52 Documents in 52 Weeks #20 – Florence Ervey’s DAR Application

Person of Interest: Jacob Angell
Relationship: 6th great grand uncle (brother to my DAR patriot John Angle #A002804 who was my 6th great grandfather)

Source Citation: Membership application, Florence May Linaberry Ervey, National no. 512696, on Jacob Angle (1720-1786, New Jersey), approved 16 July 1965; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C.

Document Description: This is the application of Florence for admittance to the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) or just DAR for short.

Logo of the DAR

Background on the DAR: The DAR was founded in 1890 and incorporated by an Act of Congress in 1896. The membership organization is a “non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children.” There are currently 185,000 members with 3,000 chapters in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and international chapters in Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, France, Germany, Guam, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom. As of 2017, more than 950,000 members have joined the organization since its inception. [1]

The DAR ancestor/patriot may not necessarily have been a soldier. Applications are accepted if proof can be found that the ancestor provided support to the American revolutionary cause in some way. For example, if your ancestor provided supplies or lodging for troops, they could qualify as a patriot.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the National organization owns a top-notch genealogical library and archive, a Genealogical Research System (GRS), a museum, and Constitution Hall, a convention venue. They provide grants to non-profits and numerous scholarships to qualifying applicants. Each year, the national society invites members to attend an event called the Continental Congress. Their 126th Continental Congress will begin on June 28, 2017 and be held in Washington, D.C.

Jill and Jodi at the DAR Van Bunschooten Museum, 19 July 2008

Local chapters own and manage any number of historical sites, libraries, and archives. For example, my Chinkchewunska Chapter owns and operates the Van Bunschooten Museum in the highlands of northwestern New Jersey. This Dutch Colonial 2-story house was built around 1797 and originally served as the home of the Reverend Elias Van Bunschooten. The house is now a museum and research library and maintained by the chapter. They are very active in finding grave sites of Revolutionary soldiers, replacing stones (if needed), and documenting where the grave is located.

Document Scan/Transcription: I had intended to show you a DAR application but, as a good genealogist, I thought first to check on the rules of posting applications online. Turns out, I’m not allowed to show you them. Glad I checked. Per the DAR, on the most recent application I ordered, in big red lettering:


“Purchase of a record copy of a DAR application paper or supplemental application paper does not transfer any intellectual property rights or ownership to the purchaser. The DAR asserts copyright protection on record copies and prohibits the posting of images of DAR application papers and supplemental application papers online in any form by anyone. By ordering a record copy either electronically, by mail, or by fax, the purchaser acknowledges awareness of this policy and agrees not to post images online.

“Supporting documentation files are comprised of documents from a variety of sources and repositories. DAR makes no assertion of ownership or copyright. Copies are provided for personal research purposes only. Researchers should contact the original owning repository for permission to publish.”

Copies are provided for the sole use of the person ordering the copy but not if the sole use is to post them online!

So, since I can’t show you the images or provide the transcription, which violates the privacy of the member, let me talk to you about the general sections you will find in a DAR application.

  • The cover page provides the personal information of the applicant. For privacy reasons, when ordering records, this page just has the member’s name, her NSDAR number, and the associated ancestor information and service description. In this case, Jacob Angell furnished supplies to the cause.
  • The second page is the lineage page. It provides birth, death and marriage information linking the DAR member back to the ancestor, regardless of the number of generations.
  • The third page provides the descriptions of the references or sources used to prove lineage from one generation to another. This is especially useful to point you in the direction of sources or references you may not have known about previously. The newer applications require that the applicant show which sources belong to which generations. Older applications may or may not break out the sources into generations.
  • The fourth page provides details on the patriot ancestor’s service, marriage and children.

Some notes about markings that the proofing genealogists may put on the application as they check it. A tick mark shows that the fact has been proved. Parentheses placed around information, by the genealogist not the applicant, means that the proofing genealogist does not feel this fact was supported by the sources provided. Additional handwritten notes may also be present.

Analysis: While this is an original record, given the complicated nature of a DAR application, it would not be beneficial to discuss here all of the different types of information (primary, secondary, and undetermined) and evidence (direct, indirect and negative) you would find on the application.


