52 Documents in 52 Weeks #52 – Jonathan and Rebekah Hunt’s Deed

Person of Interest: Jonathan and Rebekah Hunt
Relationship: Currently undetermined but tied in through my great-grandfather Ebenezer Hunt

Source Citation: Sussex County, New Jersey, Deed Book M: 459-462, Jonathan Hunt and wife Rebeckah to Ebenezer Hunt, indenture, 01 May 1805; Hall of Records, Newton.

Document Description: This is a 4-page document on legal paper written in lovely, old-school cursive. It is a deed recorded in 1805 with the clerk at the Hall of Records in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. The cursive is legible. The pages are in good shape and there are no missing pieces of the pages or damage visible. Original ledger pages are numbered at the top from 459 to 462.

Background information regarding land measurements: I picked this document because it is a rousing example of the land measurement methods called “metes and bounds” used on the east coast of the county. The system had been used for centuries in England and, like common law, was transplanted to what eventually became the United States. It was used in the original 13 colonies and other jurisdictions based on English common law.

I like the description given from Wikipedia:

“Typically the system uses physical features of the local geography, along with directions and distances, to define and describe the boundaries of a parcel of land. The boundaries are described in a running prose style, working around the parcel in sequence, from a point of beginning, returning to the same point; compare with the oral ritual of beating the bounds. It may include references to other adjoining parcels (and their owners), and it, in turn, could also be referred to in later surveys. At the time the description is compiled, it may have been marked on the ground with permanent monuments placed where there were no suitable natural monuments.

  • Metes. The term “metes” refers to a boundary defined by the measurement of each straight run, specified by a distance between the terminal points, and an orientation or direction. A direction may be a simple compass bearing, or a precise orientation determined by accurate survey methods.
  • Bounds. The term “bounds” refers to a more general boundary description, such as along a certain watercourse, a stone wall, an adjoining public roadway, or an existing building. The system is often used to define larger pieces of property (e.g. farms), and political subdivisions (e.g. town boundaries) where precise definition is not required or would be far too expensive, or previously designated boundaries can be incorporated into the description.”

Metes and bounds is quite different from the cadastral (a.k.a. public land or rectangular) system of surveying used in the western United States. After the end of the Revolutionary War, the United States began to expand westward.  The survey method encompasses major portions of the land area of 30 southern and western States. According to the BLM:

“The BLM’s Cadastral Survey Program provides one of the oldest and most fundamental functions of the U.S. Government.  Originating with the Land Ordinance of 1785, cadastral surveys create, define, mark, and re-establish the boundaries and subdivisions of the public lands of the United States.  (The word “cadastral” is derived from cadastre, meaning a public record, survey, or map of the value, extent, and ownership of land as a basis of taxation.)”

This new way of surveying was first tested out in Ohio and then moved west. It is based on principal meridians (running north and south) and baselines (running east and west). When you see a deed that describes the land by township and range, it is the cadastral system being used.

Document Scan/Transcription: There are a few notations [like this] where I have added some comments or explanations. Capitalization and spelling are as found within the documents.

Page 459
This Indenture made the first day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, Between Jonathan Hunt, and Rebeckah his wife, of Bryam Township in the County of Sussex and State of New Jersey of the one part, and Ebenezer Hunt, of the Same place of the other part, Witnesseth, whereas the Council of Proprietors of the Province of East New Jersey, did by this warrant bearing date the twenty fifth day of August A.D. 1750, grant unto William Barnet, the Just and full quantity of two hundred acres of Land to be taken up and surveyed in any place unappropriated in the Eastern Division of New Jersey except Ronnspock, which said warrant is Recorded in the Surveyor Generals office at Amboy in Lib. W.3 fol. 12.  And whereas the said William Barnet by his deed bearing date the twenty ninth day of March 1751 and Recorded in Lib. AZ.3 fol.182 did grant, bargain and sell unto Peter Drago, the lot of Land hereinafter more particularly described, being part of said two hundred acres, granted to the said William Barnet as afd and which was taken up and Surveyed for the afd Peter Drago by Ebenezer Bryam who for that purpose was duly deputed and sworn, as by the return thereof Recorded in book S. page 176 may appear, and when the Said Peter Drago by his deed bearing date the fourteenth day of February 1769 did grant, bargain and sell unto William Crooks the lot or parcel of Land being part of the above mentioned two hundred acres, as by Deed may more fully appear.  And Whereas the Said William Crook’s by his Deed bearing date of the Eleventh day of March 1775 did grant, bargain and sell unto the aforesaid Vincent Bishop, the lot or parcel of Land, being part of the two hundred acres afd as by Deed may more fully appear.  And Whereas by Deed bearing date the eighth day of August 1775 the Said Vincent Bishop did grant, bargain and sell unto John Eddy, the lot or parcel of Land being part of the two hundred acres afd as by Deed may more

