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 #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 #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.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #2 – Mary Ayer’s Marriage

Persons of Interest: John Willson [or Wilson] and Mary Ayers of Sussex County, New Jersey
Relationship: 4th great grandparents

Source Citations:
[1] “New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682-1956,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VWRS-S1S : 12 December 2014), John Willson and Mary Ayres, 1814; citing Sussex, New Jersey, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton; FHL microfilm 961,018.

[2] “New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682-1956,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VWR3-Y2Z : 12 December 2014), John Wilson and Mary Ayres, 12 Nov 1814; citing Sussex, New Jersey, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton; FHL microfilm 1,294,802.

Document Descriptions: I picked these marriage record documents to feature mainly because they’ve been sitting around waiting to be connected and filed ever since I found them while sitting at the Salt Lake City Family History Library (FHL) a few years ago. Yes, that’s right, a few years. I’d like to think I’m efficient but these documents prove I’m not, by any means, an expert filer or expert researcher… yet.

When you travel to a research facility, whether it’s a library, archive, or historical society, one of the things that you should look for are the items that are unique to the facility; things you won’t find elsewhere or need to be there physically to see or examine. In February of 2014, I was sitting at one of the FHL catalog computers when I searched for John Willson and Mary Ayers on FamilySearch.org. The same site you can access from your own living room. I got some search results:


Woot-woot, right? Well, the images would have been available just as readily from the comfort of my own home. I didn’t need to travel all the way to Salt Lake City for these. That means I wasted a bit of time on these documents when I could have been using that time to search the FHL’s unique family genealogies (1st floor) or their wide variety of books that are specific to geographical regions (3rd floor). Lesson learned.

Document 1: Looking at the information/notes (an important step) provided by FamilySearch about the first of the documents [1] shows:

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-9-25-53-am screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-9-32-11-am

  • That the marriage records come from microfilm of original records at the Sussex County courthouse (Perhaps I should look at the original next time I’m in Sussex County? Are they even accessible? Have they been transferred to the NJ State Archives?)
  • That the microfilm include indexes, Volume A and Volume B
  • That the records consist of one microfilm reel and were filmed in 1974
  • And that there are some delayed recordings of marriages at the end of vol. B (hmmm… worth making sure I take a look at to make sure I’m not missing anything?)

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-4-46-18-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-20-at-4-46-40-pmNavigating to the beginning of the marriage records portion of this microfilm shows the information about when the film was created and who filmed it. Image 122 (of 478 on this microfilm) shows that this portion is Marriage Volume A covering the years 1795 to 1853 and was found in the Clerk’s Office at the Hall of Records in Newton, New Jersey. It has since been transferred to the NJ State Archives in Trenton. A few images later (124) we find some information on the quality of Volume A. There are a number of things wrong with the volume including unreadable copy, faded writing, tight binding, and repairs that block readability. We find an image of the book’s spine and then a notice that the whole volume has been filmed. The front page of Volume A shows that it is a “Record of Marriages in the County of Sussex in the State of New Jersey” and begins the listing of marriages, the first being recorded on the 6th day of September in 1795.

Document 2: Looking at the information/notes on the second document [2] shows:


  • That the marriage records come from microfilm of original records at the Sussex County courthouse
  • That the records include marriage papers and marriage license applications
  • And that the records span five microfilm rolls and were filmed in 1980

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-5-09-36-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-20-at-5-19-46-pmNavigating to the beginning of this microfilm shows the information about when the film was created and who filmed it. Scrolling through some of the images at the front of the microfilm shows that these are loose papers. There are scraps of papers, cover sheets, folders, and certifications mixed throughout the microfilm. The organization seems to be by person reporting, i.e. John Johnson, esq, Clerk for Newton, recorded all (image 644 on the microfilm) of Reverend Teasdale’s marriages for 1815 in one batch. Since Mary and John were married late in 1814, their record appears among the 1815 marriages.

