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.

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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.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #32 – Jacob Newhart’s 1900 Census

Person of Interest: Jacob Newhart
Relationship: Husband of 2nd great grandaunt Ann Maria Bonser (sister to Caroline Bonser, my 2nd great-grandmother)


Source Citation: 1900 U. S. census, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Lower Towamensing Township, ED 11, p. 14B (penned), dwelling 279, family 300, Jacob Newhart; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 July 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1390.


Document Description: These documents are part of the Twelfth Census of the United States which was taken in 1900, at the turn of the century. It is the twelfth census taken since 1790. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The  U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for taking the censuses. After 72 years (and not before owing to privacy reasons), the records are released to the public by the National Archives and Records Administration. In accordance with the 72-Year Rule, the National Archives released the 1900 records to the public in 1972.  The U.S. Census Bureau provides the interested researcher a great overview of each census. In the 1900 overview, we find that “Hawaii, which had been annexed in 1898, was included in the census for the first time.” Census day for this census was 01 June 1900 and William McKinley (left, Photo Source: http://www.census.gov) was the president on that day.[1]

Per the 1900 overview:

“In the act authorizing the 1900 census, Congress limited census content to questions dealing with population, mortality, agriculture, and manufacturing. Reports on these topics, called “Census Reports,” were to be published by June 30, 1902. The act also authorized special census agents to collect statistics relating to incidents of deafness, blindness, insanity, juvenile delinquency, and the like; as well as on religious bodies; utilities; mining; and transportation, among others. These statistics were to be collected following the completion of the regular census. The preparation of the special reports developed from these statistics was to be accomplished in such a way so as to not interfere with the completion of the Census Reports.”

Both Ancestry.com (fee site) and FamilySearch.org (free) offers digitized copies of the census and are searchable by name.


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

Page 3 Header
State: Pennsylvania; County: Carbon; Name of Incorporated Place: Lower Towamensing Township; S.D. No.: 3; E.D. No.: 11; Enumerated by me on the 26th day of June, 1900; Enumerator: Ambrose E. Noll; Sheet No.: 14B.

Page 3B Detail
lines 52-58, Caroline, Robert and William Repsher, Lilian, Jennie and Elizabeth Cobb, and Harry Sharbaugh Jr. [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
Street Name: [blank]
House Number: [blank]
1. Dwelling number in order of visitation: 279
2. Family number in order of visitation: 300

Name
3. Name: Newhart, Jacob; —-, Ann M; —-. Della,; —-. Emma; —-, Mary E.; —-, Harry R.; —-, George E.; —-, Beulah M; Bonser, Emmaline

Relation
4. Relation: Head; Wife; Daughter; Daughter; Daughter; Son; Son; Daughter; M-in-law

Physical Description
5. Color or race: W; W; W; W; W; W; W; W; W
6. Sex: M; F; F; F; F; M; M; F; F
7. Date of birth, month and year: Feb 1862; Oct 1860; May 1885; July 1891; Sept 1893; Apr 1895; Apr 1897; June 1899; Mar 1830
8. Age at last birthday: 38; 39; 15; 8; 6; 5; 3; 11/12; 70
9. Whether single, married, widowed, or divorced: M; M; S; S; S; S; S; S; Wd
10. Number of years married: 14; 14; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
11. Mother of how many children: [blank]; 10; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
12. Number of these children still living: [blank]; 7; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Nativity
13. Place of birth of person: Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania
14. Place of birth of father of person: Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania
15. Place of birth of mother of person: Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania

Citizenship
16. Year of immigration to the United States: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
17. Number of years in the United States: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
18. Naturalization: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Occupation, Trade, or Profession
19. Occupation: Carpenter; [blank]; [blank]; At school; At school; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
20. Months not employed: 3; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Education
21. Attended school:  [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; 6; 3;  [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
22. Can read: Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; Yes
23. Can write: Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; No
24. Can speak English: Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; Yes

Ownership of Home
25. Owned or rented: R; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
26. Owned free or mortgaged: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
27. Farm or home: H; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
28. Number of farm schedule:  [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [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:

Jacob Newhart (38, born Feb 1862) and wife Ann M. (39, born Oct 1860) were living in Lower Towamensing Township, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, with daughters Della (15, born May 1885), Emma (8, born 1891), Mary E. (6, born 1893) and Beulah M. (11/12, born June 1899), sons Harry R. (5, born Apr 1895) and George E. ( 3, born Apr 1897), and Ann’s widowed mother Emmaline Bonser (70, born Mar 1830). Jacob was renting the home they were living in when enumerator Ambrose E. Noll visited the household on 26 June 1900 to record the family’s information. Mr. Noll was working in his Supervisor’s District of 3 which oversaw Enumeration District 11. In order of visitation, the family was labeled as living in dwelling #279 and as family #300.

Jacob and Ann had been married for 14 years which makes their marriage year around 1886. Ann had ten children by 1900 of which seven were still living. Widowed mother-in-law Emmaline had eleven children by 1900 of which six were still living. Everyone in the household was born in Pennsylvania as were all their parents. 

Jacob was working as a carpenter and reported that he hadn’t worked three months out of the last year. Two children, Emma and Mary, were at school. Emma went for six months and Mary for three months. Parents Jacob and Ann, along with Della and Emma can read, write and speak English. Mother-in-law Emmaline can read and speak English but was reported as not being able to read it. 

