52 Documents in 52 Weeks #47 – Etta Pauw’s Passport

Etta Berendine Pauw, circa 1927

Person of Interest: Etta Pauw
Relationship: Maternal grandmother

Source Citation: Etta Berendine Pauw passport issued by Germany, 1923; privately held by Martha Strait, Lafayette, New Jersey, 2017.

Document Description: The pictures in this post are digital scans of the original passport that Etta’s daughter Martha still has in her possession. The passport is a brown, heavy card stock covered booklet that is 4 inches wide by 5-1/2 inches tall. It contains all the original pages which are stapled into the booklet in two places. The pages are blue paper with a patterned background in red. Not all pages have information on them; nine through thirty are blank.

Document Scan/Transcription = Translation:
Front Cover
Deutsches Reich = German Realm or Empire
[German eagle symbol]
Reisepass = passport






Inside Front Cover and Page 1 in German
There are six German stamps that have been canceled with round stamps and also overwritten with the words “Aurich” and a couple of words I can’t make out.

Deutsches Reich = German Realm or Empire
[German eagle symbol]
Reisepass = passport
No. 35
Name Der Passinhabern = Name of the passport Holder

Etta Pauw
Begleitet von seiner ehefrau = accompanied by his wife
und von ……………… kindern = and by …… children
Staatsangehörigkeit = nationality
Preußen = Prussian
Dieser Pass enthält 32 Seiten = This pass contains 32 pages

Pages 2 and 3 in German
[Photo of Etta stamped on all four corners with “Landrat Aurich” stamp]
Unterschrift der Passinhabern = signature of the passport holder
Etta Pauw [her signature]
und seiner Ehefrau = and his wife
………………………………………. [crossed out]

Es wird hiermit bescheinigt, daß der Inhaber die durch das obenstehende Lichtbild dargestellte Person ist und die darunter befindliche Unterschrift eigenhändig vollzogen bat. = It is hereby certified that the holder is the person represented by the above picture and that the signature below has been signed by the owner.
[Seal of the authority]

Personenbeschreibung = Personal description
Beruf…??? = job [I can’t figure out what this word is…]
Geburtsort…Octelbur = Place of birth…Ochtelbur
Geburstag…9 Juli 1902 = Birthday…09 July 1902
Wohnort…Ochtelbur = Place of Residence…Ochtelbur
Gestalt…mittal = Shape…Medium build
Gesicht…??? = Face…[I can’t figure out what this word is…]
Farbe der Augen…Blau = Eye color…Blue
Farbe der Haares…Blond = Hair color…Blonde
Besond.Kennzeichen…??? = Any special marks…[I can’t figure out what this word is…]

Kinder = Children
Name….Alter…Geschlecht = Name…Age…Gender [this section is blank]

Page 4 and 5 in German
Geltungsbereich Des Passes = Scope of the passport
Niederlande, und Alle Erdteile = The Netherlands and all the continents
[Some German writing here that I can’t make out]
Der Paß wir der pass wird ungültig am 10 Mai 1925 wenn er nicht verlängert wird. = This passport will be invalid on 10 May 1925 if not extended.
Ausstellende Behörde = Issuing Authority
[unreadable German word] Aurich = [unreadable word] Aurich
Datum = Date
Am 11 Mai 1923 = On 11 May 1923
Unterschrift = Signature
[Signatures of the issuing authority] = Signatures
[Seal with Landrat Aurich] = Seal

Verlängerungen = Extensions
1. Velangert bis 10 Mai 1926 = Extended until 10 May 1926
Aurich, den 31.12.24 = Aurich, on 31 December 1924
Dienststelle = Department
Handratsamt.Aurich = administrative officer of Aurich
Unterschrift = Signature
[signatures of authorities]
[seal of the authority]

2. Velangert bis 10 Mai 1927 = Extended until 10 May 1927
Amsterdam, den 14 Mai 1926 = Amsterdam, on 14 May 1926
Dienststelle = Department
Der Deutsche Generalkonsul I. A. = The German General Consulate
Unterschrift = Signature
[signatures of authorities]
[seal of the authority]

3. Velangert bis 10 Mai 1928 = Extended until 10 May 1927
Amsterdam, den 30 April 1927 = Amsterdam, on 30 April 1927
Dienststelle = Department
Der Deutsche Generalkonsul I. A. = The German General Consulate
Unterschrift = Signature
[signatures of authorities]
[seal of the authority]

Page 6 and 7 in German
No. 35
Etta Pauw
[This appears to be some language about the border crossing point. Both items in red are stamped over in purple with the German word for invalid: Ungültig.]
Eingang Weener = Entrance into Weener, Germany
24 Dez. 1923 = 24 December 1923
Ausgang Weener = Exit from Weener, Germany
5 Jan. 1924 = 05 January 1924

[There is some writing at the top of page 7 that I can’t make out]
Etta Pauw
Verlenging verbliif toegestaan tet en met 15 October 1923 = Extension to stay allowed until 15 October 1923
Den Haag, den 1 Juli 1923 = The Hague on 1 July 1923
Voor den Inspecteur der Kon. Marechaussee de administrateur Rijkspaspoortenkantoor  = For the inspector of the Royal Marechaussee of the national passports office.
[Illegible Signature] = a signature that I can’t read

Etta Pauw
Verlenging verbliif toegestaan tet en met 15 April 1924 = Extension to stay allowed until 15 April 1925
Den Haag, den 17 Oct. 1923 = The Hague on 17 October 1923
Voor den Inspecteur der Kon. Marechaussee de administrateur Rijkspaspoortenkantoor  = For the inspector of the Royal Marechaussee of the national passports office.
[Illegible Signature] = a signature that I can’t read
Leges f.6.

Page 8 [Pages 9 to 30 are blank] in Dutch
Etta Pauw
Verlenging verbliif toegestaan tet en met 15 April 1925 = Extension to stay allowed until 15 April 1925
Den Haag, den 30 April 1924 = The Hague on 30 April 1924
Voor den Inspecteur der Kon. Marechaussee de administrateur Rijkspaspoortenkantoor  = For the inspector of the Royal Marechaussee of the national passports office.
[Illegible Signature] = a signature that I can’t read
Leges f.

Pages 31 [Pages 9 to 30 are blank] in English
Quota Immigration Visa No. 350
Issued to Etta B. Pauw
This 2nd day of November, 1927
No charge… [signature] Edward A. Dow, American Consol.
[Seal of the American Consulate in Rotterdam, Netherlands]

Analysis: There are six canceled German stamps on the inside of the front cover. The stamps add up to 288 marks which was, I assume, the cost of getting a passport in 1923. I wanted to see what that would be in current U.S. dollars but the comparison wouldn’t really be valid as Germany was experiencing hyperinflation at the time. The country struggled to deal with the repercussions of losing World War I and the reparations that were required by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles and the 1921 London Schedule of Payments. These agreements required Germany to pay 132 billion gold marks (US$33 billion) in reparations to cover civilian damage caused during the war. All of this shortly made paper marks virtually worthless. The chart at the right shows the value of one gold mark to paper marks. It’s quite dramatic. The hyperinflation reached its peak in November of 1923 but was halted when a new currency was introduced. I’m not sure what sort of financial difficulties that Etta was having at the time in Germany but, given the financial crisis going on, an emigration in 1923 into the Netherlands was not all that surprising.

Looking at the front cover, the Deutsches Reich was the name for the German nation state from 1871 to 1943. Literally, it means the German Empire but roughly means that it’s the German Realm.

Looking at the first page, I was surprised to see Etta’s nationality listed as Prussian. I would have expected to see “Deutches” or something similar. However, with a little research I learned that Prussia was a state of Germany from 1918 until 1933. Etta came from this northern region of Germany.

From page seven, I was curious to know what the Kon. Marechaussee was. It stands for Koninklijke Marechaussee which is one of the four Services of the armed forces of the Netherlands. It is a gendarmerie force performing military police and civil police duties. They must have been in charge of passport duties while Etta was applying for her extensions.

