Wordless Wednesday

pete-and-hannah-2frontpete-and-hannah-2backPictures from Tante Hanna (Johanna (Pauw) Verhaar) folder.


Sunday’s Obituary – Clair Donald Swink – Died 10-September-2004

Relationship to me: husband of 1st cousin, 2x removed

This obituary was posted September 21, 2004 and was also found online at the Pocono Record website.


Clair Swink, 70, formerly of Stroudsburg, died unexpectedly Friday, Sept. 10, at his home in Lebanon, Tenn. He was the husband of Elaine (Mery) Swink.  Born in Stroudsburg, he was the son of the late Horace Paul Swink and Mary Beatrice Heller Swink Dower. He had been employed in recent years as a truck dispatcher; and also worked for a sprinkler system firm as a purchasing agent.  A veteran of the U.S. Army, he was a member of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lebanon, Tenn. Surviving are three brothers, Lawrence Swink and his wife, Janet, of Neola, Elvin Swink and his wife, Lilah, of Stroudsburg, and Ronald Swink and his wife, Alice, of Henryville; and several nephews. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by one brother, James Swink. Funeral services were held on Sept. 15, in Lebanon, Tenn. at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lebanon, Tenn. Friends of the congregation served as pallbearers.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #34 – Henry McMahon’s Burial Plot

Person of Interest: Henry McMahon
Relationship: Brother-in-law of my 1st great grand uncle

Source Citation: Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, “Catholic Cemeteries,” database, Catholic Cemeteries: Archdiocese of Newark (http://www.rcancem.org/find-a-loved-one-search/ : accessed 14 January 2012), Henry McMahon (1942).

Document Description: The word “document” is used here very loosely. The search for Henry McMahon on this website (www.rcancem.org) yields two results, one of which is for the Gate of Heaven cemetery. Clicking on that particular entry brings up a nice screen that has his burial date, plot, and a google map showing were he is in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery located at 225 Ridgedale Ave, East Hanover, New Jersey. I screen clipped this and saved it as the document. This source is really a cemetery database. Surprise! Not every grave listing is on FindAGrave or BillionGraves. I happened to find this particular database when I read a blurb in the New Jersey Genealogy Society newsletter about the work that the Archdiocese of Newark was doing in getting these listings online.

mcmahon-henry-plot-locationDocument Scan and Transcription:
A ministry of the Archdiocese of Newark
Henry McMahon
Henry McMahon was buried on 05/18/1942 at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Sec-38 Blk-B Tr-K Gr-51 1A.
[google.map here, with location pinned, in satellite view]

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-3-58-01-pmAnalysis: I had a clue on where to look for Henry’s burial place. In my great-grandmother’s family group sheet binder, she made a note about Henry’s death. Henry is a brother to Margaret who married one of my great grand uncles, Lewis Allen Repsher.[1] I wasn’t actively researching his branch of the family but it was nice happenstance when I read the  blurb about the database. The Archdiocese of Newark is still adding to it. They have a note stating that it’s updated daily and that work is being done to add new cemeteries. screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-18-20-am

They also specifically state in this notice that “If you have questions or need additional information concerning individual records, we suggest you contact the cemetery directly to discuss your findings.”

This is a database and as such makes this record a derivative record source. This means the original record has been transformed in some way. In this case, the Archdiocese of Newark has taken the original records, transcribed them, combine them with other catholic cemetery records, indexed them and made them searchable. It looks nothing like the original (whatever form that is, we don’t know) and is subject to errors of transcription or omission. You are relying on the person updating the records to be accurate and diligent during in their entry.

It is primary information in that this comes from the cemetery that buried Henry. Someone was there to witness the hole digging, collect the fee for the burial, erect the gravestone (if there’s one), cover him up, and record where they planted him.

It is direct evidence in that it answers quite explicitly the research question, “When and where was Henry McMahon of New Jersey buried?” It’s indirect in that it somewhat answers the question, “When did Henry McMahon of New Jersey die?” We can answer it with “sometime before the 18th of May in 1942” but that’s all we can say. We need other evidence to combine with this in order to find out a more specific death date.


This “document” is more than sufficient for entering Henry McMahon into my family tree. He’s on a collateral branch and not a research focus for me at this time. However, this is definitely an interim research step. I would need to either contact the Gate of Heaven cemetery directly, as recommended by the Archdiocese of Newark who maintains the database, for their detail or make a trip to (or have someone else) go take a picture of the tombstone. Databases that don’t have original images attached are a stepping stone to finding the original records and digging deeper into your person of interest.

[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. 77; privately held by held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2017.