Jacob and Ann Newhart took Emmaline Bonser into their household sometime before 1900. Unless Emmaline was invalid, she must have been a great help to the household with six children under the age of 15. If she was invalid, Ann certainly would have had her hands full running the household.

I was familiar with Monroe County as many of the Repshers are there but had to take a look to see where Carbon County was located in Pennsylvania. Turns out, it abuts Monroe County on the left side:

Carbon County, Pennsylvania

Monroe County, Pennsylvania

Instructions to the enumerators are a good way to make sure you understand what each item on the census means. The instructions for the 1900 are found on a handy website called IPUMS which stands for the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. From these instructions, we learn a bit about the way the states are divided up:

“74. Township or other division of county.-Every county is divided into parts, and the sum of these parts makes up the whole area of the county. But the names given to these county divisions differ widely. In the north central states, except Wisconsin, and also in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and California they are called townships. In New England, New York, and Wisconsin they are called towns. In the South and far West they are usually called districts or precincts; but in Mississippi they are called beats; in Louisiana wards; in Delaware hundreds.”

Further perusing the instructions for the 1900 census at IPUMS shows that:

  • Care was to be taken to get a person’s exact age. Enumerators were warned that, “Many a person who can tell the month and year of his birth will be careless or forgetful in stating the years of his age, and so an error will creep into the census. This danger can not be entirely avoided, but asking the question in two forms will prevent it in many cases.”
  • Women in the household were to provide the number of children they had and it does provide clarification about stillborn children. “This questions applies only to women, and its object is to get the number of children each woman has had, and whether the children are not living on the census day. Stillborn children are not to be counted.”
  • Some instructions around nativity were provided:
    • Write Ireland, England, Scotland, or Wales rather than Great Britain. Write Hungary or Bohemia rather than Austria for persons born in Hungary or Bohemia, respectively. Write Finland rather than Russia for persons born in Finland.
    • Note, also, that the language spoken is not always a safe guide to the birthplace. this is especially true of Germans, for over one-third of the Austrians and nearly three-fourths of the Swiss speak German. In case a person speaks German, therefore, inquire carefully whether the birthplace was Germany, Austria, or Switzerland.
    • In case the persons speaks Polish, as Poland is not now a country, inquire whether the birthplace was what is now known as German Poland or Austrian Poland, and enter the answer accordingly as Poland (Ger.), Poland (Aust..), or Poland (Russ.).
  • Occupation questions applied to persons 10 years and older. Special care was to be given to ascertain what exactly the person labored at. “Indicate in every case the kind of work done or character of service rendered. do not state merely the article made or worked upon, or the place where the work is done. For example, the reply “carriage builder,” or “works in carriage factory,” is unsatisfactory, because men of different trades, such as blacksmiths, joiners, wheelwrights, painters, upholsterers, work together in building carriages. Such an answer, therefore, does not show what kind of work the person performs.”
  • Space was at a premium in Column 19 (occupation), so some abbreviations were given to the enumerator to use:
  • Occupation instructions were quite extensive. They ran from #153 to #223 with instructions on how to distinguish fisherman, mechanics, peddlers, teamsters, salesman, etc.
  • Home was defined as “By the word “home” in the census is meant any place of abode inhabited by any person or person, whether it is a house, a tent, a boat, or whatever it may be. If any such place of abide is inhabited by more than one family, it is the home of each of them, and it may accordingly be counted as two or more homes instead of one.”

Sometimes, handwritten notations were added after the censuses were compiled. The only hand notation found on the page was a “0976” written at the top right in the header section. The page before this one has “0967,” the page after has “0981,” and the page after that has “0996.” It is unclear what these were being used for or if they were a running tally of some sort.

CONCLUSION

This was a good exercise in tracking down my 3rd greatgrandmother, Emmaline Bonser, in the 1900 United States census. I found her living with her daughter and son-in-law Ann and Jacob Newhart. While Jacob labored as a carpenter, Emmaline was most likely a significant help to Ann running the Newhart household. The Newhart family in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, was not too far from the rest of the Repshers located in Monroe County.


[1] https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/overview/1900.html

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #29 – Dennis B. Strait’s Biography

Person of Interest: Dennis B. Strait
Relationship: 1st cousin 5x removed (his grandparents are Abraham Strait married to Charlotte Comer, who are my 5th great-grandparents)


Source Citation: The History of Franklin and Pickaway Counties, Ohio, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of the Some of the Prominent Men and Pioneers (n.p.: Williams Bros, 1880), 585.


Document Description: This is a biographical sketch within a larger body of work. Dennis B. Strait has a short biography on page 585 and he also has a lovely line drawing featured in the book along with his signature underneath. He is featured under the section titled “Biographical Sketches” starting on page 584.


Background on county histories: In the late nineteenth century, the writing of county histories blossomed as the country experienced a desire to celebrate the centennial of the country in 1876 along with a a surge in popularity of genealogy. These large tomes were published all over the country and are a wealth of information. The bi-centennial celebrated in 1976 also caused another increase in the publishing of county histories.