Scanning those records around my Mary and John shows an Ephraim Kimble (another family name) and I’ve made a note to explore that later since I don’t immediately see that particular Kimble connected in my family tree database.

After looking at everything on the microfilms, I suspect that the Volume A was created at a later date to consolidate the information found in all the loose scraps of papers and folders at the Sussex County Clerk’s Office in Newton, New Jersey.

Document Scans and Transcriptions:

First record [1] (with torn page):




We can see from the image of this page, the fragile paper of the original has broken away in some spots and the ink is very faded. There is also a reflection of light in the center seam showing that the volume has been taped together at some point in its life. It has been 42 years since this volume has been digitized, let’s hope the archivists at the State Archive in Trenton are preserving it as it should be to keep it from deteriorating more.

The first column has the date of the marriage. I can make out “1814” and the the day of “12” but the month is illegible. Based on the other record, it would be so easy to just interpret the missing month as November, but it truly is illegible. If this were the only record available, the month would have to be recorded as indeterminate or missing. So, the date of marriage would be 12 [undetermined month] 1814 until the actual month was discovered.

The second column has the couple married and by whom. It states, “Married by the Rev’d Thomas Teasdale, minister, John Willson to Mary Ayers.” The “minister” piece is a important in that other entries show that other couples were married by justices of the peace, ministers, and esquires. The use of the word “minister” also hints at religious affiliation. It would need to be determined which churches were active in 1814 in Sussex County and who used ministers as opposed to priests which imply Catholicism.

The section that the Mary and John appear to be a listing of everyone that the Reverand Thomas Teasdale had married within a certain time frame. Perhaps he was a circuit minister or perhaps he only traveled to the courthouse certain times during the year to record the marriages at the courthouse. Either way, nine couples had their marriages recorded by the Reverand Teasdale at this particular time and they show up in this volume.

Second Record [2]:



 screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-10-28-12-amThe second record is a record of the marriage of Mary Ayers to John Wilson. This record looks to be in much better shape than the one previously looked at. There are no columns in this case, just a straight listing of marriages performed by Thomas Teasdale.

The text, the first listing at the top of the page, reads, “This is to certify that John Wilson and Mary Ayres were married Nov’br 12, 1814 by me Thomas Teasdale.” I now have a full marriage date for John Wilson to Mary Ayers!

I believe, based on looking at the microfilm as a whole, that these are the original records with which the first record, Volume A, above were created from. (See the document description section above.)


In the second document, Thomas Teasdale certifies that he had married John Wilson to Mary Ayers on 12 November 1814. It is direct evidence since it explicitly answers my research question, “When were John Wilson and Mary Ayers of Sussex County, New Jersey, married?” It is primary information because it is Thomas Teasdale’s firsthand knowledge that he was there and he is certifiying that he is the one who married my 4th great grandparents. It was recorded by the Sussex County Clerk shortly after the marriage happened, not years later. It is an original record because a photocopy/digital copy of a record that does not look like it’s been tampered with. It can be considered to be the same as looking at an original, especially if the original is protected in some way to preserve the record. This is a higher quality of record than the first record. Why? Well, it’s in Thomas Teasdale’s writing. I know this by comparing the handwriting of his listing to the cover sheet (see the photo in the document description above) provided by John Johnson, County Clerk, who has a different script.

In the first document, the one with the torn bottom, Thomas Teasdale was recorded as having married John Willson to Mary Ayers on the tweleth day of some month in 1814. It is not his certification, just a record that he married the couple. It is still a very useful record even if the month can’t be determined since it narrows down their marriage year to 1814. Comparing the two records found on Mary and John’s marriage, shows that document with the torn bottom page is a derivative (created from another source) and is most likely a compilation of numerous other records, mainly the loose papers microfilmed later in 1980. Given that it’s a transcription/compilation of other documents, it is more subject to error in that someone had to copy the information into Volume A.