This pangram, “Victor chases twelve boxers across the Sylt dike,” contains all 26 letters of the alphabet plus the umlauted glyphs used in German

While I was trying to decipher the red printing on page six, I found out the fancy font is an old German font called Fraktur. It’s mainly used now for decorative purposes. Thank goodness! Between the fuzziness of the print, the font, the big purple overprint, the possibility of unfamiliar characters (like the long s “ſ ” and the esszett “ß”) and the enormously long German words, I gave up on getting an exact translation for this bit of text. Not that I didn’t spend a lot of time in that rabbit hole. I did. But, from what I could gather, it has something to do with authority and licenses and a six month limit.

I can construct a short timeline for Etta based on this passport:

  • 09 July 1902 – Etta was born in Ochtelbur, Germany
  • 11 May 1923 – Etta was issued a German passport in Aurich, Germany
  • 01 Juli 1923 – Etta was granted an extension to stay in the Netherlands in The Hague, Netherlands
  • 17 October 1923 – Etta was granted an extension to stay in the Netherlands in The Hague, Netherlands
  • 24 December 1923 – Etta crosses back into Weener, Germany
  • 05 January 1924 – Etta crossed back into the Netherlands from Weener, Germany
  • 31 December 1924 – Etta was granted an extension to stay in the Netherlands in Aurich, Germany
  • 30 April 1924 – Etta was granted an extension to stay in the Netherlands in The Hague, Netherlands
  • 14 May 1926 – Etta was granted an extension to stay in the Netherlands in Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 30 April 1927 – Etta was granted an extension to stay in the Netherlands in Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 02 November 1927 – Etta was issued immigration Visa No. 350 to travel to the United States at the American Consulate in Rotterdam, Netherlands

I have mapped out all the places mentioned in Etta’s passport (blue pins) plus her future husband’s school town (orange pin) of Leeuwarden. (The map is interactive. Go ahead. Hover over it, zoom in, zoom out, click on it. I’ll wait.) Ochtelbur was close to what is now Riepe and is in the Ihlow portion of the Aurich district.


This original source is a document that traveled with my grandmother as she journeyed from Germany to the Netherlands and eventually to America. It contains primary (firsthand) information as she obtained her passport, crossed borders, obtained extensions, and procured an immigration visa. It is direct evidence with regards to the research question, “Where and when was Etta Berendine Pauw, of Germany and then of Newton, New Jersey, born?” It answers the question directly with “Ochtelbur on 09 July 1902.” It is indirect evidence for any other number of research questions that can be crafted for this source and the information found within it.


While analyzing my maternal grandmother Etta Berendine Pauw’s passport, I learned a bit of German history, translated some German and Dutch, struggled with fancy fonts, mapped some locations on the European continent and constructed a timeline based on the dates found within it. I can answer the question, “Where was Etta Berendine Pauw on 30 April 1924?” She was in The Hague, Netherlands, getting an extension to stay in the Netherlands. All-in-all a very fun analysis!


52 Documents in 52 Weeks #46 – Enoch Hunt’s City Directory

Person of Interest: Enoch Hunt
Relationship: 3rd great-grandfather

Source Citation: H. Wilson, compiler, Trow’s New York City Directory: For the year ending May 1, 1857, (New York: John F. Trow, 1856), 406; digital images, Google Books (http://books.Google.com : accessed 17 July 2017).

Document Description: This is a page from a New York City directory published in 1856. It was part of a digitizing project with Google books and the entire book is available for download. This indexed book has a listing of residents, streets, calendars, list of nurses, and commercial register with advertising.

Background on city directories: City directories are a great resource for putting people in a particular place at a particular time. If you haven’t checked out the FamilySearch Wiki yet, you should! They have a great page dedicated to city directories. This wiki page has information on why they were created (for salesmen, merchants and people wanting to find residents of the area…), why they are useful (locating people in large cities…), potential content (married couples, occupations, maps…), availability, and finding aids. They were generally published annually and were a precursor to the modern phone directories which are themselves becoming defunct. Many libraries and archives still have city directories, you just need to dig to find them.

Document Scan/Transcription: I am not going to transcribe the entire page… Not going do it, not going to happen! I will however transcribe the entry I’m interested in:

Hunt Enoch, printer, h 174 W 20th

Analysis: Looking up the “h” in the abbreviations shows that Enoch was living in a house as opposed to an apartment building or over a store.

So what do I get out of this nondescript listing of Enoch Hunt? From other research, I know that he spent some time in New York City and worked as a printer for a while. This city directory confirms his occupation as a printer. The commercial appendix (page 30) that has the listing of printers paying for advertising.  It shows that Enoch probably didn’t own his own business or, if he did, was not large enough to afford advertisement in this directory as a separate business. He was most likely working for one of the larger printers in New York City.

Enoch was living on W. 20th Street.  That made me curious to find where in New York City that was.

This address is located on Manhattan quite close to the Flatiron Building, Gramercy Park, and Washington Square Park. A 2017 Google map shows where it is located on the island. I went down a bit of a rabbit hole on this task. I tried to locate a Sanborn Fire Insurance map from 1855 or so, just to see what buildings would have been constructed and standing at Enoch’s time of residence. With the limited amount of time I gave myself I had no luck on finding anything online but that doesn’t mean I won’t turn one up later.

Source: Google maps, satellite mode, 2017

Perusing the rest of the Hunts in the directory yielded some other Hunts living nearby.

Henry Hunt, carman, living at 171 W. 20th

William Hunt, builder, living at 211 and 213 W. 20th

William S. Hunt, builder, also living at 211 W. 20th (perhaps father and son) and then another address at 218 W. 21st

Enoch lived with his daughter Kezia married to a man named Washer in New York City for a while, so I also looked for Washers in the directory. This listing goes directly from Washburn to Washington with no Washers in the mix.

This source is an authored work. Mr. H. Wilson compiled the directory (I’m sure with some help) and then published the work as a unique book. The information found in the book is secondary or even undetermined. Most of this comes from what Mr. H. Wilson collected and is prone to error. Case in point, there are mistake and addendum pages in the book. The evidence is direct with regards to the research question, “Where did Enoch Hunt, who worked as a printer in New York City, live in 1856-1857?” It directly answers that question with “174 W. 20th.” It is indirect in that it will not answer any kinship research questions like, “Who was the wife [or daughter or son] of Enoch Hunt, who worked as a printer in New York City, live in 1856-1857?” I would need to combine this with some other sources to answer kinship questions.


Since they were usually published annually, city directories are a great resource to track people in particular cities over the years. Locating this one for Enoch Hunt helped me to confirm he was working as a printer in New York City for a time but does not help to figure out why a man from New Jersey moved to New York City for some years to work as a printer. Perhaps the growing concerns about a Civil War lead him to move into printing. Another little mystery to add to my ever growing list of things to find or figure out!

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #45 – Ora Strait’s Union Booklet

Picture002Person of Interest: Ora Simpson Strait of Sussex County, New Jersey
Relationship: Great grandfather

Source CitationOra S. Strait‘s United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America membership booklet, 20 October 1917; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2017.

Document Description: This slim book is a black cloth-covered booklet issued by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA). It is 3-1/2″ by 5″ in dimension and only about 1/8 of an inch thick. It has no lettering on the cover. The inside cover has a membership statement with a seal. It has 24 pages in total and the binding is stitched with white thread. There are sporadic entries in the book and the membership statement is filled out. Some of the pages in the back are perforated to accommodate clearance cards (defined in the booklet) but all of Ora’s pages are intact.


The completely unexciting front cover

oracarpenter005Document Scan and Transcription:
[on inside of front cover] Membership Statement
Date of Birth Jan 26 1879
The bearer, Mr. Ora S. Strait was duly initiated as a (semi) beneficial member of the U. B. of C. & J. of A. in L. U. No. 1124, located in the City of Newton State of N.J., on the 20 day of Oct 1917. Initiation Fee, $7.50 (Financial Secretary to fill in the above statement.)
This is to certify that the bearer hereof, Mr. Ora S. Strait, was duly initiated (or admitted on clearance card) as a member of L. U. No. 1124 on the 20 day of October 1917.
John B. Kishbaugh, President
C. T. Browne pro tem Fin. Sec.
Members should relinquish possession of this book only as provided for but the Constitution and Laws of the U. B.
[There is a seal on the bottom left side of the Membership Statement.]

