Wordless Wednesday

pete-and-hannah-2frontpete-and-hannah-2backPictures from Tante Hanna (Johanna (Pauw) Verhaar) folder.


Sunday’s Obituary – Clair Donald Swink – Died 10-September-2004

Relationship to me: husband of 1st cousin, 2x removed

This obituary was posted September 21, 2004 and was also found online at the Pocono Record website.


Clair Swink, 70, formerly of Stroudsburg, died unexpectedly Friday, Sept. 10, at his home in Lebanon, Tenn. He was the husband of Elaine (Mery) Swink.  Born in Stroudsburg, he was the son of the late Horace Paul Swink and Mary Beatrice Heller Swink Dower. He had been employed in recent years as a truck dispatcher; and also worked for a sprinkler system firm as a purchasing agent.  A veteran of the U.S. Army, he was a member of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lebanon, Tenn. Surviving are three brothers, Lawrence Swink and his wife, Janet, of Neola, Elvin Swink and his wife, Lilah, of Stroudsburg, and Ronald Swink and his wife, Alice, of Henryville; and several nephews. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by one brother, James Swink. Funeral services were held on Sept. 15, in Lebanon, Tenn. at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lebanon, Tenn. Friends of the congregation served as pallbearers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Sunday’s Obituary – Bernice (Strait) Wood – Died 28-April-1979

Relationship to me: paternal great-aunt

This was undated, unsourced newspaper clipping that my grandmother saved, most likely from the New Jersey Herald.


Bernice Wood” – Bernice S. Wood, 70, of 43 Sussex St., Newton, died Saturday at Newton Memorial Hospital after a long illness.

Born in Lafayette, she lived in Newton all her life.  She was a member of the Newton Baptist Church, the Newton First Aid Squad Auxiliary and the American Association of Retired Persons. She was the widow of Robert W. Wood.

She is survived by three sons, Robert W. Jr. and Richard A. Sr., both of Newton, and Donald S. of Jacksonville, Fla.; a brother, Carl H. Strait of Andover Township; 12 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, Newton, the Rev. Allan Davis officiating.  Interment will follow in the North Church Cemetery.  Friends may call at the funeral home Monday from 2-5 and 7-9 p.m.

Sunday’s Obituary – Roberta (Ramage) Down – Died 03-February-2010

Relationship to me: wife of 1st cousin, 2x removed

This obituary was published in The New Jersey Herald on February 7, 2010 and was also found online at Legacy.com.


Roberta “Bobbie” Dowd

HAMBURG — Roberta “Bobbie” R. Dowd, 82, died after a long illness at Barn Hill Care Center in Newton on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010. Born to Samuel and Etta Ramage in Newton, she was raised in Warwick, N.Y., and lived most of her life in Hamburg.  Mrs. Dowd was a homemaker and devoted mother. In her later years, she owned and operated Bouquets By Bobbie in Sussex. She was a 50-year member of the Hamburg Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary; a member of the Lafayette Federated Church, the Hamburg Senior Citizens and the New Jersey State Floral Association; and past president and member of the Lafayette Senior Citizens. She was an active Cub Scout den mother and was also active with the Girl Scouts. Mrs. Dowd was predeceased by her husband of 30 years, Clyde B. Dowd Sr., in 1986; a son, Clyde B. Dowd Jr., in 1993; and a brother, Randy Specht, in 2002.  She was the devoted mother of Robert Dowd and his wife, Kim, of Duluth, Ga., Linda Dowd-Ward, of Hamburg, and Bonnie Lewis and her husband, Ron, of Round Hill, Va. Known by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as “Bubbie,’ Roberta was cherished by her grandchildren, Kevin, Christopher and Stephen Ward, Todd Lewis and Taylor Dowd, and her great-grandchildren, Ella, Ethan, Evan and Lia Ward and Bret Lewis.  The family will receive their friends at F. John Ramsey Funeral Home, 1 Main St., Franklin, today from 2 to 5 p.m. A funeral service will be held on Monday at the Lafayette Federated Church at 11 a.m., with interment to follow at North Hardyston Cemetery.  Memorial gifts to the American Kidney Fund, 6110 Executive Boulevard, Suite 1010, Rockville, MD 20852, or the Lafayette Federated Church Food Pantry, 180 Route 15, Lafayette, NJ 07848, would be appreciated.