52 Documents in 52 Weeks #10 – William Charles Strait’s Form SS-5


William Charles Strait, Sr.

Person of Interest: William Charles Strait
Relationship: Grandfather

Source Citation: William Charles Strait, SS no. 146-10-5034, 03 December 1936, Applicaton for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.

Document Description: This document looks to be a photocopy of the microfilm of an original document stored at the Social Security Administration (SSA) in Baltimore Maryland. It is 5-1/2″ by 10″ in size but it is not clear from this document whether the scale has been adjusted for copying convenience. The form is the standard SS-5 Form which is an application for a Social Security Card and the form was created by the SSA. The original appears to have been tri-folded possibly to mail it in a smaller envelope.

Background information regarding Social Security: You can’t get away from doing some history homework while researching your genealogical records. It’s just not going to happen! The documents created by the Social Security Administration are no different. Knowing the progression of the laws surrounding Social Security help the researcher navigate records and point to where the documents can be found. According to the introduction provided by Social Security Administration website “this background material [1969 Abe Bortz book and the 1976 Newman “Preliminary Inventory”] is the narrative involving SSA’s organizational history. This is vital to navigating the Social Security records since they are almost always stored and cataloged by title of the SSA organization which created the records.” The Committee for Economic Security was established in June 1934 in response to the economic crisis brought about by the Great Depression. The committee was tasked with providing legislative recommendations to relieve economic insecurities. The committee presented its recommendations to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January of 1935. Their recommendations, Roosevelt’s own ideas, and Congress’ ideas were all merged to create the Social Security Bill (R.R. 7260, Public Law No. 271, 74th Congress) which was signed into law on August 14, 1935.

People began applying for their unique Social Security Number shortly after 1935 and this SS-5 form was created to facilitate the issuing of numbers. The numbers are a nine-digit number which originally were in an “AAA-GG-SSSS” format. The first three digits were geographically related and the “numbers were assigned beginning in the northeast and moving south and westward, so that people on the east coast had the lowest numbers and those on the west coast had the highest numbers.”[1] The middle two digits represent a group number that, for administrative reasons, were not assigned in consecutive order. There was some logic that involved assigning even and odd numbers into four broad groups:

  1. odd numbers from 01 through 09
  2. even numbers from 10 through 98
  3. even numbers from 02 through 08
  4. odd numbers from 11 through 99

The last four digits are serial numbers are were issued consecutively within the assigned group number. However, to combat the modern problem of identity theft, in June of 2011 the SSA began a randomization project to eliminate the geographical significance of the first three digits.

Copies of a person’s Social Security Applications can be ordered only if the person is deceased. The application and some instructions can be found at the Social Security Administration website. There is a fee and some rules around how to order. You will be required to furnish proof of death if the person was born less than 120 years ago. Make sure to read up on all the requirements so that you don’t waste your money or delay getting your documents!

william-charles-strait-ss-applicationDocument Scan and Transcription: Form SS-5 Header
Treasury Department
Internal Revenue Service
U. S. Social Security Act
Application for Account Number
146-10-5034 [penned above the top line on the form]

Form SS-5 Body
1. Employee’s first name: William
1. Middle name: Charles
1. Last name: Strait [there is a “363” penned in after his last name]
1. (Married woman give maiden first name, maiden last name, and husband’s last name)
2. Street and Number: Brooklyn Road
3. Post office and state: Stanhope, New Jersey
4. Business name of present employer: Darlington Fabrics, Inc.
5. Business address of present employer: Mill Street, Newton, N.J.
6. Age at last birthday: 26
7. Date of birth, month-day-year, subject to later verification: 7 17 1910
8: Place of birth: Sparta Township [NJ pended in after this]
9: Father’s full name: Ora Simpson Strait
10. Mothers full maiden name: Audrey Hunt
11. Sex: Male/Female, check which: Male [checked]
12: Color: White, Negro, Other (specify), check which: White [checked]
13: If registered with the U. S. Employment Service, give number of registration card: No
14. If you have previously filled out a card like this, State place and date: No
15. Date: 12-3-1936
16: Employee’s signature, as usually written: William Strait [signature]

Detach along this line.

Analysis: This document has some powerful genealogical information contained within it. Especially nice is the request for either the applicant’s full or maiden name, if a married female, and the full maiden name of the applicant’s mother. It can be hard to ferret out a female’s maiden name and this application asks for those items specifically. From this form, a short biography for William Charles Strait can be written:

26-year-old William Charles Strait was working for Darlington Fabrics, Inc. located on Mill Street in Newton, New Jersey, on 03 December 1936 when he applied for his Social Security Number. He was born on 17 July 1910 to parents Audrey Hunt and Ora Simpson Strait. At the time he was living on Brooklyn Road in Stanhope, New Jersey, and commuting to work in Newton. He was a white male that was assigned SS#146-10-5034.

I have used this form to find the parent’s of some Repsher cousins when parentage was unclear. This can be especially useful when you have a number of people with the same name in the family. Straits and Repshers, I’m talking to you!

This SS-5 Form is an original document in that it looks to be a strict photocopy of the microfilm of the original records. There are no apparent changes to the document (no redaction or overprinting) and is in William’s original writing. It provides a nice example of his signature in case I need to compare it to other documents.

The information on the document that is primary (firsthand) relates to William’s current address, his age, his gender, his race, his employer, and his employer’s address. The secondary information relates to his birth date (he doesn’t remember his birth date, his parents have told him), his birth place, and his parents. It may seem weird that his age is primary when his birth date is secondary. While he wouldn’t remember his birth date, he can attest to the number of years that are passing that make up his age.

The evidence is direct in relation to the research question of, “When was William Charles Strait of New Jersey born and who were his parents?” in that the questions are explicitly answered by this form. The evidence that his parents were married would be indirect in that some other evidence must be combined with this to prove that his parents were legally married or presenting themselves as a wedded couple. Parentage and marriage are not necessarily the same thing.


This SS-5 form is a great genealogical resource. It can be useful in finding birth dates, places, parents’ names, maiden names, and current employment information. It can, however, be a bit tricky when ordering this record if you don’t have the applicant’s Social Security number, need to provide proof that the applicant is dead, or need to show that both of the applicant’s parents are deceased (born less than 120 years ago), especially when the purpose of ordering the application is to find out parents names. There wasn’t anything surprising that I learned about my grandfather by ordering this form but it does help provide confidence that I’ve done reasonably exhaustive research into this ancestor.

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

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #9 – Jacob Repsher’s Children

Person of Interest: Jacol Henry Repsher
Relationship: 3rd great-grandfather

Source Citation: Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252, claimant’s statement, made by Jacob Repsher, undated document; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Document Description: This is a hand-written 5″ by 8″ lined sheet of loose paper found in Jacob’s Civil War pension file which has 103 pages in total. This document has been copied onto a legal-sized paper. It looks to be written in pencil and lists his children in his own handwriting with a certification by him at the bottom. The children are listed in birth order and there are ten children listed in all.

jacob001Document Scan and Transcription: [original spelling (and misspellings) maintained]
Perhaps I Maid som Balk [?, not sure what this word is]
And I got mi first wife yet
and the childrens names and Births
Emanuel J. Repsher born Sep 8 1852
John J. Repsher born  July 3 1854
Aaron J. Repsher November 3 1877 [sic, should be 1857]
Samuel P. Repsher Sep 4 1859
Pherman J. Repsher July 21 1865
Jesiah K. Repsher July 8 1867
Arman S. Rephser July 27 1869
Mary E. Repsher August 24 1872
George A. Repsher March 12 1875
William H. Repsher Oct 2 1877
this is one After the other &
living – yours truly
Jacob Repsher
this is corect

Analysis: Jacob could write but spelled by ear for this document as evidenced by the “mi” for my, and “corect” for correct, and “maid” for made. He certified that he still had his first wife (either she wasn’t dead or they weren’t divorced) and that these were his living children at the time he wrote this list. What can’t be determined is if he’s listing the children from his own memory. I would, however, suspect that he was sitting down with wife, Susanna, to list them out rather than just relying on his memory. Not implying that men don’t remember children’s birthdays, but Jacob might have been more concerned about the support of his family and left all aspects of the children to wife, Susanna. Jacob’s listing is almost as good as Eliza’s affidavit from my first week’s post for 2017. He’s concerned specifically with all the living children at the time because the pension office was concerned with the possibility that minor children would qualify for a pension too.

