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

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


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


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


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


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

Hunt Enoch, printer, h 174 W 20th


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

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

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

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

Source: Google maps, satellite mode, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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


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


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


oracarpenter004

The completely unexciting front cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

page-13

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

page-14

There is nothing on the inside of the back cover.


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

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

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

oracarpenter001

Ora’s wallet

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

oracarpenter002

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


albertar2001

Cover letter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Albert in Living Room

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

Person of Interest: William Charles Strait
Relationship: Paternal grandfather


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #38 – George Longcor’s 1850 Census

Person of Interest: George Longcor
Relationship: 4th great grandfather


Source Citation: 1850 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Sparta, dwelling 83, family 85, George Longcor; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 July 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 464.


Document Description: These documents are part of the Seventh Census of the United States which was taken in 1850. It is the seventh 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.  The U.S. Census Bureau provides the interested researcher a great overview of each census. In the 1850 overview, we find that Zachary Taylor (right, photo source: http://www.census.gov) was president on census day which was June 1, 1850, that that six schedules were to be used to collect the information requested by the Congress and that results needed to be returned to the secretary of the interior by November 1, 1850. As opposed to the 1840 census, in this census every free person’s name was to be listed, not just the head of the household. Unfortunately, while every name is listed, every relationship to head of household is not. That won’t happen until the 1880 census.

According to the 1850 overview site, the details of the enumeration were this:

“… the board [was authorized] to prepare forms and schedules for collecting information on mines, agriculture, commerce, manufactures, education, and other topics, as well as “exhibit a full view of the pursuits, industry, education, and resources of the country.

“The number of population inquiries grew in the 1850 census. Every free person’s name was to be listed, not just the head of the household. The marshals also collected additional “social statistics,” including information on taxes, schools, crime, wages, value of the estate, etc. and data on mortality.

“Each marshal was also responsible for subdividing his district into “known civil divisions,” such as counties, townships, or wards, and ensuring that his assistants’ returns were completed properly.”

Both Ancestry.com (fee site) and FamilySearch.org (free) offers digitized copies of the census and are searchable by name. The History and Growth of the United States Census: 1790 – 1890 was a document prepared for the Senate Committee on the Census in 1900 and as written by Carroll D. Wright, the Commissioner of Labor, and William C. Hunt, Chief Statistician of the 12th census. If you’re into statistics or reading up on the historical background of the censuses, this is a great document to dig into.


Documents Scan/Transcription: Numbers relate to columns on the population schedule.

Page Header
Schedule I. Free Inhabitants in the township of Sparta in the County of Sussex, State of New Jersey enumerated by me, on the 28th day of August 1850. John B. Easton, Ass’t Marshal.

Page Detail
lines 40-42, George Longcor, Hannah, and John [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
1. Dwelling number in order of visitation: 83
2. Family number in order of visitation: 85
3. The Name of every Person whose usual place of abode on the first day of Jun, 1850, was in this family: George Longcor; Hannah —-; John —-

Description
4. Age: 58; 59; 16
5. Sex: M; F; M
6. Color: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Occupation
7. Profession, Occupation, or Trade of each Male Person over 15 years of age: Farmer; [blank]; none

Real Estate
8. Value of Real Estate owned: 5,000; [blank]; [blank]

Nativity
9. Place of Birth. Naming the State, Territory, or Country: N. Jersey; NJ; NJ

Additional Information
10. Married within the year: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
11. Attended School within the year: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
12. Persons over 20 yrs of age who cannot read & write: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
13. Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict: [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 June 1850, George Longcor (58) was living with Hannah (59) and a young man named John (16). The family was living in Sparta Township, Sussex County, New Jersey, when John B. Easton arrived to enumerator them on 28 August 1850. In order of visitation, the family was labeled as living in dwelling #83 and as family #85.

George was working as a farmer, Hannah had no occupation listed and John’s occupation was listed as “none.” All were listed as being born in New Jersey. George was listed as having $5,000 in real estate value. The family was healthy in that nothing was filled in for the column for blindness, deaf and dumbness, idiocy, insanity, pauper, or convict. The census indicated that George, Hannah and John Longcor could read and write.

The 1850 census does not tells the viewer the specific relationships within the family group, so other evidence is needed to prove that George and Hannah were husband and wife and that John was their child. However, the instructions to the enumerators directed that “the names are to be written beginning with the father and mother; or if either, or both, be dead, begin with some other ostensible head of the family; to be followed, as far as practicable, with the name of the oldest child residing at home, then the next oldest, and so on to the youngest, then the other inmates, lodgers and borders, laborers, domestics, and servants.”

