My Genealogy-Related Fall Reading List

Fall has officially begun and I have gathered a few books for my reading enjoyment. I’ve never been much of a fiction fan, prefering non-fiction and especially biographies.

Have you ever taken the time to search for books either about the area in which you grew up or about towns in which your ancestors lived? I not only was born in Passaic, but this year is the quasquicentennial (I love that word and how often do I get to use it?) or 125th anniversary of the year my great grandfather emigrated to Passaic. I decided to search online to see what books might be out there about Passaic, aside from the usual “history of the area” type books. I was pleasantly surprised.

I found three books, all quite inexpensive, available on line. Two are by Bob Rosenthal, who is from Passaic and one was written by the father of a childhood friend and classmate of mine.

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Wonderful Passaic

Wonderful Passaic: Memories and Recollections shares memories of all the old neighborhoods, churches, shops, ethnic neighborhoods and city celebrations of a very typical “melting pot” city. Life in Passaic was pretty much a microcosm of the waves of history of the United States.

Bob wrote a second book, which I also now own:

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Climbing the Rainbow

Climbing the Rainbow: 28 Glimpses of Growing Up in Passaic is exactly what the title says. 28 people have shared their memories of growing up in that same melting pot.

The last book shares a much more serious family story.

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The Last Jew of Rotterdam

The third book, The Last Jew of Rotterdam, is a book I have known about for a while, but it has been out of print and not so easy to obtain. Growing up in the 1950’s, I never remember hearing people talk about World War II, probably because it was still too raw a subject. I didn’t realize it at the time, but there were many Passaic residents who I think were European refugees who arrived just before, during or after the war. Unbeknownst to me, my friend’s family was also a refugee family and her father authored a book about family loss and survival and his own imprisonment by the Germans during the war.

I am really looking forward to reading all of these books because they are somewhat unusual in that all weave the stories of Passaic during my own lifetime.

What’s the Most Unusual Document You Have Found?

Divorce records, particularly in the 1800’s and in the post-Civil War 1870’s are not the easiest things to find. If and when divorce papers are found, because they are official court documents, one would expect them to have a formality about them.

Among the 36 page divorce case dated fall 1874 in Barry County, Missouri between Isaac Sturgell and his second wife, Susannah Douthit Alberty, I discovered a small piece of paper added to the official court papers. It pertained to the settlement of what appeared to have been a bitter divorce case.

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Isaac Sturgell & Susan Douthit Alberty Divorce

I haven’t found any evidence that either Isaac or Susannah were literate so a friend or relative who was must have written this for her.

June the 12 the (unreadable)
dear sur i inform you
that i reseived the seid gray
horse that i was to have
in the compremise with me an
isac sturgell i reseived him
the next week Susan sturgell
to the clerk of burrey co mo
the demand is setled be
twin me and him

Definitely the most unusual record, court or otherwise, that I have come across in 35 years of genealogical research.

A Second Mystery Photo Identified!

Yesterday, I shared a newly ID’d photo of children of Myrtle Stufflebean Baker. I was able to identify the girls because I found the same photo and a similar photo of ones I already own. These pictures were posted on someone else’s online family tree.

I continued searching various Stufflebean tree branches and was able to identify the children in this photo, too:

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Loretta May & Noble Richard Stufflebean

Noble and Loretta were the children of James Herman Stufflebean and his wife, Anna Belle Riggs. Noble was born 7 November 1910 in Noble, Cleveland, Oklahoma. Loretta followed two years later on 6 July 1912.

Noble passed away on 23 February 1997; Loretta died on 22 July 1987, both in Oklahoma.

However, I have contacted the tree owner and hope to reconnect with some of my husband’s cousins. James Herman Stufflebean was Dave’s grand uncle.

Remember, there is hope of identifying unknown people in old family photos!