[Page 1] United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
Sec. 43. Each member is required to keep the Recording Secretary and Financial Secretary properly notified of his correct place of residence and any change of same under penalty of one dollar ($1.00) fine.
A member three months in arrears shall not be entitled to the password, or a seat, or office in any meetings of the Local Union. (See Sec. 45)

Sec. 45. When a member owes a sum equal to three months’ dues, he is not in good standing, and is thereby suspended from all donations and will not again be entitled to donations until three months after his arrearages are paid in full, including the current month.
A member owning a Local Union any sum equal to six months’ dues shall be dropped from membership without a vote of the Union, and his name be stricken from the books. After that he can be readmitted only as a new member, subject to such readmission fee as provided for in the By-Laws of their Local Union or District Council, together with the sum of three dollars ($3.00), which shall be forwarded to the Local where he was dropped.

oracarpenter006[Page 2 & 3] Dues page [no date at top or Ledger Page No. entered]

The Financial Secretary must sign this book and enter in the proper spaces the exact date and amount of payment. He should use an ink stamp with interchangeable dates and his signature all on one line.

Oct. – 75 – Oct 20 – C. T. Browne pro tem [Oct is written in pencil, the rest is ink]
Nov. – 75 – Nov 17 – ”   ” [in pencil]
Dec. – 75 – Jan 18 – C. T. Browne [in pencil]

[There are no other entries on this page. The facing page has a place for fines and assessments but there is nothing entered here either.]

oracarpenter007[Page 4 & 5] Dues page [no date at top or Ledger Page No. entered]

The Financial Secretary must sign this book and enter in the proper spaces the exact date and amount of payment. He should use an ink stamp with interchangeable dates and his signature all on one line.

Jan. – 75 – Jan 19 – C. T. Browne
Feb. – 75 – Feb 20 – O. S. Strait
March – 75 – April 20 – O. S. Strait
April – 75 –    ”      ”          ”        ”

[There are no other entries on this page. The facing page has a place for fines and assessments but there is nothing entered here either.]

Pages 6 & 7 are the same format of pages 4 & 5 but have nothing entered on them.

oracarpenter008[Pages 8 & 9] Dues page [no date at top or Ledger Page No. entered]

[Nothing official is entered on these pages. The Fines and Assessments page was used to do some figuring.]

oracarpenter009[Pages 10 & 11]
Sec. 46. A member who transfers his membership or who leaves the jurisdiction of his Local Union to work in another locality must apply to the Financial Secretary and present his due book and have clearance card properly filled out. It is compulsory for the Local Union to issue said card, providing against him and pays all arrearages, together with current month’s dues. Said clearance card shall expire one month from date of issue.
It is compulsory for the member to report and deposit his clearance card at the office of the District Council of Local Union where no District Council exists before securing work, pending a meeting of the Local Union, and comply with all local laws. And in no case shall the Financial Secretary accept dues other than to secure clearance cards from a member working in the jurisdiction of any other Local Union or District Council, without the consent of such Local Union or District Council. It shall be the duty of the Financial Secretary accepting dues from a member for clearance cards who is working in another jurisdiction to immediately report same to the District Council or Local Union where no District Council exists under penalty of a fine of five dollars ($5.00) for the first offense, ten dollars ($10.00) for the second offense, and for the third offense suspension from all local offices for a period of two (2) years.
Any member working in a district from which he returns home daily, or who is sent for more than one month into an outside jurisdiction by an employer from his own district, shall be required to take out a clearance card, unless he first secures a permit in writing from the Local Union or District Council in whose jurisdiction he Amy to to work without a transfer, and he shall be governed by the trade rules of the district in which he works.
No Local Union shall have the right to collect dues again for the month paid on a clearance card. The Local Union issuing the card shall pay to the General Secretary the tax for said member for the month only in which the card is issued, and he shall be considered a member of that Local Union until he deposits his card, when he becomes a member of the Local Union wherein said card has been deposited.
Any General Officer, while employed by the United Brotherhood, shall not be required to take a clearance card from the Local Union

oracarpenter010[Page 12 & 13]
of which he is a member at the time of his election or appointment.
A member of a Local Union taking out a clearance card before he is one year a member shall pay, where the initiation fee is higher, into the Local Union accepting the clearance card a sum equal to the difference in initiation fee before the clearance card can be accepted.
On entering a Local Union a member with a clearance card shall present his due book to the President, who shall appoint a committee of three to examine the applicant and his due book and report at once. If clearance card and due book are found correct, then a vote shall be taken, and if the majority of the votes are favorable he shall be admitted, except in case of strike or lockout, provided he qualifies in accordance with the District By-Laws.
On deposit of said card the Financial Secretary receiving it must sign and affix the seal to the coupon and forward it to the General Secretary as evidence of its deposit, along with his monthly report. The Financial Secretary receiving the clearance card shall immediately report the same to the Financial Secretary issuing the clearance card, under penalty of five dollars ($5.00) fine.

This is to certify that ……………………………….. having paid all dues and assessments in the Local up to and including the month of ……………….. 19…., has been this day granted a Clearance Card.
Dated ……………….. Signed ………………..Fin. Sec’y
Local Union No. ……………
[Page perforation here]
This is to certify that …………………………………………………………………. whose name is written is his own handwriting on the front inside cover of this book, was granted a Clearance Card on the …….. day of ………. 19…., all fines, dues and assessments having been paid in full. If not deposited within thirty days from the date of issue same becomes void.
Signed ………………………….. President
Signed ………………………….. Fin. Sec’y

[Page 14]
This is to certify that …………………………………………………………………. has this day been admitted to membership in L. U. No. ……….. from L. U. No. ………, located at ………………….. City, State …………………………………………………
Signed ………………………….. President
Signed ………………………….. Fin. Sec’y
[Page perforation here]
This is to certify that …………………………………. presented his Clearance Card from L. U. No. …………, located at City ……………………., State ………….., to L. U. No. ……. located at City ……………………., State ………….., on the …….. day of ………….., 19…., and after investigation was duly admitted to membership in the L U.
Signed ………………………….. Fin. Sec’y
This C.C. to be detached and forwarded to G.S. with Monthly Report. L. U. No. ……

Pages 15, 17, 19, 21, and 23 are repeats of page 13 and are blank/intact.


Pages 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24 are repeats of page 14 and are blank/intact.


There is nothing on the inside of the back cover.

Analysis: Birth dates can be elusive things to ferret out. Ora Simpson Strait’s birth date falls firmly into that category. I found his only birth year of 1879 on his tombstone.[1] I got closer with month and year of January 1879 when I found him in the 1900 census.[2] His death certificate states that his birth date was 26 January 1880 and that he was 38 years, 8 months and 6 days old when he died.[3] Neither one of these helped me feel confident that I’d found his birth date. The year seems to be wrong based on other sources and working backwards from his death gives us a date of 01 January 1880 which itself doesn’t even match the 26 January 1880 date from the death certificate! I got lucky when the artifact featured in this post popped up and revealed his whole birth date.

Shortly after my Aunt Sadie (Strait) Scabet passed away, her husband Jimmy decided to give up their house and move into an assisted living apartment. He had a particular style of clearing out houses. It’s called “dumpster.” He used this technique when clearing out his mother-in-law’s house and employed the same strategy with his own home. Luckily, his son David Scabet was paying attention to the lettering on some boxes instead of just wholesale pitching them into the dumpster abyss. He called my sister Jill to say, “Hey, thought I’d let you know. There’s a box over here that has ‘Give to the Strait girls’ written on it. You should come over now to come pick it up.” Jill boogied from her house in Randolph up to Newton to retrieve the box. Inside it were carefully saved personal possessions of members of the Strait family.

Some of Ora’s things were in that box: his wallet and a small book showing his membership in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. The wallet is a light brown leather in a trifold style with a snap to hold it closed. Opened up, it measures 4-5/8″ by 8-1/4″ and has another snap for the coin pocket. The leather on the coin pocket flap has survived better than the rest of the wallet; it’s soft and supple. The rest of the wallet is very dry and becoming brittle. Expected since the mini-calendar showing in the window at the bottom right was for January of 1918. It’s almost 100 years old! There were no coins in the coin pocket, bills in the billfold, or pictures of the family tucked into a corner. Dang….


