52 Documents in 52 Weeks #13 – Caroline (Bonser) Respher’s 1920 Census

Caroline (Bonser) Repsher and husband John J. Repsher

Person of Interest: Caroline (Bonser) Respher
Relationship: 2nd Great grandmother


Source Citation: 1920 U. S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, East Stroudsburg, ED 48, p. 3B (penned), dwelling 52, family 56, Caroline Repsher; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 April 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1603.


Document Description: These documents are part of the Fourteenth Census of the United States which was taken in 1920, shortly after the end of World War I. It is the fourteenth census taken since 1790. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for taking the censuses. After 72 years (and not before owing to privacy reasons), the records are released to the public by the National Archives and Records Administration. In accordance with the 72-Year Rule, the National Archives released the 1920 records to the public in 1992.  The U.S. Census Bureau provides the interested researcher a great overview of each census. In the 1920 overview, we find that the census date was changed to 01 January (it was April 15th in 1910) based on a request from the Department of Agriculture. They argued that more people would be home in January compared to April and that farmers would have a better recollection in January of the crops harvested in the prior fall.

According to the 1920 overview site, the details of the enumeration were this:

“For the 1920 census, “usual place of abode” became the basis for enumeration. Individuals were enumerated as residents of the place in which they regularly slept, not where they worked or might be visiting. People with no regular residence, including “floaters” and members of transient railroad or construction camps, were enumerated as residents of the place where they were when the count was taken. Enumerators were also instructed to ask if any family members were temporarily absent; if so, these people were to be listed either with the household or on the last schedule for the census subdivision.

“The format and information in the 1920 census schedules closely resembled that of the 1910 census. The 1920 census, however, did not ask about unemployment on the day of the census, nor did it ask about service in the Union or Confederate army or navy. Questions about the number of children born and how long a couple had been married were also omitted. The bureau modified the enumeration of inmates of institutions and dependent, defective, and delinquent classes. The 1920 census included four new questions: one asking the year of naturalization and three about mother tongue. There was no separate schedule for Indians in 1920.

“Because of the changes in some international boundaries following World War I, enumerators were instructed to report the province (state or region) or city of persons declaring they or their parents had been born in Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, or Turkey. If a person had been born in any other foreign country, only the name of the country was to be entered.

“The instructions to enumerators did not require that individuals spell out their names. Enumerators wrote down the information given to them; they were not authorized to request proof of age, date of arrival, or other information. The determination of race was based on the enumerator’s impressions.”

Both Ancestry.com (fee site) and FamilySearch.org (free) offers digitized copies of the census and are searchable by name.


Documents Scan/Transcription: Numbers relate to columns on the population schedule.
Page 3B Header
State: Pennsylvania; County: Monroe; Name of Incorporated Place: East Stroudsburg Borough; Ward of City: District #1; S.D. No.: 7; E.D. No.: 48; Enumerated by me on the 5th day of January 1920; Enumerator: Carolyn B. Smith; Sheet No.: 3B; stamped page number does not exist.

Page 3B Detail
lines 52-58, Caroline, Robert and William Repsher, Lilian, Jennie and Elizabeth Cobb, and Harry Sharbaugh Jr. [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
1. Street, Avenue, Road, etc: North Courtland St.
2. House number: 286
3. Number of dwelling: 52
4. Number of family in order of visitation: 56

Household Data
5. Name: Repsher Caroline; —- Robert; —- William F.; Cobb Lillian; Cobb Jennie; Cobb Elizabeth; Sharbaugh Harry Jr.
6. Relation: Head; Son; Son; Daughter; Daughter, Granddaughter, Grandson
7. Tenure, home owned or rented: R; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
8. Tenure, if owned, free, or mortgaged: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Personal Description
9. Sex: F; M; M; F; F; F; M
10. Color of race: W; W; W; W; W; W; W
11. Age at last birthday: 61; 22; 20; 20; 19; 1 10/12; 10/12
12. Single, married, widowed, or divorced: W; S; S; W; W; S; S

Citizenship
13. Year of immigration: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
14. Naturalized or alien: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
15. If naturalized, year of naturalization: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Education
16. Attend school since Sep. 1, 1919: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
17. Whether able to read: Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]
18. Whether able to write: Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]

