vrooman and Rachel Coleman, by way of their son George, has in his possession an excellent and very early document and has kindly copied me. The text thereof is quoted below:

Mariage Publication August the fifteenth 1826 i publish the Bands of Mariage Between Admirel nelson Vrooman and Rachel Coleman both of the township of Beverly and Gore District if any person or persons Know Cause or just impediment Why these two persons Should not be joined to Gether inn holy Matrimony you are here by notifyd to make the Same Known on or Before the Day of mariage otherwise hear after for Ever hold your peace Given under my hand at waterloo the Date & year Above written
William Ellis JP


The script is mainly legible though without punctuation. Spelling and capitalization are as transcribed.

First, so far as Nelson and Rachel are concerned, we should note that their marriage was likely in late August or in September of 1826. The 1949 Vrooman Family history places the birth of their first born, John Coleman Vrooman, in 1827, so the year of their marriage, 1826, we may take to be accurate.

The second point of interest is that William Ellis JP was usually referred to as Squire Ellis. Page 55 of James Young's book, Reminiscences of the Early History of Galt and the Settlement of Dumfries, Toronto, Hunter Rose & Co., 1880, states the following:

The clergy of the Church of England were the only ministers at one time who could marry; magistrates could do so, however, when there was no Episcopal clergyman within a radius of eighteen miles, and Squire Ellis of Waterloo, and Squire Murray, who resided near St. George, for many years did a thriving business in the matrimonial line.


Nelson and Rachel lived much nearer to St. George and why their marriage wasn't performed by Squire Murray, we do not know.

Another point in viewing the document is that the expression 'bands of marriage' instead of 'banns of marriage' is apparently a Scottish term and was likely the way Squire Ellis was accustomed to expressing it. What isn't clear is why the expression was used at all. Typically, or at least in later years, the banns of marriage were 'published' verbally from a pulpit in the presence of a church congregation. This was usually done on three consecutive Sundays, though more recently it is sometimes done but once. Just why a Justice of the Peace would use the term for what was essentially a civil ceremony isn't clear. There was such a thing in Upper Canada as marriage bonds. From the late 1700s through to 1858, these documents, which were signed by two citizens when a civil ceremony was to take place, were essentially for the same purpose as the reading of the banns of marriage before a congregation, namely to ensure there were no problems with consanguinity or that there wasn't the impediment of a previous marriage with a still living partner that could lead to a charge of bigamy. Admiral Nelson Vrooman, himself, signed a marriage bond on behalf of his wife's niece Sabrina Moe when she married James Blackburn and is the one clear example so far found of a signature for Nelson.
DeathHe died on 28 April 1882 at Harrisburg, Ontario, at age 82. 
BurialHe was buried at Harrisburg Cemetery. 
NoteWe take the date of birth for Admiral Nelson Vrooman, 19 December, 1799, from a transcription of his gravestone, provided by the Brant County branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. The year, 1799, agrees reasonably well with information provided in later census years.

While available transcriptions of Harrisburg Cemetery do not say so, there are actually two grave stones for Admiral Nelson Vrooman. It appears that the earliest is the one commemorating him only. It is a flat, soft stone marker of the era that once no doubt stood upright but which is now flat and with a crack through the center and supported by a flat, slightly elevated concrete base. We must believe it to be of a standardized template for it is a perfect match, verse included, of the stone that was erected for Joseph Unger, Geraldine's husband, in Troy Cemetery some 21 years earlier. Daughter Sabina's will expressed the wish that repairs be done to the gravesite at Harrisburg and, probably, this will be when the concrete base was made. The other stone shows the names of Nelson, his wife Rachel, and shows daughter Geraldine's name on the reverse side. This is a piller stone evidently made of shaped bricks with what appears to be a smoothed cement surface over the bricks and which has the inscriptions. When last viewed, the surface had flaked badly and much was unreadable.

According to the 1949 Vrooman Family book, the original surname of Admiral Nelson Vrooman was Smith. At some point he took his mother's family name. Family descendants tell that Nelson was the result of a liason with an English soldier and that he was adopted by George Washington Russell.

An early Beverly Township settler was Arents S.D.S. Vrooman. The initials apparently stood for Schuyler Depeyster (and, possibly, Sylvester). A land transaction shows that in 1811, Arents Vrooman of Niagara purchased lot 4 on the first concession of Beverly Township. In 1823 Arents Vrooman sold 100 acres of this property to Admiral N. Vrooman of Beverly. In 1842, Arents Vrooman sold his remaining Beverly property and moved to Garafraxa Township in what became Wellington County. In March of 1831, according to an Abstract Index, Nelson Vrooman purchased lot 2 of the 1st concession of Dumfries although he did not sell his Beverly property until December of 1845. On the Vroomans' new South Dumfries property, the railway wished to build a junction and Nelson and Rachel prospered. Nelson drew up plans for a village and this was first known as Vromenia, later it was Carstairs, and finally Harrisburg. This is just south and a little east of St. George.

The abstract indexes for the Harrisburg area of South Dumfries are interesting and extensive to read. Nelson was deeply involved in land transactions. He granted land to family members, including his grandson Nelson Vrooman Unger, who was age two at the time, in 1859. He also granted land to his daughters. There is a record of land being sold in 1915 by Geraldine Ellington, Sabina Bookless and Harry Galer (per guardian, likely his mother).

The only other comment to be made is that Arents Vrooman was the uncle of Admiral Nelson Vrooman. Nelson appears to have been popular with Arents' family and may have been with Arents' family for a number of years. It's a guess, but considering that two of Arents' children named sons Nelson, and considering that there was a documentable relationship between Nelson and Arents' families lasting into the 1930s, and considering that Nelson was a resident of Beverly when he purchased half of Arents' township lot, then Nelson was probably with his Uncle Arents from some time not long after the end of the war of 1812, say from 1815 or 1816. While Nelson was born with the name Vrooman, he was likely known by the name of Rachel's husband, or husbands, in his early years. Perhaps he kept the name Vrooman based on his relationship with his uncle. Again, it's a guess.

The 1949 Vrooman Family book by Grace Vrooman Wickersham and Ernest Bernard Comstock lists the children of Admiral Nelson Vrooman and Rachel Coleman. This appears to be accurate and it appears that Grace Wickersham was working from family documentation. We have no independent confirmation for the name and dates of John Coleman Vrooman, 1827-1828, but as Rachel's father was John Coleman, this record certainly appears to be reasonable and so is shown here.

As mentioned above, Nelson and Rachel sold their Beverly property in 1845. Beverly assessment information shows the north half of lot 4 on the 1st concession against at least one other name, but they must have been leasing, for Admiral Nelson Vrooman appears in the 1832 census of the East Dumfries (the portion east of the Grand River). He is shown on concession 1, lot 1 of the township. (Yes, this conflicts with the Abstract Index mentioned above.) The census portion of the assessment shows two males under 16 (probably Daniel and James); one female under 16 (unknown to us); and one male and one female over 16 (no doubt Nelson and Rachel).

Death reg. 001199-82 South Dumfries Twp., Brant Co.
Admiral N. Vrooman died 28th April, 1882. Age 84. Farmer. Methodist. Born Niagara. Physician and informant N. E. Mainwarring, M.D., St. George. 

Children of Admiral Nelson Vrooman and Rachel Coleman

Last Edited13 Jul 2019