Ora’s wallet

There was an identification card in the wallet that was filled out. It said the owner’s name was Ora S. Strait and that he lived on Condit Street in Newton, N.J. In case of emergency, Mrs. O. S. Strait, also of Condit Street, should be contacted.


The second item in the box is the focus of this post, Ora’s union membership book. He joined the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America on 20 October 1917, shortly before his untimely death in 1918.

carpenter_1_smThe UBCJA organization (see the historical notes on this page) came into existence in 1881 and was founded by Peter J. McGuire and Gustav Luebkert. They originally fought for fair wages and hours, along with sickness and death benefits, for their members. When Ora joined in 1917, there were probably close to 350,00 members. Like all organizations that become large and influential, they went through many changes both internal and political. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America is still in existence today. According to their website they represent “more than a half-million men and women who provide safe, productive work every day. We equip our professional craftsmen with skills that are demanded in today’s construction industry.”

The jackpot within this nondescript little union membership book is on the inside of the front cover. Ora’s full birth date of 26 January 1879 is found! Direct (explicit) evidence that answers my research question of “When was Ora Simpson Strait of Sussex County, New Jersey, born?” Also, there is a small bit of verbiage further along in the book that strengthens my confidence in this date, even if it is secondary information. (Ora doesn’t remember his birth, he’s relying on what other people have told him.)signature

On the clearance card pages, the wording “This is to certify that …………. whose name is written is his own handwriting on the front inside cover of this book” is found. That tells me that Ora was required to write his own name on the front cover and, when I compare the handwriting, it matches the script on the date of birth line. It’s also the same handwriting found on the identification card in his wallet.


Of all the sources I’ve found on Ora’s birth date, this union booklet holds the greatest weight for me. It’s an original record and, while it’s secondary information, it is direct evidence of his full birth date. It corresponds to the birth year calculated from all the census records I found and corroborates the birth year on his tombstone. Until I find a birth certificate for Ora Simpson Strait, this source is my favorite for his birth date!

These two items (wallet and union booklet) are also a bit nostalgic. His last entry in the union book was April of 1918. The calendar in his wallet is stuck at January 1918. He passed away on 07 September 1918 at the very young age of 39.[4] These two objects, which are both almost 100 years old, are some of the last physical objects that Ora handled while he was alive.

I’m grateful to David Scabet and Jill (Strait) Ray for rescuing these items from the garbage dump and obscurity. Thank you both!

[1] North Hardyston Cemetery (Rt. 94, Hamburg, New Jersey), Ora S. Strait and Audrey R. Hunt marker; photo taken by Jodi Lynn Strait, July 2006.
[2] 1900 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Lafayette Township, ED 169, p. 1B (penned), dwelling 23, family 25, Ira W. Strait; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 995.
[3] New Jersey, Department of Health, Death Certificate, death certificate no. 593 (penned), Ora S. Strait (1918); Copy with Jodi Strait, Tucson, AZ.
[4] Ibid.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #44 – Snell’s History of Sussex County

Person of Interest: James P. Snell
Relationship: None

Source Citation: James P. Snell, History of Sussex and Warren Counties, New Jersey with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of the Prominent Men and Pioneers (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1881).

Document Description: This 748-page book is dual county (Sussex and Warren) history published in 1881. I blogged previously about county histories while discussing Dennis Strait. That post has the background of county histories and why they can be useful in your genealogical and historical research. Since my family is mainly in Sussex County and this blog is, after all, StraitFromNJ, I would be remiss to not point you to this very informative book about the early history of Sussex County.

The book is broken into three major sections:

  • Brief histories of New Jersey, Sussex and Warren Counties including early government, indigenous people, pioneers, Revolutionary involvement, slavery and servitude, iron industry, and Civil War involvement and regimental rosters
  • Sussex County including subsections on organization, civil history, boundary line, civil lists, internal improvements, education, judicial, medical, press, physical features, and towns and villages
  • Warren County including subsections on organization, geology, civil history, internal improvements, judicial, medical, press, societies, and townships and boroughs

Each of the subsections on the towns and villages has an abundance of information that can include but are not limited to cemeteries, industries, government, natural features, settlement, roads, local stories, churches, schools, railroads, tax collections, law enforcement, fire departments and fires fought, etc.

Biographical sketches and illustrations are scattered throughout the book. The table of contents lists the biographies and items illustrated. Illustrations include maps, schools, portraits including person’s signature, court houses, public buildings, and factories.

The copy I use regularly is the digitized version of the book at Archive.org. However, I found it digitized in a few places:

Document Scan/Transcription: Ah, no. I am not going to transcribe the whole book here. I will however pull out a few interesting examples of what can be found in this book and other county histories like it.

How places got their names
According to Heckewelder, who is good authority, “Walpack” is a corruption from Wahlpeek, which in the Indian language signified a turn-hole or whirlpool in the water. It is componnded [sic] of the two Indian words, woa-lac, “a hole,” and tup-peek, “a pool.” The name “turn-hole” – a provincialism now obselete – was uses to designate a sudden bend of a stream by which the water when deep was turned upon itself into an eddy or whirlpool. The turn-hole in the Lehigh, above Mauch Chunk, was many years ago an object of interest to travelers in that wild region. Howell’s map of 1792 indicates the exact spot. There is a “turn-hole” in the bend of the Delaware at the mouth of the Flat Brook, from which Walpack doubtless took its name. It is visible in low water, and during great floods it becomes a powerful whirlpool, sucking in large pieces of timber and carrying them out of sight. [1]

Indigenous people’s history
Teedyuseung, the last king of the Delawares, was in many respects a very remarkable and noble character. Although he took up the tomahawk against the whites in 1755, and was the chief leader in that struggle, it was because he believed he has a just cause. He was made king of the Delawares west of the mountains in 1756. In May of that year he and his Indians left their headquarters at Wyoming and repaired to Diahoga, a strong Indian town at the forks of the Susquehanna, now Athens, Pa. In July, 1756, he visited Bethlehem, at the invitation of the Governor, preparatory to the first conference held at Easton, and is spoken of by Reichel as follows in his “Memorials of the Moravian Church:” … [2]

Newspaper establishment
The New Jersey Herald – This newspaper was established by Col. Grant Fitch in the fall of 1829, it being the third enterprise of the kind within the present limits of the county of Sussex. …
The Herald was first printed in an old building on Main Street, opposite the Cochran House, where where William W. Woodward’s hardware-store now stands. The size of the paper was twenty by twenty-eight inches, the reading-matter being set in clean bourgeois and the advertisements in bourgeois and brevier type. The subscription price was two dollars per year. The first press was an old-fashioned Washington lever press, which was worked by hand. This answered the purpose until 1840, when it became necessary to enlarge the paper. To avoid the expense of a new press the experiment of enlarging the old one was tried, and it was successfully accomplished by the skillful workmen in the Lafayette foundry, then owned and operated by the irrepressible Democrat Alexander Boyles. Twice during the first ten years of the Herald’s existence its proprietor was awarded the contract for printing the Legislative Journal. The gross proceeds of each contract amounted to about six hundred dollars, and it required about six months, with such mechanical facilities as were available, to complete the work. ….[3]

Illustrations and descriptions of local buildings
The “Cochran House” was erected in 1842 by Dennis Cochran, then owner of considerable real estate along Spring Street. [Newton] [4]

Fires fought (in Newton subsection)
The fire in 1877 was at Clark’s furniture store, on Park Place; two fireman were injured by a falling wall. Seven men, in charge of the pipe on Simonson’s law-office roof, had a narrow escape from death. The minutes of the company say, “Foreman H. C. Bonnell noticed the swaying of the wall and ordered the men from the roof. While three of the men were still on the ladder when the wall fell, crushing though the roof just left of the firemen, and instantly killing S. Halstead Shafer, who was in the office.” Theodore Morford and Hubbard Stevens, who were in the office with Mr. Shafer, had a narrow escape. Both were seriously injured, and were confined to their homes for several weeks. [5]