Aaron was listed as being born in 1877 and I think this is a mistake and should be 1857. Also, there’s a significant gap between Samuel and Pherman which suggest some children that were either stillborn or died at a young age. Just from this list of living children, it’s impossible to tell. Other sources must be considered if one is trying to figure out all the children of Jacob and Susanna.

This is an original source in that it is Jacob’s listing of his living children, one after the other, complete with his own interpretations of how words are spelled. When I look at the original copied onto the legal-sized sheet sent to me it does not look to be tampered with or changed in any way. I have cropped it for this blog. It hasn’t been transcribed or changed in any way to be incorporated into another document.

The information seems to be primary information in that Jacob was the children’s father and, as far as I have determined to this date, always lived with the family. He wasn’t a traveling salesman or worker/captain on a ship or career military. He was a humble shoemaker and would have witnessed (or been extremely close) the births of his children at home.

The evidence is direct if the research question is, “Who were the living children of Jacob Repsher, of eastern Pennsylvania, and his wife at the time he was applying for his Civil War pension?” It would be indirect, meaning it would have to be combined with other sources, if I were trying to determine all the children that Jacob and Susanna had together. Additionally, while he says that “I got mi wife yet” other evidence must be combined with this in order to determine where and when the couple were married.


This is a great document in Jacob’s own handwriting with his signature at the bottom. When combine with the numerous other documents found in the Civil War pension file, some of Jacob and Susanna’s children’s birth dates can be determined. Some death dates can also be determined because the pension office took a while to determine the legitimacy of Jacob’s claim. Living children from one document might be deceased by the time another document was generated. All of this can be used to locate the family in census records and also to possibly track down birth records (certificates or registers), death records, and a possible marriage record for Jacob and Susanna. When weighing evidence, this weighs strongly towards being a reliable source despite Jacob’s spelling errors and one 1877 instead of 1857 as a birth year.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #8 – John and Laura Repsher’s 50th Wedding Anniversary

Persons of Interest: John and Laura Repsher of Analomink, Pennsylvania
Relationship: Great grand uncle and wife

Source Citation: “Open House Marks Golden Anniversary,” The Daily Record (East Stroudsburg), 27 February 1956, p. 5, cols. 4-5; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/82838805 : accessed 02 December 2016), Historical Newspapers Collection.

Document Description: An announcement in a newspaper about the 50th wedding anniversary celebration. The entire newspaper page for this day has been digitized and these are the screen clippings.


screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-10-12-34-amDocument Scan and Transcription: Open House Marks Golden Anniversary
Analomink – The 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. John Repsher was on Monday, February 20 but the celebration in their honor was held this Saturday afternoon with an open house in the POS of a A Hall for about 100 guests.

Mr. and Mrs. Repsher were married February 20, 1906 at the East Stroudsburg parsonage by Rev. C. B. Johnson.

Mrs. Repsher, the former Laura Staples, was born in Analomink on December 9, 1887, daughter of the late John D. and Caroline Hallett Staples. Mr. Repsher was born in Pocono Lake on May 17, 1882, the son of the late John and Caroline Bonser Repsher.

They had five children of whom four are living: Mrs. Robert Van Vliet and Mrs. Russell Transue of Analomink, Ross Repsher of Quakertown and Lester Repsher, at home. They have 9 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-10-12-13-amThe Repshers have always lived in Analomink and are members of the Analomink Methodist Church. Mr. Repsher worked for many years at the lumber dock owned by C. A. Coleman. When that was disbanded he went to work for Line Material Company and was retired about a year ago.

For the party, the hall had been decorated with festoons of gold crepe paper. Tables were decorated with gold table cloths and doilies and gold candlesticks. At the table for the guests of honor, bouquets of gold carnations and marigolds flanked the wedding cake decorated with figures of a bride and bridegroom.

Refreshments were served and the guests of honor received many gifts.

Analysis: This particular wedding anniversary announcement is a genealogist’s dream article. It is chock full of information related to the John and Laura Repsher family. Birth dates, birth places, maiden names, husbands, and parents abound! I did have a question on what the “POS of A Hall” was. Turns out I learned about a new organization when I went to find out what this meant. It stands for Patriotic Order Sons of America. According to their website:

“The Patriotic Order Sons of America was organized December 10, 1847 to preserve the Public School System, The Constitution of the United Sates and our American way of life. It was incorporated by an Act of the Pennsylvania State Legislature, February 27, 1867. The subordinate unit, Washington Camp #150 was chartered by the Parent Corporation in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, May 21, 1871.”

I consider the online copy of a page from the Daily Record to be an original document even though it’s been digitized. As long as the content does not appear to be changed during the process (whether that’s copying, scanning or digitizing), the digital copy can be considered as good as the original. This article looks to be completely untouched as part of the entire page that’s been digitized. I’ve clipped portions of that page so that I can insert it into this article and so that you could read the print.

The information in the article is mixed in nature with both primary (firsthand) and secondary (secondhand, hearsay) information found. Assuming Laura and John were the informants, they would know what children they had together and the listing of Mrs. Robert Van Vliet, Ross, Lester and Mrs. Rusell Transue would be primary. Both John and Laura’s birth dates are secondary as neither would remember being born but they are relying what other people have told them about their birth dates, places, and parents. Their wedding date is primary information; they were both there and remember quite distinctly where and when they were married and who performed the ceremony.

The evidence is direct (explicit) related to John and Laura’s marriage. It answers, quite succinctly, the question, “When were John Repsher and Laura Staples of Analomink, Pennsylvania, married?” There is also direct evidence related to their births but since that is secondary information, further evidence should be found to corroborate the dates.

From the information in the article, we can construct a basic family group.

John Repsher (son of John and Caroline (Bonser) Repsher, born 17 May 1882, Pocono Lake, Pennsylvania) married Laura Staples (daughter of John D. and Caroline (Hallett) Staples, born 09 December 1887) on 20 February 1906 at East Stroudsburg. They had the following children:

  1. ________, daughter, married Robert Van Vliet
  2. ________, daughter, married Russell Transue
  3. Ross, son
  4. Lester, son
  5. ________, child died before 27 February 1956


This is a robust 50th wedding anniversary announcement with lots of excellent genealogical information both of primary and secondary nature. It helps fill in some blanks in my family tree in that I didn’t have Laura Staples’ mother’s name. I’m treating the online, digital copy as an original, just like I’d inspected it at a historical society or at the publisher’s archives.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #7 – Bea Guirreri’s Award

Person of Interest: Beatrice I. (Repsher) Guirreri
Relationship: Paternal grandmother

Source Citation: “AARP award,” newspaper clipping, New Jersey Herald, 02 May 1990 (penned), p. C-3. Strait family newspaper clippings, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ. Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.

Document Description: A clipping from a local newspaper consisting of a picture with a caption.

aarp-award-beatrice-guirreriDocument Scan and Transcription:
AARP award
Bea Guirreri, at right, was given a Community Service Award from the American Association of Retired Persons, Chapter 44, at a recent meeting held at Harmony Lodge, Andover Twp. Guirreri was selected by the chapter’s board of directors for her outstanding volunteer contribution to the community. The award was presented by Robert Urich, assistant state director, AARP.

Analysis: This short little blurb is a glimpse into my grandmother Bea’s life in May of 1990. I think someone sent her this article as the penned “New Jersey Herald” and date at the top are not in her handwriting of which I have numerous examples.

What genealogical purpose does this newspaper clipping serve? Why even save it when it doesn’t give me a death date, a court filing to pursue, any marriage information, or family related tidbits. It’s important because it places my grandmother at a particular place in a particular time. The Board for Certification of Genealogists has a lovely definition of genealogy on their home page:

“Genealogy is the study of families in genetic and historical context. It is the study of communities, in which kinship networks weave the fabric of economic, political, and social life. It is the study of family structures and the changing roles of men, women, and children in diverse cultures. It is biography, reconstructing each human life across place and time. Genealogy is the story of who we are and how we came to be as individuals and societies.”