They contain detailed coverage of various topics including things like local histories, schools, churches, oral traditions of an area, associations, cemeteries, participants in the Civil War (or even Revolutionary), government and its structure, biographical sketches and illustrations of noted individuals, listings of public officials, descriptions/histories of long gone villages or towns, bodies of waters, business and industry data, geology of the area, lists of long-lived residents, weather, maps, roads and transportation, and much more.

Sometimes called brag or mug books, almost anyone could contribute their biography if they had the dollars to get it included. If the person was writing the biography he was contributing (or relaying the facts to a ghost writer), it was most likely favorable. No sense in publishing the dirty laundry when you could portray yourself as a fine, upstanding, industrious, and/or pious person.


Document Scan/Transcription:
Dennis B. Strait.
county commissioner, was born in the State of New Jersey, on May 20, 1824. He is the second of a family of eleven, the children of Abraham and Dulcena Strait, who removed to Franklin county in 1839. They located in Plain township, and here the mother died, not long after. The father died in June, 1862.

The education of the gentleman who is the subject of this sketch, was acquired at common schools, and was quite limited, owing to the fact that his parents were in indigent circumstances, and his being obliged, at an early age, to seek his own living. At the age of twenty years he struck out to battle with fortune, having rough but strong hands, and a brave heart to aid him. Accoumulating some means be sought and obtained the hand of Miss Ann, daughter of Caleb and Eliza Farmer, to whom he was married on November 20, 1851. Soon after he purchased one hundred acres of land in Plain township, this county; this, by industry and economy on the part of Mr. Strait, aided by his good wife, has been added to, until he now owns six hundred and twenty-five acres,

the greater part of which is under a profitable state of cultivation. His life work has been that of a farmer and stock raiser. Of the public life of Mr. Strait, the writer learns that he was first elected county commissioner in the fall of 1860, and served two terms of three years each. Upon the expiration of the second term he was appointed auditor of Franklin county, and it this capacity he served two years. In the fall of 1876 he was a third time elected to the office of commissioner, his term expiring in the fall of 1879. Politically, Mr. Strait is a firm adherent to the teachings of the Democratic Party. For the past twenty years he has been a member of the society of Free and Accepted masons.

His children are: Whitney, Cordelia (Mrs. B. Ranney), Ann Eliza, and Dulcena, and Edward L., who are deceased.


Analysis: This biographical sketch found in the Franklin county section of the book is a great source of genealogical information. We learn the following genealogy information from this sketch:

  • Dennis was born in New Jersey on 20 May 1824
  • Dennis’ parents were Abraham Strait and Dulcena whose maiden name is not revealed.
  • Dennis was one of eleven children
  • The family emigrated to Ohio in 1839
  • His mother Dulcena died shortly after 1839
  • His father Abraham died June 1862
  • Dennis married Ann Farber, the daughter of Caleb Farber and Eliza, on 20 November 1851
  • He purchased land Plain township, Franklin County, Ohio (100 acres which grew into 625 acres)
  • He was a farmer and stock raiser most of his life
  • Dennis was county commissioner from 1869 to 1874
  • Dennis was auditor of Franklin county 1874 to 1876
  • He was elected as commissioner again for a term that ran from 1876 until Fall of 1879
  • Dennis was in the order of the Free and Accepted Masons
  • Dennis and Ann had five children: Whitney, Cordelia, Ann Eliza, Dulcena, and Edward L.
  • Daughter Cordelia married a man named B. Ranney

Now that’s a pretty good start on the family of Dennis B. Strait if this happens to be the first document you ever come across. It gives you a place to look for his birth record (New Jersey), the clue that he had a number of siblings (10), an emigration to Ohio, a place to look for his mother’s death record and when (Ohio, sometime around 1839), a place to look for his father’s death record (Ohio, 1862), a place and date to locate a marriage record for him (Ohio, 1851) and the names of his children to explore further including birth and marriage records for them. Additionally, he was land owner so some deeds might provide useful information.

The source type is an authored work. As we look through the entire book, it most likely had multiple writers putting each of the sections together. The information in the book is undetermined as we can’t be sure if it is primary, secondary, or even tertiary or worse. There is a combination of direct (explicit), indirect (not explicit) and negative (not explicit or missing when it should be there) depending on the research question(s) asked.

CONCLUSION

The residence of Theo. Leonard, Sr. in Columbus, Ohio.

I’ve picked out a few of the illustrations from the book for you to peruse.

County histories are a great way to immerse yourself in life and times of your ancestors. They give a good overview of what it was like to live in the county at the time of its publication. Even if you’re lucky enough to have an ancestor that has a biographical sketch, don’t ignore the rest of the book. There may be maps with details or people pointed out that relate to your family. There may be business ads that relate to your relative’s business activities. The ancestor may be listed as a school teacher, military participant, or one of the oldest people still residing in the county. The oral traditions and geology of the county might explain why your relative got married in the county next door. It’s interesting to look at the clothing and hairstyles found in the line drawings.

Explore and don’t be afraid to learn some history!

