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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Sunday’s Obituary – Calvin C. Degroat – Died 04-December-2011

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

This obituary was published in The New Jersey Herald on December 5, 2011, page A-3, column 2. It can also be found online at Legacy.com.


“Calvin C. Degroat” – Wantage – Calvin C. Degroat, 86, died peacefully at his residence surround by his family on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011. Born in Wantage, he had been a resident of Wantage all of his life. He was the son of the late Ralph and Lizzy (Clark) Degroat.

Prior to his retirement, Mr. Degroat was employed for 30 years in the maintenance department of the Ames Rubber Corp., in Hamburg. A proud veteran of the United States Army, he served his country during World War II. He was awarded a Purple Heart for serving in the battle of the bulge. Most recently he enjoyed the sport of bowling with his friends and teammates at the Sparta Bowling Lanes. Last year he bowled a game with a score of 222, which helped his senior bowling league team win first place.  In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his wife, Carolyn (Strait) Degroat, and several brothers and sisters; Elizabeth Wilson, Arnold Degroat, Ruth Beemer, Warren Degroat, H. Clark Degroat, Vivian Lockburner, Florence Card, Oliver Degroat and Elsie Dunn. He is survived by his son, Dennis Degroat and his wife, Linda, of Stillwater; a sister, Louella Opellar of Hawthorne; grandchildren, Kyle and Brian Degroat, and his loving companion of the past few years of his life, Victoria Sapone.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend his graveside funeral service with military honors Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 11 a.m., at North Hardyston Cemetery (meeting directly at the cemetery in the old section).  In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory would be preferred and may be made to the Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice Charitable Foundation, 99 Sparta Ave., Newton, NJ 07860. Arrangements by F. John Ramsey Funeral Home, Franklin. To offer online condolences please go to http://www.fjohnramseyfuneralhome.com.

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:
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

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:
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!

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.


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

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

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

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

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

J. Percy Crayon

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

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

Crayon’s book is broken out as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #22 – Hiram H. Strait’s Last Will and Testament

Person of Interest: Hiram Heally Strait
Relationship: 1st cousin 5x removed

Source Citation: Sussex County, New Jersey, Wills Volume M 1900-1905: 37-39, Hiram Heally Strait (1901), last will and testament of Hiram Strait, recorded 24 January 1901; Digital image, Ancestry, “New Jersey, Wills and Probate Records, 1739-1991” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 May 2017); Citing records from Sussex County Surrogate’s Office, Newton.

Document Description: This is the digital image of the last will and testament of Hiram Heally Strait from Sussex County, New Jersey, found on Ancestry. It is handwritten by the county clerk and is the proving of the will for Hiram after his death in early 1901. The executrix of his will was Martha F. Strait and she brought the will into the Surrogate’s Office to be proved so that she could open a probate case to administer his estate.

Document Scan/Transcription:
Will Volume M, page 37 (very bottom of page)

Last Will and Testament
Hiram H. Strait, Deceased
Sussex County Surrogate’s Office
In the Matter of the Probate of the
Last Will and Testament
Hiram H. Strait, Deceased.



Will Volume M, page 38
Be it remembered that on the Twenty fourth day of January A.D. 1901, the Executrix name in the last Will and Testament of Hiram H. Strait, late of the Township of Hardyston in the County of Sussex, deceased, appeared before the Surrogate of the County of Sussex, and made application to have the said will proved; and on such application said Surrogate adjudged the said Will to be a valid Will, and the proof thereof to be sufficient, which said last Will and Testament, and the proof thereof, are as follows, that is to say:
I, Hiram H. Strait, of the township of Hardyston, county of Sussex, New Jersey, do hereby make and publish this my last will and testament, as follows:-
After the payment of all my just debts and funeral expenses, I give, bequeath and devise all my property both real and personal, wheresoever situate, and whatever the same may be, to my sister, Martha F. Strait, of the township of Hardyston, county of Sussex, New Jersey, to her and her heirs or assigns forever.
I hereby nominate and appoint Martha F. Strait, sole executrix, without security, of this my last will and testament.
In witness whereof, I have hereto set my hand and seal this sixteenth day of December, 1892.

Hiram H. Strait [His seal]

Signed, published and declared by the
said Hiram H. Strait, to be his last
will and testament, in the presence
of us, who were present at the same
time, and subscribed our names as
witnesses in the presence of the testator.
Witness – Joseph P. Crayon
Witness – John Henderson
Witness – Helen Dunn

Sussex County S.S.
Joseph P. Crayon, one of the witnesses to the annexed writing purporting to be the last Will and Testament of Hiram H. Strait, the Testator therein named, deceased, being duly sworn, doth depose and say, that he saw the said Testator sign and seal the said annexed writing, and hear him publish and declare the same as and for his last Will and Testament; that at the time of the doing thereof, the said Testator was of sound disposing mind, memory and understanding, as far as this deponent knows, and as he verily believes that John Henderson and Helen Dunn the other subscribing witnesses is thereto, were present at the same time with this deponent, and together with him subscribed their names thereto as witnesses in the presence of the Testator and of each other, and at the request of the Testator and that the said Testator departed this life on the Thirteenth day of January A.D. 1901, according to the best of this deponent’s information and belief.