Octogenarians and old residents
The following list of persons of eighty years and upwards exhibits the names and ages of the oldest living residents of Newton in the year 1875, as shown by the census of that year (the age is given at last birthday): Margaret G. Anderson, 85; Elizabeth Townsend, 91; Hannah Meachum, 83; Sarah Konkle, 81; Mary McIntire, 89; Rebecca Drake, 80; Susan Cornell, 89; Jane Northrup, 85.
Only two of the above named were living in June 1880, – Rebecca Drake, at Newton, and Susan Cornell, in Hardwick township, Warren Co., – at which the list of octogenarians was given by the census enumerators as follows: Jane Brower, 80; Jacob Mabee, 80; Anna B. Cassidy, 80: Job J. Drake, 80; Jacob Strader, 80; James Sutton, 80; Moses Woodruff, 81; Ann S. Armstrong, 82; Anna M. Johnson, 82; Benjamin Booth, 84; Rebecca Drake, 85; Nancy Pettit, 86; Charles Cinderbox, 89.[6]

Locations of early schools
On the Easton road, where now is the corner of Liberty and High Streets, stood in the early days an old log school-house. It was erected during the past century, but in what year is not known. Pemberton Britton’s mother, who was born in 1781, went to school in the “old log” house when she was quite young, – about 1789.[7]

Masonic activity
Baldwin Chapter, No. 17, R. A. M.
This chapter of the Royal Arch branch of Masonry was instituted in Newton in January, 1867, by Grand High Priest Israel Baldwin, of Newark, in whose honor it was named. G. H. P. Baldwin always manifested a great interest in this organization in various and practical ways, one of which was the presentation to it of an extremely beautiful and very valuable High Priest’s breastplate, whose setting of precious stones is undoubtedly equal to any in the State.
Its convocations are held monthly in Masonic Hall. Officers are elected at the December convocation. Its first officers were: M∴ E∴ W. H. Hagaman, High Priest; E∴ Theodore Morford, King; E∴ H. M. Ward, Scribe; P. B. Horton, Capt. of Host; Jonathan Havens, Prin. Soj.; D. L. Wyckoff, R. A. Capt.; Jesse Ward, M. 3d Veil; S. J. Coursen, M. 2d Veil; E. D. Goodrich, M. 1st Veil; Theo. Morford, Treas.; Thos. C. Elston, Sec.; R. B. Westbrook, Chaplain; Aaron H. Bonnell, Sentinel; J. R. Stuart, Thos. Anderson, Trustees.[8]

Cemeteries and burial grounds
The Augusta Cemetery – This burial-place is situated on an eminence beyond the site of the now decayed hamlet of Augusta, and is probably at least one hundred years old. At the same point once stood a Baptist church which was flourishing at the time it was erected, and for years after, but was long since abandoned and the building removed or destroyed. The cemetery antedates the history of this church, and is principally identified with interments by the Struble and Morris families. It is still used to a limited extent, and the residents of the vicinity whose dead sleep within its limits have taken means to guard it from intrusion.[9]

Analysis: County histories have great value beyond their biographical sketches. Many researchers focus on these books as sources of genealogical information found within the sketches. But they are rich with other information.

From just the examples above, we learn how Walpack, Sussex County, got its name, that the Native American Teedyuseung was the last king of the Delawares, that the New Jersey Herald was first printed in the fall of 1829, that the Cochran House was on Spring Street in Newton, that Pemberton Britton’s mother attended school in a log house in 1789, that a fire took the life of S. Halstead Shafer in 1877, that Margaret G. Anderson died between 1875 and 1880 being somewhere between 85 and 90 years old, that W. H. Hagaman was a High Priest in the Masonic organization, and that Augusta Cemetery was still being used in 1881 even though the Baptist church that stood next to it was long gone.

All of the information found in county histories could be used to add dimension and perspective to our ancestor’s lives. I find it extremely boring to read a biography that contains just the dry facts of a person’s life. I want to know what the street looked like when my ancestors went to visit Spring Street, what the geography looked like at the time, what types of schools they attended, and how dramatic events like fires affected their day-to-day lives.

Additionally, the tidbits above give me clues on where to look next. If I had someone who was a Baptist in Augusta in the early 1800s, I would know that records for that old church belonging to the churchyard cemetery might not exist or have been moved to the new church. If I had someone who was a Mason, I would be curious about what a High Priest does and want to know what the heck 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Veils are in the organization.

This is an authored work with James P. Snell compiling the information in the format he found pleasing and correct for his purposes. It is a true digitized copy of the original book. It does not appear to have been tampered with and can be considered the same as the original. The information found within the book is indeterminate as we cannot figure out if the information is firsthand, secondhand, or even thirdhand. The evidence found within the book could be a mixture of direct (explicit), indirect or even negative depending on the research question asked.


Its not too far from the truth that learning some history should be an unavoidable part of genealogy. To be an awesome family historian, you must search out sources and information that help you form a more complete picture of your ancestors. Don’t be afraid to read a little history; even if you ancestors aren’t specifically mentioned.

[1] James P. Snell, History of Sussex and Warren Counties, New Jersey with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of the Prominent Men and Pioneers (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1881), 24.
[2] Snell, 39.
[3] Snell, 222.
[4] Snell, 284.
[5] Snell, 282.
[6] Snell, 254.
[7] Snell, 267.
[8] Snell, 270.
[9] Snell, 397.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #42 – Albert Westra’s Form AR-2

Albert Westa, circa 1985, holding one of his tabletop models

Albert Westa, circa 1985, holding one of his tabletop windmills

Person of Interest: Albert Westra, born in Dronrijp, Netherlands, settled in Sussex County, New Jersey
Relationship: Grandfather

Source Citation: Albert Westra, alien registration no. 4391398, 10 December 1940, Alien Registration (Form AR-2), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services – Genealogy Program, Washington, D.C.

Document Description: This two-page alien registration form (AR-2) was created by the United States Department of Justice through what was then Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The paper is 8-1/2 by 11″ and contains personal information related to my grandfather including his right index fingerprint and signature. The sheets are copies of the original records found in the genealogy section files of the modern U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Genealogy Program as part of the larger U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Albert Westra was assigned file number 4391398 when he registered his alien status.

Background information regarding the Alien Registration Act of 1940 (Smith Act): The National Archives has a wonderful document called The A-files: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors written by Elizabeth Burns and Marie Louie that outlines what exactly the A-files are, how they came about, and how they can be accessed now. I’ll share a few excerpts with you here:

“Thee Alien Registration Act of 1940 required that all persons who were not citizens or nationals of the United States and were living within U.S. borders go to the local post office and register their alien status with the government. The registration process included filling out a questionnaire and having finngerprints taken. Certain exclusions applied for diplomats, employees of foreign governments, and children under the age of 14.”

“A series of radio PSAs promoted registration. The PSAs said participation supported democracy and called on Americans to aid their alien neighbors in completing the registration process. A number of officials of foreign descent—German, Italian, Polish, etc.—spoke to audiences in their native tongues to ease fears about the registration restricting or violating their rights. To bolster support, newspapers across the country published numerous photographs of actors and musicians who were aliens completing the registration process.”

“Government officials expected around 3.6 million registrants, but final counts saw more than five million forms submitted. The completed AR-2 and the correlating A-Number became the foundation on which the Alien Files (A-Files) were later built.”

What would have prompted this registration drive? Simply put: Paranoia.

By 1940, it was becoming ever clearer that the United States would not be able to sit on the sidelines as the European War raged and expanded. Concerns over spies and betrayal from within country grew and 76th United State Congress passed an act that defined the criminal penalties for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. Additionally, all non-citizen adult residents were required to register with the government. Thus, the creation of the AR-2 form. Registrations began on 27 August 1940 and, besides answering the 15 questions present on the form, required the registrants to be fingerprinted. It wasn’t a full set of fingerprints, just the right index finger. But that still made many people nervous which precipitated the Public Service Announcements (talked about above) to alleviate concerns about being added to a “list” the stigma of having one’s fingerprints taken. By January of 1941, the number of alien registrants had passed the 4.7 million mark.


Cover letter

Document Scan and Transcription: This first document is the cover letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Genealogy Program sent to me along with my grandfather’s two-page AR-2 completed form. They acknowledged that they had received my request on 11 August 2011 regarding information on my grandfather “Ale” Westra born 13 March 1908 in the Netherlands. Success! They found his file and were forwarding documents to me. It was signed by Lynda K. Spencer, chief of the Genealogy Section.