This small newspaper clipping weaves into the story of my grandmother’s life. Sure, she was a mother, a widow, a sister, a wife. But she was also a contributor to her community. In the biography of her life, her volunteer work with numerous organizations gives me (and those who would be researching her after I’m long gone) a feel for the types of things that were important to her. In the context of community, this caption lets me know that people thought her work within the community was worthy enough to be recognized. In the fabric of history, I learn from this blurb that retired people were important enough to society for them to create a whole association around them.

It also provides me a picture of Beatrice at the time. I see how she’s dressed, what jewelry she’s wearing, the way her hair is styled, the fact that she’s wearing glasses and what type they are. I see how the gentleman who is presenting the award is dressed and get a peak at another woman in the background. If I didn’t already know when the picture was taken, all those clues might help me date the article. I know that Bea was born in 1910,[1] so I can see that in 1990, at eighty years old, her hair is still dark and she’s still in good health. It tells me she used the nickname “Bea” often enough that the reporter used that in the caption. It tells me that she’s been married at least once because she’s using the last name “Guirreri” when her birth name was Repsher.

This is an original source in that it’s the actual newspaper clipping taken from the paper at the time it was printed. The information contained within it is primary in that the newspaper photographer/reporter was at the event at the time and witnessed Beatrice receiving the award. It was recorded (as published in the paper) very close to the time of the event. The evidence is direct only if the research question is a very specific one of “When and what awards did Beatrice receive?” This clipping is more useful in constructing a timeline of Beatrice’s life than providing detailed information related to birth or death or marriage.


Don’t overlook any little piece of evidence in looking at the people in your family tree. Even the little things help to construct timelines and breath life into your ancestor’s everyday activities.

[1] Pennsylvania Department of Health, birth certificate 1234010-1910 (1910), Beatrice Irene Repsher; Division of Vital Statistics, New Castle.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #6 – Herman Westra’s 1940 Census

Person of Interest: Herman Westra
Relationship: Paternal grand uncle

Source Citation: 1940 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Andover, ED 19-2, page 14 (stamped), sheet 6B-7A, family 121, Herman Westra household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 November 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2384.

Documents Description: These documents are part of the Sixteenth Census of the United States which was taken in 1940, shortly before World War II broke out. It is the sixteenth census taken since 1790. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for taking the censuses. After 72 years (and not before owing to privacy reasons), the records are released to the public by the National Archives and Records Administration. In accordance with the 72-Year Rule, the National Archives released the 1930 records in April 2002 and most recently, the 1940 records were released April 2, 2012. 

Independently, both Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org raced to get this census indexed and searchable by name once the digital images had been released. FamilySearch.org completed their indexing of 132 million names in only 4 months which speaks to the efforts of all the volunteers involved in the project. Ancestry.com was just as ambitious and had 38 states and territories fully indexed and searchable by July 27, 2012.

Documents Scan/Transcription: Numbers relate to columns on the schedule
1940-us-census-herman-westra-6bPage 6B Header
State: New Jersey; County: Sussex; Township: Andover; S.D. No.: 1; E.D. No.: 19-2; Enumerated by me on: May 8, 1940; Enumerator: James J. Fogleson; Sheet No.: 6B; stamped page number does not exist

Page 6B Detail
line 80, Herman Westra

1. Street, avenue, road, etc.: Germany Flats Road
2. House number: [blank]

Household Data
3. Number of household in order of visitation: 121
4. Home owned (O) or rented (R): R
5. Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented: 25
6. Does this household live on a farm? : Yes
7. Name: Westra, Herman
8. Relationship of this person to the head of the household: Head
A. Code A: O

Personal Description
9. Sex: M
10. Color or race: W
11. Age at last birthday: 37
12. Marital status: M

13. Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940: No
14. Highest grade of school completed: 8
B. Code B: 8

Place of Birth
15. If born in the United States, give State, Territory, or possession. If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937: Holland
C. Code C: 08
16. Citizenship of the foreign born: Na

Residence, April 1, 1935
17. City, town, or village having 2,500 or more inhabitants. Enter “R” for all other places: Clinton
18. County: Huntington
19. State: New Jersey
20. On a farm?: Yes
D. Code D: 5712

Employment Status, persons 14 years old and over
21. Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Gov’t. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No): Yes
22. At Public work?: “-”
23. Seeking work?: “-”
24. Has a job?: “-”
25. Engaged in home house-work (H), in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (Ot): “-”
E. Code E: 1
26. Hours Worked: 100
27. Weeks out of work: [blank]

Occupation, Industry and Class of Worker
28. Occupation: Operator
29. Industry: Farm
30. Worker Class: OA
F. Code F: 000-VV-4
31: # of Weeks Worked: 52

Income in 1939
32. Wage/income received: 0  [1,200 was written in but then struck through]
33. Other sources of income: Yes
34: Farm schedule: [blank]

Supplemental questions for line 80 (Questions 35 to 50 below)
35. Name: Herman Westra

Place of Birth of Father and Mother
36: Father’s place of birth: Holland
37. Mother’s place of birth: Holland
G. Code G: 8
38. Language: Dutch
H. Code H: 08

39. Veteran?: No
40. If child, is veteran-father dead?: [blank]
41. War or military service: [blank]
I. Code I: [blank]

Social Security
42. Have a SSN?: No
43. Old-Age or RR deductions?: [blank]
44. Deductions all, 1/2 or part?: [blank]

Usual Occupation, Industry, and Class of Worker
45. Usual occupation: Farmer
46. Usual industry: Farm
47. Usual class of worker: OA
J. Code J: ___-VV-4

For all woman who are or have been married
48. Has woman been married more than once?: [blank]
49. Age at first marriage: [blank]
50. Number of children ever born (do not include stillbirths): [blank]

Office Use Only Codes
K. Ten (4): 1
L. V-R(5): 1
M. Fm. Res. and Sex (6 and 9): 3
N. Color and nat. (10, 15, 36 and 37): 4
O. Age(11): 37
P. Mar. St.(12): 2
Q. Gr.Com(B): 8
R. Cit.(16): 1
S. Wrk.St.(E): 1
T. Hrs.wkd or Dur.un (26 or 27): V
U. Occupution, Industry, Class of Worker(F): [blank]
V. Wks.wkd(31): 9
W. Wages(32): [illegible]
X. Ot.inc(33): [blank]
Y. [no heading]: 0
Z. [no heading]: [blank]

1940-us-census-herman-westra-7aPage 7A Header
State: New Jersey; County: Sussex; Township: Andover; S.D. No.: 1; E.D. No.: 19-2; Enumerated by me on: May 8, 1940; Enumerator: James J. Fogleson; Sheet No.: 6B; stamped page number with “14”

Page 7A Detail
lines 1-3, Tillie, John and Gary Westra [respectively with ; between]

1. Street, avenue, road, etc.: Germany Flats Road
2. House number: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Household Data
3. Number of household in order of visitation: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
4. Home owned (O) or rented (R): [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
5. Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
6. Does this household live on a farm? : [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
7. Name: Westra, Tillie Ⓧ;  —–, John; —–, Garry
8. Relationship of this person to the head of the household: Wife; Son; Son
A. Code A: 1; 2; 2

Personal Description
9. Sex: F; M; M
10. Color or race: W; W; W
11. Age at last birthday: 33; 11; 8
12. Marital status: M; S; S

13. Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940: No; yes; yes
14. Highest grade of school completed: H-1; 4; 2
B. Code B: 9; 4; 2

Place of Birth
15. If born in the United States, give State, Territory, or possession. If foreign born, give country in which birthplace was situated on January 1, 1937: Holland; New Jersey; New Jersey
C. Code C: 08; 57; 57
16. Citizenship of the foreign born: Al; [blank]; [blank]