Joseph P. Crayon [his signature]

Sworn and subscribed before me this
24th day of January A.D. 1901.
Jacob M. Demerest, Surrogate.

Will Volume M, page 39
Sussex County S.S.
Martha F. Strait, the Executrix in the annexed writing named, being duly sworn doth depose and say that the said annexed writing contains the true last Will and Testament of Hiram H. Strait the Testator therein named, deceased, as far as she knows, and as she verily believes, that she will, as the Executrix thereof, well and truly perform the same, first by paying the debts of said deceased, and that the legacies therein specified, as far as the Goods, Chattels and Credits of said deceased will thereunto extend, and the law charges; that she will make and exhibit into the Surrogate’s Office of the County of Sussex, a true and perfect inventory of all and singular the said Goods, Chattels and Credits, as far as the same have or shall come to her possession or knowledge, or to the possession of any other person or persons to her use to her knowledge; and that she will well and truly account where thereunto lawfully required.

Martha F. Strait [her signature]

Sworn and subscribed before me
this 24th day of January A.D. 1901.
Jacob M. Demerest, Surrogate.

Sussex County Surrogate’s Office.

Order for Probate.

In the Matter of the Probate of the
Last Will and Testament
Hiram H. Strait, Deceased.
Application having been made to me by Martha F. Strait for probate of the last Will and Testament of Hiram H. Strait, deceased, and letters testamentary thereon, and the deposition of one of the subscribing witnesses to the same having been duly taken and it appearing to me upon such proof that the Will produced was duly executed according to law, and that more than ten days have elapsed since the death of the Testator, it is ordered and adjudged that the said Will be and the same is hereby established as the last Will and Testament of the said deceased, and that the same shall be and is admitted to probate, and that letters testamentary be granted thereon.
Dated January 24th A.D. 1901.

Jacob M. Demerest, Surrogate.

State of New Jersey
Sussex County Surrogate Office.
I, Jacob M. Demerest, Surrogate of the County of Sussex, do certify the annexed to be a true  copy of the last Will and Testament of Hiram H. Strait, late of the County of Sussex, deceased, and that Martha F. Strait, the Executrix therein named, proved the same before me, and id duly authorized to take upon herself the administration of the Estate of the Testator agreeably to the said Will.
Witness my hand and seal of office, the Twenty-fourth
day of January in the year of our Lord One Thousand
Nine Hundred and One.  Jacob M. Demerest
Filed January 24th 1901 and recorded by Jacob M. Demerest, Surrogate.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I make no attempt to make this lawyerly at all. This is not lawyerly advise. Please consult a lawyer if you have lawyerly questions!

Analysis: Let’s discuss some terminology first before discussing the document itself.

Testate: Having a will or testament
Intestate: Not having a will or testament
Bequeath: To leave one’s personal estate (real or personal) to a beneficiary

  • Will: Bequeaths real property
  • Testament: Bequeaths person property

Real Property: Land, houses, barns, buildings
Personal Property: Clothing, furniture, clothing, money, artwork, animals, etc.

Testator/Testatrix: Male/Female person making the last Will and Testament
Decedent: the dead person
Administrator/Administratrix: Male/Female person appointed by court to administer the estate when decedent is intestate
Executor/Executrix: Male/Female person appointed by the decedent to administer the estate
Beneficiary: person(s) who benefits from the decedent’s death
Heirs: person(s) who holds the rights to receive property

Types of wills:

  • Written – usually prepared by a lawyer or someone other than the person bequeathing
  • Nuncupative – verbal will. Must have two witnesses. Can only deal with the distribution of personal property.
  • Holographic – written out completely in the hand of the person also signing it
  • Codicils – a supplement or amendent to the original will

Probate: the legal process wherein the estate of a decedent is administered

In this case, Hiram was testate since he has a last Will and Testament. He has bequeathed (given) all of real and personal property to his sister, Martha F. Strait. This document is the point in probate where the principal heir (Martha) has applied to the court to begin the probate process. This document shows the will has been accepted and Martha has been granted the authority to deal with Hiram’s estate.

