Riker Family Buried at Green-Wood Cemetery

J.L. Riker’s Monument at Green Wood Cemetery

“… There has been a great deal of conflicting information about how many children Anna E. Riker Crump (J.L. Riker’s daughter – Ed.) had. I used the standard search engines and got very confused over the whole thing. Then a cousin sent me a handwritten list of Anna’s children where she wrote their names and dates of birth and signed it “My Children –  Anna E. Crump”  That was like a piece of gold to me… But of course this wasn’t enough for me. So I ponied up the money to pay Green Wood Cemetery to tell me who… is buried in the family plot there. The attached documents (I have presented Col. Riker’s one, below – Ed.) are from Green Wood. I received this back in December, but getting in touch with you about everything to do with John Lafayette Riker got to be a most fascinating diversion for a time, and now I’m back to this original issue about the 15 Crump children.

“I can say for sure, from the mother’s own list, that she did in fact have 15 children. Many of these people in the attached documents are children of Sam and Anna. But also buried in the same lot is John Lafayette Riker, who was Anna’s father of course, and also his brother, Charles Bodle Riker, who applied for the Civil War pension to take care of Anna after her father died when she was almost 14 years old.

“In addition, there is one mystery person, Mary J. Van Orsdale. She may well be a cousin, and if memory serves, she was listed as living in the Crump household…I’d have to check that to be sure, but here is why I think she was related. It was Captain John Van Arsdale who is my 7th generation ancestor, who fought all seven years of the Revolutionary War. Here’s how he is related to me. John Lafayette Riker’s wife was Ann Eliza Riker. They were first cousins. John’s parents were James Riker Sr. and Elizabeth Van Arsdale. Elizabeth’s parents were Captain John Van Arsdale and Mary (Polly) Crawford Van Arsdale. So clearly this Van Arsdale name is a family name. I just haven’t put my attention on figuring out how Mary J. Van Orsdale, who is buried in the family plot, is related. She was 72 and a widow when she died in 1887. Since the Crumps already had many children, and Anna’s father, buried in this lot, she became a part of it. One day I’ll sort out how she’s related.

“Besides these 8 Crump children, there was Samuel Crump who died in WWI, plus the rest of them who grew up and had long lives: Helen Crump (Loughran) Parsons, Adah Crump Ferris, George Crump who was the first born, Julia Elder Crump Darling who was my grandmother, and Elizabeth (Bessie) Crump Enders …and one more child…who am I forgetting? Okay…I’ve printed out all these documents and have compared them with Anna’s list of her children, and see there is a child she named as Mary, Stillborn on March 7, 1883, who is not buried at Green Wood apparently. That’s very odd since there were children born before and after her who were all buried there. Another mystery. Gosh! Ya just gotta love genealogy!

“I might also mention that Anna’s husband, Samuel Crump, is listed on a gravestone “In Memoriam” because he actually died and is buried in Shanghai, China, where he was visiting daughter Elizabeth. And there is another “In Memoriam” listed for their son Samuel Crump who died fighting in WWI and is buried in Bony, France.”

Sumbitted by Patty Hoenigman (Great-great granddaughter of J.L. Riker)

Find Green-Wood cemetery here: http://www.green-wood.com/

One of the family records obtained by Patty Hoenigman and used with permission.


Record of John L. Riker (Col.) 

Interment Number:        164872                 Lot: 4259                                             Grave: 

Date of Interment: 10 June 1862 

Place of Birth: US 

Age: 38 years 

Marital Status: Widowed 

Late Residence: Fair Oaks, Virginia      

 Place of Death: Virginia

 Cause of Death: Killed in Battle

 Date of Death: 31 May 1862

 Funeral Director: T. C. Freeborn

 Remarks: Removed to lot 16159 on 4 December 1869     

Compiled from Chronology Books by Shirra Rockwood, Green-Wood Genealogy Team

December, 2015

A Puzzle from Vermont


Patty Hoenigman’s cousin from Vermont sent a number of photos to her he had found amongst his family photos. I have used the photo of George Elder here (see my post “George Elder” – Ed.), he also sent a photo of J.L. Riker, plus two unidentified photos.

We are thinking that the bearded man in the civilian clothes may be John L. Riker pre-war, though Patty wonders if it is in fact his brother James. Who the other gentleman is, standing by the table, we have no idea… can you help? – Ed.

