52 Documents in 52 Weeks #30 – Ann (Ranney) Abbott’s Family History

Person of Interest: Ann May (Ranney) Abbott
Relationship: 4th cousin 2x removed (Abraham and Charlotte (Comer) Strait were Anne’s 3rd great grandparents and my 5th great grandparents)

Source Citation: Ann Ranney Abbott, “Strait Genealogy,” Strait Family descendent report, narrative and photos, 1750-2005; supplied by Abbott, Columbus, Ohio, 2005. This compilation offers only a general list of materials referenced, with no specific documentation for any piece of data. This copy contains photos, family biographies, and copies of newspaper clippings from local Ohio newspapers. Ms. Abbott passed away on 01 September 2009.[1] Current location of the original is unknown.

Document Description: Ann sent this “Strait Genealogy” to me when I corresponded with her in November of 2005 and early 2006. It is a blue, 3-hole report folder with a label on the front. (Pictured to the right.) There are seven 8-1/2 by 11 inch pages in total and she explained, “As you see, I do my genealogy a bit different. I like to read something about my ancestors so if I find interesting info I include it and hope it’s true.”[2] This is not a straight photocopy of the document as what she sent me includes some copies of photos on heavier card stock glued onto the 2nd and 4th pages. All the pages are single-sided except five and six which are on a single sheet.

Document Scan/Transcription: Since Ann has passed away and I don’t have permission from her family to share this with you, I won’t be able to show you the document in its entirety. Bummer, but it keeps me out of copyright trouble! I will provide a general description of what the document contains.

Page 1: Her first page begins with the first generation of Abraham and wife unknown coming from Holland. The six children are listed using the basic descendent report format. While family tree programs will do a nice job of automatically numbering for you, it helps to understand why things are organized the way they are. For a great book about genealogical numbering, please see Numbering Your Genealogy produced by the National Genealogy Society.[3]

She continues with the second generation and has some references listed at the bottom. They are:

  • J. Percy Crayon’s book, Rockaway Records published in 1902
  • Family files at Goshen, Orange County, N.Y. Public Library
  • Elaine M. Mason, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
  • Nancy J. Pascal, Ft. Pierce, Florida

However, Ann does not tell the reader what facts are associated with what references. This is not so unusual; J. Percy Crayon’s book does the same thing as do many home-compiled (published or not) family genealogies.

Page 2: Ann continues with the 3rd generation and has photos of James D. Strait, W. Sherman Strait, and Mary Doran Strait (mother) at the bottom of the page. The page is filled with narrative and mentions Abraham and Charlotte Comer, land deeds, the David Smith farm that the family purchased in Plain Township, Franklin County, Ohio, in 1855, and Maplewood Cemetery, New Albany, Ohio. No references are given on this page.

Page 3: The completion of the 3rd generation occurs on this page and the 4th generation begins with Dennis B. Strait, Ann’s great grandfather. There are no pictures or references on this page, just narrative about Dennis and his life.

Page 4: Continuing the 4th generation, this page has a line drawing of Dennis, a photocopy of his home, and the listing of Dennis and his wife Ann’s children are provided on this page. The line drawing of Dennis appears to be the same one found in the county history discussed last week. At the bottom,  Ann references:

  • N.A. Hist. Soc.
  • Fr. Co. Hist. Soc.
  • Josie Garner
  • family notes

Page 5: Provides the photos of Whitney Strait (top left), Cordelia (Strait) Ranney (top right), and Anna Eliza (Strait) Brooks (bottom left) along with a photo of Anna Eliza and her husband Lewis H. Brooks (bottom right). The last photo has a credit saying it is from grandson Clark Cubbage.

Page 6: This page has photocopies of what look to be clippings from mostly unidentified Ohio newspapers. All articles are about Dennis B. Strait or his children. The first clipping is dated 06 April 1891 and is a lengthy obituary with a crude line drawing most likely inexpertly copied from the fine line drawing above. The second article is a very short death notice about his daughter Dulcena. The third is a 1907 article from the one identified newspaper, the Ohio State Journal.  This article tells about a lamp explosion incident at the Dennis residence that happened 31 years ago. The fourth clipping is another obituary and dated 06 April 1891.

Page 7: This page continues with the 5th and 6th generations. It is all text and slightly confusing as it does not follow the neat presentation method of the family groups as found on page one. The bottom references the Ranney Genealogy.

Analysis: This short genealogy is a great example of an unpublished family history. I’m not sure if Ann provided her local genealogy society with a copy, gave/mailed copies to others, or where else it might reside but I am glad she shared it with me.

This is an authored work as Ann has a particular way of presenting her information that is unique to her. She chose what narratives, pictures, family facts, and references to include. She organized it and laid it out according to her own sensibilities. It is a hybrid of both original and derivative materials. Ann didn’t write the obituaries but chose to pick pieces out of them to enhance her narrative.

The information found in this compiled genealogy is either secondary or undetermined. Since there are no hard links to what facts go with what references Ann makes, there’s no way to determine the reliability or quality of the information provided. Her references to “Fr. Co. Hist. Soc.” could mean that she consulted any number of things or people at that Society. It is unknown if she was looking at vertical files, other people’s genealogies, books, letters, city directories, etc. As a good genealogist, this unpublished family history is a great jumping off point for the location of more original records. It’s a great clue book.

Depending on the multitude of research questions that can be crafted from this source, the evidence found here would be either direct (explicitly stating the answer) or indirect (needing other evidence) or negative. There’s just too much in here to classify it strictly in one classification or another.


Fortunately, for me, Ann was kind enough to share what she had on the Ohio branch of the Straits. I enjoyed reading her narratives and appreciated that she chose to include photos of the people discussed within it. The photos and narrative added to the story of the family and enriched my understanding of them.

Unfortunately, unpublished genealogies could be anywhere: historical societies, libraries, in personal files, on-line, and even languishing on some computer somewhere because some now-deceased author never chose to share it with others. Research and its results are made better when it is shared with others, discussed, analyzed and improved upon. You need to ask yourself: Where in the process am I with my genealogy? I encourage you to write up it up and get that sharing going!

[1] “Ann M. Abbott,” obituary, the Columbus Dispatch [Ohio], 01 September 2009, Online obituaries (www.legacy.com/NS/ : accessed 27 November 2012).
[2] Ann Ranney Abbott, Columbus, Ohio, to Jodi Lynn Strait, letter, 17 November 2005, regarding Strait genealogy; Personal Correspondence, 2005; Strait Family, Strait Document Files; privately held by Jodi Strait, Tucson, Arizona.
[3] Joan Ferris Curran, Madilyn Coen Crane, and John H. Wray, Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems and Complex Families and International Kin, (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogy Society, 2008).


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