Nativity and Mother Tongue
19. Person, place of birth: Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania,Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
20. Person, mother tongue: German; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
21. Father, place of birth: Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania,Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
22. Father, mother tongue: German; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
23. Mother, place of birth: Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania,Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
24. Mother, mother tongue: GermanGerman; German; German; German; [blank]; [blank]
25. Whether able to speak English: Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]

Occupation
26. Trade, profession, or particular kind of work done: none; Weaver; Weaver; none; Warper; none; none
27. Industry, business, or establishment in which at work: [blank]; Silk Mill; Silk Mill; [blank]; Silk Mill, [blank];[blank]
28. Employer, salary or wage worker, or working on own account:  [blank]; W; W; [blank]; W, [blank];[blank]
29. Number of farm schedule: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]


Analysis: The above listings/transcriptions are a bit hard to read, I admit it. So why go through the pain of typing it all out? It forced me to look at every single box and tick mark and code and notation. So, let’s put the above in a more user-friendly, narrative format:

On 01 January 1920, Caroline Repsher (61), head of household, was living in the borough of East Stroudsburg, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, with sons Robert Repsher (22) and William F. Repsher (20), daughters Lillian Cobb (20) and Jennie Cobb (19), granddaughter Elizabeth Cobb (1 10/12) and grandson Harry Sharbaugh Jr. (10/12). Caroline was renting the house at 286 North Courtland St. when enumerator Carolyn B. Smith visited the household on 05 January 1920 to record the family’s information. Ms. Smith was working in her Supervisor’s District of 7 which oversaw Enumeration District 48. In order of visitation, the family was labeled as living in dwelling #52 and as family #56.

There were three widowed women living in the household, Caroline, Lillian, and Jennie. Both Robert and William were listed as being single as were the two young grandchildren. No one in the household had attended school since 01 September 1919 and all but the grandchildren were able to read, write and speak English. All were listed as being born in Pennsylvania including the individuals parents. No one had any citizenship other than American. Caroline was listed as having a native tongue of German but Ms. Smith crossed out this information.  Robert, William, and Jennie were all employed by the silk mill working for wages. Robert and William were weavers and Jennie was a warper.

The basic questions asked in this 1920 census give us a brief glimpse of Caroline and some of her children. There seems to be some tragedy surrounding the family in that Caroline and two of her daughters, Lillian and Jennie, are widowed at the time of the census. Perhaps the great influenza epidemic and/or World War I, which both happened around the time of the census, had something to do with this.

The enumeration of this particular family unit brings up some interesting questions and highlight the dangers of making assumptions:

  • Why did Lillian and Jennie both have the same last name of Cobb?
    • Could the enumerator have made a mistake?
    • Could the two girls have both married men with the same last name?
    • Perhaps the sisters married brothers or cousins named Cobb?
  • And which daughter, Lillian or Jennie, did the granddaughter Elizabeth Cobb belong to, if either?
  • And why was grandson, Harry Sharbaugh Jr. living with Caroline?
    • Where was Harry Sharbaugh Sr. and how was he related to the family?
    • Was he the son of another of Caroline’s daughters and, if so, where is she?
  • Were William and Lillian truly the same age at 20 years old?
    • Was this an enumerator mistake?
    • Or perhaps they were twins?

The census itself does not answer any of these questions. That makes this census evidence (relevance of information) relating to the above questions indirect in nature and this census evidence must be combined with other sources of information. For example, a hand-written family group sheet prepared by my great grandmother, Anna K. Repsher, corroborates that Lillian was married to a man named Frank Cobb and that he died on 06 October 1918.[1] A daughter named Elizabeth was listed as a child of this union and again corroborates that she was a granddaughter of Caroline as found in the census. Another family group sheet has some remarks about Jennie and her first marriage to a man named Frederick Cobb who died 03 October 1918 in the flu epidemic.[2] But even with this information, one should not assume that Frank and Frederick were brothers.