Page 460
fully appear.  Now this Indenture Witnesseth, that the Said Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife in Heirship as Sole heirs of John Eddy, deceased, in and for the consideration of one hundred and fifty Dollars to them in Land paid by the Said Ebenezer Hunt, at or before the Sealing and delivering of these presents, the receipt where of the Said Jonathan Hunt, and Rebeckah his Wife doth hereby acknowledge and to be therewith fully Satisfied, contented and paid and Thereof and every part and parcel thereof doth acquit, release and discharge him the Said Ebenezer Hunt, his heirs, Executors and Administrators and every of them forever by these presents, hath granted, bargained and Sold, aliened, enfeoffed, Released, conveyed and confirmed and by these presents doth fully, freely and absolutely grant, bargain and Sell, alien, enfeoff, Release, convey, and confirm unto the Said Ebenezer Hunt (pursuant to the Act of Assembly of the State of New Jersey made for the Transferring of Uses into possession) and to his heirs and Assigns forever, with the rights and appurtenances thereof, All the lot of Land above named to be described Situate, being and lying in the Township of Bryam

in the County of Sussex aforesaid lying on the brook called Sunnepink brook, Butts, bounds as follows, Beginning at a butternut, spotted on four sides and three notches under each spot, Standing on the South Side of the brook, thence measuring (1) South five degrees East seven chains and fifty links, thence (2) North eighty five degrees East Sixteen chains and thirty seven links, thence (3) North five degrees West seven chains and fifty links, thence (4) South eighty five degrees West Sixteen chains and thirty seven links to the beginning Containing Twelve acres and twenty eight hundredths of an acre

Page 461
strict measures.  Together with all and Singular the Rights, privileges, Lands, Meadows, Commons, Pastures, Trees, Woods, Ways, Waters, Watercourses, Mines, Minerals, Easements, Profits, Commodities, Advantages, Escheatments, Hereditaments, and appurtenances whatsoever to the Said Tract or parcel of Land any wise belonging or appertaining, and also the reversion and reversions, Remainder and Remainders, Rents, issues and profits of and Singular the lot or parcel of Land and premises above mentioned and described and of every part and parcel thereof with the appurtenances, and also all the Estate, Right, Titles, Interest, use, possession, property, claims and demand whatsoever, as well in equity as in Law, of them the Said Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife, of, in and to all and Singular the Said Lot or parcel of Land and premises and of, in and to every part and parcel thereof with the appurtenances thereof – To have and to hold the Said Lot or parcel of Land and all and Singular the premises above mentioned and every part and parcel thereof with the appurtenances unto the said Ebenezer Hunt, his heirs and assigns, to the only proper use and behoof of the said Ebenezer Hunt, his heirs and assigns forever, And the Said Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife for themselves, their heirs, Executors and Administrators doth covenant and grant to and with the said Ebenezer Hunt, his heirs or assigns, that they the Said Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife and their heirs the Said lot or tract of Land described hereditaments and premises hereby granted or mentioned to be granted with all the hereditaments, unto the Said Ebenezer Hunt, his heirs and assigns, against whom the Said Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife and and [repeated word] Their heirs and against all and every other person or persons whatsoever lawfully claiming or to claim shall and

Page 462
will warrant and defend forever these presents.__  In witness whereof the Said parties have to these presents interchangeably set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.  N.B. the Words “and fifty” was wrote before the signing and delivering of these presents, between the 18th and 19th lines.__ Jonathan Hunt,  [his seal symbol here] Rebeckah Hunt [her seal symbol here]

Sealed and delivered in presence.  Ewd Hunt__ Jno Holmes__

Be it Remembered that on the fourth day of July 1805, personally appeared before me, John Holmes, one of the Judges of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for the County of Sussex and State of New Jersey, Jonathan Hunt and Rebeckah his wife the Grantors who sevirally signed sealed and delivered the Same as their Voluntary Act and deed for the purposes therein expressed, and further Rebeckah Hunt having been examined separate and apart from her said husband by me acknowledge that she executed the same freely without fear or any threats or coercion on the part of her Said husband acknowledged the state above before me.   Jno Holmes

Brought to the office the 4th day of July 1805 and Recorded the Same day.