Copy of one of the type pages from the Sussex County Clerk’s Office, New Jersey. The copy of a copy of a copy!

Additionally, by examining the films thoroughly, I now highly suspect the first document (torn page items) was used to create the modern typed listings found in the Sussex County Clerk’s Office, the only copies available to the public in that office. That makes the typed listings in the binders at the Clerk’s office a tertiary derivative! A copy of a copy of a copy. Three chances to mess up dates, names, places. Three chances to omit something found in the original loose papers.


If I had not fully looked at all the information found in both microfilms (FHL 961,018 filmed in 1974 and FHL 1,294,802 filmed in 1980), I would not have known that later film was most likely a good chunk of the source material for the indexes, Volume A and Volume B found in the earlier film. I was fortunate that the effort to digitize records for Sussex County did not quit with the original filming in 1974. The later 1980 filming provides a much more reliable, higher quality, and robust (it did have the marriage month) source than just Volume A. It also highlights the need to find the source records and dig, dig, dig, and dig some more for originals. So, just a bit of wasted time at the FHL did yield some good information that I used to enhance my family tree.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #1 – Eliza’s Deposition: Exhibit J

Person of Interest: Eliza (Menard) Wood Hunt
Relationship: 3rd great-grandmother

Source Citation: Lyman Wood (Pvt., Co. G, 83rd NY militia, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 446,752; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. This is Lyman Wood’s full pension file which includes all documents in the file related to soldier’s pension certificate (PC) no. 685,626, soldier’s original invalid claim (IC) no. 249,602, minor children’s certificate (MC) no. 555,302, widow’s certificate (WC) no. 446,752, and soldier’s (Theodore Anderman) invalid claim (Inv.) no. 1,318,492. It is 245 pages in total.

Document Description: This is a deposition (out-of-court oral testimony of a witness that is reduced to writing for later use in court or for discovery purposes) found in Lyman Wood’s Civil War pension file. Lyman Wood was Eliza (Menard) Hunt’s son by her first husband who had the last name of Wood. The deposition was hand-written by F. C. Loveland, a Special Examiner, who was assigned to evaluate Lyman’s claim for a pension. The document is on legal-sized paper and is marked “J” to correspond to the examiner’s exhibits list in the pension file. It is part of the larger examination of Lyman’s pension claim. The deposition is dated 05 September 1882 and signed by Eliza Hunt.

This single 7-page document in a file that consists of 245 pages in total is a wealth of information running the gamut from genealogical to medical to geographical to chronological. Eliza named family members, provided causes of deaths, listed places they’ve lived and when they lived there, and offered up comments in general that give the reader a feel for how she spoke and her vocabulary.

Background information regarding Civil War Pensions: The National Archives (where pension files are stored) has a wonderful article titled “A Reasonable Degree of Promptitude” on the variations of Pension Laws. These laws, and their interpretation, had widespread effects on pensioners (and how their disabilities were defined), their families, the legal profession, and society in general.

Another National Archives article titled “Anatomy of a Union Civil War Pension File” is a great read for background on what can be found in a Civil War pension file. According to the article written by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens for the NGS Newsmagazine:

“The pension file will contain records for all claims relating to one veteran—the soldier’s, the widow’s, the minor children’s, and the dependent father’s or mother’s. If a Civil War widow later became the widow of a second Civil War veteran, all records relating to both veterans may be consolidated in one file.”

Document scan and transcription:

elizaaffidavit001Page 1
Deposition “J”
Case of Lyman Wood, No. 249,602
On this 5th day of Sept, 1882, at Branchville Junction, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, before me, F. C. Loveland, a Special Examiner of the Pension Office, personally appeared Mrs. Eliza Wood, who, being duly sworn to answer truly all interrogatories propounded to her during this Special Examination of aforesaid pension claim, deposes and says: that she was seventy seven (77) years of age on the 24th day of Feby 1882. & is the mother of this claimant. & has lived in this place about ten years. & that for a few years before coming here she lived Andover Sussex County N. Jersey. and that prior thereto on from 1866 back until about 1856 she lived at Mott Haven, N.Y., this before the streets were named or numbered., and that prior to 1856 + 1857 she lived on 15th St. N.Y. City bet” 7th & 8th avenue, that prior to this on in about 1845 to 1850 she lived at Andover Sussex Co N. Jersey where she had resided for many years, that while so residing at Andover this claimant Lyman Wood was born on Mch 7th 1837, my first husbands child.