Some of the languages defined for the 1920 census

Instructions to the enumerators are a good way to make sure you understand what each item on the census means. The instructions for the 1920 are found on a handy website called IPUMS which stands for the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. Perusing the instructions for the 1920 census at IPUMS shows that:

  • The list of principal foreign languages for column 20 (mother tongue) consisted of a list of 63 languages ranging from Albanian to Magyar to Yiddish.
  • Regarding occupations the enumerator were told that “Care should be taken in making the return for persons who on account of old age, permanent invalidism, or otherwise are no longer following an occupation. Such persons may desire to return the occupations formerly followed, which would be incorrect.”
  • For person with more than one occupation, the enumerators were told that “If a person has two occupations, return only the more important one-that is, the one from which he gets the more money. If you can not learn that, return the one at which he spends the more time. For example: Return a man as farmer if he gets more of his income from farming, although he may also follow the occupation of a clergyman or preacher; but return him as a clergyman if he gets more of his income from that occupation.”
  • Working at housework was given no credit if there were no wages involved. Instructions were “In the case of a woman doing housework in her own home and having no other employment, the entry in column 26 should be none. But a woman working at housework for wages should be returned in column 26 as housekeeper, servant, or cook, or chambermaid, as the case may be; and the entry in column 27 should state the kind of place where she works, as private family, hotel, or boarding house.
  • A birth place (within the United States) of the individual had some specific instructions in that “If the person was born in the United States, give the State or Territory in which born. The words “United States” are not sufficiently definite. A person born in what is now West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Oklahoma should be so reported, although at the time of his birth the particular region may have had a different name. Do not abbreviate the names of States and Territories.” This tells you that the name at the time of the census was used, not the name of the place at the time of the person’s birth. A subtle but important piece of information.

This census also has some notations on the far right for the family members that are employed. Robert, William and Jennie all have “528” handwritten in the far right hand column. IPUMS also is handy for looking up industry codes. This one is fairly straightforward in that 528 stands for silk mills within the semi-skilled operatives in the textile industries. Since the codes were added after the census was taken, they’re not really not much aide except to help decipher some enumerator’s poor handwriting. If you can’t make out the scribbling in the industry column, the additional codes may help with that.

CONCLUSION

The fact that Caroline, Jennie, and Lillian were all widowed by 01 January 1920 suggests some obvious further research into their husbands’ deaths and makes me want to ferret out information on their marriages. Harry Sharbaugh living in the household suggests that yet another of Caroline’s daughters was married but has passed away by the time the census was taken. It is somewhat sad to think of all the people who didn’t make it to be enumerated in this particular census within Caroline’s family.


[1] Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 114. Privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ.
[2] Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 126. Privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ.

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Sunday’s Obituary – Audrey (Hunt) Strait – Died 07-February-1970

Relationship to me: Great grandmother

This clipping for Audrey (Hunt) Strait was found in the vertical files of the Sussex County Historical Society in Newton, New Jersey.

strait-mrs-ora

“Mrs. Ora Strait” – Funeral services for Mrs. Audrey R. Strait of 44 Pine St., Newton, were conducted yesterday (Saturday) afternoon at the Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High St., Newton, with the Rev. Allan Davis, pastor of the Newton First Baptist Church, officiating.  Interment followed in North Church Cemetery.  Mrs. Strait, 81, died Thursday at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Bernice Wood of Newton, after a brief illness.  Born in Branchville, she lived in Newton all of her life.  Mrs. Strait was a member of the Newton First Baptist Church and had been the former organist of the church.  She was the widow of Ora S. Strait who died in 1918.  In addition to her daughter, she leaves a son, Carl of Andover; eight grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-5-57-21-pmAnother clipping was in the possession of my grandmother Beatrice Strait (Audrey’s daughter-in-law) from an unnamed newspaper.

“Mrs. Ora Strait” – Newton – Mrs. Audrey Hunt Strait of 44 Pine St., widow of Ora Strait, died yesterday at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Bernice Wood at 43 Sussex St.  She was 81.   Mrs. Strait was born in Branchville and lived here most of her life.  She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Newton and a former organist at the church.  She leaves also a son, Carl of Andover;  eight grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.  Services will be Saturday at 2 p.m. at Smith McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High St.