DAR applications can be a useful resource if you discover that there is a Revolutionary War ancestor lurking about in your family tree. They are worth ordering if you have a Revolutionary ancestor (or suspected one) and are a great resource for finding descendants and filling out branches on your family tree. Additionally, becoming a member of a local chapter opens your world up to a plethora of opportunities to volunteer in your community.

[1] http://www.dar.org/national-society/about-dar/who-we-are/who-we-are

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #19 – David and Sarah Strait’s Bible Pages

Person of Interest: David A. and Sarah (Card) Strait
Relationship: 4th great grand aunt and husband (David’s grandfather, Abraham Strait, is my 6th great-grandfather and Sarah’s grandfather, John Angle, is my 6th great grandfather)

Source Citation: David Strait Family Bible Records, 1790-1909, The Holy Bible (Cooperstown, N.Y.: H. & E. Phinney, 1824), births, deaths, and marriage pages; original is privately held by Beth [Jane Elizabeth] Willis, Lockport, New York, 2017.

Document Description: This is a photocopy (possibly a copy of a copy) of the David Strait family record pages and was sent to me by Ernst Wirdel (husband of Gwendolyn Charmion Strait] on 08 November 2008. The copy quality is serviceable. Among the pages, there is a copy of the the Bible’s title page with a handwritten note “Printed 1824” at the bottom. I love the full title of the book which is quite long. The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments: Together with the Apocrypha: Translated out of the Original Tongues, and with the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised. Whew! It’s good peace of mind to know that the translations in this bible were diligently compared and not just haphazardly compared. Various handwritings are noted over the span of years that these records cover.

There are two lined sheets, listing other family members’ births and deaths, that were sent to me along with the Bible pages. They may or not have been kept with the Bible. Since I don’t know for sure, I have not included them in this post.

The publisher is H. & E. Phinney  which was a publishing firm that was founded by Elihu Phinney and picked up by his sons, Henry and Elihu Jr., in 1813 when he passed away. They were known for numerous Bible editions produced from 1822 to 1848. [1] Stereotype printing is a type of relief printing using a metal plate cast in a mold made from composed type or an original plate.

Document Scan/Transcription:
Title Page

H. & E. Phinney’s Stereotype Edition.
Holy Bible,
Containing the
Old and New Testaments:
Together with
the Apocrypha:
Translated out of the Original Tongues,
and with
the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised.
Canne’s Marginal Notes and References
To which are added,
An Index;
An Alphabetical Table
of All the Names in the Old and New Testaments, with Their Significations:
Tables of Scripture Weights, Measures, and Coins, &c.
Printed 1824 [penned in]
Cooperstown, (N.Y.)
[Bottom line is cut off but ends with] by H. & E. Phinney

Possible inside front cover page or blank page at beginning of Bible
David Strait
Preached by the late Rev’d [name illegible]
on Romans 16 & 17-18 verses
July 17 184[copy cuts off here]

David Strait’s
book January
14th 1841

David Strait

Property of Jane Elizabeth Willis,
7 Wausau St,
Ogdensburg, NJ 07439 [This is an old address for Beth. She currently resides in Lockport, NY.]
[There is other scribbling/notes on this page. Nothing conclusive comes from it and poor copy quality hinders transcribing it.]

Marriages Page
David Strait and Sarah Strait, late Sarah Card, were married Dec. 14th, 1816. The births of their children are recorded on the other side of this leaf.
James Crane & Mary Strait were married June 23, 1838
David Bailey & Nancy Strait were married October 5th, 1839
Anthony L. Day & Elizabeth Strait was married May 3rd, 1841
George Walther & Phebe Strait were married July 2nd, 1853
Jacob R. Strait & Francis Brown Thomas were married July 9th, 183[copy is cut off here]
Amos B. Crain & Lydia S. Post married Sept. 3, 1883
Aaron Willis and Malinda Blanch Crain married Christmas, Dec. 25, 1909

Births Page
Nancy Strait was born on Wednesday Sept 3rd 1817
Mary Strait was born on Wednesday May 19th 1819
Abigail Strait was born on Friday January 25th 1822
Elizabeth Strait was born on Wednesday January 19th 1825
Jacob R. Strait was born on Friday April 6th 1827
Phebe Jane Strait was born on Sunday December 14th 1828
Hiram H. Strait was born on Tuesday June 14th 1831
Martha F. Strait was born on Friday August 19th 1836