Residence, April 1, 1935
17. City, town, or village having 2,500 or more inhabitants. Enter “R” for all other places: Clinton; Clinton; Clinton
18. County: Huntington; Huntington; Huntington
19. State: New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey
20. On a farm?: Yes; yes; yes
D. Code D: 5712; 5712; 5712

Employment Status, persons 14 years old and over
21. Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Gov’t. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No): no; [blank]; [blank]
22. At Public work?: no; [blank]; [blank]
23. Seeking work?: no; [blank]; [blank]
24. Has a job?: no; [blank]; [blank]
25. Engaged in home house-work (H), in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (Ot): H; [blank]; [blank]
E. Code E: 5; [blank]; [blank]
26. Hours Worked: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
27. Weeks out of work: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Occupation, Industry and Class of Worker
28. Occupation: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
29. Industry: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
30. Worker Class: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
F. Code F: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
31: # of Weeks Worked: o; [blank]; [blank]

Income in 1939
32. Wage/income received: o; [blank]; [blank]
33. Other sources of income: No; [blank]; [blank]
34: Farm schedule: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Analysis: The above listings/transcriptions are a bit hard to read, I admit it. So why go through the pain of typing it all out? It forced me to look at every single box and tick mark and code and notation. So, let’s put the above in a more user-friendly, narrative format:

On 01 April 1940, Herman Westra (37), head of household, was living in Andover Township, Sussex County, New Jersey, with his wife Tillie (33) and two young sons, John (11) and Garry (8). Tillie was the informant when enumerator, James J. Fogelson, visited the Westra household on 08 May 1940 to record the family’s information. Mr. Fogelson was working in his Supervisor’s District of 1 which oversaw Enumeration District 19-2. In order of visitation, the family was labeled as #121 and was living on a rented farm located on Germany Flats Road in Andover Township. Herman was paying $25 per month to rent the land he was operating as a farm. Tillie was working in home doing housework. The family had moved to Andover from Clinton, Huntington County, New Jersey, the place where the family had been living on 01 April 1935. 

Both Herman and Tillie were reported as being born in Holland while their two boys were born in New Jersey. Herman was naturalized as a U.S. citizen while Tillie was reported as being “alien” status. Herman was selected to be sampled for more information (questions 35-50)  and it was reported that his parents were born in Holland and that the language spoken in home in his earliest childhood was Dutch. Herman was reported as finishing 8th grade while his wife Tillie had completed one year of high school. Their boys were currently attending school with John having completed 4th grade and Garry the 2nd grade. 

Since Herman was over 14 years of age, there were a number of very specific items reported for him in relation to his employment status. Herman was reported as being someone who was at work for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Government work during week of March 24-30, 1940.  He was not at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30, 1940. Herman was not seeking working and did have a job. It was reported that he had worked 100 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940 and that he’d had no unemployed weeks of work up to March 30, 1940. His occupation was an operator of the farm industry and was working on his own account. He reported working 52 weeks in 1939. While there was an amount of $1,200 reported as wages, this was struck through and $0 reported instead. Herman was reported as receiving income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary.

The remaining extra questions (35-50) show that Herman was not a veteran and that his normal occupation was farming in the farm industry working on his own account.

The basic questions asked in this census give us a pretty good snapshot in 1940 for who Herman was, what his family looked like, what he did, where he lived, and his nativity. But this particular family also provides us with the opportunity to study the census a bit deeper.

There are some significant differences in this 1940 census compared to the 1930 census.

  • The person providing the information to the enumerator was identified this time with an encircled x  “Ⓧ” next to their name. In all previous censuses, one could only guess if the informant was the wife, the husband, the head of household, or even a neighbor. On this document, Tillie was the person reporting. We can’t, however, say without a shadow of a doubt whether she was the mother of John and Garry. She most likely is, but the question asks what relationship the boys are to the head of household, not to the wife or the informant. She could be a second wife and further confirmation is needed to prove John and Garry are her sons with Herman.
  • This census also provided a “double” counting with the questions about where the persons were living in 1935. No other census had asked that before. It provides the viewers with information about whether the person was living in the same house, the same place, or somewhere completely different.
  • Another difference is the concentration of questions about employment. The United States was just pulling out of the Great Depression, the rest of the world was at war, Social Security had been enacted in 1935, the Civil Conservation Corps and Works Projects Administration were employing millions of unskilled men, and times were still pretty tough. Employment was on everyone’s mind, including the government!

There are a few mistakes made when looking at this family. Herman is improperly indexed as “Hernan” and Garry is improperly indexed as “George” on the Ancestry.com site. There is no Huntington County in New Jersey and never has been; there is, however, a Hunterdon County and that’s what should have been listed. Tillie’s actual given name is the Dutch “Tietje” but she most likely provided the enumerator with an Americanized version of her name. The lesson? Don’t take everything you read at face value and verify with other sources.

It also helps to know what specifically the enumerators were required to ask and the rules around how they were to record things. There are some hints at that with the bottom of the forms themselves. For example, race was defined for column 10 with a small table at the bottom listing the choices as W=White, Neg=Negro, In=Indian, Chi=Chinese, Jp=Japanese, Fil=Filipino, Hin=Hindu, Kor=Korean and all others were to be spelled out in full.screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-41-52-pm

But were there other instructions with regard to race? For example, what about mixed raced people? There indeed were further instructions:



Snippet of enumerator instructions regarding the heading of the form from IPUMS


Snippet of 1940 census form from IPUMS

What about all the other columns? There is a great website out there that helps with this and it’s called IPUMS. It provides you with clean copies of the census form, the enumeration instructions, and the census questions. And not just for the 1940 census!

Another great census website is Steve Morse‘s “One-Step Webpages.” He offers some great tools related to enumeration district maps and how the districts were defined. And it’s not just limited to census tools. He self-defines his site as “This site contains tools for finding immigration records, census records, vital records, and for dealing with calendars, maps, foreign alphabets, and numerous other applications. Some of these tools fetch data from other websites but do so in more versatile ways than the search tools provided on those websites.”

What about some of the notations within this document? Like the code we find for Herman in “F. Code F: 000-VV-4” squeezed between columns 30 and 31. There’s nothing on IPUMS that tells us what those mean. Steve Morse helps us out with that too! He has a handy tool that tells us exactly what Herman’s code means. screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-5-16-52-pmSince the codes were added after the census was taken, they’re not really not much aide except to help decipher some enumerator’s poor handwriting. If you can’t make out the scribbling in the industry column, the additional codes may help with that.

Once we’ve looked at all the boxes and teased out as much information for Herman as we possibly can from this, it’s time to let the census tell us what our next steps should be. It helps us form the bare bones of a further research plan.

  • Herman was naturalized meaning that there are probably immigration documents: passenger manifests, declarations of intention, petitions for citizenship, court orders, etc.
  • Herman was probably not the only one from his family in America. We need to explore the census lines and pages all around him. Who were his neighbors? Did the enumeration district get divided in a weird way so that a brother, father, etc. was recorded 6 pages away? Were his neighbors Dutch too?
  • Birth information is needed for John and Garry to show that Herman and Tillie are truly their parents.
  • Marriage information is needed for Herman and Tillie. Were they married here? Or before they immigrated?
  • Etc. The list could go on….


Herman Westra’s 1940 census enumeration provides some great information about him and the make up of his family. However, given what was happening in the United States and all over the globe at this time, it would be a mistake to only interpret the data found here by itself. Additionally, the census suggest other avenues of research for Herman, Tillie, John, and Garry Westra. The to-do list gets longer! IF this family is one that I want to concentrate my time and efforts on…

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #5 – George A. Repsher’s Death Certificate

George and Anna Repsher

George and Anna Repsher

Person of Interest: George Arthur Repsher from Pennsylvania, then of Sussex County, New Jersey
Relationship: Great grandfather

Source Citation: New Jersey, Department of Health and Senior Services, Death Certificate, death certificate no. 597 (penned), George Arthur Repsher (1936).