Jacob S. Thomson, Clk

Analysis: My Dad sent these to me so I am unsure if they are actual copies of the books or digitized copies that the Hall of Records has available for the public. Either way, I’m confident that I’m looking at unaltered copies of the original recording in 1805.

Before we look at the deed and its contents, some terminology discussion needs to happen first. This is an example of a transcription; a written or printed representation of the entire document with spelling, language, punctuation, and arrangement preserved. By comparison, an extract is a portion of text quoted verbatim out of a document and it is enclosed in quotation marks. An abstract is a condensed version of the document that pulls out all the important details in its original sequence. A translation converts the document’s text from one language to another.

Physical Traits
Let’s look at parcel itself. The size is 12.28 of an acre. Ebenezer paid $150.00 for this parcel. The metes and bounds description of the parcel is:

Being and lying in the Township of Bryam in the County of Sussex aforesaid lying on the brook called Sunnepink brook, Butts, bounds as follows, Beginning at a butternut, spotted on four sides and three notches under each spot, Standing on the South Side of the brook, thence measuring (1) South five degrees East seven chains and fifty links, thence (2) North eighty five degrees East Sixteen chains and thirty seven links, thence (3) North five degrees West seven chains and fifty links, thence (4) South eighty five degrees West Sixteen chains and thirty seven links to the beginning.

Byram Townhsip within Sussex County, New Jersey as of 2017. Source: Google Maps.

This turns out to be a fairly simple plot and works out to be a rectangular lot of land slightly off kilter from true north. I used a very handy online tool called Plat Plotter to map out the plot. Since the tool works with feet and does not have links and/or chains in the drop-down menu, I needed to convert the surveyor measures to feet. It turns out that 7 chains 50 links = 494.9724 feet and 16 chains 37 links = 1080.3996 feet. Since I needed a beginning, I chose a random spot in Byram Township to start. The initial information entry looks like this:

One plotted, the parcel looks like this. You can see that I’ve got all the points connected, beginning point connects to end point. The total acreage of 12.3 matches the 12.28 in the deed description of the land. So, I’ve got the size and inclination of the property. The flag would be the actual starting point if I hadn’t been using a random spot just to get this plotted.

The hard part about this little exercise is finding the true starting point. Where the heck is Sunnepink Brook? And what are the chances that the butternut (also known as a white walnut) tree, spotted on four sides and three notches under each spot, is still standing 213 years later?! Not much of a chance. A Google search of “Sunnepink Brook NJ” yields nothing useful. I pulled out a gazetteer which is a geographical index or dictionary of place names. The one I consulted from my library, Sussex County…A Gazetteer by Wayne T. McCabe, had no listing for a Sunnepink of any sort. I feel that a thorough search of the History of Sussex and Warren Counties by James P. Snell for Sunnepink or mention of any of the Hunts listed in the deed is in order. Given that this deed was recorded 213 years ago, the brook may not even exist anymore. So, just using the information in this document won’t give me a starting point. To-do list meet another entry…

Timeline of the Parcel
There are a number of different dates listed within this deed from which I constructed a simple timeline:

  • 05 August 1750 – From the Council of Proprietors to William Barnet – two hundred acres
  • 29 March 1751 – From William Barnet to Peter Drago – portion of the two hundred acres
  • 14 February 1769 – From Peter Drago to William Crooks – same portion of the two hundred acres
  • 11 March 1775 – From William Crooks to Vincent Bishop – same portion of the two hundred acres
  • 08 August 1775 – From Vincent Bishop to John Eddy –  same portion of the two hundred acres
  • 01 May 1805 – From John Eddy’s sole heirs, Jonathan and Rebekah Hunt, to Ebenezer Hunt – same portion of the two hundred acres

Some items to note about the timeline. The Revolutionary War started and concluded by the time Ebenezer came into possession of this land. John Eddy died sometime between 08 August 1775 and 01 May 1805 since Johnathan and Rebekah Hunt are mentioned as his sole heirs in this deed.