 

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #12 – Hannah Hunt’s Widow’s Claim

Person of Interest: Hannah Jane (Longcor) Hunt
Relationship: 2nd Great grandmother


Source Citation: Declaration for Widow’s Pension, Form 3-015, 25 March 1918, Hannah J. Hunt, widow’s pension certificate no. 852,451; service of William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th New York Vol. Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.


Document Description: This is a single page document within the whole of her husband’s Civil War pension file. It is on legal size paper. The Declaration for Widow’s Pension was Form 3-015 in use when this was signed in 1918. Blissfully, since old handwriting can be tricky to decipher, the blanks on the page were filled in with a typewriter. Hannah J. Hunt’s signature is present as are the signatures of the two witnesses. It was signed by Hannah on 25 March 1918 and stamped as received by the U.S. pension office on 26 March 1918. This document was created due to the laws passed (see below) surrounding the administration of pensions for Civil War veterans.


Background information regarding widow’s of Civil War pensioners: See my post here for some basic background on Civil War pensions.

Act of April 19, 1908

There are two specific acts mentioned on this document: Act of April 19, 1908 and the amendment of the original by Act of September 8, 1916.

The original act was passed by the 60th Congress of the United States and passed into law with approval by the House of Representatives and the Senate under Session I and was Chapter 147 of that session. The Library of Congress has the wording in PDF format [1] for this act on their website. It provided an increase in the widow’s pension amount and now gave the widow $12 per month in pension. The widow was entitled to a pension if her husband had served 90 days or more and the veteran’s death did not need to be incident to service in order to receive the pension. The act also stipulated that veteran and his wife had to have been married prior to 27 June 1890. This stipulation was to prevent what were commonly known as “mercenary brides” from taking advantage 0f the pensions. Mercenary brides were those younger women who married much older Civil War veterans for the sole purpose of claiming a pension.

The amendment to the original act occurred in 1916 and increased the widow’s pension amount to $20 per month. This act also put some additional restrictions around the marriage language of the original act.[2]


Document Scan and Transcription:
3-015
DECLARATION FOR WIDOW’S PENSION
Act of April 19, 1908,
Amended by Act of September 8, 1916.

State of New Jersey, County of Sussex, ss:
On this 25th day of March, 1918, personally appeared before me, a County Clerk within and for this County and State aforesaid, Hannah J. Hunt, who, being duly sworn by me according to law, declares that she is 67 years of age and that she was born January 23rd, 1851, at Sparta, Sussex County, New Jersey; That she is the widow of William H. Hunt, who enlisted April 28th, 1861, at Paterson, N.J., under the name of William H. Hunt, as a Private, in Co. I, 70th Regt., N. Y. Volunteers, (inf.) and Co. L, 1st Regt., N. Y. Engrs, and was honorably discharged June 20th, 1864, having served ninety days or more during the CIVIL WAR.

That he also served [blank here, not filled in] ________.

That otherwise than as herein states said soldier (or sailor) was not employed in the United States service.

That she was married to said soldier (or sailor) December 24th, 1868, under the name of Hannah J. Longcor, at Andover, Sussex County, New Jersey, by Rev. W. B. Wigg; that she had not been previously married; that he had not been previously married [blank here, relating to any prior marriages] and that neither she nor said soldier (or sailor) was ever married otherwise than as stated above.

[blank here, relating to former husband’s service]

That said soldier (or sailor) died February 23rd, 1918, at Newton, Sussex County N. J., that she was not divorced from him; and that she has not remarried since his death.

That the following are the ONLY children of the soldier (or sailor) who are NOW living and under sixteen year of age, namely: (If he left no children under sixteen years of age, the claimant should so state.)
(No minor children) [and all spaces to list children are blank]

That the above-named children of the soldier (or sailor) are not now receiving a pension, and that such child ____ {is a or are} member of her family and _____ cared for by her.

That she has not heretofore applied for a pension, the number of her former claim being _______; that said soldier (or sailor) was ______ a pensioner, the number of his pension certificate being 359,438.

That she makes this declaration for the purpose of being placed on the pension roll of the United States under the provisions of the ACT OF APRIL 19, 1908, as amended by the ACT OF SEPTEMBER 8, 1916.