David Strait was born on January 11th 1790
Sarah Strait was born on July 4th 1799

George Walther born March 25 1801

Deaths Page
Phebe Card [Sarah’s mother] died Wednesday March 22 1854
Peter Card [Sarah’s father] died February 12th 1818
Nancy [Strait] Bailey died Wednesday June 16th 1869
Mary [Strait] Crane died Sunday December 29th 1872
David Strait died Thursday morning at half past five o’clock May 7th 1874
Sarah Card Strait died Nov. 24, 1879
Jacob R. Strait died Dec. 18, 1881
Hiram Heally Strait died Sunday January 13th 1901
Geo. A Walther died December 19th 1856
Albert Walther died Tuesday a 12 o’clock am October 6th 1874
George Walther died Jan 21, 1887
Abby S. Strait died Feb. 19, 1899
William Arthur Crain died Nov. 3, 1909
Anthony Ludlow Day died Dec 28, 1898
Edgar Arthur Day died May 15, 1906

Analysis: Given that New Jersey did not start collecting vital records until May 1848, family bibles are a great source for births, marriages, and deaths. It was considered a great honor by many pious ancestors to receive a bible in which to record their family history. Many times, a Bible is the only record of a family’s genealogy. A careful analysis of the entries will help determine how reliable you feel the information may be.

When I compare the handwriting and the inks, I see at least four different people making entries. I feel that Sarah is the original recorder of her, David’s, and their children’s information in 1841 based on the following reasoning:

  • The handwriting is consistent for all the entries throughout most of Sarah’s married life (1816 to 1879)
  • The ink is consistent for her, David’s and their children’s information
  • Sarah made careful, double lines after her original entries on each page
  • Sarah had a unique way of writing “Strait” using a single line to cross both of her “T”s

Sample 1 of Sarah’s “Strait”

Sample 2 of Sarah’s “Strait”

  • David’s death (May 7th 1874) is recorded in a different handwriting, and, by virtue of his death, rules him out as the person making the entry
  • Sarah’s death (Nov 24, 1879) is recorded in a different handwriting than even David’s death, which indicates that someone else has taken up the duty of making entries
  • Sarah made careful, double lines after her original entries on each page

David Strait’s name appears a couple of times on the possible inside front cover page or blank page at beginning of Bible. A comparison of the letter S shows a possible signature, or at least a handwriting sample, for David.

David’s “S”

Sarah’s “S”

David’s S is a more closed off one compared to Sarah’s, which is a more loopy open style and continues throughout the rest of her entries within the Bible.

Based on a careful analysis of all the S’s found in the pages, I see four different people have contributed to the Bible records:

Sample 1: Sarah’s writing

Sample 2: closed off and curlicued

Sample 3: closed off but no curlicues

Sample 4: Not closed off

For this example, since I have not examined the original Bible, I assumed that the photocopies I have of it are a true representation of what the records are. This is an original record.

The Bible publication date of 1824 means that Sarah entered the information about the children’s birthdates (the earliest is 1817) all at once and probably in 1841 when the family received the Bible.

The information found within the Bible pages is a mixture of both primary (firsthand) and secondary (hearsay or secondhand). Primary would be Sarah’s marriage date to David (she was there) and their children’s birthdates. I would classify the listings of marriages as secondary since there’s no way to determine if Sarah (or the others recording it) was actually present when the events took place.

The listings on these pages fall into the the direct evidence category. Evidence like “Mary Crane died Sunday December 29th 1872” answers, quite directly, the question of when did “Mary Crane of New Jersey, wife of James Crane and daughter of David and Sarah Strait, die?”


These Bible pages are a great source of information about the David and Sarah (Card) Strait family especially since New Jersey didn’t start collecting vital records until May of 1848. The pages also provide a basic lesson on comparison of handwriting. I don’t claim to be a handwriting expert but careful analysis shows that a number of people all had their turn at recording information for posterity. Bibles can be tough to locate, possibly missing, owned by non-family members, libraries, archives, or societies but are well worth the effort of trying to track down. Get talking to your cousins. You never know what they might have in their possessions. I didn’t know about this gem until Ernst contacted me!

