William Henry Acken (1833-1906)




William Henry Acken was born 1833 in New Brunswick, Middlesex County, NJ, the youngest of 2 known surviving children (1 boy/1 girl) born State Legislator and Mayor of New Brunswick, John Acken and his wife, Margaret Vail. William's only sister, Sarah Ann, married wealthy industrialist Martin A. Howell, Sr. and resided in New Brunswick. He was the paternal grandson of Jonathan Acken and Anna Maxwell; and gr-grandson of this family's patriarch, Joseph Acken (1733-1803) who immigrated from Scotland and settled in Westfield, Union Co, NJ, marrying Rebecca Crane. On his mother's side, he was the maternal grandson of William Vail and Jemima Cole of Pisctaway. William's graduated from Rutgers college in 1851, and began his business career in the wholesale house of Thomas Hunt & Co., cloth merchants, but in 1855 became connected with the house of Griffin & Acken. On June 18, 1856, the 23-year old married 19-year old Mary Shaddle Letson, daughter of the prominent and wealthy india rubber baron, Johnson Letson, of New Brunswick. The couple set up housekeeping in New Brunswick, and would become parents to 2 known children: Libby L. Acken (1867-aft1910) and John Acken (ca. 1866). When Civil War broke out, the 32 year old reportedly served with the Union army, but this researcher found no other information regarding his service. Following the war, William went to work clerking for his father in law's firm, The New Brunswick Rubber company, and rose through the ranks becoming President and Treasurer of the New York Rubber Company by 1893, by which time the family had relocated to Manhattan. William was widowed in 1902 when his wife of 46 years died at age 69. He survived her 4 years, passing in 1906 at age 73. His only surviving child, Libby, married attorney Charles P. Dorrance and were parents to one child, Edith Acken Dorrance who married Herbert Bradley Sexton in 1903.[1]

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