52 Documents in 52 Weeks #19 – David and Sarah Strait’s Bible Pages

Person of Interest: David A. and Sarah (Card) Strait
Relationship: 4th great grand aunt and husband (David’s grandfather, Abraham Strait, is my 6th great-grandfather and Sarah’s grandfather, John Angle, is my 6th great grandfather)


Source Citation: David Strait Family Bible Records, 1790-1909, The Holy Bible (Cooperstown, N.Y.: H. & E. Phinney, 1824), births, deaths, and marriage pages; original is privately held by Beth [Jane Elizabeth] Willis, Lockport, New York, 2017.


Document Description: This is a photocopy (possibly a copy of a copy) of the David Strait family record pages and was sent to me by Ernst Wirdel (husband of Gwendolyn Charmion Strait] on 08 November 2008. The copy quality is serviceable. Among the pages, there is a copy of the the Bible’s title page with a handwritten note “Printed 1824” at the bottom. I love the full title of the book which is quite long. The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments: Together with the Apocrypha: Translated out of the Original Tongues, and with the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised. Whew! It’s good peace of mind to know that the translations in this bible were diligently compared and not just haphazardly compared. Various handwritings are noted over the span of years that these records cover.

There are two lined sheets, listing other family members’ births and deaths, that were sent to me along with the Bible pages. They may or not have been kept with the Bible. Since I don’t know for sure, I have not included them in this post.

The publisher is H. & E. Phinney  which was a publishing firm that was founded by Elihu Phinney and picked up by his sons, Henry and Elihu Jr., in 1813 when he passed away. They were known for numerous Bible editions produced from 1822 to 1848. [1] Stereotype printing is a type of relief printing using a metal plate cast in a mold made from composed type or an original plate.


Document Scan/Transcription:
Title Page

H. & E. Phinney’s Stereotype Edition.
The
Holy Bible,
Containing the
Old and New Testaments:
Together with
the Apocrypha:
Translated out of the Original Tongues,
and with
the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised.
with
Canne’s Marginal Notes and References
To which are added,
An Index;
An Alphabetical Table
of All the Names in the Old and New Testaments, with Their Significations:
Tables of Scripture Weights, Measures, and Coins, &c.
Printed 1824 [penned in]
Cooperstown, (N.Y.)
[Bottom line is cut off but ends with] by H. & E. Phinney

Possible inside front cover page or blank page at beginning of Bible
David Strait
Preached by the late Rev’d [name illegible]
on Romans 16 & 17-18 verses
July 17 184[copy cuts off here]

David Strait’s
book January
14th 1841

David Strait

Property of Jane Elizabeth Willis,
7 Wausau St,
Ogdensburg, NJ 07439 [This is an old address for Beth. She currently resides in Lockport, NY.]
[There is other scribbling/notes on this page. Nothing conclusive comes from it and poor copy quality hinders transcribing it.]

Marriages Page
David Strait and Sarah Strait, late Sarah Card, were married Dec. 14th, 1816. The births of their children are recorded on the other side of this leaf.
James Crane & Mary Strait were married June 23, 1838
David Bailey & Nancy Strait were married October 5th, 1839
Anthony L. Day & Elizabeth Strait was married May 3rd, 1841
George Walther & Phebe Strait were married July 2nd, 1853
Jacob R. Strait & Francis Brown Thomas were married July 9th, 183[copy is cut off here]
Amos B. Crain & Lydia S. Post married Sept. 3, 1883
Aaron Willis and Malinda Blanch Crain married Christmas, Dec. 25, 1909

Births Page
Nancy Strait was born on Wednesday Sept 3rd 1817
Mary Strait was born on Wednesday May 19th 1819
Abigail Strait was born on Friday January 25th 1822
Elizabeth Strait was born on Wednesday January 19th 1825
Jacob R. Strait was born on Friday April 6th 1827
Phebe Jane Strait was born on Sunday December 14th 1828
Hiram H. Strait was born on Tuesday June 14th 1831
Martha F. Strait was born on Friday August 19th 1836

David Strait was born on January 11th 1790
Sarah Strait was born on July 4th 1799