Document Description: This is a non-certified copy of the death certificate of George Arthur Repsher issued to me on 20 January 2015. It is labeled a “Vital Records Abstract Certification.” It is a copy of an older death certificate with one major difference. The cause of death section has been redacted and covered with a big white square box that contains the words  “Redacted as per N.J.A.C. 8:2A-2.1.” None of the original cause of death can be seen. There is red, block overprinting stating, “Issued for Information Purposes Only. Not to be Used for Identification or Legal Purposes.”

death-certificate-for-george-repsherDocument Scan and Transcription:
Item 01: Place of death is Sussex County, borough of Stanhope, State of New Jersey. A handwritten “597” is in this box but on no particular line.
Item 02: Full Name is George Arthur Repsher.
Item 03: Length of residence in city or town where death occurred is 6 months.
Item 04: Sex is male.
Item 05: Color or race is white.
Item 06: Marital status is married.
Item 07: Wife’s name is Anna Karthaeuser.
Item 08: Date of birth is October 2, 1890.
Item 09: Age is 58 years, 5 months, and 28 days.
Item 10: Occupation is Steam Shovel Engineer.
Item 11: Birth place is Mountain Home, Penna.
Item 12: Father’s name is John J. Repsher.
Item 13: Father’s birthplace is Pennsylvania.
Item 14: Mother’s maiden name is Caroline Bonser.
Item 13a: Mother’s birthplace is Pennsylvania.
Item 15: Signature of informant is typed in as Mrs. Anna Repsher of Stanhope, N.J.
Item 16: Received on Mar 31, 1936 by Frank Stackhouse, local registrar.
Item 17: Date of death is March 30, 1936.
Item 18: James J. FitzGerald. M.D., of Stanhope, N.J., certifies that he attended the deceased from Mar 1930 and last saw him alive on Mar 30, 1936.
Item 19: Cause of death is redacted as per N.J.A.C. 8:2A-2.1.
Item 20: Place of burial is Stanhope.
Item 21: Undertaker is N.J. License No. 735, Geo. R. Shaw in Stanhope, N.J.

Analysis: From this death certificate, we can put together a short biography of George Arthur Repsher.

“George Arthur Repsher was born on 02 October 1890 in Mountain Home, Pennsylvania, to parents John J. Repsher and Caroline Bonser, both of whom were born in Pennsylvania. He was a white male married to Anna Karthaeuser and worked as a steam shovel engineer. He died on 30 March 1936 at the age of 58 years, 5 months, and 28 days. George died in the borough of Stanhope, Sussex County, New Jersey, were he had resided for 6 months prior to his death. His physician, James J. Fitzgerald, MD, attended him from March 1930 until George’s death in 1936. George was buried in Stanhope by undertaker Geo. R. Shaw and his death was recorded on 31 March 1936 by local registrar Frank Stackhouse.”


Language of N.J.A.C. 8:2A-2.1

This particular source is a deriviative record since it obviously has been manipulated with the big redaction box and overprinting applied. Let’s talk about that redaction first. I was quite peeved when I opened the envelope and saw that big ol’ white box covering the cause of death section. What the heck is this?

Genealogy isn’t only the finding of records, it’s the understanding of how and why were created under the laws of the times. Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, even specializes in connecting the laws to genealogy. According to the New Jersey law cited in the redaction box, under the 8:2A – 2.1 section A3(iv), I did not prove or identify that I was “the subject’s child, grandchild [and by extension great grandchild], or sibling, if of legal age.” Therefore, the law stated that I was not eligible to know what a man, who passed away 80 year ago, died of. Seems a bit like overkill, but okay, I didn’t do what I needed to do when I sent the request in. And, since I’m just getting around to researching why it was redacted a year after I was sent the record, I might end up having to pony up some more bucks to get the non-redacted version. Procrastination and lessons learned in genealogy can be expensive!

It helps to know where records are stored and who was required to keep them. New Jersey didn’t require a formal record of birth, marriages, or deaths until 1848. When they did, the local registrar was responsible for keeping those records. However, some older records may have been transferred to archives. My favorite website to find out where you should write to get records is the Center for Disease Control. Wait, the CDC? Why them? It does make sense if you think about it. They are responsible for the public health of the nation and birth/death/marriage records fall squarely within that realm. Their website lists each of the individual states and has brief descriptions on what types of records can be found where and hyperlinks to state specific sites. New Jersey is found here: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/new_jersey.htm.

Also, it’s interesting to see the progression of the format of death records over the years. Let’s take a quick look at some New Jersey death certificates I have in my collection:


1892 Death[1]


1936 Death[2]


2010 Death – Full record and certified[3]


2015 Death – Abstracted and non-certified[4]

The two modern records highlight the variations in information that can be found on a certified, full copy vs. an abstracted copy. The 2010 record is my grandmother, Beatrice I. Guirreri. I paid for a certified complete copy of this certificate which meant that I jumped through all the hoops required to get a non-redacted copy. The 2015 record is my stepmother, Lorraine. My dad sent me this copy (free for me…) and you can see the difference in the amount of information contained within it. Looks very sparse, even sparser since I erased her SSN for identity theft protection. You’ll notice that the “void” protection built into the document is evident because it’s been scanned/copied. Since my dad and Lorraine didn’t have any children together (no half siblings there), the limited information on this satisfies my family tree needs. The a-type personality wants all the same information for Lorraine that I have for Beatrice but the checkbook says, “That’s more than enough!” 

Now to the types of information found on George’s death certificate. We’ve already determined this is a derivative record. The information found on it is mixed. Information can be of three types: primary, secondary, or undetermined. The primary (firsthand) information comes from the doctor about George Arthur Repsher’s death. Dr. Fitzgerald certifies that he examined George and determined that he was “not only merely dead, he’s really most sincerely dead” to steal a phrase from the Wizard of Oz. The date of death is verified and recorded very close to George’s death day and is the highest quality information found on the document. Expected for certificate related to death. The recording date is verified by the local registrar and, again, happens close to George’s death day which makes it reliable. And I trust that George was buried in Stanhope since the undertaker certifies that he buried George there. Again, fairly reliable.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-5-02-26-pmThe secondary information on this document relates to George’s birth date, place and parents. We need to look at the informant to see if we can determine how reliable this data is. In this case, Mrs. Anna Repsher of Stanhope, which was the same as George’s last residence, is the person supplying the information. She may be the same Anna listed as wife Anna Karthaeuser and most likely is George’s wife. (Other sources tell me for sure this informant was indeed his wife.) How Anna knows George’s birthplace, date, and parents’ information is definitely secondhand. It is extremely unlikely that his wife witnessed his birth. George may have told her, she might have met his parents who told her, or his siblings could have told her. All of it would be hearsay, secondhand, and/or subject to errors. There’s no way to know for sure. Which means I can add this information about George to his family tree profile but I need to find another source to corroborate his birthdate, birthplace and parents. In this particular document, I weigh the reliability of this birth date to be less than the reliability of his death date.

There is a lot of great, direct (explicit) evidence found in this document. We learn George’s exact death date along with George’s exact birthdate, his birthplace, and his parents’ names. The evidence directly answers the research questions, “When and where did George, of Stanhope, New Jersey, die? When and where was he born? Who were his parents? What was his wife’s maiden name?” Some nice direct answers.

However, the analysis of this evidence does not happen in a vacuum. Given that George’s birth information is likely secondhand, we need to find other information to compare it to, his birth certificate, a registrar’s record, a sworn statement from his mother or father… Also, an obituary printed in a newspaper close to his death date, a funeral home memory card, or death notice would foster confidence in his death information.


George’s death certificate is a derivative source that provides me both primary and secondary information that directly answers some research questions about George’s death, his birth and his parents. But just like all the CSIs we see on TV, a good genealogist will collect as much information as possible, evaluate it all as a whole, and then reevaluate if something new pops up. Actually, there’s a whole concept around this. It’s called the Genealogical Proof Standard. But more on that later…. Tune in….

[1] New Jersey Department of State, death certificate L58 (1892), Eliza Longcor; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.
[2] New Jersey, Department of Health and Senior Services, Death Certificate, death certificate no. 597 (penned), George Arthur Repsher (1936).
[3] New Jersey, Department of Health and Senior Services, Death Certificate, death certificate no. 20100035955, Beatrice I. Guirreri (2010).
[4] New Jersey, Department of Health and Senior Services, Death Certificate, death certificate no. 20150063821, Lorraine Strait (2015).

