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.

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