Patty writes:

“My cousin who lives in Vermont… just sent me these photos that he found among his family photos. He didn’t know who they were, so I was able to fill him in about Riker in his Civil War uniform. It is a larger view than the photo of him that was just sent to me. It’s also very much like the one of the Smithsonian site with that wonderful article, except this is a much better quality of picture than what they used. Alas!

“What I’m thinking is that the one of the man (in civilian clothes – Ed.) is also him, as a younger man… a bit more hair, same position of his hands…not in uniform…but they sure do look alike! My hesitation is that I know John’s brother James Riker, the well known historian of the earliest settlers of New York, looks very much like him, based on a portrait I have of James from a museum in New York…when he was an elderly man. But I’d love to have you look closely at these two pictures and let me know what you think about who this other man might be. Maybe you’ve seen it before?

I don’t know who the man is who is standing by the table. It’s a very Victorian pose, but unfortunately it’s not labeled.”

Submitted by Patty Hoenigman (Great-great granddaughter of John L. Riker)


George Elder


“The man in the oval picture is George Elder… after John Lafayette Riker died, his other brother, Charles Bodle Riker, took in John’s daughter, Anna E. Riker. (Anna is my great grandmother.) It was her grandparents who were George and Hannah Elder, of Stamford, Connecticut. They also played a part in looking after Anna. When she married Samuel Crump, it was the Elders who issued the invitation to the wedding, which was in Stamford…not to be confused with Stanford. Stamford is very close to NYC.”

Submitted by Patty Hoenigman (Great-great granddaughter of John L. Riker)


Anna Crump (Riker) & Alan G. Darling Jnr. (1917)


“This photo is of Anna holding my father, Alan G. Darling Jr. He was born Sept 1, 1916, and looks to be about a year old, so this may have been taken in 1917, about the same time as the other photo (see post “Anna Crump Riker and Sam Crump Jnr” – Ed.). I’ve never been able to find out where the picture of her with Sam was taken, though I’ve asked people at various historical societies in New York and New Jersey. One of those questions I don’t have an answer to yet! My father was born in Duluth, Minnesota, so I guess it’s possible that Sam (Sam Crump Snr. – Ed.) and Anna went to visit their daughter Julia, Dad’s mother, in Minnesota and these pictures were taken during that trip. Just a wild guess, but there may be some foundation to it.”

Submitted by Patty Hoenigman (Great-great granddaughter of John L. Riker)


Colonel John L. Riker


John Lafayette Riker was born in 1828 into a famous New York family, the second son of James Riker a merchant and landowner. The Rikers traced their lineage from an Abraham Rycker, of Amsterdam, an armorer in the Dutch service, who came to America with Wilhelm Kieft in 1638. The Riker family home was on Delancey Street, Manhattan in an area which today is known as the Lower East Side. The family was without a doubt connected with New York’s wealthy and influential elite, with Riker’s father having once been a member of the City’s Common Council. Riker’s eldest brother James went on to become the foremost genealogist of his day and in the years after the Colonel’s death he continued John Lafayette’s legacy in his patriotic activities with the Anderson Zouaves Veterans Association.

Riker’s early years are not well known and it is not until the 1840’s that he emerges when marries his first cousin Anna E. Elder. Anna was the eldest daughter of John Lafayette’s Aunt, Hannah E. Riker, who was the younger sister of his father, James. Some time in 1848 James Riker Snr, moved his whole family out of Delancey Street and into a new residence in Harlem. At the same time Anna gave birth to her first child, a girl, which, according to Riker custom, was dutifully named after her mother and so became Anna E. Riker. A year or two later she gave birth to her second child, this time a boy, who, following the same tradition, was named John L. Riker Jr.

Life must have seemed good for John Lafayette. At the age of 22 he had a wife and two children and with law being one of the natural habitats of the Riker family he contemplated a career as a lawyer. As a gentleman and a member of a good New York family Riker would have been expected to attend church regularly and to contribute to the common good of the city. And so it was that Riker attended the Harlem Presbyterian Church on 127th Street a couple of blocks from the family home on Fifth Ave and 125th street. He also, it seems, fulfilled his civic duty by volunteering his service to the Mechanics Hook & Ladder Company No 7, which had its headquarters nearby on the corner of Third Ave and 126th Street.