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #26 – Elaine Struss-Feret’s Memory Card

Person of Interest: Elaine Marie (Struss) Feret
Relationship: 1x cousin 1x removed


Source Citation: Elaine M. Struss-Feret Memory Card, 2016; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2017.  Elaine M. Struss-Feret paper memory card created by Morgan Funeral Home in Netcong, NJ, for funeral services. Lists full birth and death dates.


screen-shot-2016-12-25-at-8-30-52-pmDocument Description: Memory or prayer or holy cards have been around for a long, long time. The earliest known example is a hand-colored woodcut print of St. Christopher from 1423.[1] As more modern printing techniques came into use, hand-coloring gave way to lithography. Then, as printing became even cheaper in the 1900s, these cards became widely distributed to friends and family members at the funeral homes that attended the deceased. The fronts of the cards generally feature either a picture of the deceased or some sort of religious, especially Roman Catholic, imagery or sayings. The backs generally have the person’s name, sometimes their birth and death dates in varying degrees of completeness, and a prayer or poem. This card is 2-1/2″ by 4″ in measurement and printed on both sides. The front of this card is full-color. There are full birth and death dates for Elaine listed.


memory-card-elaine-m-struss-feretDocument Scan and Transcription: Back of Card
In Loving Memory of
Elaine M. Struss-Feret
September 11, 1949
December 7, 2016

I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one,
I’d like to leave an afterglow
of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo
whispering softly down the ways,
of happy times and laughing
times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those
who grieve, to dry before the sun.
Of happy memories that I leave
when life is done.

Morgan Funeral Home, Inc.
Netcong, NJ

Front of Card: Printed with various images

elaine-mc002elaine-mc003elaine-mc004elaine-mc001


Analysis: The funeral home was nice enough to send me a number of cards, eight in total. I’ve scanned four of them for this post to give a feel for the types of things found on the front of the cards. Sometimes the family chooses on one image, sometimes there are a variety.  Elaine’s cousin, Annie, chose a beautiful selection of flowers and sayings for the front and a joyous poem for the back to celebrate Elaine’s life.

Even if I didn’t already know that Elaine was Roman Catholic, the classic symbolism on the front of the cards would point me in that direction. The white lily is a symbol of purity and is closely associated with the Virgin Mary. The lamp (featured on two cards) symbolizes the presence of God and the existence of the soul. The wheat is a symbol of the bounty of the Earth and the connection to the Holy communion wafer. A white dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit and the thorns are an expression of grief or sin. Along the left-hand sides of the cards are found Latin crosses, Greek letters of Chi Ro (P with the X over it), and an individual Ro all which represent Jesus as the anointed one.[2]

Additionally, this document gives you hints about what to look for next. Usually, the funeral home is the one who handles the interment which leads to the cemetery the person is buried in. Most likely the funeral home is located very close to the cemetery being used. The town in which the funeral home is located will give you a hint about what newspaper to look for a death notice or an obituary. The state will give you a hint on where to write for a copy of the death certificate.

This is an original record printed by the Morgan Funeral Home in Netcong, New Jersey, and sent to me here in Tucson. The information is both primary and secondary. Elaine’s birth date is secondary, someone had to tell the funeral home when her birthday was. Elaine’s death date is primary in that the funeral home was involved in the preparation of the death certificate and transport of the body to the funeral home on the day or next day after her death. The evidence is direct in that it answers the research questions, “When was Elaine of Netcong, New Jersey, and daughter of William Struss and Helen Repsher, born and when did she die?”

CONCLUSION

Depending on how much the funeral home or family choses to print on the card, these playing-card sized documents can be helpful in pinpointing when a person died. The minimum information that I’ve seen on the cards I have are the person’s name with a birth year and a death year or the person’s name with their death date and no birth date. Elaine’s is nice in that it list her birth and date places in their entire month-day-year format.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_card
[2] http://www.boston-catholic-journal.com/a-primer-to-catholic-symbolism.htm and http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/signs4.htm

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #25 – Mercedes Strait’s Graduation

Mercedes Marie Strait, circa 1955

Person of Interest: Mercedes Marie Strait
Relationship: Paternal aunt


Source Citation: Mercedes Strait, Newton High School commencement program (1955); Newton Public Schools, Newton, New Jersey; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, Arizona, 2017.


Document Description: This is the commencement program for Newton High School for the class of 1955. It is 8 x 15 inches and tri-folded which means there are 6 “pages” in total. The paper is medium weight and cream colored with black print. There are no embellishments, pictures, or embossing.


Document Scan/Transcription:
Front Page:
Annual Commencement Exercises of Newton High School
Wednesday Evening, June 22, 1955
High School Field
Newton, N. J.

 

 

 

 

Inside Cover:
Processional
Invocation…..Rev. Marple Lewis
Flag Salute…..Led by John Power
The National Anthem
Salutatory…..Shirley Layton
Honorary Essay…..Shirley Layton
Honorary Essay…..Saundra Fenner
Music…..Senior Ninettes & Senior Male Vocal Group
Mantle Oration…..William Decker, Barbara Henderson
Honorary Essay…..Elizabeth Boole
Presentation of Prizes…..Dr. James Johnson, Superintendent of Schools
Honorary Essay…..Jane Spangenberg
Valedictory…..Jane Spangenberg
Presentation of Class…..Frederick L. Weaver, Principal of High School
Presentation of Class Gift…..Richard W. Ayers
Awarding of Diplomas…..David Weidenhafer, President of Board of Education
Awarding of Diplomas…..Dr. J. J. Goldman, Vice President of Board of Education
Alma Mater
Benediction
Recessional