Question: Please give me the names of your children by your first husband.
Charles M. Wood.  Born Sept 3rd 1827.
David M. Wood       ”       ”    6th 1829.
Sidney B. Wood      “       Dec 16 1834.
Lyman Wood           “       Mch  7th 1837.
The three first died at 32 years of age. All of them.

Question: What was the cause of death of

elizaaffidavit002Page 2
each of others?
Answer: Charles died of bilious cholic. David died of heart disease.  Sidney was in the Regular Army and was killed.

Question: Which of your sons aside from Lyman had fits?
AnswerCharles is the only one aside from Lyman.

QuestionHow old was Charles when he first had fits?
AnswerAbout three years old. He never had any except in childhood.

QuestionWhat was the cause & how long did they last?
AnswerI don’t know what the cause was.  He only had a few.

QuestionDid yourself or husband ever have fits?
AnswerNo sir. Never.

QuestionWhat was the cause of your husbands death?
AnswerCramps. He was only sick two days & it took several men to hold him on the bed.  He was at work in the day first & drank too much water got the cramps & died so I tell you.

Question: How old was this claimant Lyman Wood when he first began to have fits?

elizaaffidavit003Page 3
Answer: At first, only two or three, at last he was about ten or twelve years old.

Question: What did you suppose to be the cause of them? The origins of them?
Answer: The good Lord only can tell that.  I did not know. I sent for our Doctor & he said he thought it was caused by nerves. He gave some medicine & he only had a few. It was Dr. Crittenden and he died long ago – years & years ago.

Question: Did he ever have any fits after he grew up & before he enlisted in the Army?
Answer: Not that I ever heard of or knew anything about. I think he was just as well as any man ever was when he went to the war. But he came back with fits & has had them more or less ever since, as often as every four weeks, sometimes more often.

Question: Have your ever known of his having any habit which would in any way affect his health?
Answer: I cannot tell you Mr. that I ever did. I cannot tell you that any of my children ever had any evil or vicious habits of any kind. I tried to train them up in the right way. And if they have had bad habits, I don’t know it.

Question: And have you not known of his having bad habits of intemperance in any of the years since the war?
Answer: No sir. He may have had a

elizaaffidavit004Page 4
little fun now and then but nothing that would in any way impair him.

Question: What was the name of your second husband?
Answer: Enoch Hunt. We were married in 1840. He died in 1866 & of chronic inflammation of the stomach.

QuestionWhat children had you by your second husband?
Answer: Only one living.  William H. Hunt.

Question: Is he the one who has made an affidavit in this case as a neighbor of the claimant?
Answer: He is the same man.

QuestionWhat is his physical condition?
Answer: He is crippled up with the rheumatism – thinks he got it in the Army. He was in “I” Co 70th Regiment NY Vols.

Question: How long have Wm been helpless with rheumatism?
Answer: Twelve or fourteen years. William is the only child of mine that ever had it. And his father never had it.

Question: The children by your second husband who have died – At what age did they die?
Answer: One a year old & the other two years and over.

Question: What was the cause of death?

elizaaffidavit005Page 5
Answer: One died of severe brain trouble & the other suddenly. I don’t know of what. They didn’t have fits.

Question: You say that William T. Hunt who is represented to be a near neighbor of the claimant, your son is also your son by your second husband & that he with his wife & family now live with you in this house?
Answer: Yes sir. He is my son.