Witness 1: Harvey S. Hopkins, 36 Liberty St., Newton, N.J. [this is the County Clerk]
Witness 2: Harry E. Demerest, 4 Academy St., Newton, N.J.

Claimant’s signature: Hannah J. Hunt
Claimant’s address: Condit Street,
Claimant’s address: Newton, N. J.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 25th day of March, 1918, and I hereby certify that the contents of the about declaration were fully made known and explained to the applicant before swearing, including the words ______ erased, and the words _______ added; and that I have no interest, direct or indirect, in the prosecution of this claim.

Signature Harvey S. Hopkins [same as witness 1 above], County Clerk , Sussex Co., N. J.

[Pension office stamp dated Mar 28 1918.]


Analysis: Hannah applied for her widow’s pension shortly after her husband William H. Hunt died. The declaration she made in front of two witnesses provides a short biography of her life:

Hannah J. Longcor was born 23 January 1851 in Sparta, Sussex County, New Jersey. She was just over 10 years old when her future husband, William H. Hunt, enlisted to fight in the Civil War on 28 April 1864. Hannah was 17 when she was married to William on Christmas Eve (24 December) of 1868 in Andover, Sussex County, New Jersey, by the Reverend W. B. Wigg. Neither she nor William had been married previously and she was widowed on 23 February 1918 when William passed away. On 25 March 1918, when she applied for her pension, 67-year-old Hannah was living on Condit Street in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. At this particular time, she had no minor children (from William) under the age of sixteen.

This document is an original source found among the entirety of William H. Hunt’s pension file. It looks to be an unaltered photocopy of the legal size declaration.

The information found within the document is both primary and secondary. The primary information is Hannah’s marriage date, place and husband in that she was an actual witness to the event in which she participated. Her age of 67 is primary in that she observes the passing of each year and can attest to that. Her address at the time of application is primary. She knows where she was living and on what street. William’s death date may be primary. Hannah most likely witnessed his death as they were married for years and occupied the same house during that time. The secondary information relates to her birth date (while she was there, she wouldn’t remember it) in that someone had to tell her that. Her husband’s enlistment is secondary (although proved earlier with his application for a pension) in that she, as a 10-year-old, was most likely not present at the event. She knows these facts from other sources and from what William told her about his service.

Hannah Jane Longcor

The evidences is direct in that it answers the research questions, “When and where and to whom was Hannah J. Longcor of New Jersey married?” and “When and where was Hannah J. Longcor of Sussex County, New Jersey, born?” and “When and with what regiment did William H. Hunt of Sussex County, New Jersey, serve during the Civil War?” The information within this document provides specific answers to those questions without having to be combined with other information. The evidence in this document is indirect with regards to how much Hannah would receive per month as pension if she’s approved. To determine that, another document stating that she was approved must be combined with the language from the Acts of Congress. The absence of any minor children listed on this document cannot be considered negative evidence about the existence of children. There may be children resulting from the marriage of Hannah and William, they just weren’t minors when Hannah applied for a Civil War widow’s pension in 1918.

CONCLUSION

It’s not a surprise, given other research around William H. Hunt and his wife Hannah J. Longcor, that Hannah applied for her widow’s pension just 30 days after William’s passing. Other documents in his pension file show that William fought hard for his right receive his Civil War pension and Hannah wasn’t going to let that income go either. Being 67 years old, she needed some form of income to support herself now that William was gone. I knew, based on census records, that Hannah was born in January of 1851 in New Jersey but this document nicely provides a more specific birthdate and place of 23 January 1851 and Andover, Sussex County, New Jersey for Hannah. It also provided specific marriage information about her marriage to William. Nice! This is a good example of how a military pension file, while expensive, helped this genealogical researcher to fill in data gaps within my family tree.


[1] https://www.loc.gov/law/help/statutes-at-large/60th-congress/session-1/c60s1ch147.pdf
[2] Laws of the United States Governing the Granting of Army and Navy Pensions Together with Regulations Relating Thereto, (Washington, D.C.:  Government Printing Office, 1921), 152-153.

Sunday’s Obituary – Orville D. Strait – Died 03-April-1908

Relationship to me: Great grand uncle

Orville D. Strait has a published obituary and a published death notice.