Listing of Class of 1955, page 1:
Class of 1955
Dorothy Carol Ackerson
Jean Louise Andre
Charles Ronald Ansbach
Harriette Penney Ayers
Richard Willis Ayers
* Nancy Roe Bain
Nancy Baltjes
Joseph Anthony Barthel
Martin James Bedell, Jr.
Donald Frederick Begraft
Mabel Elsie Belcher
Robert Leeroy Benson
Roy Rhynier Bischoff
* Sally Bixler
Frank Black
Lester Eugene Blumhagen
* Elizabeth Jane Boole
Ruric William Brandt
Ann Elizabeth Brown
Catharine Howell Buenz
* Carol Halley Christine Byrnes
Estelle Marie Kathryn Campbell
Domenick Carriera
Marion Josophine Cedzidlo
Richard Linus Celli
Edmund Livingston Chammings
Lester Eugene Chammings
Catherine Bernice Chandler
Shirley Ann Chidlress
* Russell Sage Christie, Jr.
* Dolores Frances Clayton
Frederick Dale Current
Beatrice Clare DeAngelis
William Robert Decker
Charles Walter DeGroat
Patricia Joan Delea
Herbert Joseph Demarest
Peter J. Demarest
Robert Lynn Dennis
Ronald James Depuy
Marie Annette DeVincenzi
Joseph Michael DeVita
Betty Jane Donadio
William Robert Doty
Philip Harry Dunlap
James Edward Earnshaw
Robert Leroy Earl
Mary Theresa Eldred
Mildred Beatrice Ellicks
Clarence Theadore Ellingsen, Jr.
Barbara Mildred Felk
* Saundra Ann Fenner
Kenneth Francis Fowler

The old Newton High School on Halsted Street, 1940 postcard

Marlin Henry Fulkrod
Richard Lawrence Fuller
Harold Elsworth Gibbs
* Lora Grabow
Carol Lee Graham
George Robert Gray
June Edwinna Grimm
Frank George Gromlich
* Hubert William Hagadorn
Patricia Mary Hamilton
Robert Boyden Hamm
William Flomerfelt Hamm
Geraldine Marie Hatley
Diane Lee Helmacy
Alice Jane Henderson
Raymond Charles Henderson, Jr.
Roger Lee Henderson
Gordon James Hennion
Edith May Hooey
Barbara Joyce Hopper
Carol Diane Huff
Carole Kathryn Agnes Hughes
Rosemary Kathryn Hughes
Shirley Ann Huizenga
Brian Dotey Hunt
Joyce Hussey
John Lewis Iliff
Cora Enda Jager
Niela Norene Jager
Charlotte Emma Johnson
Marie Elizabeth Johnson
Harvey William Jorgenson, Jr.
Helen Evelyn Kampka
Linford Nelson Kinney
Manfred William Klein
Listing of Class of 1955, page 2:
Ronald John Klepacky
Jean Elizabeth Kosteini
Jeanette Bertha Kosteini
Phyllis Gloria Kucinski
Maxine Helen Kuhn
Shirley Ruth Landgraff
* Shirley Evelyn Layton
Elaine Helen Lee
William Felix Lehman, Jr.
Frank Henry Lockburner
Marilyn Agnes Lundstrom
Jack Whitten McCall
George Melvin McCoy
Marilyn Jayne McKeeby
Nancy Lee Mack
Rosamond Barbara Martin
Cynthia Patricia Massucci
Virginia Lou Mertens
Anna Marie Margaret Meyer
Thomas Stone Middleton
Melvyn Miller
Andrea Mitchell
Marjorie Ann Monsanto
Hugh Theodore Mooney
Carol Mary Mosner
Theodore W. Moss
* Edwin Alfred Nelson, Jr.
Howard Edward Norback
Carolyn Adelaide Nugent
Janice Marie Paugh
Gustave Edwin Paul
Birgit Alma Pearson
Wilfred Edwin Pierce, Jr.
Duane Robert Pierson
Patricia Ann Plotts
Robert Lee Poe
* John Michael Power
Evelyn Roberta Powers
Kenneth Ralph Powers
Rayna Mabel Price
Elizabeth Frances Ramsey
Regine Marie Reuther
Rochelle Roche
William Henry Ruschmeier
Gail Patricia Ryan
Lewis Branton Savacool
* Helen Emily Schaffer
Gayle Marie Scott
Lydia Semenuk
Frederick Lloyd Seplow
Norman Card Shawger
Donald Edward Singleton
Margaret Agnes Sisco
Marilyn Marjorie Sisco
* Shirley Ann Skuba
Ronald Swayze Smith
Barbara Ann Spangenberg
* Jane Edith Spangenberg
Kathleen Marie Spaulding
Barbara Specht
Virginia Specht
Kurt David Steckley
James Grant Stevens
Janet Doris Stewart
Janet Lynn Stiansen
Mercedes Marie Strait

