52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #2 – Beatrice Irene (Repsher) Strait

Relationship: Grandmother
Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 1.09.16 PM


My grandmother, Beatrice Irene REPSHER, was born at the eastern edge of Pennsylvania in Analomink, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, on 18 August 1910.[1] Her father, George Arthur Repsher followed his work as a steam engine operator[2] and moved the family to Stanhope, Sussex County, New Jersey, between 1918 and 1919. Stanhope is situated next to Netcong; in fact, they are really one town separated by both a county line and waterway running through the middle. That waterway was the Morris Canal which provided George with a livelihood to provide for his growing family. His work involved loading and unloading the boats that traversed the more than 100-mile long waterway. According to the Canal Society of New Jersey:

“Through a series of water turbine powered inclined planes, locks and aqueducts built above and across rivers, the Morris Canal was the world’s biggest hill climber and with the help of mules on towpaths traversed 102 miles transporting mostly Pennsylvania coal but also iron ore and other goods across the face of northern New Jersey.”[3]

Beatrice grew up playing along the banks of the canal and the surrounding lakes busy with boats loaded with freight. She swam in the Musconetcong and Hopatcong lakes along to canal line.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 4.18.55 PM

Morris Canal – Lock 1 West in Stanhope, New Jersey Left: Photo in private collection of Strait Family Right: Photo from Canal Society of NJ (http://canalsocietynj.org/L1W.html)

My grandmother was a very independent minded woman and proof of this is evident in her younger years. At eight years old she was enamored with the nuns at St. Michael’s School (a Catholic institution) in Stanhope and convinced her father that she should attend school there. She not only graduated from eighth grade [4] but then converted her parents and siblings to Catholicism. The whole family was baptized en masse at St. Michael’s Catholic Church on the same day, 24 September 1922.[5]

While Beatrice “never lacked for beaus” she was in no hurry to be married. She met William Charles STRAIT in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey, where she worked in the silk mill that was one of the many industries fueling the Newton economy in the 1930s. In fact, my grandfather asked her a number of times to marry him before Beatrice finally consented and married him on 12 October 1935. [6]

Beatrice was working in the silk mill to help support her family, which now included 6 brothers and one sister. She had a twelve mile commute from Stanhope north to Newton each day. Her father purchased his very first new car around 1931-32. The family’s purchase of the car was quite an event at the time. The strong-willed, first-born Beatrice convinced her father to allow her to drive it to Newton each day. One would think that the short drive wouldn’t be particularly hazardous. However, shortly after 7 o’clock on a Monday morning in 1932 with her sister and four friends (who were also employed in the mill) in the car, she came to the Andover railroad crossing. Railroad officials said that the crossing lights were working.[7]  According to Beatrice, she stopped at the crossing but then stalled the car on the tracks. The Sussex Express on the Lackawanna Railroad was on its way to New York. The car and train met at the Andover crossing at the very same time.  CRASH!

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 4.27.39 PM

Both clippings are from an unidentified newspaper; clipped at time of the event in 1932 by Beatrice Repsher. Inherited in 2010 by Jodi Lynn Strait from her grandmother Beatrice Repsher.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 4.27.55 PM

It is unbelievable that everyone survived the horrific crash given that at the time seat belts and air bags were a thing of the future. One newspaper article states:

“… every one of the occupants were more or less injured.   An ambulance from Newton came to assist the sufferers, but none were taken to the hospital, although one young lady suffered a broken nose, and the others were severely cut and bruised, and were cared for by a local physician.” [8]

Another describes the injuries more specifically by individual as:

“Miss Repsher sustained an injured knee. Her sister, Helen, was slightly bruised. Rose Pompy suffered a broken nose. Rose LeGera sustained injuries to her legs and could not walk. Antanna Claroff was bruised and her brother, Thomas, sustained a cut on his forehead.”[9]

The newspaper articles also provide a slightly different version than my grandmother stating that she was driving at “breakneck speed” [10] because she was trying to make it to work on time and applied the brakes too late to avoid being struck by the train. As the other survivors of the crash have now passed on and cannot be interviewed, the truth of how the crash truly happened will never been known.

My grandmother never drove again after the crash. All the while I was growing up I thought Beatrice had just not bothered to get a driver’s license. I didn’t find out until years later the true reason for her reluctance to be on the road behind the steering wheel. Even though Beatrice didn’t drive, she wasn’t going to let a little thing like a train crash stop the rest of her activities. She got married, had two children, lived a full, long life, and passed away of natural causes on 17 July 2010 in Newton just one month shy of her 100th birthday.[11]

Beatrice Irene (Repsher) Strait

Beatrice Irene (Repsher) Strait


[1] Pennsylvania Department of Health, birth certificate 1234010-1910 (1910), Beatrice Irene Repsher; Division of Vital Statistics, New Castle.
[2] Pennsylvania. Monroe County. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule. John J. Repsher. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2005.
[3] Canal Society of New Jersey, Morris Canal Locks and Planes, (http://canalsocietynj.org/mcdata.htm : accessed 20 January 2013).
[4] Beatrice I. Repsher, diploma, St. Michael’s School, 21 June 1925; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, Arizona, 2013.  Original diploma issued by the state of New Jersey to Beatrice Repsher for the completion of eighth grade.
[5] “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 81, 87-88, 90 and 95-96,  Repsher families.
[6] William Strait and Beatrice Repsher. Marriage Certificate. 12 October 1935. Privately held by Lynn Jodi Strait, Tucson, Arizona. 2015.
[7] “Six Hurt as Train Crushes Auto,” news article, undated newspaper clipping, unidentified newspaper; Strait family newspaper clippings, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2015.  Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.
[8] “Andover Accident,” news article, newspaper clipping, 1932 (penned), unidentified newspaper; Strait family newspaper clippings, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2015.  Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.
[9] “Auto Accident At Andover,” news article, undated newspaper clipping, unidentified newspaper; Strait family newspaper clippings, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2015.  Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait-Shutts from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.
[10] “Too Late,” news article, undated newspaper clipping, unidentified newspaper; Strait family newspaper clippings, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2015.  Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait-Shutts from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.
[11] New Jersey, Department of Health and Senior Services, Death Certificate, death certificate no. 20100035955, Beatrice I. Guirreri (2010); Copy with Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2015.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #2 – Beatrice Irene (Repsher) Strait

  1. In the 1950s, I had a teacher named “Mrs. Irene Strait” who taught kindergarten, first, and second grades in the three-room schoolhouse in McAfee, New Jersey, 16 miles from Newton. Does anyone know anything about her?

    Like

    • Sorry, no, I don’t know anything about the school teacher in McAfee. This Beatrice Irene Strait is definitely not the school teacher that you remember. Bea worked as a seamstress all her life and grew up in Stanhope/Netcong area.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s