Question: Do you recall the number of his pension claim?
Answer: The claim papers otherwise show – It is #424,023. He was first in 70th NY Vols & afterwards in the US Signal Corps.  William T. Hunt I company 70th NY Vol. or US S Corps.Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 3.29.48 PM

Question: What was his health [illegible word, possibly “for”] few years after his discharge?
Answer: Good. He has only had the rheumatism a few years. But he is a great sufferer.

Question: Do you know Maria Freeman who has made an affidavit in this case?
Answer: Yes sir. She is my sister – Lyman’s Aunt.

Question: Who is Kate Wood another of your sons witnesses?
Answer: She is the widow of my son by my first husband, Lyman’s sister-in-law.

Question: I understood you to say that you lived at Mott Haven N.Y. now N.Y. City from 1856 to 1866.

elizaaffidavit006Page 6
Question: Where abouts, what part of Mott Haven was this?
Answer: It was just beyond the Harlem River & near the 3rd Avenue cars. He took the 3rd Avenue cars on the N.Y. City side.

Question: Can you remember the name of the street you lived on or some of the neighbors names?
Answer: Everything has changed there now I am told. Since it became part of New York City and the old people have died & moved away. I don’t know the people there now.

Question: How do you know you don’t? Have you been there lately?
Answer: Not in years and years, not since I came away.

Question: What has your son Lyman Hunt doing before he went into the army?
Answer: He was in Eastons Drug Store, that was the last work he did before he went inot the army. He was in the clothing store before that. But the work was hard there. He did not like that as well as the drug business.

Question: Did he ever have any fits while engaged at any kind of work before he enlisted?
Answer: He never did. He was a well strong sound man before he enlisted.

elizaaffidavit007Page 7
 Has this claimant always lived with you ever since the war?
Answer: He has – has never lived away from me at all. He is my sole support.

Question: How soon after he returned from the army did have a fit?
Answer: Only a few weeks – a very short time.

Question: Who was his doctor at that time?
Answer: He took medicine of Doctor Easton as long as he lived.

Eliza Hunt [Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 5.02.31 PMsignature shown at right], Deponent

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 5th day of Sept 1882, and I certify that the contents were fully made known to deponent before signing.

F. C. Loveland [signature]
Special Examiner.

Analysis: From this simple 7-page document, consisting of questions and answers, we learn a great number of things.


Previously, I had been searching for a fourth Civil War serving brother to William Henry Hunt, my 2nd great grandfather and Eliza’s son. I found that brother (Sidney) in this document but also so many more people I never knew existed. The people in the Wood/Hunt family identified from this document alone are:

  1. Mr. Wood (first husband of my 3rd great grandmother, Eliza)
  2. Charles M. Wood (my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle, William Hunt’s 1/2 brother)
  3. David M. Wood (my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle, William Hunt’s 1/2 brother)
  4. Sidney B. Wood (my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle, William Hunt’s 1/2 brother)
  5. Unnamed child (sibling of my 2nd great grandfather, William Hunt’s full sibling)
  6. Unnamed child (sibling of my 2nd great grandfather, William Hunt’s full sibling)
  7. Maria Freeman (my 3rd great grand aunt)
  8. Kate Wood (wife of Sidney, my 1/2 2nd great grand uncle)

Also from the document, we learn that Enoch Hunt married the widow Eliza Wood in 1840 and that Enoch passed away in 1866.

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-6-10-01-pmWe learn that Eliza’s sons from her first marriage (Charles, David, and Sidney) all died at 32 years of age. That puts Charles’ estimated death year around 1859, David’s around 1861, and Sidney’s around 1866. This helps provide a time span to look for these newly found brothers in other documents.

We learn that Sidney and Kate were married before 1882 (the date of the deposition) and that Sidney was killed before this deposition was taken. Sidney’s brothers, William (1/2) and Lyman (full) were still living in 1882. Since Sidney was in the Regular Army and was killed, his service provided another avenue of exploration.