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

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #18 – John Joseph Repsher’s 1880 Census

Person of Interest: John Joseph Repsher
Relationship: Paternal 2nd great grandfather

Source Citation: 1880 U. S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Jackson Corner, ED 220, p. 5 (penned), p. 290 (stamped) dwelling 36, family 40, John Repsher; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 April 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1157.

Document Description: These documents are part of the Tenth Census of the United States which was taken in 1880. It is the tenth 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 1880 overview, we find that Rutherford B. Hayes was president, that the act authorizing the 1880 census gave supervision of the enumeration to a body of officers, known as supervisors of the census, who were specifically chosen for work on the census, that the superintendent of the census and all supervisors were to be presidential appointees and were subject to Senate confirmation and that the terms of both were to expire when the census results were compiled and published.

According to the 1880 overview site, the details of the enumeration were this:

“Each supervisor was responsible for recommending the organization of his district for enumeration, choosing enumerators for the district and supervising their work, reviewing and transmitting the returns from the enumerators to the central census office, and overseeing the compensation for enumerators in each district.

“The census act required each enumerator ‘to visit personally each dwelling house in his sub-division, and each family therein, and each individual living out of a family in any place of abode, and by inquiry made of the head of such family, or of the member there of deemed most credible and worthy of trust, or of such individual living out of a family, to obtain each and every item of information and all the particulars.’ In case no one was available at a family’s usual place of abode, the enumerator was directed by the law ‘to obtain the required information, as nearly as may be practicable, from the family or families, or person or persons, living nearest to such place of abode.’

“The census act also provided for the collection of detailed data on the condition and operation of railroad corporations, incorporated express companies, and telegraph companies, and of life, fire, and marine insurance companies (using Schedule No.4 – Social Statistics). Fines were to be imposed on officials of ‘every corporation…who shall…willfully neglect or refuse to give true and complete answers to any inquiries authorized by this act.’

“In addition, the superintendent of census was required to collect and publish statistics of the population, industries, and resources of Alaska, with as much detail as was practical. An enumeration was also made of all untaxed Indians within the jurisdiction of the United States.

“The 1880 decennial census was taken on five schedules: Population, Mortality, Agriculture, Social Statistics, and Manufacturing.”

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

Notes found either at the top or the bottom of the schedule
Note A. – The Census Year  begins June 1, 1879 and ends May 31, 1880
Note B. – All persons will be included in the Enumeration who were living on the 1st day of June, 1880. No others will. children BORN SINCE June 1, 1880, will be OMITTED. Members of Families who have DIED SINCE June 1, 1880, will be INCLUDED
Note C. – Questions Nos. 13, 14, 22 and 23 are not to be asked in respect to persons under 10 years of age.
Note D. – In making entries in columns 9, 10, 11, 12, 16 to 23, an affirmative mark only will be used-thus /., except in the case of divorced persons, column 11, when the letter “D” is to be used.
Note E. – Question No. 12 will only be asked in cases where an affirmative answer has been given to either question 10 or to question 11.
Note F. – Question No. 14 will only be asked in cases when a gainful occupation has been reported in column 13.
Note G. – In column 7 an abbreviation in the name of the month may be used, as Jan., Apr., Dec.

Page 5 Header
State: Pennsylvania; County: Monroe; Inhabitants in: Jackson Corners; S.D. No.: 5; E.D. No.: 220; Enumerated by me on the 10th day of June 1880; Enumerator: Thomas D. Metzgar; penned Page No.: 5; stamped Page No.: 290.

Page 5 Detail
lines 24-27, John, Caroline, Emma and Mary E. [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
Street Name: [blank]
House Number: [blank]
1. Dwelling number in order of visitation: 36
2. Family number in order of visitation: 40

Household Data
3. Name: Repsher John; —- Caroline; —- Emma; —- Mary E.
4. Color: W; W; W; W
5. Sex: M; F; F; F
6. Age at last birthday prior to 01 June 1880: 25; 23; 3; 1
7. If born within census year, month of birth: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
8. Relationship to head of household: [blank]; wife, daughter, daughter

Civil Condition
9. Single: [blank]; [blank]; /; /
10. Married: /; /; [blank]; [blank]
11. Widowed, Divorced d.: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
12. Married during census year:  [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