Places mentioned in the Deed
A good family historian will read up on the geographical areas they are studying related to their family. Just because Sussex County is currently configured the way it is, doesn’t mean it was always that way! New Jersey was originally split into two large pieces, East and West Jersey, and even included some portions of current New York State. Counties line changed when new counties were carved out of existing ones. William Thorndale and William Dollarhide’s book called a Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses 1790-1920 is a great starting point in understanding how counties within states changed as the Federal decennial censuses were conducted.

My questions based on the places listed in this deed would include: What geography did the Province of East New Jersey encompass? How has Bryam Township changed over the years? What did it look like in 1805?  Does the Surveyor’s Office in Amboy, New Jersey, still exist? If extant, where are their records stored now? Why was Ronnspock singled out as not being available to be deeded 1750? And the most important question, where is Sunnepink Brook?

Persons Mentioned in the Deed
A list of persons can be pulled from the deed with varying roles. Owners of the parcel include, in order of ownership, the Council of Proprietors, William Barnet, Peter Drago, William Crooks, Vincent Bishop, John Eddy, Jonathan and Rebekah Hunt, and Ebenezer Hunt. A surveyor, Ebenezer Bryam, is mentioned. A county clerk, Jacob S. Thomson, was involved in the process as the recorder. Witnesses, Edward Hunt and Jonathan Holmes, were identified. Jonathan Holmes was also stated to be one of the judges of the Inferior Court of Common Please for Sussex County, New Jersey.

One thing missing that may have been useful in placing this parcel are some neighbors. It is quite common within the property description to use neighboring property lines as the bounds part of the metes and bounds method.

Familial relationships are almost nonexistent within this deed. The only direct (explicit) evidence that we know for sure is that Jonathan and Rebekah are husband and wife. Everything else falls into the indirect evidence bucket. Other documents/information/evidence must be combined with this deed to prove familial relationships. Perhaps Ebenezer was Jonathan’s son or maybe his brother. Perhaps John Eddy was Rebekah’s father or brother. Perhaps witness Edward Hunt is a brother, son, father, uncle, or cousin.


Deeds are like puzzle pieces. One just isn’t enough to give you the entire picture. Since Ebenezer died in 1814, it would be an excellent next step to track down the disposition or transfer of this particular parcel in later records. There is a possibility that locating other properties owned by the Hunt family could help place this parcel in a more specific place than just Byram Township, Sussex County, New Jersey. Additionally, this deed could be combined with old property maps to find the correct location. Until then, the search for Sunnepink Brook continues.


52 Documents in 52 Weeks #51 – William Strait’s Baseball Career

Person of Interest: William Charles Strait
Relationship: Father

Source Citation: Newton Bisons baseball team, ca. 1955; digital image 2016, privately held by William Strait, Lafayette, New Jersey, 2017. William sent this to his daughter Jodi Lynn in August of 2016. The original is in good condition and is an 8 x 10 inch black-and-white photo with a thin border.

Document Description: This photo of the Newton, New Jersey, Bisons baseball team is a digital copy. The original is an 8 x 10 inch black-and-white photo. Digital copy is clear and shows the photo was not cropped. Fifteen young men are pictured along with their baseball equipment. They are all wearing uniforms and caps. A baseball backstop can be seen on the left side of the photo.

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-11-27-16-amDocument Scan/Transcription:
The only lettering on this photo refers to the name of the baseball team on the front of the uniforms: Bisons.

Analysis: Dad’s birthday is close to this posting date so I thought I’d make this week’s post about him! And it’s a short one since this is right smack in the middle of the holiday season.

Photographs are a great jumping off point for asking questions while talking to (or interviewing) family members. In this case, my father sent me the photo which prompted a brief discussion about his short-lived baseball career.

According to Dad, there were four teams that played against each other during the summer break.  The teams played at the Memory Park ballfields in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey, located on Straway Boulevard. The same ballfields are still in use today and the community swimming pool is located in the same park.

Dad played the outfield and alternated between center, right and left outfield. He played for two summers. There were two local leagues, the Babe Ruth League and the Little League. If you were good enough, you were moved up and got to play in the American Legion League.

Dad gave me the names of the boys in the photo as he remembers them.
Back row, left to right: ——- Philhower, Bob Greene, William Strait (Dad), Bill Rabbs, ——-, Dick Bunker, Jimmy Treelore, Tommy Salsa.
Front row, left to right: Dave Yetter, Wayne Savacool, ——- Scott, ——-, Larry Tallman, Tommy Remark, Donnie Smith.