We learn that Eliza was 77 years old in 1882 which puts her estimated birth year around 1805. Eliza had a sister named Maria (who married someone with a last name of Freeman) which will aid in the quest for Eliza and Maria’s parents as it gives at least two children in a household to search on. The more to search on, the merrier!


Some interesting medical information comes forth from this deposition.

Since this deposition is in relation to Lyman’s claim to have contracted epilepsy from the service, the Special Examiner asked Eliza a number of screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-6-21-26-pmquestions related to “fits” that her children might have suffered from.

  • Lyman is suspected of “having fits” before he joined the service and the Special Examiner is trying his best to get answers from Eliza. It is discovered that Lyman had fits when he was a child. Eliza says, “At first, only two or three, at last he was about ten or twelve years old.” She implies that he grew out of this fits and when asked to speculate about the origins, she throws it into God’s hands. Though hearsay, Lyman’s doctor was said to have attributed the fits to nerves.
  • Lyman’s brother, Charles, was the only one besides Lyman to have fits. Eliza says of his fits, “Charles is the only one aside from Lyman” and that he had them “about three years old. He never had any except in childhood.”
  • Eliza’s two unnamed children, from her union with second husband Enoch, both died before the age of two. One of brain troubles (hmm… epilepsy/fits?) and the other suddenly. Eliza doesn’t know of what but makes sure to tell the examiner flat out that “they didn’t have fits.”

Some causes of death are revealed during the questioning:

  • Eliza’s first husband, Mr. Wood, died a painful death over two days from stomach cramps. Yikes!
  • Eliza’s second husband, Enoch Hunt, died from chronic inflammation of the stomach. Hmmm… Is there a pattern here?
  • Eliza’s son, Charles Wood, died from bilious colic at the young age of 32.  This is related to the gallbladder and gallstones, perhaps he suffered from some serious complications that medical technology at the time could not address.
  • Eliza’s son, David Wood, died from heart disease at a young age of 32.

The Special Examiner, Mr. F. C. Loveland, also tried to get at Lyman’s proclivity to imbibe. He asked Eliza if she knew of Lyman “having bad habits of intemperance in any of the years since the war.” To which she responds [and I hear this being said in a terse manner], “I cannot tell you that any of my children ever had any evil or vicious habits of any kind. I tried to train them up in the right way.”

The deposition also reveals that Eliza’s other son, William Henry Hunt, suffers from rheumatism and questions are posed around his ailment.


screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-6-22-56-pmEliza was a mobile person and this deposition provides a good start for constructing a timeline for her. Genealogists also call timelines a “chronological report.”

  • 07-March-1837 – Son Lyman Wood is born in Andover, New Jersey (where she had resided for many years)
  • 1845-1850 – Lived in Andover, Sussex County, New Jersey
  • 1856/1857 – Lived on 15th St. in New York City between 7th and 8th avenues
  • 1856 to 1866 – Lived at Mott Haven, New York (before streets were numbered and just beyond the Harlem River & near the 3rd Avenue street cars)
  • 1866 to ~1872 – Lived in Andover, New Jersey
  • 1872 to February 1882 – Lived in Branchville Junction, Sussex County, New Jersey

This timeline shows that the Wood/Hunt family moved and lived in New York City for about ten years. The reason for the move there would be an interesting thing to ferret out. The timing is before the Civil War broke out but perhaps Enoch could “read the tea leaves” and chose employment in a big city to make sure he had a way to provide for his family during rough times. His death in 1866 was most likely the impetus for the move back to the more sedate New Jersey.


This deposition is but one document found in a 245 page Civil War pension file. But it’s a doozy, chock full of useful data! I learned how the family migrated to New York City and back. I learned about familial causes of death, previously unknown siblings, medical ailments, and marriages. The only complaint I have with Mr. Loveland’s line of inquiry is his failure to ask the given name of Eliza’s first husband. It would be nice to know what Mr. Wood’s first name was!