The volunteer fire fighters were a strong political faction associated with the Democratic Party and so, like other members of the Riker family, we can assume that John Lafayette was probably anti-Lincoln and politically opposed to the state legislature, which was dominated by the Republican Party.

In 1851 the life of the young John Lafayette Riker started to fall apart. Firstly, his wife Anna died of the mysterious malady of hysteria. A year later, Riker’s father died. Finally in 1854 his young son, John L. Jnr., died of congestion of the brain. Riker looked to his mother for support and continued to live with her, his daughter, his brother James and his other siblings under the one roof in Harlem for the next five years or so. His mother, a Van Arsdale was also descended from a famous family.

In the late 1850’s Riker started to rebuild his shattered life studying law at the University of the City of New York and in 1860 he was admitted to the bar. No sooner had Riker established a new life for himself, than the firing by the Confederates on Fort Sumter plunged the nation and Riker into new turmoil. As Riker was a member of the volunteer fire service it was only natural that he would enlist, and so on April 19, only three days after the state legislature authorised the governor to put New York’s 30,000 troops at the disposal of the President, John Lafayette Riker enlisted as a Colonel in the volunteer forces of New York. It is no surprise that members of the volunteer fire service were some of the first to enlist for the war. They were fiercely patriotic and there was great competition amongst the various volunteer companies; each racing the others to fires when they erupted, in pursuit of civic glory. There must have been a certain expectation that Riker, as a firefighter and gentleman with a famous name would do something out of the ordinary as a volunteer for the war. And so it was, that in late April 1861 the New York dailies announced the organisation of the Anderson Zouaves.

Riker’s regiment of Zouaves was undoubtedly organised on the same formula as the pre-war militia’s such as Le Gal’s Garde Lafayette and Corcoran’s Irish regiment and it is more than likely the regiment had been in the planning for sometime before the outbreak of hostilities. Riker had no doubt been inspired by the displays of Ellsworth Zouaves, in deciding on how his regiment would be constituted and sought the backing of the richest and most famous people in New York. Riker got what he wanted. The regiment was organised under the auspices of the Hero of Fort Sumter, Major Robert Anderson. Shepard Knapp, a wealthy banker, whose son was also a volunteer fire fighter, also rallied to the call. Marshall Roberts, the owner of the steamer Illinois which had attempted to resupply Fort Sumter also assisted. Don Alonso Cushman and A. V. Stout, another two bankers also lent their support. In addition there was popular support for the regiment with no less than six New York churches and the “Astor Ladies” making clothes for Riker’s men. In fact the contribution of J. J. Astor was considered by Riker to be so significant that the camp of the Anderson Zouaves on Riker’s Island was named Camp Astor in his honour.

The status of the Anderson Zouaves was made clear when on August 18 three days before the regiment left Riker’s Island for the seat of war, Company A, in its colourful new uniform, under the command of Lieutenant Knight, escorted General Wool to through New York City on his way to Fort Monroe. Upon arriving in Washington the “pet regiment of New York” was brigaded with three regiments, two of which had been important pre-war militias and given the task of guarding the strategically important northern approaches to Washington and the famous Chain Bridge.

Having already lost his wife and his son, Riker could not bear to be parted from his 14 year old daughter, Anna, and so she accompanied him and his regiment to their camp at Tennallytown, north of Washington. Here the gods, or perhaps even Riker’s own officers, conspired against him and once again Riker’s life was thrown into chaos, with Riker having to suffer the indignity of a court martial. Riker was found to be innocent of the charges but a cloud had settled over the Colonel, which he would never shake off despite the support and loyalty of his rank and file. Peck, the brigade commander, thought the Anderson Zouaves, the worst of all New York regiments. Riker was portrayed as a ponce by De Trobriand and was criticised by brigade officers for employing the services of a special drill instructor. However, his foresight in this respect at least was to prove its worth on the field of battle before Fort Magruder in May 1862.

On May 31st, 1862, at Fair Oaks VA., Riker’s regiment was detached from its brigade by the Division Commander, General Couch, himself to defend the threatened right flank of the Union line, and it was here, to the left of Kirby’s battery, which the Anderson Zouaves were supporting, that the gallant Colonel, while coolly leading his regiment into battle sitting astride his horse smoking his cigar, fell to enemy fire.

Colonel John Lafayette Riker is buried at Green-wood Cemetry, Brooklyn, NY.

Adapted from John Tierney’s speech to the Friends of Colonel Riker, 31st May, 2006.