Photos can get discussions started about your family members and their activities. Ask about the items found in the photo like props, clothing, alien spacecraft, buildings, signs, cars, other people, hairstyles, and objects. Ask some questions and then be quiet! Listen to what they’re saying. Also, don’t be too rigid in what you’re looking to get them to say. Sometimes letting the conversation and questions run their own course can yield some of the best information. You might learn something new!

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #50 – Hunt’s Evaluation of Furman’s Manuscript

Person of Interest: Ebenezer Hunt
Relationship: 4th great-grandfather

Source Citation: Mitchell J. Hunt, “An Evaluation of the Consuelo Furman Manuscript (1955) on Ralph Hunt of Long Island: (Which Concludes Erroneously that Ralph Hunt of Long Island and Ralph of Virginia Were the Same) in Context of Genealogies of the Unrelated Pioneers Thomas Hunt of Westchester, New York and Ralph Hunt of Long Island with Notes on Early Hunts of Virginia and Other Early Hunts of Long Island and New York,” self-published analysis paper, (December 1985); folder: Hunt Family, vertical files; Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.

Document Description: This is a copy (or a copy of a copy) of a self-published research paper written by Mitchell J. Hunt of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Found in the vertical files of the Sussex County Historical Society, the copied material has a title page, table of contents (page ii), and sixteen typewritten pages in total. Copy quality is generally good with some black areas indicating that the person copying the original (or copy) did not remove the staple when photocopying it. The title, including the subtitle, is a long one! Sixty-seven words in all. The entirety of page eight is missing from my copy. Page seven has some text that has been cut off when the page was copied crookedly.

Since this is a work still under copyright protection and I have not obtained permission from Mitchell J. Hunt to use it, I will not be able to present the entire document here for you to peruse. Only the title page is presented. You may ask, “Why even use it then?” I wanted to provide an example of a research paper or analysis within this year’s project. It will provide plenty of robust discussion without getting into the nuts and bolts of the Hunt family ties he is focusing on within his analysis.

It is unclear who donated this copy to the Sussex County Historical Society. It may have been Mitchell J. Hunt, a relative of his, someone he corresponded with who was related to a Hunt somewhere, or any other multitude of possible persons.

Document Scan/Transcription:

(Which Concludes Erroneously that Ralph Hunt
of Long Island and Ralph of Virginia Were the Same)

In Context of
Genealogies of the
Unrelated Pioneers


With Notes on


Mitchell J. Hunt
[address redacted for privacy]
Willow Grove, Pennsylvania [zip redacted for privacy]
December 1985
(March 1990 Additions)

Analysis: When reviewing an analytical paper, one of the first things I look at are the citations. What is the author basing his facts upon and where is that information stored? Unfortunately, I think this document is largely lacking in citations. I say “I think” because there are no footnote or endnote numbers within the body of the text, there are no footnotes on individual pages, and formal citations are not presented within the discussion. There are, within Mr. Hunt’s text, such notations as “per the records of Plymouth Colony published in Boston in 1859,” “the will of Edward Jessup in 1666,” “his testimony at a court hearing in 1683,”and “the Grove Farm was patented to Thomas Hunt on Dec. 4, 1667.” These notations indicate that some original documents should exist somewhere but the location to the documents is not given in the paper. Personally, I would use these statements as clues on what sorts of original documents I should be digging up if interested in the persons being discussed. It is a little strange that Mr. Hunt states, “but no evidence is provided to support the dates” regarding some children’s birthdates when this paper is lacking citations. Perhaps a case of “look at what I say but never mind what I don’t do?”

There is a possibility that a bibliography may exist since the table of contents indicates there are additional pages (18-38) after page seventeen where this copy of the document ends. I can’t even be sure that the one-page table of contents is complete. The person doing the copying may have neglected to photocopy any other front matter (page iii or iv or above) since they may have only been interested in the analysis up to page seventeen. It is unclear if the missing page eight is a result of the original copying or an error when this was subsequently copied and sent to me.

The title page indicates that some additions have been made in March of 1990. Handwritten notes with the initials MJH (Mitchell J. Hunt) exist within the document. I would think that these would be the 1990 additions but they are not dated.

