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

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


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


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


oracarpenter004

The completely unexciting front cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

page-13

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

page-14

There is nothing on the inside of the back cover.


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

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

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

oracarpenter001

Ora’s wallet

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

oracarpenter002

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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


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

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Sunday’s Obituary – Mercedes Marie (Strait) Scabet – Died 05-March-2015

Relationship to me: paternal aunt.

Published in the New Jersey Herald 08 March 2015 and online at Legacy.com (Mercedes “Sadie” Scabet)

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-11-19-00-am

Obituary – NEWTON – Mercedes “Sadie” M. Scabet, 78, of Newton, died Thursday, March 5, 2015, at Harris Health Care Center at Bristol Glen.

Born in Newton, Sadie was a lifelong resident of Newton. She was the quality engineer at the former United Telephone in Newton for 35 years before her retirement. A graduate of Newton High School, Sadie was a member of St. Joseph R.C. Church and was an avid bowler.

The daughter of the late William C. Strait, Sr., and Beatrice Irene (Repsher) Strait, Sadie is survived by her husband of 52 years, James W. Scabet, and five stepchildren: Carol Stang and husband, Robert, of Coopersburg, Pa., Maureen Slack of Hampton, James Scabet, Jr., and wife, Sandra, of Stillwater, Michael Scabet of Diberville, Miss., and David Scabet and wife, Lorraine, of Bridgeville, Del.; one brother, William Strait of Andover Township; 12 step-grandchildren; 10 step-great-grandchildren; and three nieces, Jody [sic, should be Jodi], Jill and Jennie [sic, should be Jenni]. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at the Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, Newton. Entombment will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery Mausoleum, Newton. Visitation will be held Monday, March 9, from 2-to-4 and 7-to-9 p.m. at the funeral home.

Memorial donations may be made to Newton First Aid & Rescue Squad, PO Box 5, Newton, 07860.

 

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


albertar2001

Cover letter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Albert in Living Room

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

Person of Interest: William Charles Strait
Relationship: Paternal grandfather


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

Sunday’s Obituary – Robert William Wood – Died 09-June-1973

Relationship to me: husband of grand-aunt

This obituary is a newspaper clipping from my grandmother Beatrice Strait. The newspaper is unnamed and undated but it is probably from the New Jersey Herald.

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“Robert Wood” – Robert W. Wood Sr., 67, of 43 Sussex St., Newton, died Saturday at home.  Mr. Wood was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and lived in Newton since 1926.  He was a member of the Newton Moose Lodge and Newton Baptist Church.  He retired three years ago, having worked in the office of Limecrest Corp. for 42 years.  He was a member of the 25-Year Club.  Surviving are his widow, Bernice; three sons, Robert Jr. and Richard, both of Newton, and Donald S. of Jacksonville, Fla.; a brother George of Edison; and 12 grandchildren.  Services will be 2 p.m. tomorrow at Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, Newton, with the Rev. Allen Davis, pastor of the Newton Baptist Church, officiating.  Burial will be in North Church Cemetery, Hamburg.  Friends may call at the funeral home today from 2 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m.

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.

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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.

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

Mercedes Marie Strait, circa 1955

Person of Interest: Mercedes Marie Strait
Relationship: Paternal aunt


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


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


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

 

 

 

 

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

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

The old Newton High School on Halsted Street, 1940 postcard

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

Mercedes Marie Strait

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

* National Honor Society

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

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

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

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

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


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

The new Newton High School, built in 1954

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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


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