Mercedes Marie Strait

William Michael Strong
Betty Louise Struble
Patricia Jean Sullivan
* Carol Lee Talley
Lois Mae Titman
Elizabeth Ann Traynor
Wellington Ollie Treible
* Maud Violet Utter
Ralph Marshall VanAuken
Donald Theodore VanDeMoere
Barbara Jane VanOrden
Shirley Martha Vealey
Grant Van Vorhies
Richard John Washer
Elsie Mary Watson
Carol Margaret Elizabeth Weiss
Donald Robert Weiss
Verne E. Whitlock, Jr.
Ralph Dwight Wiley
Dennis Grifford Williams
Luise Rae Williams
Martin Morris Winfield
* Joyce Nettie Young

* National Honor Society

Alma Mater Foldover Page:
ALMA MATER
Oh! we’re from dear old Newton
The School to us most dear;
It’s the place we love the best
Finest school in East or West
So we will hail the name we all revere:
We love our Alma Mater
Of her glories we will tell.
In everything we take the lead
In sport and though and noble deed.
And so for Newton we will give our yell, Rah! Rah!

Her students all are loyal,
We’ll laud her to the sky
We’ll ever strive with all our might
To keep her honor clear and bright,
The kind of scholars we’re at Newton High.
We hear the should of victory
The thunder of her fame
In every land the world around
There are her sons and daughters found,
And so for them we’ll give a hearty cheer, Rah! Rah!

Chorus
So here’s to old Newton
Loud we will sing
We’ll tell her praises true to you
In every land they’ll ring.
Then here’s to old Newton
The School we love the best,
Till every purpose be fulfilled in N. H. S.

Board of Education and listing of teachers page:
President…..Mr. David Weidenhafer
Vice-President…..Dr. J. J. Goldman
Secretary to Board…..Mr. Sydenham Palmer
Mr. Robert J. Ford
Dr. Martin Snook
Mr. John Cronin
Mrs. D. L. Spurgeon
Mrs. Charles Thompson
Mrs. Clifford Schmidt
Mr. C. Burnett Freas

James Johnson, Ed. D. ….. Superintendent
Frederick L. Weaver, Ed. M. ….. High School Principal
Paul S. Darling, Ed. M. …..High School Vice President
Helen E. Kinney …… Secretary to the Superintendent
Margaret E. Kittle ….. Secretary to High School Principal
Lena W. Howell ….. Secretary to Attendance
Gladys S. Anderson, B. C. S. ….. Commercial
Lydia Beatty ….. Modern Living
Kathryn Bedell, B. S. ….. English
Richard Bobertz ….. Manual Training
Ralph Bond, B. S. ….. Commercial
Henry Boresch, Ed. M. ….. Physical Education
Howard Bruce, B. S. ….. Commercial
A. Neill Clark, B. S. ….. Physics
Claire Club, B. S. ….. Modern Living
Elizabeth Cole, B. C. S. ….. Commercial
Margaret Connell, M. A. ….. Latin
Warren Cummings, Ed. M. ….. English
Van Davies, B. S. ….. Mathematics
Arthur Disque, M. A. ….. Physical Education
Joseph Esposito, A. B. ….. English
Wilfred Falling, B. Mus. ….. Music
Kathleen Fleck, A. B. ….. English
Frances Francisco, A. B. ….. Mathematics, Science
Gottfred Gebhardt, B. S. ….. Science
Elizabeth Goble, R. N. ….. Nurse
Louis J. Gombosi, Ed. M. ….. Agriculture
Hazel I. Gordon ….. Physical Education
Mildred Graebner, A. B. ….. French, Spanish
Mildred Griggs ….. Commercial
Roberts I. Hardin, M. A. ….. Modern Living
Alice Henry, M. A. ….. Physical Education
Marion Howe, M. A. ….. Mathematics
Barbara Jones, A. B. ….. Art
Francis Lambert, A. B. ….. History
Margaret Mary Linnen, A. B. ….. English
Margaret McCutcheon, Ed. M. ….. Library
George Marshall, A. B. ….. English, History
Frank Matteson ….. Manual Training
Carroll Mynard, B. S. ….. Band, Orchestra
Jean Pascoe, M. A. ….. Guidance
Emily Robbins, Ed. M. ….. Mathematics
Marion Quinn, M. A. ….. History
Eleanor Slack, B. C. S. ….. English
Geraldine Smith, M. A. ….. Speech, Dramatics
John Stump, M. S. ….. Agriculture
Mabel von Loon, B. S. ….. History
Robert Warden, B. S. ….. Mechanical Drawing
Michael Waskowich, B. S. ….. Science
Paul Weaver, Ed. M. ….. Chemistry
Robert Williams, M. A. ….. Mathematics


Analysis:  Mercedes Marie Strait was one of 177 students that graduated on 22 June 1955 from Newton High School, Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. It is unclear if Mercedes graduated in the brand spanking new High School on Ryerson Avenue which was built in 1954 at a cost of $1.25M.[1] The former High School was located on Halsted Street (subsequently converted to a grammar school) and this was where Mercedes spent most of her high school years. I haven’t been able to determine exactly when the new High School opened so Mercedes may have never even had a class in the new building and was at Halsted Street from her freshman to senior years.