Pop quiz: Is this an original document? Go ahead, click on the document, and look closely. I’ll wait. The answer is no, it’s been tampered with! Before posting this, I photoshopped out my street address, my zip code and the “-Shutts” that used to hang off the end of my last name. Some clues to help lead you in that direction would be:

  • This is a pretty formal letter in a standard block letter format, so why would there be a gap after my name?
  • The city and state are present. Where is the zip code? It’s a modern letter, the zip would be included.
  • There’s no standard punctuation (comma, colon) after the “Dear Ms. Strait” and there should be.

Granted the changes are subtle. But this also illustrates my trust but verify attitude. As a good genealogist, you should always ask to inspect the original.

albertar2002AR-2 Form, page 1: Form AR-2 4391398
United States Department of Justice
Immigration and Naturalization Service
Alien Registration Form

1 ☆(a) My name is Albert [first] None [middle]  Westra [last]
1 ☆(b) I entered the United States under the name Albert Westra
1 ☆(c) I have also been known by the following names: Same None
1 ☆(c) (include maiden name if a married woman,
1 ☆(c) professional names, nicknames, and aliases): Same

2 ☆(a) I live at R.D. #2, Newton [city], Sussex [county], New Jersey [state]
☆(b) My post-office address is Newton [post office], New Jersey [state]

3 ☆(a) I was born on March 13 1908
☆(b) I was born in (or near) Dronryp [city], — [province] , Holland [country]

4 ☆(x) I am a citizen or subject of Holland [country]

5 ☆(a) I am a (check one): Male…☒1   Female…☐
5 ☆(b) My marital status is (check one): Single…☐1  Married…☒2   Widowed…☐3  Divorced…☐4
5 ☆(c) My race is (check one): White…☒1   Negro…☐2  Japanese…☐3   Chinese…☐4    Other ….

6 ☆(x) I am 5 feet, 8 inches in height, weigh 145 pounds, have light [color] hair and blue [color] eyes.

7 ☆(a) I last arrived in the United States at Hoboken, N.J. [port or place of entry] on March 13, 1918
7 ☆(b) I came in by Volendam [name of vessel, steamship company, or other mean of transportation]
7 ☆(c) I came in as (check one): Passenger…☒1   Crew member…☐2  Stowaway…☐3   Other ….
7 ☆(d) I came in as (check one): Permanent resident…☒1   Visitor…☐2  Student…☐3   Treaty merchant…☐4   Seaman…☐5   Official of a foreign government…☐6   Employee of a foreign government official…☐7    Other….
7 ☆(e) I first arrived in the United States on March 13 1927

8 ☆(a) I have lived in the United States a total of 13 years
8 ☆(b) I expect to remain in the United States permanently

9(a) My usual occupation is Farmer
9 ☆(b) My present occupation is Farmer
(c) My employer (or registering parent or guardian) is Self
9 ☆(x) whose address is Same
9 ☆(x) and whose business is Farmer

All items must be answered by persons 14 years of age or older. For children under 14 years of age, only the items marked with a star (☆) must be answered by the parent or guardian. All answers must be accurate and complete.

albertar2003AR-2 Form, page 2: [no heading]
10 ☆(x) I am, or have been within the past 5 years, or intend to be engages in the following activities: In addition to other information, list memberships or activities in clubs, organizations, or societies: None

11 ☆(x) My military or naval service has been None

12 ☆(x) I have applied for first citizenship papers in the United States. Date of application May or June 1940
12 ☆(x) First citizenship papers received Aug 2, 1940 [date], 1307 [number], Newton [city], New Jersey [state]
12 ☆(x) Filed petition for naturalization …………

13 ☆(x) I have the following specified relatives living int he United States:
13 ☆(x) Parent(s) [none or one or both] None.  Husband or wife [yes or no] Yes.   Children [number] Three

14 ☆(x) I have not [have or have not] been arrested or indicted for, or convicted of any offense (or offenses). These offenses are:……

15 ☆(x) Within the past 5 years I have not [have or have not] been affiliated with or active in (a member of, official of, a worker for) organizations, devoted in whole or in part to influencing or furthering the political activities, public relations, or public policy of a foreign government……..

Affidavit for Persons 14 years of age or older
I have read or have had read to me the above statements, and do hereby swear (or affirm) that these statements are true and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief.    [Signature] Albert Westra

Subscribed and sworn to (or affirmed) before me at the place and on the date here designated by the official post office stamp below. [Signature] John G. Small

Affidavit for Parent or Guardian only [not filled out].

Seal of the post office of Newton, New Jersey, dated 10 December 1940.

Analysis: It must have been stressful time for my grandfather Albert Westra when he had to register as an alien in 1940. Even later in life, he still had a fairly thick Dutch accent. The fact that he was a foreigner wasn’t something he could hide and the penalties for not registering as an alien weren’t to be taken lightly. In his favor were the facts that he’d been in the country for 13 years laboring away as a farmer, that he didn’t belong to any subversive organizations, and that he’d not been arrested, indicted, or convicted of any offenses.

Ignoring the reasons behind the creation of this form, there is a significant amount of genealogical data to be found here.

  • Albert Westra was born on 13 March 1908 in Dronryp Holland
  • Albert Westra first arrived in the United States on his 19th birthday on 13 March 1927 on a ship called the Volendam
  • He was a married, white, male farmer
  • He was 145 pounds and stands at 5′ 8″ with light hair and blue eyes (could be used to distinguish him between other Albert Westras)
  • He had not served in the military
  • On 10 December 1940, he had three children
  • On 10 December 1940, neither of his parents was living in the United States
  • On 10 December 1940, he was living on R.D. #2 in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey
  • Albert expected to stay in the United States permanently and had filed his first citizenship papers in May or June of 1940 in Newton, New Jersey

One inconsistency on the form is that it states he last arrived in the United States at Hoboken, N.J., on 13 March 1918, a full nine years before he first arrived on 13 March 1927. Based on his naturalization papers, I know that both dates should be 13 March 1927 and that the 1918 date is a typo/mistake. His statement that he has been in the United States 13 years also confirms the 1927 date.

Albert in Living Room

Albert Westra at 3 Townsend St., Newton, New Jersey

Another thing to note is that his middle name was not “None.” The person completing the form just wanted to make sure that all the blanks were filled in. They probably should have used “–” instead.

This AR-2 is an original document in that it doesn’t appear to be tampered with. It looks like the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Genealogy Program just copied the papers as they found them in the file. They really have no reason to change any information. The information found on the document is both primary (arrival date, ship, physical description) and secondary (birth date, birth place) in nature. It does contain direct evidence of Albert’s birth date and birth place. It contains indirect information in that it tells me Albert is married and has three children. This must be used with other evidence to prove who he married and the names of his children.


Albert’s AR-2 alien registration form provides a nice snapshot of what Albert’s life looked like on 10 December 1940. He was a white man, originally born in Holland on 13 March 1908, with three children and a wife. He was working at his usual occupation of farmer and lived on R.D. #2 in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. He was upstanding in that he had not been arrested, indicted, or convicted of any offenses and was not agitating for the overthrow of the United States government. He intended to stay in the United States permanently and to that effect had already filed his first citizenship papers.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #41 – William Strait’s Report Card

Person of Interest: William Charles Strait
Relationship: Paternal grandfather

Source Citation: William Strait, 4th grade report card; Newton Public Schools, Newton, New Jersey; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, Arizona, 2017.

Document Description: This 4th grade report card is 4-1/2 by 7 inches and is linen-backed paper. It has no dust jacket and does not seem to have been folded at any point in its life. A variety of inks exist on the paper in both blue and black but no red. William’s mother, Audrey Strait, signed the report card for all months except June which is blank. There is no year indicated.