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #4 – Sarah (Card) Strait’s Recollections

Person of Interest: Sarah (Card) Strait
Relationship: 4th great grand aunt and, her mother, Phebe (Angle) Card, is my 5th great grandmother

Source Citation: Martha F. Strait, “Angle-Card-Strait Family History: Recollections of my Mother, Sarah Card Strait” (14 January 1909); folder: “Strait Family File”, vertical files; Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.

Document Description:  This type-written document was written by Martha F. Stait who was the daughter of Sarah (Card) Strait. It is a copy of an original and the type is a bit faded but readable. Sarah’s recollections also appeared in a shortened, edited article in the The North Jersey Highlander in their Spring-Summer 1985 edition on pages 27 to 34. This document is the longer, unedited version which runs 5-1/4 single-spaced pages plus an additional sheet that is letter addressed to the New Jersey Historical Society for Soldiers of the Revolution. The document is dated 14 January 1909.

This is not a transcription in the true definition (an exact copy of a record, word-for-word, preserving original spacing, punctuation and spelling) since I’ve inserted spacing between paragraphs for easier reading, taken some liberties with the formatting of the original tables as WordPress isn’t great at tables or indenting or columns, added comments in brackets [ ], and added some pictures to break up the layout of the blog post.

Keeping people straight in the narrative is sometimes difficult to follow so here is a flow of mother to daughter for reference:
Martha (Burrel) Angle > Phebe (Angle) Card > Sarah (Card) Strait > Martha Frances Strait

Please note: This is not a politically correct article; it is transcribed as found including the “n-word” as it was used at this time. No sugar-coating has been applied.

Document Scan and Transcription:

recollections001Page 1

Angel – Card – Strait Family History
by Martha F. Strait.
Recollections of my Mother, Sarah Card Strait.

Martha Burrel, my Great-Grandmother, was born in England in 1723. She came to America in 1740, when she was twelve years old, with her two aunts, Mrs. Hays and Mrs. Meeker, and their husbands. Her parents were dead. When she landed in Newark, New Jersey, there were only three houses – log, of course. The Indians used to bring in huckleberries to sell, but the people were afraid to eat them for fear they were poison. The Indians pointed to the hogs and wanted them to eat, which they did very greedily; then they pointed to the cow which gave milk. The people tried the berries with milk and found them good, so they called them milk berries.

About 1748, when Martha was twenty years old, she came across John Angle, who came from Germany, and married him. They must have come up around Snufftown (now called Stockholm) and settled near where Jephtha W. Dunn now lives. They had eight children:

  1. Elizabeth, born 1749 – married Benjamin Price
  2. Samuel, born 1753 –  married Mary Wright
  3. Abraham, born 1757 – went to Elmira, N.Y.
  4. John, Jr., born 1761 – went to Elmira, N.Y.
  5. Edward, born 1765 – he took the horse the John sent to his mother.
  6. Hannah, born 1769 – married a Hand and then Anthony Zeke
  7. Sally, born 1773 – married John Daniels
  8. Phebe (my grandmother), born 1776 (May 10) married Peter Card, Nov. 12, 1792

In September, 1776, when his daughter Phebe was only four months old, John Angle, with his two brothers, Jacob and William Angle (also from Germany), enlisted in the Sussex County, New Jersey, Militia at Newton, N.J., and so became soldiers in the Revolutionary Army.

“STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Office of the adjutant General,
Trenton, June 29, 1908.
It is Certified, That the records of this office show that JOHN ANGLE served as
Private in the Sussex County New Jersey Militia, – during the Revolutionary War.
(Signed) R. Heber Brentnall,
The Adjutant General.”

I supposed the three brothers must have enlisted at the same time, but John Angle did not go to the war as he ought, and so they came and took him while he was plowing int the filed below Jephtha W. Dunn’s (which went by the name of Angle’s hill) and did not even let him go in and say good-bye to his family. It was such as a shock to his wife that she went deranged and kept so all winter. In the spring she was all right in her mind, and this kept up all the rest of her life, she being deranged in winter and sane in summer. When she was herself she was a very pious woman.

During the last thirty-five years of her life, she lived with her daughter Phebe Card. She was a very little woman and became blind before she died. She wanted the lads to carry her out doors in the sunshine, so she could look at the sun and see if she could see a glimmer of light, but she could not, so she said “Take me back and put me to bed.” She was about 101 years old she she died, in the spring or summer of 1829. She was a great smoker, but you see that did not kill her, for she died of old age.

When Phebe Angle was married to Peter Card (Nov. 12, 1792), she was about sixteen years old – a mere child in feeling. They lived in a little log house where James Woods used to live. A man by the name of Michael Stagg go up a dance in a

recollections002Page 2
house called the County House, since burned down. Phebe wanted to go to the dance, but her husband (my grandfather) did not want her to go. She said she would go, if the Devil stood at the door, so she went, and when they got pretty well warmed up in dancing, why the old fellow did appear. He ground and rattled his chains and nearly scared the people out of their wits, but it broke up the dance. When Phebe got home her husband was abed and, to all appearances, asleep. In the morning he got up and said he would go and hunt the cow, as she had laid out all night. He told Phebe not to wait breakfast for him, as he could not tell when he would be back. He took his gun along – and it was two years before she saw him again. He could here from her, but she did not hear from him. During his absence she went to live with Lydia Winans (every one called her Granny Winans). When her husband came back, he told her what he had done and said if she would settle down and not to to dances and sprees, he would stay. She did settle down and got to be a very pious woman. She was quite a tall woman and had brown eyes.


Source: Irish spinning wheel – around 1900 Library of Congress collection

All the fine dresses they had in those days were of flannel, made from black sheep’s wool, but after my Mother got big enough to spin, they bought cotton and carded it, spun it and colored it and made them Sunday dresses for summer. We call such stuff now shirting. So it did not take them very long to make fancy things. The people of those days spun all their own thread out of flax and cotton and made their garments with that kind of thread.

Our Church was built in 1827 and my grandmother, Phebe Card, was the twelfth one who joined the class. She must have been around 51 years old then. She may have been a Christian longer, but there was no church to join. Her daughter Sarah, my mother, was the 130th member and joined the church October 24, 1829. In August, 1836, just a short time before my birth, the minister (Rev. William Baker) turned her out of the church because she did not attend class meeting. But it makes no difference to me now. I am a Methodist yet, if they turn me out of church pretty young.



Peter Card

  • Born Nov. 10, 1768
  • Married Nov. 12, 1792, Phebe Angle
  • Died Feb. 14, 1818

Phebe Angle

  • Born May 10, 1776
  • Married Nov. 12, 1792, Peter Card, afterward Peter’s brother Henry
  • Died Mar. 22, 1854

Children: [of Peter and Phebe]

  1. Martha Card, born Oct. 15, 1795, married to Frederick C. Haunson, died about 1812
  2. Sarah Card, born July 4, 1799, married on Dec. 14, 1816 to David Strait (born Jan. 11, 1790 and died May 7, 1874), died Nov. 24, 1879
  3. Elizabeth Card, born Apr. 10, 1802, married to Thomas Allington and John Edwards
  4. Andrew Card, born Apr. 4, 1804, married to Elizabeth Crane (born Mar. 12, 1812), died Nov. 12, 1879
  5. Sylvester Card, born Apr. 2, 1807, married on Mar. 20, 1830 to Catherine Crill (died Apr. 2, 1866), died Mar. 1, 1881
  6. John Card, born Apr. 2, 1811, married to Sarah Cook (born Sep. 20, 1812 and died Oct. 20, 1880)
  7. Emeline Card, born Jun. 24, 1815, married on Nov. 3, 1832 to John Crain, died Apl. 24, 1894 [marriage date and death date are handwritten in with ink]
  8. Julia Card, born Mar. 8, 1816, married on Oct. 8, 1830 to 1st Henry Card Jr. (born Jan. 27, 1807) and to 2nd William Dunn, died Feb. 20, 1892

Son of Henry Card, Sr. and Phebe (Angle) Card:

  1. Peter Card, born Feb. 18, 1820, married to Mary E. Cole, died May 19, 1840

Peter Card’s brothers and sisters were: Henry, Catherine (m. Joseph Crill), Stephen (m. Catherine Oldham) and Rachel (m. Benjamin Sullivan). Peter Card lived in the time of the Revolutionary War, but did not go to war. However, if any call came to defend the house, he was there.