As you can see from the above statements, a good genealogist must first step back to take a look at the source itself before just incorporating wholesale the information and evidence found within the source into their family history, genealogies, or family tree databases/programs. You must look closely to see if the author is presenting his own conclusions, repeating another’s work, correcting a previous error, or presenting new information.

Mr. Hunt states that a “recently discovered manuscript” (Furman’s) resides in the New York Public Library or Genealogical Society files. Recently would indicate to me that it was found somewhere around 1985 when Mr. Hunt penned his analysis. He takes issue with some of the statements made by Furman and this paper is intended to correct them. More specifically, he takes issue with the assumption that Ralph Hunt of Long Island and an early Ralph Hunt of Virginia were the same person. He also takes issue with the assertion that Ralph Hunt of Long Island and Thomas Hunt of Westchester were brothers. His work is admirable in that it is oftentimes very hard to correct things “released into the wild” as the Furman Manuscript was in 1955. Mistaken familial relationships often persist when others refuse to step back and take a look at what assumptions went into connecting two individuals or families.

This paper represents a source type that is an authored work. Mr. Hunt is presenting his information in a format he has determined. He is reaching is own personal conclusions and presenting us with a new and original piece of writing. I would put the information he presents within his paper in the undetermined classification. Without substantial citations, it is impossible to know whether the information is primary (firsthand) or secondary. The evidence found within the paper could be classified as direct, indirect, or even negative depending on the multitude of research questions that could be constructed.


This paper is a good example of the need to do reasonably exhaustive research. Given that Mr. Hunt refutes some conclusions in the Furman Manuscript of 1955, incorporating the information found in the Furman Manuscript without analysis would be researcher’s headache. Likewise, incorporating Mr. Hunt’s information without further analysis has the potential to create a completely new headache. It is up to the diligent researcher to dig into all the assertions made by Mr. Hunt just as they would dig into all the assertions made by the Furman Manuscript. One would also have to analyze whether they find Mr. Hunt’s writing coherent and his conclusions credible. There’s no lack of homework for a good genealogist!

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #49 – Daniel Plant’s Employment

Far left, Nellie and Daniel Plant

Person of Interest: Daniel W. Plant
Relationship: Husband of my great grandaunt Nellie Garfield Hunt

Source Citation: “Mr. Daniel Plant,” employment announcement, New Jersey Herald, 17 September 1908, p. 8, col. 1; Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.

Document Description: This is a photo of a newspaper article appearing in a local Sussex County, New Jersey, newspaper. My father took a picture for me and the original newspaper is stored in the bound newspaper stacks in the Sussex County Historical Society on 82 Main Street in Newton, New Jersey. Rather than photo copy an unwieldy bound newspaper volume, he took a digital photo to send to me. The quality is much better and the fragile newspaper wasn’t further manhandled at the copy machine.

Document Scan/Transcription: Mr. Daniel Plant has severed his connections with the meat market and taken a position as agent of the L. & H. R. Railroad at Great Meadows. Daniel is a trustworthy, sober, industrious young man, just the kind railroad men are looking after and want to employ.

Analysis: I love this short little article. It says so much about Daniel and his employment opportunities with the railroad. I like that they actually list the fine qualities he possessed and that these qualities were the type that the railroad was looking for. In a bit of what seems like foreshadowing, the word “severed” is used in this article.

It also provides little tidbits to dig into and questions to answer.

  • Was the meat market well-known enough that the newspaper didn’t need to name it? Answer: Needs investigation.
  • What is the full name of the L. & H. R. Railroad? Answer: Lehigh and Hudson River Railroad. For some great history on this now defunct railroad, check out railfan Marty Feldner’s page at the Lehigh and Hudson River Railway.
  • What are the job responsibilities of an agent of the railroad? Answer: Needs investigation.
  • How young is Daniel? Answer: In 1908, at the time of this employment change, Daniel was 18.
  • Was sobriety an issue in Sussex County around the turn of the century? Why is this particular quality pointed out? Answer: Needs investigation.
  • Where is Great Meadows in location to Lafayette, New Jersey? Answer: About 25 miles southwest of Lafayette and about 18 miles southwest of Newton.