George Walther born March 25 1801

Deaths Page
Phebe Card [Sarah’s mother] died Wednesday March 22 1854
Peter Card [Sarah’s father] died February 12th 1818
Nancy [Strait] Bailey died Wednesday June 16th 1869
Mary [Strait] Crane died Sunday December 29th 1872
David Strait died Thursday morning at half past five o’clock May 7th 1874
Sarah Card Strait died Nov. 24, 1879
Jacob R. Strait died Dec. 18, 1881
Hiram Heally Strait died Sunday January 13th 1901
Geo. A Walther died December 19th 1856
Albert Walther died Tuesday a 12 o’clock am October 6th 1874
George Walther died Jan 21, 1887
Abby S. Strait died Feb. 19, 1899
William Arthur Crain died Nov. 3, 1909
Anthony Ludlow Day died Dec 28, 1898
Edgar Arthur Day died May 15, 1906

Analysis: Given that New Jersey did not start collecting vital records until May 1848, family bibles are a great source for births, marriages, and deaths. It was considered a great honor by many pious ancestors to receive a bible in which to record their family history. Many times, a Bible is the only record of a family’s genealogy. A careful analysis of the entries will help determine how reliable you feel the information may be.

When I compare the handwriting and the inks, I see at least four different people making entries. I feel that Sarah is the original recorder of her, David’s, and their children’s information in 1841 based on the following reasoning:

  • The handwriting is consistent for all the entries throughout most of Sarah’s married life (1816 to 1879)
  • The ink is consistent for her, David’s and their children’s information
  • Sarah made careful, double lines after her original entries on each page
  • Sarah had a unique way of writing “Strait” using a single line to cross both of her “T”s

Sample 1 of Sarah’s “Strait”

Sample 2 of Sarah’s “Strait”

  • David’s death (May 7th 1874) is recorded in a different handwriting, and, by virtue of his death, rules him out as the person making the entry
  • Sarah’s death (Nov 24, 1879) is recorded in a different handwriting than even David’s death, which indicates that someone else has taken up the duty of making entries
  • Sarah made careful, double lines after her original entries on each page

David Strait’s name appears a couple of times on the possible inside front cover page or blank page at beginning of Bible. A comparison of the letter S shows a possible signature, or at least a handwriting sample, for David.

David’s “S”

Sarah’s “S”

David’s S is a more closed off one compared to Sarah’s, which is a more loopy open style and continues throughout the rest of her entries within the Bible.

Based on a careful analysis of all the S’s found in the pages, I see four different people have contributed to the Bible records:

Sample 1: Sarah’s writing

Sample 2: closed off and curlicued

Sample 3: closed off but no curlicues

Sample 4: Not closed off

For this example, since I have not examined the original Bible, I assumed that the photocopies I have of it are a true representation of what the records are. This is an original record.

The Bible publication date of 1824 means that Sarah entered the information about the children’s birthdates (the earliest is 1817) all at once and probably in 1841 when the family received the Bible.

The information found within the Bible pages is a mixture of both primary (firsthand) and secondary (hearsay or secondhand). Primary would be Sarah’s marriage date to David (she was there) and their children’s birthdates. I would classify the listings of marriages as secondary since there’s no way to determine if Sarah (or the others recording it) was actually present when the events took place.

The listings on these pages fall into the the direct evidence category. Evidence like “Mary Crane died Sunday December 29th 1872” answers, quite directly, the question of when did “Mary Crane of New Jersey, wife of James Crane and daughter of David and Sarah Strait, die?”

CONCLUSION

These Bible pages are a great source of information about the David and Sarah (Card) Strait family especially since New Jersey didn’t start collecting vital records until May of 1848. The pages also provide a basic lesson on comparison of handwriting. I don’t claim to be a handwriting expert but careful analysis shows that a number of people all had their turn at recording information for posterity. Bibles can be tough to locate, possibly missing, owned by non-family members, libraries, archives, or societies but are well worth the effort of trying to track down. Get talking to your cousins. You never know what they might have in their possessions. I didn’t know about this gem until Ernst contacted me!


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elihu_Phinney

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