Nothing pops out as being odd with this family. However, it doesn’t hurt to go look at the enumerator instructions to see how things were to be reported. The IPUMS, which stands for the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, website has a handy place to look up all enumerator instructions for the 1850 census. We find the schedules listed that relate to this census:

  1. Population
  2. Slave inhabitants
  3. Mortality
  4. Agriculture
  5. Statistics of Industry
  6. Social Statistics

Some of the instructions found there include:

  • By the term family is meant, either one person living separately in a house, or a part of a house, and providing for him or herself, or several persons living together in a house, or in part of a house, upon one common means of support, and separately from others in similar circumstances. A widow living alone and separately providing for herself, or 200 individuals living together and provided for by a common head, should each be numbered as one family.
  • The resident inmates of a hotel, jail, garrison, hospital, an asylum, or other similar institution, should be reckoned as one family.
  • The names of every member of a family who may have died since the 1st day of June is to be entered and described as if living, but the name of any person born since the 1st day of June is to be omitted.
  • Under heading 8 insert the value of real estate owned by each individual enumerated. You are to obtain the value of real estate by inquiry of each individual who is supposed to own real estate, be the same located where it may, and insert the amount in dollars. No abatement of the value is to be made on account of any lien or incumbrance [sic] thereon in the nature of debt.
  • Heading 13, entitled “Deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict.” The assistant marshal should ascertain if there be any person in the family deaf, dumb, idiotic, blind, insane, or pauper. If so, who? And insert the term “deaf and dumb,” “blind,” “insane,” and “idiotic,” opposite the name of such persons, as the fact may be. When persons who had been convicted of crime within the year reside in families on the 1st of June, the fact should be stated, as in the other cases of criminals; but, as the interrogatory might give offense, the assistants had better refer to the country record for information on this head, and not make the inquiry of any family. With the county record and his own knowledge he can seldom err.

CONCLUSION

Nothing unusual or questionable popped out at me in the analysis of this 1850 census for my 4th great grandparents George and Hannah Longcor. I had their son Samuel, not listed in this census, as being married and in his own household by 1850. But I did find Samuel’s brother John to add to my family database. I would venture that finding the real estate and location of the land that George owned in Sparta should be my next step in further fleshing George out. Another thing added to the research to-do list….

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #37 – William Struss’s Family Group Sheet

Helen (Repsher) Struss

Person of Interest: William and Helen Struss
Relationship: Great grandaunt and husband (Helen and my grandmother Beatrice were sisters)


Source Citation: Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser,” handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970, p. 87; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, Arizona, who inherited the copies of the originals from grandmother Beatrice Strait who inherited them from mother Anna Repsher who compiled them. This handwritten sheet does not offer a list of materials used and contain no specific documentation for any piece of data.


Document Description: This is a copy of a family group sheet found in Anna Repsher’s compilation of the John Joseph and wife Caroline (Bonser) Repsher’s family and descendants. It is 8 1/2 by 11″ and is regular (not college ruled) notebook paper. Copy of the compilation was passed from compiler Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher to daughter Beatrice (Repsher) Strait to Beatrice’s granddaughter Jodi Lynn Strait. The original compilation was with Elaine Struss-Feret but upon Elaine’s death in 2016 passed to Georgana (Smith) Repsher. The original is still be updated with information obtained each year at the John J. and Caroline Repsher family reunion held each year at Weona Park in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, on the third Sunday of July.


Document Scan/Transcription:
William Struss
William Struss born Sept 17-1906
died Aug 25-1955
son of John Struss from Germany

Helen H. Repsher (wife) born Sept 10-1911
died [blank]
daughter of George Repsher and Anna Karthaeuser

married July 2-1942

Children of marriage
1-Boy born dead Feb 15-1943
2- Elaine Marie born Sept 11-1949
weight 5 lbs 10 oz

Married in St. Michael’s church Netcong N.J. attendants William Strait Sr
and Beatrice Strait at 8 P.M. Father Lange officiating
Helen graduated from St. Michael’s Grammar School June 21-1925
Helen baptised [sic] in St. Michael’s church Sept 24-1922
Helen confirmed in St. Michael’s church June-1923

Elaine Marie Baptised [sic] Oct 9-1949 in St. Michael’s church Netcong N.J.
Sponsors Adam Repsher and Beatrice Strait at 1:30 P.M.
Father Lange Officiating

William Struss was electrocuted in Branchville working on his
job at time of big flood disaster year of 1955
Elaine Struss graduated June 15-1967 Netcong High School


Analysis: The decision on what family group sheet to share was a process. I wanted one of the 196 pages in the compilation to provide a good example of the types of things my great-grandmother included on her handwritten family group sheets. But a good genealogist doesn’t post things on the living so that knocked a lot of sheets out of contention since, without some extra research, I couldn’t guarantee that all the children listed with the family were deceased. Also, there were some considerations with the notations that talked about children born out of wedlock or adopted either into or out of the family. Some of that information might not be common knowledge within the family.