Document Scan/Transcription:NEWTON, N.J., PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Report Card of William Strait……4th Year Grade

No standing lower than Good ought to be satisfactory in either Conduct or Lessons. Lesson records in red ink indicate that the pupil is falling behind the class and needs to give special study to lessons at home. The Principal will be pleased to have parents consult with him about any matter of school work, or of the Pupil’s progress. The success of the school depends largely upon the cooperation of Parents with the Teachers’ efforts.
Pupils are marked Excellent, E., or 90 to 100; Good, G., or 80 to 90; Fair, F., or 70 to 80; Poor, P., or 60 to 70, and Very Poor, V. P., or below 60. If the deportment is below or continues at P., the pupil is liable to be suspended.

F. M. States [his signature], TEACHER.

Analysis: Unlike my paternal grandmother, Beatrice (Repsher) Strait, or my father and his sister, I have but one lonely report card for my  grandfather, William. I’m estimating that he would have been around 8 or 9 years old. I think that it would be 1918 or 1919 since Audrey was the one signing the report card and his father, Ora, passed away in 1918.

William’s courses included Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Spelling, Physiology, Geography, U. S. History, Grammar, Physical Training, Music, and Manual Training. The Manual Training category at the top was written over with something that ends in “ning” but I can’t make it out. I had to look up physiology which is a branch of biology that deals with the functions of living organisms and their parts.

Overall, William was a decent pupil; a solid B student by today’s grading. He did not have many absences as he was only out of school 6-1/2 days of which six were in February. There are only two “poor” grades on his report card for the year, one in conduct in December and one in Physical Training in November. 60% of all of his other grades were a G- or above. The grading for this school system ran from Excellent (90 to 100) to Good (80 to 90) all the way down to Very Poor (below 60). There were two odd entries, the first was a blank box in U. S. History for March and a “C” in Geography for March.

What genealogical purpose does this lonely report card serve? Well, it puts my grandfather at a particular place, Newton, New Jersey, at a particular time, around 1918 or 1919. If I ran into two men named William Strait in the same area, it would help me distinguish between the two. It hints that Audrey is his mother since she signed in the parents section.

This is an original source. The inks vary by month, are true to the time period, and seem to be completed by the same person, F. M. States, the teacher. It is not a copy and it’s form hasn’t been changed.

The information found in this source is primary. It’s firsthand since it was created at the time of the event, school attendance, and filled in by the teacher witnessing William’s classroom performance.

The evidence is explicit for the research question, “What grade did William Strait of Newton, New Jersey, receive for Grammar in April of his 4th grade?” That can be answered simply and directly as G+ for this question. The evidence is indirect for the research question, “What was the name of the mother of William Strait, of Newton, New Jersey, who attended Newton Public Schools?” Even though Audrey signed in the parents space, this evidence would need to be combined with other evidence for the researcher to be reasonably sure that Audrey was William’s mother.


While I didn’t get a birth date or solid kinship information from this report card, it does have value for me. I never got to meet my grandfather William as he died before I was born. Along with the school photo (above), it helps me understand William’s early life and flesh out what he was like. He attended school diligently for this year and was a good student. It makes me wonder what he was doing to earn a Poor in conduct for that one month. Pulling little girls pigtails or acting up in the classroom? It’s fun to imagine.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #40 – Tietje Westra’s Passenger Manifest

Persons of Interest: Tietje (Tuinstra) Westra and husband Herman Westra
Relationship: Wife of grand uncle and grand uncle

Source Citation: “New York, Passenger Lists,1820-1957,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 December 2016), entry for Tietje Westra, microfilm series T715, roll 4154, S. S. Volendam, list 4, line 28, image 356-357, page 195. Citing National Archives and Records Adminstration, New York Passenger List (Microfilm M715, 8892 rolls).


The S. S. Volendam, Source: Ancestry image

Document Description: This is a digital copy of the passenger manifest for the ship the S. S. Volendam arriving in the port of New York City on 21 October 1927. The ship departed from Rotterdam on 11 October 1927. It contains information like name, age, nationality, place of birth, place traveling to, and identifying marks. Pages are larger than a standard 8-1/2″ by 11″ paper and were kept in multi-hole binders. The originals are currently stored at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Background information on ships’ manifests: As with most documents that are created, some sort of law or regulation drives its creation. Ships’ manifests are no different. The first legislation related to immigrants was the Steerage Act of 1819. This act wasn’t intended to regulate who came into the United States but was intended to improve the conditions under which passengers on ships traveled. Along with having improve traveling conditions, the captains were required to collect and report on the passengers they’d carried on their ship. Thus the beginning of official immigration-related ships’ passenger lists for the United States. (Passenger lists certainly existed before 1819!) The legislation was tweaked over the years and the FamilySearch wiki on immigration has the run down of those items. The Immigration Act of 1893 is the reason the document featured in this post has all the wonderful detail it does. According to the FamilySearch wiki:

“… required that ship manifests now be delivered to an inspector of immigration instead of a customs official.  Manifests were now to be made at the time & place of embarkation rather than at debarkation.  To be included on this manifests were full name, age, sex; married or single; calling or occupation; able to read or write; nationality; last residence; sea port for landing in the US; final destination, if any, beyond the seaport of landing; who paid for the passage; whether in possession of money; whether going to join a relative and his name and address; whether ever before in the United States, and if so when and where; other facts that may cause the passenger to excluded.”

Did you know that there is a whole volunteer organization dedicated to transcribing passenger lists? The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild (ISTG™) has transcribed passenger lists from the 1600s to the 1900s so that they can be searched. They are diligently working to add to their database and make their lists the most accurate that can be found. I highly recommend visiting them to see what they have to offer.

Another good resource to explore regarding immigrant ancestors is book called They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Arrival Record by John P. Colletta, Ph.D. and published by the Turner Publishing Company for AncestryPublishing. Mr. Colletta discusses what you need to know and where to find passenger information, information about arrivals prior to 1820, passenger lists since 1820, what to do when your ancestor is not indexed in NARA records, and other resources for exploration. Mr. Colletta has more than 20 years experience and is a seasoned lecturer. He’s frequently a lecturer for the various genealogical societies out here in Arizona.

Document Scans and Transcription: There are three image scans related to Tietje’s passenger manifest entry.

Heading information across top of Tietje’s two sheets:
List 4, Examined and passed for visae.

ALL ALIENS arriving at a port of continental United States from a foreign port or a port of the insular possessions of the United States, and all aliens arriving at a port of said insular possession from a foreign port, a port of continental United States, or a port of another insular possession, in whatever class they travel, MUST be fully listed and the master or commanding officer of each vessel carrying such passengers must upon arrival deliver lists thereof to the immigration officer. The entries on this sheet must be typewritten or printed.

This (yellow) sheet is for the listing of SECOND-CABIN PASSENGERS ONLY. Page 195

S. S. Volendam. Passengers sailing from Rotterdam, October 11, 1927. Arriving at Port of New York, N.Y., October 21, 1927.

passenger-manifest-tietje-westra-p1Left-facing sheet:
1 – No. on List: 28
2 – Head tax status: [blank]
3 – Name in full (family and given):  Westra, Tietje
4 – Age (yrs and mos.): 21
5 – Sex: F
6 – Married or Single: M
7 – Calling or occupation: HOUSEW.
8 – Able to read, language read, write: YES, DUTCH, YES
9 – Nationality: WITHOUT
10 – Race or people: DUTCH
11 – Place of birth (country and city): DUTCH, DRONRIJP
12 – Immigration visa number: 92
13 – Issued at: ROTTERDAM
14 – Date: OCT. 10TH 27
15 – Last permanent residence (country and city): HOLLAND, DRONRIJP

passenger-manifest-tietje-westra-p2Right-facing sheet:
16 – No. on List: 28
17 – The name and complete address of nearest relative or friend in country whence the alien came: FATHER G. TUINSTRA, DRONRIJP
18 – Final destination (state and city): N.J., LITTLE FALLS
19 – Whether having a ticket to such final destination: NO
20 – By whom was passage paid?: HUSBAND
21 – Whether in possession of $50, and if less, how much?: 1
22 – Whether ever before in the United States; and if so, when and where?: NO
23 – Whether going to join a relative or friend; and if so, what relative or friend, and his full name and complete address: HUSBAND H. WESTRA, 61 HARRISON, LITTLE FALLS, N.J.
24 – Purpose of coming to United States:
|  Whether alien intends to return to country whence he came after engaging temporarily in laboring pursuits in the United States : NO
| Length of time alien intends to remain in the United States: ALWAYS
| Whether alien intends to become a Citizen of the United States: YES
25 –  Ever in prison or almshouse or institution for care and treatment of the insane, or supported by charity?  If so, which? NO
26 – Whether a polygamist: NO
27 – Whether an anarchist: NO
28 – Whether a person who believes in or advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States or all forms of law, etc.: NO
29 – Whether coming by reason of any offer, solicitation, promise, agreement, expressed or implied, to labor in the United States: NO
30 – Whether alien had been previously deported within one year: NO
31 – Condition of health, mental and physical: GOOD
32 – Deformed or crippled. Nature, length of time, and cause: NO
33 – Height (Feet | Inches): 5′ 5″
34 – Complexion: FAIR
35 – Color of – Hair | Eyes: BLD and BLUE
36 – Marks of identification: NONE

Heading information across top of Herman’s sheet:
Record on this blank United States citizens of insular possessions of the United States arriving a port of continental United States from a foreign port or a port of the insular possessions of the United States, and such citizens arriving at a port of said insular possessions from a foreign port, a port of continental United States, or a port of another insular possession.