This is an original record as it’s an unedited photo of the actual article that ran in the newspaper. It is undetermined information in that you can’t really figure out who is the informant. Did his proud family submit the information, did a newspaper reporter talk to Daniel himself, or did the information come from a railroad representative? It is direct evidence in that it answers the question, “What did Daniel Plant, of Sussex County, New Jersey, do for a living in 1908?” It is indirect evidence in that you can’t determine the answer to the question, “How old was Daniel Plant, of Sussex County, New Jersey, when he became employed by the L. & H. R. Railroad?” Other evidence must be combined with this article in order to answer that question.

There are also a few other articles found in local newspapers about Daniel and the railroad in the following years. We learn that in 1910 Daniel lost a finger on his right hand while working. He was still with the railroad but is now at the Lackawanna station in Branchville Junction, which may or may not be part of the L. & H. R. Railroad.[1]

In 1915, we learn that he had been promoted to baggage-master at the passenger depot in Newton and that he had succeeded John McKee who had resigned.[2]


These are great examples of what you can find in the newspapers about the social lives of family members. In the pre-Facebook era, this was one way for the people to keep in touch with what might be happening in their towns. Short, little snippets of your ancestor’s lives could be waiting for you to find in the local and neighborhood newspapers.

[1] Daniel Plant,” news article, Sussex Register, 14 April 1910, p. 5, col. 3; Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.
[2] “Daniel Plant, of Andover,” employment announcement, Sussex Register, 23 September 1915; Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #48 – Susanna Williams’s 1860 Census

Person of Interest: Susanna Williams
Relationship: 4th great grandmother

Source Citation: 1860 U. S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Jackson Township, p. 572 & 573 (stamped), dwelling 586, family 624 & 625, Susanna Williams; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 July 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1142.

Document Description: These documents are part of the Eighth Census of the United States which was taken in 1860. It is the eighth 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 1860 overview, we find that the 1850 Census Act was the authorizing legislation for the 1860 census. Which explains why the 1860 census looks very similar to the 1850 census. There is one new column which asks about the value of personal estate.

“That act had stipulated that, according to the recommendation of the secretary of the interior, its provisions were to be adhered to for all future decennial censuses if no new authorizing legislation was passed by January 1 of the year in which the census was required.”

James Buchanan (photo above, photo credit http://www.census.gov) was the president on the day of the census on 01 June 1860.

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

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

Page 572 Header
Schedule I. Free Inhabitants in Jackson Township in the County of Monroe, State of Pennsylvania enumerated by me, on the 12th day of July 1860. Sinford Marsh, Ass’t Marshal.

Page 572 Detail
lines 40-42, George Longcor, Hannah, and John [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
1. Dwelling number in order of visitation: 586
2. Family number in order of visitation: 624
3. The Name of every Person whose usual place of abode on the first day of Jun, 1860, was in this family: Susannah Williams

4. Age: 52
5. Sex: F
6. Color: [blank]

7. Profession, Occupation, or Trade of each Male Person over 15 years of age: [blank]

Value of Estate Owned
8. Value of Real Estate owned: [blank]
9. Value of Personal Estate: [blank]

10. Place of Birth. Naming the State, Territory, or Country: Pennsylvania

Additional Information
11. Married within the year: [blank]
12. Attended School within the year: [blank]
13. Persons over 20 yrs of age who cannot read & write: [blank]
14. Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict: [blank]

Page 573 Header
Schedule I. Free Inhabitants in Jackson Township in the County of Monroe, State of Pennsylvania enumerated by me, on the 12th day of July 1860. Sinford Marsh, Ass’t Marshal.

Page 573 Detail
lines 1-7, Margaret, Christian, Samuel, Allen, Gabriel, Emanuel and Rachel Williams [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
1. Dwelling number in order of visitation: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
2. Family number in order of visitation: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; 625; [blank]
3. The Name of every Person whose usual place of abode on the first day of Jun, 1850, was in this family: Margaret Williams; Christian —-; Samuel —-; Allen —-; Gabriel —-; Emanuel Williams; Rachel M. —-

4. Age: 27; 19; 13; 9; 6; 30; 22
5. Sex: F; F; M; M; M; M; F
6. Color: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

7. Profession, Occupation, or Trade of each Male Person over 15 years of age: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; Laborer; [blank]

Value of Estate Owned
8. Value of Real Estate owned: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
9. Value of Personal Estate: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; 20; [blank]

10. Place of Birth. Naming the State, Territory, or Country: Pennsylvania; [ditto]; [ditto]; [ditto]; [ditto]; [ditto]; [ditto]

Additional Information
11. Married within the year: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
12. Attended School within the year: [blank]; [blank]; yes; yes; yes; [blank]; [blank]
13. Persons over 20 yrs of age who cannot read & write: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
14. Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict: [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:

On 01 June 1860, Susannah Williams (52) was living with a young female named Margaret (27), four young males named Christian (19), Samuel (13), Allen (9) and Gabriel (6) and another family unit, Emanuel Williams (30) and Rachel M. (22). The family was living in Jackson Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, when Sinford Marsh arrived to enumerator them on 12 July 1860. In order of visitation, the families were labeled as living in dwelling #586 and as families #624 and 625.