13. Profession, occupation or trade: Laborer; keeping house; [blank]; [blank]
14. Number of month unemployed during census year: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

15. Is person sick or incapacitated on the day of the enumeration: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
16. Blind: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
17. Deaf and Dumb: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
18. Idiotic: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
19: Insane: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
20. Maimed, crippled, bedridden or otherwise disabled: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

21. Attend school within the census year:  [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
22. Cannot read: [blank]; [blank]; /; /
23. Cannot write: [blank]; [blank]; /; /

24. Place of birth: Pa; ‘”; “; ”
25. Place of birth of father: Pa; ‘”; “; ”
26. Place of birth of mother: Pa; ‘”; “; “

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 1880, John Repsher (25) was living with his wife Caroline (23) and two young daughters, Emma (3) and Mary E. (1). The family was living in Jackson Corners, Monroe County, Pennsyvlania, when Thomas D. Metzgar arrived to enumerator them on 10 June 1880. Mr. Metzgar was working in his Supervisor’s District of 5 which oversaw Enumeration District 220. In order of visitation, the family was labeled as living in dwelling #37 and as family #40.

John was working as a laborer and Caroline was keeping house. John and Caroline were listed as married and their two daughters as single. All were listed as being born in Pennsylvania as were each of the individuals’ parents. The family was healthy in that none of the columns for blindness, deaf and dumbness, idiocy, insanity, or disability were checked. The census indicated that both John and Caroline could read and write.

This is a fairly straightforward census with John and Caroline just beginning what would evenutally turn out to be 14-child family. The 1880 census tells the reader the specific relationships within the family group, so no guessing is necessary. 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 1880 census. Some of the instructions found there include:

  • The word family, for the purposes of the census, includes persons living alone, as previously described, equally with families in the ordinary sense of that term, and also all larger aggregations of people having only the tie of a common roof and table. A hotel, with all its inmates, constitutes but one family within the meaning of this term. A hospital, a prison, an asylum is equally a family for the purposes of the census. On the other hand, the solitary inmate of a cabin, a loft, or a room finished off above a store constitutes a family in the meaning of the census act. In the case, however, of tenement houses and of the so-called “fiats” of the great cities, as many families are to be recorded as there are separate tables.
  • It is desirable that the children of the family proper should follow in the order of their ages, as will naturally be the case.
  • Color.-It must not be assumed that, where nothing is written in this column, “white” is to be understood. The column is always to be filled. Be particularly careful in reporting the class mulatto. The word is here generic, and includes quadroons, octoroons, and all persons having any perceptible trace of African blood. Important scientific results depend upon the correct determination of this class in schedules 1 and 5.
  • The term “housekeeper” will be reserved for such persons as receive distinct wages or salary for the service. Women keeping house for their own families or for themselves, without any other gainful occupation, will be entered as “keeping house.” Grown daughters assisting them will be reported without occupation.
  • The organization of domestic service has not proceeded so far in this country as to render it worth while to make distinctions in the character of work. Report all as “domestic servants.”
  • Regarding occupation, use the word “huckster” in all cases where it applies. [Huckster is defined as a person who sells small items, either door-to-door or from a stall or small store and of which the goods may be of questionable value.]


Nothing unusual or questionable popped out at me in the analysis of this 1880 census for John and Caroline Repsher. I did find them with their two eldest daughters, Emma and Mary E., and this corroborates other family history information. It is interesting that all the health questions were included but the family seems to be healthy. I think the enumerator instructions were more entertaining this time than the analysis!

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #16 – Henry Allen Repsher’s Gravemarker

Person of Interest: Henry “Hank” Allen Repsher and Eleanore (Purvis) Repsher
Relationship: Paternal grand uncle and wife (Hank and my grandmother Bea were brother and sister)

Source Citation: Phoenix Memorial Park and Mortuary (200 W Beardsley Rd, Phoenix, Arizona), Henry A. and Eleanore B. Repsher grave marker; photographs taken by Jodi Lynn Strait, 24 April 2017.

Hank and Eleanore are located in Section 30B of the cemetery.