Martha Card, oldest daughter of Peter and Phebe Card, was commonly called Patty, so Phebe Grimstead told me. She married a man who called himself Frederick Cotton,

recollections003Page 3
but his real name was Frederick Cotton Haunson. She had one baby and died and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery. [sic] She has just a common headstone, but a nice one.

Sarah Card (my mother) was born July 4, 1799. When she was little girl about 9 years old, she had rheumatism which kept her in bed about a year. There came along an old woman who stopped to react and asked what was the matter with the girl. They told her and she said, “Take her out to the spring nine mornings and pour a teakettle full of cold water on her knees and wrap them up in flannel and she will walk.” She walked in three days. She lived to be over eighty years old, so that did not kill her.

My mother learned to spin before she was ten years old. They had to get her a plank to run on to make her high enough to reach the wheel so she could turn it around. My grandfather lived in a log house and had a big fireplace with a back log, where the children sat and knit stockings and mittens.

Mother always liked to clean out the corners, but Grandmother did not like to have things disturbed. One day, when she was about eleven years old, her mother went visiting, to be gone all day, so she thought she would make her brother Sylvester a pair of pants, as he was a great big boy who still wore dresses. She took some of the old garments that had been hung up for patches, ripped them up and laid the pieces on the floor, laid Sylvester on and cut out the back part of the pants, then turned him over and cut out the front part. Before her mother got back, the pants were done and on the boy, and was he not proud!



When Mother was eleven years old, she and a girl friend went huckleberrying and there came up a fearful thunderstorm, so they stopped at the first log cabin they came to, and there they found a woman sick. Her husband had gone after some woman to help his wife through her trouble, and had got drunk. The woman called Mother to her and explained what was the matter. The other girl got up in a corner and would not go with Mother to the woman. The woman talked very nice to the girls and made them promise not to tell, which Mother never did until she got older and had the right. Mother and the woman fixed up the baby all right and Mother helped her to bed. After the shower was over, the girls started for home (I can just imagine how the little tots looked), and when they were nearly home they met the man with his midwife.

Grandfather was a worker in the forge at our place (called Wingden Forge) owned by Mr. Ford. [see interpretation 1 in analysis section] One day when Mother was about twelve years old, Grandfather came in and said he did not know what they were going to to to live, for Mr. Ford had given him his discharge, but had told him he could cut all the wood he wanted, and he would give him his fifty cents a cord. Mother and Aunt Betsey both said they would help, so Grandfather cut down the trees and the girls trimmed them up. At first they put up three-quarters of a cord a day, but after a while a cord a day. Grandfather laid up money that winter and lived better than ever, and it was a fine thing to have a good living. My mother was a very ambitious woman all the way through life to the end.

The same winter my grandfather took care of John O. Ford’s cattle. They were steers and cows and oxen, also some yearling cattle. One night wolves were heard howling and the cattle bellowing. Grandfather went out at break of day to feed the cattle and see what was the matter with them. The wolves had been frightened way by returning daylight and my grandfather saw all the big cattle lying in a circle, with the small ones in the center. They had fought the wolves all night and had tramped the snow and earth hard, but not one of them was hurt.

This same winter Grandfather shot a lot of pigeons [see interpretation 2 in analysis section] or caught them in nets – anyway to get them. They ate all they wanted and salted down a barrelful, which came in very good for a change of diet.

The following spring Grandfather tapped a lot of sugar maple trees, and Mother and Aunt Betsey gathered the sap and boiled it (I think they had two big iron kettles) and made a barrel of sugar like the brown sugar we buy. They also made a lot of maple


Sugar maple

recollections004Page 4
syrup and some maple sugar cakes. In another part of the sugar camp were two boys in the sugar business, Anson and Andy Barton. The girls kept losing their sap and could not think what became of it. Aunt Betsey watched while Mother took care of the boiling sap, and found Anson taking the sap. She said she would match them, which she did by taking their sap out of the kettles when it was almost sugar. Then the boys cried and Aunt Betsey told them what she had seen them do, and they agreed to steal no more sap.

When Mother was twelve years old, her mother gave her a whipping which streaked her back and made the blood come. This was the cause of the whipping: Grandmother had company and my mother was getting supper and the two boys kept snatching the food off the table. She asked Grandmother to make them quit, and she would not, so Mother cuffed Andrew’s ears to make him behave, and the Grandmother took a whip to Mother and whipped her until she was tired. Then Mother said “You might as well give me my freedom suit [see interpretation 3 in analysis section] while you are at it”, which she did. The next morning Mother put on all the extra clothes she dared and went to see Aunt Betsey, who lived with Granny Hulmes. (Granny kept the mill at Stockholm). Mother said “Granny, I have come to do your spinning if you want me to.” She said she did, so she went to work. She asked Granny to get her some muslin and made a garment, working nights, and got it done before they washed. She helped Aunt Betsey wash and no one saw how she was hurt. They asked her what made her look so sober, but she told them nothing. After she finished spinning for Granny Hulmes, she went to Charity Woods, and she also spun for Mrs. Susan B. Day, and wherever any one wanted her she went. You know the people mostly did their spinning of wool in the winter, and they had a fire in the fireplace which kept the wool warm, and nights she carded the wool into rolls. And when she had finished spinning wool, she would spin flax on the little wheel. After that was done, she would do housework or sew – so she kept busy. She did not go home until her sister Emeline came to town, then her father coaxed her up, and for his sake she went. She was sixteen years old then.

When she was about sixteen, she kept house for John O. Ford (at the place now owned by Clarence Linn) while J.O. Ford and his wife kept house at Franklin Furnace, New Jersey, and ran the furnace, making stoves, pots, and teakettles and all such useful things. My mother was left in care of the house at Stockholm. She had a little girl stay with her, and a darkey man whose name was William Downes, but he was lazy, so they sent her another one.  Mother baked the bread (rye of course) and cake and kept provisions on hand cooked to fix them up a dinner for the team drivers. They had four mule teams which took iron to Dover and brought back ore. There was a slave named Walter Leonard whom Mr. Ford brought of the Sewards. Walter was the son of a school teaher – his mother a slave of Sewards. The people saw young Israel Seward talking to Walter several times, and they took Walter’s team away from him at Franklin and gave him an old run-down team in its place, so he had quite a time, and then he started out for Stockholm. Mother heard some one knocking at the door and said “Who is there!” He told her “Walter Leonard”. She let him in and he asked if she would get him his new suit of clothes Granny Winans had made for him. Mother said “What are you going to do?” He said “I am going to run away”. She told him to go and get the clothes and she would fix a lunch for him to carry with him. She took a loaf of bread (it was a good sized one) and cut a hole out of the middle and put in a good chunk of butter and some meat. When he came back dressed, his lunch was ready. She told him he had better take to the woods for they would surely be after him. This was about ten o’clock, and at about eleven o’clock there was another knock at the door. Mother said “Who is there?” The answer was “David Strait”. She let him in and he said “Have you seen Walt?” She said “Yes”. He said “Did he take his clothes?” She said “How could I help him taking them? What would I do in the hands [from note on the back of page 4, see snippet to the right]screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-12-06-27-pm

recollections5007Page 5
of a big nigger?” Every little while there would come a knocking at the door; they were hunting for the poor nigger. I suppose he was worth at least a thousand dollars. Of course they did not catch him, for Israel Seward was running the runaway. Mother never heard from Walter until after she was married, when one day Israel Seward came to see her. After a little he asked if she would not like to hear from Walt, and she said she would, so he told her Walter was living in Illinois and had married a girl half white like himself, and was getting along nicely. He had learned the blacksmith trade and was saving money, and Israel added: “Here is a present he sent you for helping him to be a free man. [sic, no end quote] It was a very pretty black alpaca dress, which came in very good. So you see my mother was an abolitionist quite young.