Even though there’s no death date filled in for Helen Repsher, she did pass away on 23 December 1990.[1] And the same holds true with Helen’s daughter Elaine who recently passed away on 07 December 2016.[2] As such, this sheet was a safe pick for the blog.

An examination of the handwriting on this page shows that the same person recorded all the information on the sheet. An examination of the ink also shows that all the information on the sheet was recorded at the same time. There is no variation in script or ink. Since William Struss died in 1955 and Elaine was recorded as graduating in 1967, I suspect that my great grandmother, Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher sat down to record all of this information between 1967 and her death in September of 1970. There is also a very real possibility that some of the information was copied at that time into this compilation since a notation on the first page indicates that it was “started Jan 20th, 1911.” It makes me suspect that someone has another Repsher family compilation even older than this one.

Anna was pretty consistent in the format of all her family group sheets. She started with the name of the family (father) as the first line of the sheet. At the top, she then recorded the applicable information about the father (birth, death, parents) and the mother (birth, death, parents) and right after that their marriage date. Following the marriage date were the children from the marriage or a notation that there were no children. Sometimes, if the children were married, spouses were noted. If the children were multiples (twins) that is noted. The bottom half of the sheet was reserved for additional information like baptisms, schooling, marriage details, etc.

I like this page because it has a lot of little notations that help to fill out family of William Struss. We learn that William and Helen were married in Netcong, New Jersey, in the evening at 8 pm by Father Lange at St. Michael’s Church. They were attended by Helen’s sister Beatrice and her husband William Strait. We learn the Helen graduated in 1925 from grammar school, baptized in 1922 (eleven years after her birth), and confirmed in 1923. We learn that their daughter Elaine was born in 1949 and baptized that same year. We learn that the family suffered losses when William and Helen had to bury a stillborn son in 1943 and when William was tragically killed while on the job in 1955. We learn their daughter Elaine graduated from high school in Netcong in June of 1967. We learn that there was a big flood in 1955. We even learn the tiniest detail that Elaine weighed 5 pounds and 10 ounces when she was born.

The thing I don’t like about the sheet (and the compilation in general) is that it’s completely unsourced. Anna may have been present her granddaughter Elaine’s birth but I’m pretty sure that she didn’t participate in William Struss’s birth in 1906 in Germany. Each sheet in this compilation must be examined carefully and each piece of information analyzed. She also does not normally record the birth or death places. Occasionally, a marriage place is recorded.

This is an authored work even though it is unpublished. Anna presents all the information in a unique format that no one else has done. She chose how to present it and what to include. It is a hybrid of both primary, secondary and undetermined information. Anna would know the birth dates of her children and her marriage date but items around her parents, in-laws, and extended family would come from other sources. The evidence is varied in that, depending on the research question, it could be direct (explicit), indirect (not explicit) or even negative.

CONCLUSION

This family group sheet provides a wonderful jumping off point for research into William Struss’s family. Since it is unsourced, I consider the information found within it “clues” about where to go look for original documents and primary information. Next steps would involve locating a marriage record for William and Helen, searching for a death record for William Struss, digging up church records for everyone listed, ferreting out information about a great flood in 1955, and finding newspaper articles about William’s accident. When looking at family group sheets, whether handwritten like this one or a pre-printed form that’s been filled in or typed up, the good genealogist will evaluate both the reliability of the recorder and the information found within. This is a case of trust my great grandmother but verify!


[1] “Helen Struss,” obituary, newspaper clipping, 25 December 1990 (penned), unidentified newspaper [most likely the New Jersey Herald]; Strait family newspaper clipping, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, Arizona, 2017.  Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.
[2] Elaine M. Struss-Feret Memory Card, 2016; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ 85757, 2017.  Elaine M. Struss-Feret paper memory card created by Morgan Funeral Home in Netcong, New Jersey, for funeral services. Lists full birth and death dates.

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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


[1] Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 77; privately held by held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2017.