The new Newton High School, built in 1954

I’m glad I took the time to transcribe all the names on the program. One name in particular popped out at me: Donald Fredrick Begraft. Why? Well, because he’s a brother to Douglas Begraft who married Lena Westra who was a sister to Martha Westra who married Mercedes’ brother William Strait. This highlights the benefits of using the F.A.N. (Friends, Associates, and Neighbors) method of researching. From this program, I found his high school graduation date, placed him in Newton (or close vicinity) in 1955, and learned his middle name.

Life is circular. Some of the same teachers that Mercedes and her brother William may have had were also my teachers! English teacher Mrs. Bedell, math teacher Mrs. Robbins, agriculture teacher Mr. Gombosi, and math teacher Van Davies were all still in education when I came through from 1980-1984. I know for sure my dad had Mrs. Robbins as a teacher. I quite liked her but Dad had other opinions since her preference for girls over the boys in the classroom was a bit noticeable.

I also noticed that home economics had been rebranded as “modern living” by 1955. I’m not quite sure what “commercial” was related to since “manual training” is also included in areas of study. Agriculture is not a surprise as Sussex County was still very rural in 1955.

In a nice bit of symmetry, I also had 177 students in my graduating class. However, I did attend high school at the building on Ryerson Avenue and many years after both High Point Regional High School, which opened in 1964, and Kittatinny Regional High School, which opened in 1975, had syphoned students from the Newton School District.[2]

This is an original document passed down to me from Aunt Sadie. It’s primary information in that it’s a listing of all the graduates, teachers, and Board of Education members in 1955 prepared by the school itself that would know specifically who was graduating and who taught the graduates. It is direct evidence (explicit) for the question, “When and where did Mercedes Marie Strait, of Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey, graduate high school?” It tells us definitively that she graduated on Wednesday evening of 22 June 1955. It is indirect evidence on the relationships between Mercedes, her classmates, and her teachers. From this, we can’t tell who shared classroom time with her, who her circle of friends were, or what teachers taught her.

CONCLUSION

Why bother with a lowly high school commencement program? We’re looking for hard core vital records as genealogists, right? Well, a high school commencement program helps put your ancestor in a particular place at a particular time along with giving you some of their classmates and associates. The program gave me a middle name and graduation date for someone in the family tree I was expecting to see. Analyzing this program also piqued my curiosity enough to search out some of the school history of the Newton Public Schools. No document is too lowly to examine while doing your reasonably exhaustive search!


[1] http://www.newtonnj.net/Pages/newtonschools.htm
[2] Ibid.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #24 – J. Percy Crayon’s Book

Person of Interest: Abraham Strait and wife, name unknown, and their family of five sons and one daughter
Relationship: 6th great grandparents


Source Citation: J. Percy Crayon, “The Strait Family,” Rockaway Records of Morris County, N.J. Families (Rockaway, NJ:  Rockaway Publishing Co., 1902), 189.


J. Percy Crayon

Document Description: This is a genealogy book published by J. Percy Crayon (my second cousin, 4x removed) in the early 1900s. He was among the many people swept up in the genealogy craze (not unlike our modern surge in popularity) at the turn of the century when the genealogy hobby was extremely popular. People were exploring their family history and publishing tomes with what they knew (or wanted people to believe) about their lineage. At this time, books were typeset by hand, prone to errors, unsourced, and usually not indexed.

The amount of information crammed into these genealogy books is mind boggling. Crayon’s is no exception. The 300+ page book has the author’s picture in the front and is dedicated to his mother. It is indexed. A digital copy of the book can be found online at Archive.org.

Crayon’s book is broken out as follows:

  • Front matter contains his picture, dedication and publishing information.
  • Pages 1-58 are an alphabetical listing of persons found in Rockaway Cemeteries.
  • Pages 59-80 provide some history of Rockaway and the church there.
  • Pages 80-295 are split into chapters based on family names and provide unsourced genealogies for those families.
  • Pages 296-297 are related to the Rockaway soldier’s monument and Captain Josiah Hall’s company and those who served with him.
  • Pages 297-302 are interments in the Rockaway Cemetery that happened between July 1899 and the completion of the book. It’s handwritten.
  • Pages 303-305 contain an index of names.
  • Page 306 contains errata from the book.

For the purpose of this blog entry, I will be focusing my analysis on one specific page, 189, from this book.


Document Scan/Transcription: Since this is a typewritten page and very legible, I’m not going to completely transcribe this page. If you click on it, you will be able to read it all on your own. As you can see based on this page, the book has a lot of white space and the margins are quite generous. This, I think, has an impact on the way the book is laid out and the information presented.

Analysis: When I first came across this book, I was in the initial name-collecting phase of my genealogy career. It blew my mind!! Look at all this stuff! Let’s put it wholesale into my Family Tree Maker program without any thought at all!! And I did. Without question.

I’ve since taken some high level genealogy courses to become a better researcher. Eventually coming back around to this particular page has helped me to hone some of my critical thinking skills. I have come across many Strait family trees online (and Find A Grave) that list sixteen children belonging to Abraham and Charlotte (Comer) Strait based on this one page. Here’s my argument on why that is wrong. However, once information is out there, it is very hard to get corrected. This might be one of those cases. I might be fighting an uphill battle, but here goes!

The first paragraph has a very important statement about five sons and one daughter coming over with the “original” Abraham, which makes six children in all that made the trip. That may not be all of their children, just the ones that came over to America. It’s possible there are older children that did not come over with them and stayed in the homeland.