Document Description: Okay, this really isn’t a document; I’m using document here in the loose sense of the word. This is an artifact that marks the grave location of Henry Allen Repsher and his wife Eleanore Betty Purvis. Find A Grave does have a photo of the grave marker but I decided to go take a look myself and I was so glad that I did. Henry and Eleanore’s marker consists of an 24 x 24 inch slab of marble with a slightly smaller bronze plaque attached to it. The Repsher family name and given names are cast into the plaque but then dates are screwed onto the plaque to allow appropriate dates, if need be, to be attached. What you don’t get from Find A Grave is that their son Thomas Repsher is buried right next to them! That was a nice surprise to find Tommy there with his parents. Or that they are buried in section 30B in one of the Garden of Rests. Or that they are all buried under a nice evergreen tree when the rest of the cemetery is fairly open with little foliage.

Hank, Eleanore, and Tommy are all under this tree. The marker in the foreground on the left (grave markers are facing towards the base of the tree) belongs to Hank and Eleanore and the Tommy’s is the second from the left in the foreground. They are all cremated based on the information provided by a nice young man named Spencer who was the cemetery employee who showed me to their grave sites.

Thomas Repsher’s grave marker next to his parents.

Background information on the cemetery: This is a fairly young cemetery with the first interment occurring in 1964. It is laid out in a grid pattern and the cemetery has an additional 30 acres to expand into. According to Spencer (the employee mentioned above who was nice enough to chat with me about the cemetery), there is no way to know who is buried vs cremated based solely on the size of the plots. In other words, some regular sized plots may have a casket, may have an urn with cremations, or may have both. It is a park cemetery meaning that most of the grave markers are flush to the ground. However, there is a an eclectic mix of ground-level markers (many with upright 1-foot tall flower holders), upright headstones, full-length grave covers, some homemade memorials, family burial plots, free-standing community (meaning they aren’t dedicated to just one particular family) mausoleums, benches, fountains, and sculptures. I’ve included some of the more interesting ones here for you to get a sense of the cemetery.

A larger upright headstone for the Skornik family.

An upright headstone, full-length marble grave cover with a long, poignent letter to the deceased engraved on it, and decorations.

From ashes, arises the phoenix….

A wooden marker…

One outside wall of one of the mausoleums.

James Stephen DeWit got some pretty descriptive stuff written on his full-length grave marker. Apparently, he was born on the dining room table and eventually died at his own dining room table.

The full-length grave cover for James Stephen DeWit

And since he loved to fly, the family placed an airplane shaped bench at the foot of his marker so that visitors could sit and chat with him.

The airplane-shaped DeWit bench

And perhaps the most heart-wrenching gravesite in the whole cemetery was this one:

The Montez family

All four individuals perished on the very same day ranging in age from 36 to 14 to 7 to 3 years old. Some sort of awful tragedy befell this family on 26 July 2014.

Document Scan/Transcription:
Henry A.
1920 – 1995
Eleanore B.
1917 – 1987

Analysis: Analysis surrounding this grave marker is sparse. There are no symbols to interpret since the bronze plaques on the graves around Hank and Eleanore also have the same ivy pattern. There are no embellishments to give us clues to their religious affiliations, hobbies, exact birth or death dates, or marriage date. In fact, it shouldn’t be inferred from Henry and Eleanore being on the same plaque, that they were married. More evidence is needed before that can be concluded. Other sources have told me that Tommy was their son but no such inference can be made based solely on the grave markers contiguous location to each other.

The grave marker is an original source. The death years should be considered primary (firsthand) since the cemetery is the one who buried them and they would know what death year to attach to the plaque. The birth years are secondary (hearsay) in nature since neither Hank nor Eleanore would remember their own births but they would know based on what others told them. The evidence is direct (explicit) if the research question is, “What was Hank Repsher’s birth year and death year?” but indirect (not explicit) if the research question is, “What is Hank Repsher’s birth date and death date?”


While online sites like Find A Grave and BillionGraves are certainly handy for supplementing your family history while sitting at home, there is nothing like a trip to the actual cemetery. I unexpectedly found Tommy next to his parents, got a feel for where they are all buried, learned what section they’re buried in, and some useful information about the cemetery itself.

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


William Charles Strait, Sr.

Person of Interest: William Charles Strait
Relationship: Grandfather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detach along this line.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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