Sunday’s Obituary – Bernice (Strait) Wood – Died 28-April-1979

Relationship to me: paternal great-aunt

This was undated, unsourced newspaper clipping that my grandmother saved, most likely from the New Jersey Herald.


Bernice Wood” – Bernice S. Wood, 70, of 43 Sussex St., Newton, died Saturday at Newton Memorial Hospital after a long illness.

Born in Lafayette, she lived in Newton all her life.  She was a member of the Newton Baptist Church, the Newton First Aid Squad Auxiliary and the American Association of Retired Persons. She was the widow of Robert W. Wood.

She is survived by three sons, Robert W. Jr. and Richard A. Sr., both of Newton, and Donald S. of Jacksonville, Fla.; a brother, Carl H. Strait of Andover Township; 12 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, Newton, the Rev. Allan Davis officiating.  Interment will follow in the North Church Cemetery.  Friends may call at the funeral home Monday from 2-5 and 7-9 p.m.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #33 – Jeffrey Lesoine’s Birth Announcement

Person of Interest: Jeff Lesoine
Relationship: 3rd cousin to me, grandson of Jennie (Repsher) and Andrew Mery

Source Citation: “Jeffrey Lynn Lesoine,” birth announcement, the Pocono Record (East Stroudsburg), 1964; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 06 April 2017), Historical Newspapers Collection.

Document Description: Digital image of a birth announcement provided to public online at Newspapers.com. Article was clipped from the available full page. Specific birth day for the two people in the clipping are redacted for privacy.

Document Scan/Transcription:

The Baby’s Named
Jeffrey Lynn Lesoine
Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Lesoine of East Stroudsburg RD 2 announce the birth of their first child, a son, on [date withheld for privacy purposes] at the General Hospital. He weighed 9 pounds 3 1/2 ounces and has been named Jeffrey Lynn. Mrs. Lesoine is the former Susan Merry [sic], daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Merry [sic] of 30 Elm St., East Stroudsburg. Paternal grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Ross R. Lesoine of East Stroudsburg, RD 2.

Analysis: Birth announcements can come in all sorts of formats. Among other things they can be party favors kept on a shelf, pictures tucked into scrapbooks, clippings in vertical files at historical societies, Christmas ornaments, social media posts (platforms like FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram), refrigerator magnets, snail-mail cards and photos sent to relatives and friends, and newspaper articles both print and online.

United States Infant Mortality Rates. Source: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4838a2.htm

This one happens to be a traditional newspaper (print edition) announcement. Announcements of births began to appear in newspapers more regularly in the 20th century and really gained in popularity after the end of World War II. As advances in medicine reduced the infant mortality rates steadily from the 1900s forward and children became more of the central focus of a family, the birth of a child was announced with greater fanfare as the century progressed.

Example of simple birth announcements. [1]

Birth announcements can run from simple listings (date, sex of baby, parent or parents) to fairly elaborate listings giving the baby’s name and birthdate, birthplace including town and/or hospital, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, addresses of various people, birth weight, and length.

I struggled with whether to post this particular newspaper snippet. I looked for people in my family files that were deceased to focus on and came up empty. As far as I know, Jeffery is still alive which goes against posting anything here about living individuals. It is, however, an article that just about anyone with a computer can find very quickly online and is already in the public domain. His parent’s did publicly chose to announce his specific birthdate in the newspaper for all to see. They were proud parents and wanted people to know. In a compromise, and in order to show you the entire newspaper article, I have redacted his specific birth date along with the birth date of the other individual captured in the clipping.

Jeffrey’s birth announcement on the Newspaper.com website is an original source. It is a true copy of the original paper; it’s just been digitized for online consumption. My clipping is a secondary source; it’s been tampered with by the addition of black boxes for redaction. The original may be considered primary information as the parents were providing, to the newspaper, information of which they had firsthand knowledge, the birth of their son. The evidence in the article is direct (explicit) which regards to the research question, “When was Jeffrey Lesoine, of Pennsylvania, born?” It is indirect with regards to the research question,”Who was the mother of Jeffrey Lesoine, of Pennsylvania, whose father was Lynn Lesoine?” We can determine that his mother is Mrs. Lynn Lesoine but the article gives us no evidence as to her given or maiden name. This article must be combined with another document (e.g. a marriage record, Jeff’s birth certificate, etc.) in order to determine the full names of both of Jeff’s parents.


Check for birth announcements in as many places as you can think. Home, online, historical societies, archives, and scrapbooks can all hold genealogical treasures to fill out your family tree. Happy searching!

[1] “J.M. Leibert, local registrar of vital statistics,” birth announcements, the Allentown Morning Call (Pennsylvania), 14 December 1916, p. 3, col. 5; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/274607372/ : accessed 03 October 2017), Historical Newspapers Collection.