The only person in the household working was Emanuel who was listed as a laborer. All were listed as being born in Pennsylvania. Emanuel was listed as having $20 in personal estate value. The family was healthy in that nothing was filled in for the column for blindness, deaf and dumbness, idiocy, insanity, pauper, or convict. The census indicated that Samuel, Allen, and Gabriel were attending school. 

Note: Christian was incorrectly listed as a female in this census.

The 1860 census does not tells the viewer the specific relationships within the family group, so other evidence is needed to prove that Margaret, Christian, Samuel, Allen and Gabriel were Susannah’s children and that Emanuel and Rachel M. were husband and wife. However, the instructions to the enumerators directed that “the names are to be written beginning with the father and mother, or, if either or both be dead, begin with some other ostensible head of the family, to be followed, as far as practicable, with the name of the oldest child residing at home, then the next oldest, and so on to the youngest, then the other inmates, lodgers, and boarders, laborers, domestics, and servants.”

Nothing pops out as being odd with this family. However, it doesn’t hurt to go look at the enumerator instructions to see how things were to be reported. The IPUMS, which stands for the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, website has a handy place to look up all enumerator instructions for the 1860 census.  Some of the instructions found there include:

  • Refusal to Answer.- If any person to whom application is made for information should refuse to give it, or should designedly make false representations, you should inform him of the responsibility he incurs thereby, and the penalty to which he becomes liable under the 15th section of the law.
  • By “dwelling house” is meant a separate tenement, inhabited or uninhabited, and may contain one or more families under one roof.
  • If a house is used partly for a store or other purpose and partly for a dwelling, it is to be numbered as a dwelling house.
  • A widow living alone and separately providing for herself, or two hundred individuals living together and provided for by a common head, should each be numbered as one family. [I suspect Susannah falls into this group.]
  • All landlords, jailors, superintendents of poor-houses, garrisons, hospitals, asylums, and other similar institutions, are to be considered as heads of their respective families, and the inmates under their care to be registered as members thereof, and the details concerning each, designated in their proper columns, so distinctly as to preclude any doubt as to who for the family proper and who the guests, prisoners, or other inmates, carefully omitting all transient persons.
  • Profession, Trade, and Occupation— Under head 7, entitled “Profession, occupation, or trade of each person over fifteen years of age,” insert the specific profession, occupation, or trade the individual being enumerated is reputed to follow.
  • Value of Personal Estate.– Under heading 9, insert (in dollars) the value of personal property or estate. Here you are to include the value of all the property, possessions, or wealth of each individual which is not embraced in the column previous, consist of what it may; the value of bonds, mortgages, notes, slaves, live stock, plate, jewels, or furniture; in fine, the value of whatever constitutes the personal wealth of individuals. Exact accuracy may not be arrived at, but all persons should be encouraged to give a near and prompt estimate for your information.

It pays to also examine the people around your person of interest. For example, Susannah’s son David Williams, his wife Margaret, and their children were listed in household 623, just above Susannah on the same census page. Always look at the page before and the page after your person of interest to see what friends, neighbors, and associates are around your person.


Widow Susannah Williams was living in the same house with her 30-year-old son Emanuel and his wife Rachel. The family was living in Jackson Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, next door to Susannah’s son David Williams. Most of her older children were in their own households by 1860 but children Margaret, Christian, Samuel, Allen and Gabriel were still living with her. This 1860 census adds to my research list in that a death record needs to be tracked down for Susannah’s husband Joseph and a marriage record for Emanuel and Rachel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunt Enoch, printer, h 174 W 20th

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

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

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

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

Source: Google maps, satellite mode, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


The completely unexciting front cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


There is nothing on the inside of the back cover.

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

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

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


Ora’s wallet

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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