List 1, page 200

S. S. VOLENDAM sailing from ROTTERDAM, October 11th, 1927, Arriving at Port of New York N.Y., October 21st, 1927.

passenger-manifest-herman-westraHerman’s sheet:
No. on List: 1
Name in full (family and given):  Westra, Herman. For wife see man. 4 line 28.
Age (yrs and mos.): 24
Sex: M
Married or Single: M
If native of United States insular possession or if native of United States, give date and place of  birth (city or town and state): 433723 [penciled in]
If naturalized, give name and location of court which issued naturalization papers, and date of papers: County Court of Passaic Cy., Paterson, N.J., June 29th 1927
Address in United States: 61 Harrison, Little Falls, N.J.

Analysis: This manifest is a lesson in paying attention. If you just look at the first page I found on Ancestry, you’d think woot-woot, enter the data, and move onto the next person or task. But you’d be missing out. There are three pieces to Tietje’s listing: a left-facing page, a right-facing page, and Herman’s page. Looking at the heading on the top of the left-facing page is a clue: “LIST OR MANIFEST OF ALIEN PASSENGERS FOR THE UNITED.” United what? States, for sure, but where is the rest of the heading? On the right-facing page, of course. A rushed or frazzled researcher would miss clicking on the next (right-facing page) to check out all the good stuff on the continuation of Tietje’s listing.

Also, there’s a very helpful note by her entry that tells the researcher to look at manifest 1 line 1 to find Tietje’s husband. Why is he not listed with her? Because, at this time, he’s actually a United States citizen! He is listed with all the other citizens on a separate list.screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-7-22-50-pm

Once I’ve found and examined all the information found on these three pages, I can write a short narrative about Tietje’s arrival in America.

As 21-year-old Tietje Westra stepped off the gangway of the S. S. Volendam at the port of New York, New York, on the 21st of October in 1927, she tucked a stray strand of her blonde hair under her kerchief. She hoped that all the wind she’d been exposed to on the 10-day Atlantic voyage hadn’t wreaked too much havoc on her fair complexion. She felt good, both mentally and physically. Her blue eyes widened as she took in the impressive skyscrapers of New York City. This was the first time she’d ever been to America and it was breathtaking. She turned to look at her 24-year-old husband Herman standing next to her. “It’s okay,” he assured her as he put his arm around her 5′ 5″ frame. “We’re on our way home.” Home was at 61 Harrison St. in Little Falls, New Jersey.


New York City skyline, 1913. Source: LOC, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pan.6a36553

Tietje had left her nearest relative, her father G. Tuinstra, behind in her birthplace (and last residence) of Dronrijp, Holland, when she had boarded the ship in Rotterdam on the 11th day of October with Herman, who was now officially an American. Earlier in the year on the 29th of June, Herman had naturalized and filed his papers at the county courthouse in Passaic County, New Jersey. His American passport, numbered 433723, was tucked securely in his coat pocket along with Tietje’s visa, numbered 92, issued to her in Rotterdam. They didn’t want to lose any of their documents. Since she was married to an American, she was now technically without a nationality. Her race was Dutch but she was reliant on Herman to provide her protection from her alien status in her newly adopted country.

Tietje could read and write in Dutch but learning English was going to be a challenge! Just think of having to shop for all the things she would need to do her housekeeping in New Jersey. It didn’t matter how long it took to learn. She intended to stay permanently in the United States and gain her citizenship. An official on the ship had asked her all sorts of questions regarding her intentions. “No,” she’d answered when he’d asked her if she was polygamist. “No,” to a lot of the questions. She wasn’t an anarchist, didn’t intend to overthrow the United States government, hadn’t been lured with incentives for labor, and had never been in prison. “Let’s collect our trunks and get out of here,” said Herman. And with that, they were off to start their life together in America.

I already had some good genealogical information about Tietje but these documents did fill in a few blanks for me:

  • As listed in the manifest, Tietje’s father was G. Tuinstra. Even having just his first initial is a good clue.
    • The traditional dutch naming convention is as follows:
      • First-born son is named after paternal grandfather
      • Second son is named after maternal grandfather
      • First-born daughter is named after maternal grandmother
      • Second daughter is named after paternal grandmother
      • Subsequent children were often named after uncles and aunts – go wild on this child’s name!
    • Herman and Tietje named their first son John Garry which follow the convention for Herman’s father name “Jan” or John in English.
    • Herman and Tietje named their second son Garry John which would follow the convention if Tietje’s father’s name was Garry. Given his initial is given as “G” on the manifest, this is a great possibility as a first name for him.
    • Side Note: Herman and Tietje name their first daughter Shirley which would follow the convention if Tietje’s mother’s name was Shirley. I highly doubt this, however, because I think movie star Shirley Temple had more to do with this name than Tietje’s mother’s name. Their daughter was born in 1941 and the popularity of Shirley as a first name was huge.
    • screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-12-12-31-pm

      Shirley as a girl’s name. Source: The Baby Center

      If I were intent on finding out Tietje’s parents’ names, I would concentrate on a Garry Tuinstra as her father’s name.

  • Tietje was still living in her birthplace of Dronrijp, Holland, before her journey to America.
  • Tietje was living at 61 Harrison St., Little Falls, New Jersey, in October of 1927. Odds are good that city would be their location in the 1930 census.

The source documents can be considered original records since the physical documents are stored at NARA and the digital images are just straight scans of the documents without changes. When you examine the images, you can see the entire page complete with large black background margins. You’ll notice, I’ve cropped those margins out to save on my black ink and to make it look pretty for blogposts. Additionally, the image show that while some effort was made make sure the page was straight, they weren’t meticulous about it. They’re just a little off-kilter.

The information is a mix of both primary and secondary information. The shipping officials recorded Tietje’s information at the time of her voyage. Primary: Tietje was aware of her age, Herman aware of his age, the official observed what Tietje’s physical characteristics were, and both Herman and Tietje knew where they were headed to live in the United States. Secondary: Tietje birth place and her marital status.

Like the information, the evidence is a mixed bag. The direct (explicit) evidence answers the questions “When did Tietje (Tuinstra) Westra, born in Dronrijp, Holland, first arrive in America; How old was Tietje when she arrived in America; and who was Tietje married to?” The indirect evidence that she was married must be combined with some other source to answer the question about where and when Herman and Tietje were actually wed.

I love typewritten documents. They’re so easy to read. But I do have one item that has me stumped. There is a handwritten notation over Tietje’s entry on the right-facing page which I can’t decipher:screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-7-21-28-pm

I’m guessing it says something about her husband? “Ad to husband….?” Maybe? Someone’s initials at the end? Maybe….


Herman became an American citizen in June of 1927 and shortly thereafter traveled back to Holland in October to help his wife Tietje make the Atlantic voyage to join him in America. The ship that carried them overseas was the S. S. Volendam sailing from Rotterdam and arriving in the port of New York, New York. The passenger manifest required by immigration officials helps to create a short vignette of their arrival and also filled in a few blanks in my Westra family tree database.