The obituary was published in the Sussex (New Jersey) Independent, 10 April 1908.

STRAIT Orville D 2Orville D. Strait” – Orville D. Strait, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ira W. Strait, of Hamburg, died at his home near Beaver Run Friday last, aged twenty-five years, one month and nine days.  Besides his parents he is survived by a wife and one child; four brothers, Ora S., of Beaver Run; Asa, of Hamburg; Adam and Ward, at home, and two sisters, Mrs. Isaac Jennings, of Hamburg, and Mary, at home.  Funeral services were held at the Hamburg Baptist Church Monday afternoon at 1 o’clock, Rev. D. M. Lennox officiating, assisted by Rev. J. K. Baillie.

The death notice was much shorter, published in the New Jersey Herald, 16 April 1908

strait-orville-d“STRAIT” – April 3, at Beaver Run.  Orville D. Strait, aged 25 years.

 

 

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #11 – Ira W. Strait’s Strawberry Farm

Person of Interest: Ira W. Strait
Relationship: 2nd Great grandfather


Source Citation: “Ira W. Strait has purchased,” land transfer, Sussex Register, 18 March 1909, p. 5, col 2; Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.


Document Description: This is a newspaper clipping taken from the print edition of the Sussex Register found at the Sussex County Historical Society (SCHS). The SCHS has old copies of the Sussex Register and the New Jersey Herald in bound books by year for a quite a few years around the turn of the century. They are not currently digitized so if you want to peruse the editions, you need to go there to dig around. Another possible option, if you’re not in town, is to send a donation to them with a request to search out the article for you. A good researcher, however, would not expect that donation to mean that the volunteer would be asked to look through multiple years for something nebulous. Be as specific (date, obituary or marriage announcement or article, newspaper name, etc.) as you can, you’re more likely to get results that way.


Document Scan and Transcription:
Ira W. Strait has purchased the S. O. Price farm, near North Church. The farm contains thirty acres and Mr. Strait paid $100 an acre for it. He will make strawberry culture a speciality.


Analysis: This little snippet in a local newspaper is a treasure trove of information. It tells me that Ira W. Strait had an interest in growing strawberries in 1909 when he was 57 years old. It tells me that Ira and his wife Sarah had some disposable income and chose to spend $3,000 thirty acres of land.

It tells me where in Sussex County, New Jersey, to look for this piece of land: near North Church where the S.O. Price farm was located. Looking at current Google.maps in satellite view shows North Church Road in Hamburg, New Jersey. (I’ve highlighted the road with an arrow on the picture.)

An 1860 map of Sussex County, New Jersey, found on the Library of Congress site[1] does indeed have S. O. Price on the map on North Church Road. He has two pieces of land, one on each side of North Church Road. Mr. Price’s land was located very close to what is now the intersection of Route 94 and County Route 631.

This document is an original source in that it is an unaltered picture of the actual news article taken directly from the hard copy of the newspaper. It is secondary information in that someone had to relay to the newspaper the details of the transaction. Although not likely, the newspaper could have gotten the selling prices or names wrong. The evidence found within the article is direct in that it answers the questions, “When did Ira W. Strait buy his land in Sussex County, New Jersey, and how much did he pay for it?” It is indirect in that is does not answer the question, “From whom did Ira W. Strait buy his 30 acres in Sussex County, New Jersey?” Given that I found S. O. Price on a map in 1860 and Ira purchased his land in 1909 only 49 years later, it may have been purchased directly from S. O. Price or his estate if he was deceased by 1909.

CONCLUSION

This little article found in a 1909 newspaper makes me imagine my 2nd great grandfather as a gentleman farmer. I can envision his rows of strawberries.  I see a little roadside stand set up along North Church to sell the freshly picked fruit. After analyzing this document, an obvious next step is to find the actual land deed record for this transaction. Stayed tuned for a post later in the year when I do turn up this document. We’ll talk about land deeds then.


[1] Map of Sussex Co., New Jersey : from actual surveys and records (Philadelphia: Carlos Allen, M.D., 1860); digital image, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3813s.la000466/ : accessed 17 March 2017). Cropped image (scale changed) from a map with an original 1-1/2 inch to 1 mile scale.