Keeping that first paragraph in mind, it’s obvious that there’s a missing paragraph break at the point where Stephen Strait comes in. Let me show you where that paragraph break should be denoted by the red line:

I believe that the five sons and one daughter of Abraham Strait, his wife, name unknown, are:

  1. Abraham (2) married Charlotte Comer
  2. Stephen, married and went to Ohio
  3. John, went to Tennessee
  4. Ann, married John Davenport
  5. Christian (or Christoffel), remained at Milton
  6. Jacob (born 1740), married Abigail Gould

Further strengthening this is a bit of logic. Let’s look at Abraham (2) and Charlotte’s children with this paragraph break inserted. The ten children of Abraham (2) and Charlotte are then:

  1. David A., married Sarah Smith
  2. William C., married Sarah Brown
  3. John, married Bridget Shaw
  4. Abraham (3), married Dulcena Dunn
  5. Eliza, married John Paddock
  6. Charlotte, married John Dougherty
  7. Catherine, married Adam Smith
  8. Lucinda, married Paul Farber
  9. [daughter, name unknown] married James Paddock
  10. Jane, married William Dunn

Taking a closer look at some of the ten children brings the following facts to light. William C. (son of Abraham Strait and Charlotte Comer) married to Sarah Brown was born about 1785.[1] That alone rules out Jacob being his brother based on Jacob’s given birth year of 1740. How can someone born earlier than William C. be the youngest of the family? It just does not make sense. Additionally, Lucinda, who was married to Paul Farber, was born around 1795.[2] Again, how can someone born earlier than Lucinda be the youngest of the family? Therefore, Jacob seems to be the son of the “original” Abraham and wife, name unknown, not Abraham (2) and Charlotte Comer.

All of this points to a missing paragraph break (before Stephen Strait is discussed) and adding the paragraph break squares all the listings of parents and children.

Except… That inserting the paragraph break brings up a perplexing date question that needs to be addressed. It seems that Crayon follows the convention of listing all the children in birth order based on examination of other families within the book. Given that, we can take a stab at estimating Abraham (2)’s birth year, if the following items are true:

  • Crayon listed children in birth order
  • Children were born 2 years apart (customary during the time)
  • There are no missing children between Abraham and Jacob
  • There are no twins/triplets/etc.
  • Jacob’s birth year of 1740 is presented correctly

Estimated birth years of the five sons and one daughter of Abraham Strait, his wife, name unknown, are:

  1. Abraham (2), estimated birth year of 1730
  2. Stephen, estimated birth year of 1732
  3. John, estimated birth year of 1734
  4. Ann, estimated birth year of 1736
  5. Christian (or Christoffel), estimated birth year of 1738
  6. Jacob, birth year stated as 1740

Pegging Abraham (2)’s birth date at around 1730 gives me the following timeline of family events for Abraham (2) and Charlotte Comer based on children that have verifiable birth years:

This would mean that Abraham (2) didn’t start having his family until he was about 53 years old; there’s one child older than William C. and let’s assume that David was born two years before William. It also means Jane, the youngest daughter born 15 May 1805,[3] wasn’t born until he was 75 years old… Hmmm… This seems highly unlikely. And if Charlotte were anywhere near Abraham’s age, I would say it’s just not likely that she gave birth at 75 years of age. That may suggest that Charlotte was a much younger woman that Abraham. All we know about her, from Crayon, is that she was born at sea. We don’t know when she arrived in America or how old she is.

Something more substantial than estimating a birth year at 1730 for Abraham (2) needs to be located. And that’s the fun of genealogy! There’s always something to investigate or documents to be discovered.

Even with this question of Abraham (2)’s birth year, I still think that there is a missing paragraph break and that the five sons and one daughter of the “original” Abraham and his wife, name unknown, are:  Abraham, Stephen, John, Ann, Christian and Jacob.

CONCLUSION

I have to say thank goodness for modern technology where a book like this can now be produced, corrected on the fly, footnoted and/or end-noted, and indexed with much more ease. I would love to see what J. Percy Crayon’s working notes for this page actually looked like. For now, I’m going against the grain and listing ten children for Abraham and Charlotte where most others have sixteen.


[1] 1850 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Vernon, p. 65B, dwelling 347, family 358, William Strait; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 November 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 464. And 1860 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Vernon, p. 42 & 43 (penned), dwelling 292, family 292, William C. Strait; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 04 July 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 709. And 1880 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Hardyston, ED 178, p. 5 (penned), dwelling 38, family 39, William Strait; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 November 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 798.
[2] 1850 U. S. census, Scott County, Iowa, population schedule, District 4, no page number, dwelling 641, family 679, Paul Farber; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 October 2005); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 188. And 1860 U. S. census, Henry County, Illionois, population schedule, Hanna, p. 410 (penned), dwelling 53, family 52, Paul Farber; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 October 2005); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 182.
[3] Stockholm Methodist Episcopal Church Cemetery (27 Route 515, Stockholm, Sussex County, New Jersey), Jane Dunn marker; photo taken by Jodi Lynn Strait, 19 December 2011.  Stone is repaired but was broken into 4 pieces at some point.