A short chronology based on these pages can be formed:

  • 16 December 1892: Hiram drafted, signed, and published his will and it was signed by three witnesses.
  • 13 January 1901: Hiram departed from this life – he died, thus setting the probate process in motion
  • 24 January 1901: Hiram’s executrix, his sister Martha, presented the will to the Surrogate’s Office for proving
  • 24 January 1901: Hiram’s witness to his will, Joseph P. Crayon, swore in a deposition that he was present with the other witness when Hiram drafted, signed, and published his will.
  • 24 January 1901: Hiram’s executrix, his sister Martha, swore that she would pay Hiram’s debt and present the court with true inventory of Hiram’s estate.
  • 24 January 1901: Based on will presented and letters of testamentary, the surrogate admitted the will to probate.
  • 24 January 1901: Surrogate appointed Martha as the executrix of Hiram’s estate.

Hiram’s last Will and Testament was a short and uncomplicated one:

I, Hiram H. Strait, of the township of Hardyston, county of Sussex, New Jersey, do hereby make and publish this my last will and testament, as follows:-
After the payment of all my just debts and funeral expenses, I give, bequeath and devise all my property both real and personal, wheresoever situate, and whatever the same may be, to my sister, Martha F. Strait, of the township of Hardyston, county of Sussex, New Jersey, to her and her heirs or assigns forever.
I hereby nominate and appoint Martha F. Strait, sole executrix, without security, of this my last will and testament.
In witness whereof, I have hereto set my hand and seal this sixteenth day of December, 1892.

Hiram H. Strait [His seal]

He left everything he owned to his sister and well as appointed her the sole executrix. Done!

Genealogical tidbits gleaned from this document are sparse. Hiram’s death date is revealed.  Hiram’s sister, Martha F. Strait, is named. The fact that she still was going by the last name of Strait would hint that she is a spinster or had married a cousin with the last name of Strait.

This is an original document, drafted by the Surrogate of Sussex County, New Jersey and records the administration of Hiram’s estate just ten short days after his death. With regards to the will and the proving of it, it is primary (firsthand) information. Martha was physically at the Surrogate’s Office, a witness to the will Joseph P. Crayon has attested he saw the will being drafted, signed and published, and the proceedings were being recorded very close to the time of the event (the death of Hiram) making it more reliable than a document recorded years afterwards.

The evidence is direct (explicit) for the research question, “When did Hiram H. Strait, of Hardyston Township, Sussex County, New Jersey, draft his will and when did he die?” The answers are explicit with 16 December 1892 and 13 January 1901, respectively. It is indirect for the research question, “What did Hiram H. Strait, of Hardyston Township, Sussex County, New Jersey, own when he passed away 13 January 1901?” Another document needs to be combined with this one to answer that question.

This document does provide clues on what to look for next. Martha had been ordered to provide the Surrogate’s Office with true inventory of Hiram’s estate. That should be in the probate files and the next thing to find. The inventory would give a nice feel for how meagerly or lavishly Hiram was living at the time of his death.


Locating Hiram’s short and sweet will provides a good look at the first step in the administration of an estate, the proving of the will. While he had an uncomplicated will, the fact that Martha was ordered to provide an inventory of his estate gives this researcher a good next step.

Sunday’s Obituary – Gwendolyn Charmion (Strait) Wirdel – Died 07-January-2013

Relationship to me: 1st cousin, 2x removed

Gwendolyn Charmion (Strait) Wirdel’s obituary was published online at Legacy.com and in the New Jersey Herald from Jan. 17 to Jan. 19, 2013.


Gwendolyn Charmion Wirdel 

BEL AIR, Md. – On Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, Gwendolyn Charmion Wirdel, 82, of Bel Air, Md., died peacefully in her sleep. Mrs. Wirdel was the daughter of Ward B. Strait and Katherine E. Strait (Current).

She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Ernst O. Wirdel; son, Duane Robert Wirdel, and his wife, Lori Susanne White-Wirdel, of Newark, Del.; nephew, Dennis Degroat, and his wife, Linda Degroat, of Stillwater; and great-nephews, Kyle and Brian Degroat, also of Stillwater.

Mrs. Wirdel was a proud member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants and was able to trace her lineage back to the 102 passengers who arrived in 1620.

A graveside service will be held Friday, June 7 (her 83rd birthday), 11 a.m., at North Church Cemetery, in her hometown of Hardyston.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mrs. Wirdel’s name to the American Cancer Society , P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Document Scan/Transcription:
Title Page

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

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

David Strait’s
book January
14th 1841

David Strait

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

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

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

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

George Walther born March 25 1801

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

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

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

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

Sample 1 of Sarah’s “Strait”

Sample 2 of Sarah’s “Strait”

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

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

David’s “S”

Sarah’s “S”

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

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

Sample 1: Sarah’s writing

Sample 2: closed off and curlicued

Sample 3: closed off but no curlicues

Sample 4: Not closed off

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

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

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

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


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

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