The Sewards, who went to Illinois, did not do very well, as they loved whisky [sic] too well. I think my grandfather, Peter Card, lived where Garry Brown now lives, and the Sewards on the present Margarum place. The old lady – they called her Granny Seward – used to get her darkey woman to mix up a big lot of shortcake, as they called it, and the old lady would get on her horse’s back and the colored woman would go along to bake the shortcake and help, and then they would go a visiting to my grandmother’s and spend the day. (It is interesting to know they made “shortcake” in those days. In the place of soda or baking powder, they took a lot of corn cobs and burnt them to ashes, and that answered all purposes.)


1860 map showing Snufftown in relation to Franklin Furnace, in Hardyston Township [1]

We thought it probable that Peter Card first came to Stockholm with the Sewards, as the two families were always very intimate. Emeline Seward was one of my mother’s greatest friends.

While my mother was keeping house for Mr. Ford, she found out that David Strait liked her pretty well. One day she went to Franklin Furnace and bought her wedding dress. It was white and she had it made like they used to make baby dresses – low neck. After a couple of years she made it into baby dresses for her babies.


David Strait near the forge in Snufftown, Sussex County, NJ, 1860 map [2]

After David Strait and Sarah Card were married, they went to live in a log house on the old road to Holland (D. D. Lewis’ place). Father made a partition in the house so he could have a shop in which to make or mend wagons. Their furniture consisted of a table (Father probably made it), no carpet on the floor, I think they had two chairs and some benches, a bedstead and of course a straw bed, and I suppose they had some blankets for covering. They had a fireplace where they put on a back log so large that it took three or four men to put it in the fireplace, then they had a forestick and put the fire in the center. There they lived, and while there Nancy came. In about two years they moved to Stockholm (the first Stockholm – where J. J. Mead lived), and remained there until spring of 1831.

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-12-18-29-pmAnother wolf story belongs to this period. It relates to what was probably the last wolf seen in this section of the country. He was a very big and wise old fellow, who roamed the county and killed off lots of cattle. No one was smart enough to catch him until a man named Buckey DeKay of Hamburg set out to trap him. He hired men to help him, and when that got tired, he hired another set, and so on. David Strait was one of the hunters. Buckey DeKay stuck to the hunt every day, but he was in a sleigh with a horse to draw it. When the dogs got tired out, Buckey would get another set. The wolf went from Hamburg mountain to Williamsville, through by Double Pond and back by Dunker Pond Mountain, then down to Longwood and so on back to Hamburg, around and around, and finally he was shot. There was a big bounty on the wolf, and after he was killed, Buckey DeKay took him to a place called Snufftown (now Stockholm), placed him in an upright position, put a pipe in his mouth, and then treated everybody to whisky [sic] who came around, and they had a general time of rejoicing. The wolf was kept on exhibition all night and every one went to see him.

recollections007Page 6
In April 1831 Father and Mother moved to this house, and on June 14, 1831 Hiram came. The first carpet my mother ever had was when they had the scarlet fever in 1833, when Hiram was two years old. Only think of that – to scrub a floor all your lifetime! The first matting or carpet on the Church floor was when M. P. Hendrickson preached here. On August 19, 1836 I came, and her I am yet, but don’t know how long I will stay.

January 14, 1909 Martha F. Strait.
[handwritten underneath is (Age 73)]

[Typewritten here in different font is:]

Hiram died Jan. 13, 1901
Martha died March 5, 1911
Both buried in the Stockholm United Methodist Church Cemetery

recollections008Page 7
Stockholm, Sussex Co., New Jersey,
November 16, 1909.

New Jersey Historical Society for Soldiers of the Revolution, Newark, New Jersey.


Sometime ago I was in correspondence with you regarding the Revolutionary War record of my ancestor, John Angle, and mentioned some incidents of family history connected with that period. In a letter from you dated August 25, 1908, you stated that you would be pleased to hear from me again in case I could give any further information about those people.

I enclose herewith a manuscript giving incidents in the history of the Angle, Card and Strait families as related by my mother, Mrs. Sarah Card Strait. There is only one person bearing the name of Angle now living. The father, Samuel Angle, was a soldier in the War of the Rebellion (1862-1865) and gets a pension. There are quite a number of the Card family still living. The Straits are nearly gone. I am the  last of that race living that bears the name of Strait, though I have two older sisters living who married.

I send also a History of our Church and Society – how and when it started, when the Church was built, how the ministers worked in those days, and the Society up to the present day. The Newark Water Company are buying up homes and farms in this vicinity, and of course the Chruch will go in time (though it may not be in my day, as I am seventy three years old) and all this country will again become a wilderness.

If you do not care to keep these records, please let me know and I will send stamps to cover the return postage. In case you return them, I will appreciate it if you will kindly let me know where they may be so that they will be preserved for the information of future generations.

Kindly acknowledge the receipt of this letter. Stamped envelope is enclosed for your convenience.
Yours very truly, [signature not on this sheet]

Analysis: I picked this document to feature because it’s a wonderful example of oral, family traditions later written down for posterity. Not only is it chock full of genealogical information (as the family knows it), it provides some insight into the personalities and physical characteristics of my ancestors. Martha (Burrel) Angle was a long-lived, little woman, occasionally deranged, an avid smoker, and blind later in life. Phebe (Angle) Card was a tall woman with brown eyes and a rebellious streak. Sarah (Card) Strait was ambitious, stubborn, an abolitionist, a bit proud but very hard working.

Some interpretations:

  1. I think Wingdam is really Windham. An 1860 map of Sussex County, New Jersey, found on the Library of Congress site, shows that David Strait

    People around Snufftown, Sussex County, New Jersey, 1860. [3]

    lived very near a forge and a place called Windham around Snufftown. I know this is the right David Strait and place because I also find people named Lewis, Ford, Winans, Woods, Dunn, etc. All of these people are named in the narrative.
  2. The pigeons that were the food source for one winter were most likely passenger pigeons that are now extinct. In the early part of the 1800s, they were plentiful.
  3. A freedom suit refers to the customary new suit of clothes that indentured servants were given upon completion of their servitude. Sarah wasn’t indentured but given the whooping she had just received she must have felt like one and wanted her mother Phebe to know it. Later in the 1860s, just before the Civil War, freedom suits came to mean the legal petitions slaves filed in court suing for their freedom.

You might ask, “Why transcribe this since? It’s already type-written.” Well, transcription forces me look at all the details and read every word. I question what sort of pigeons, where was Franklin Furnace, what types of non-motorized tools were used to cut the cords of wood, how were sugar maples tapped, what might Newark look like with only three log cabins in 1740, whether David Strait owned the land and cabin he occupied on the road to old Holland, what did the shortcakes taste like, how many hours did Sarah spend spinning thread, etc.? The stories give me a great appreciation of what life was like at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. Also, the story of Sarah Card coming across the woman by herself in the cabin giving birth to a child, shows just how precarious it was to be a woman at the time. If the drunk husband had never returned with the midwife or Sarah and her friend hadn’t happened by, who knows what the fate of that poor lady and her baby would have been.

The genealogical information about John and Martha (Burrel) Angle’s children is especially useful. New Jersey didn’t have a formalized requirement for recording births until May 0f 1848. So this family tradition is about the only place where one could find birth information for the eight children. Martha herself relates that her church was built in 1827, so earlier records of births would not likely be found there. This document’s creation is bit after the actual births in the early 1800s but given that one should look for documents close in time to when the events happened, I consider this a pretty good quality source.


Get out there and interview your oldest family members. If that’s you, so be it. Write up the family stories, record the traditions. Add maps and photos for spice. Then, print it out and donate it to a historical society, library, or some other repository. Do it now, while you still can!

[1] Map of Sussex Co., New Jersey : from actual surveys and records (Philadelphia: Carlos Allen, M.D., 1860); digital image, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3813s.la000466/ : accessed 22 November 2016). Cropped image (scale changed) from a map with an original 1-1/2 inch to 1 mile scale.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.