52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #13 – Lyman Wood

Relationship: 1/2 3rd Great uncle
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As I have said before on ancestor #11 Sidney B. Wood, I have a much larger story that I will be publishing later on in the year that relates to my 2nd great-grandfather William Henry Hunt and three of his other brothers who fought in the Late War of the Rebellion. This larger story ties all of their pension files neatly together.

Lyman Wood is the 1/2 brother of William Henry Hunt. Lyman and William’s mother was Eliza Menard and Lyman was a child by her first husband (given name as yet undiscovered); William was a child by her second husband, Enoch Hunt.

This post specifically addresses the marital status of Lyman Wood. I had often wondered why Lyman had waited so long to be married. I have found the answer to that question and it was revealed to me in his Civil War pension file.

For years, I had assumed that Lyman never married. Lyman and his mother were always found together in the census’ from 1850 to 1880. Lyman was sometimes enumerated with the last name of Wood, sometimes as Hunt. Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 5.18.36 PM

The 1890 census was destroyed in a fire so that was no help and I didn’t find him in the 1900 census. I searched Ancestry.com and looked for Lyman Wood which brought up a military listing within the “U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934” that fit one of the service history that I had for Lyman already. It was a good sign but it was perplexing because this was a widow’s application and certificate number. Lyman was with his mother, Eliza, in the 1880 census and I hadn’t thought that he was married and didn’t have a death date for him. It was time for a tangential research jaunt into his marriage and death records before coming back to the military records.

I wanted to find out his death date first. A physical search of Sussex County, New Jersey, probate records showed that Lyman Wood’s estate was probated on 28 November 1896.[5] The petition for administration of the estate by Sarah E. Wood showed that Lyman had died intestate at the Methodist Episcopal Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, but that his normal home residence was in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. It stated that his death date was 10 November 1896 but this didn’t match the pension index record above which stated the widow filed an application on 19 October 1896. How could Sarah apply for a pension before her husband’s death? The probate clerk must have put November instead of October, a simple mistake.

Another nice surprise brought out by the probate petition was that not only was Lyman married but that he had three children! For someone who wasn’t married until much later in life, he certainly was busy and didn’t waste any time starting a family. At the time of his death, he had two sons and a daughter, all minors.

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A search of various sources resulted in no marriage records being found for Sarah and Lyman in either Sussex or Morris County, New Jersey. But now that I knew that Lyman had gotten married and then had died in 1896, I was confident that the pension listing found on Ancestry.com was the file I needed to order. It was time to send in my $80 for the record copies. I ordered online and waited.

Lyman’s pension file arrived with a great thud on my doorstep on 07 September 2014. It had 110 pages filled with all sorts of fun genealogical information. The file showed that Lyman enlisted on 27 May 1861 and served in Company G of the 9th Regiment of the N.Y. Militia until 09 June 1862 when he was discharged at Baltimore, Maryland.

What immediately jumped out at me was Lyman’s certificate of disability for discharge.[6] He was discharged for epilepsy, not incident to service. Well, that certainly explained a lot! No wonder he was with his mother for so long before getting married. Depending on how often he had seizures and how severe they were, it would be tough to attract someone to marry him and be willing to deal with his medical condition.

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Another document found in the file explained why I didn’t find a marriage record for Lyman and Sarah in the relevant counties of Sussex or Morris in New Jersey. Lyman Wood and Sarah Elizabeth Ward were married by Reverend J. B. Woodward on 15 January 1884 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.[7] Perhaps there was no waiting period or maybe no medical examination required in Pennsylvania in the 1880s and that would explain why the couple traveled there to be married.

I’m glad I ordered the pension file for Lyman Wood. It has revealed all sorts of interesting bits and bobs.  More to come on what else I’ve discovered.


[1] 1850 U. S. census, Essex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newark, p. 148B, dwelling 337, family 542, Enoch Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 447.
[2] 1860 U. S. census, Westchester County, New Jersey, population schedule, Morrisania, p. 309 (penned), dwelling 2126, family 2403, Enoch Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 878.
[3] 1870 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Andover, p. 1 (penned), dwelling 4, family 5, Eliza Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 889.
[4] 1880 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Lafayette Township, ED 180, p. 8 (penned), dwelling 52, family 54 & 55, William H. Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 September 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 798.
[5] Sussex County, New Jersey, Petitions and Renunciations Volume C-D: 170, Lyman Wood (1896); Sussex County Surrogate’s Office, Newton.
[6] Lyman Wood (Pvt., Co. G, 83rd NY militia, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 446,752; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
[7] Civil War and Later Pension Files. Department of Veterans Affairs. Lyman Wood (Pvt., Co. G, 83rd NY militia, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 446,752; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Form 3-012, Declaration for remarried Widow’s Pension, 20 January 1920.

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #12 – Katrina Adam

Relationship: 3rd Great-grandmother
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I know very little about my 3rd great-grandmother Katrina Adam. Some of my information is courtesy of Elly Freeman who has corresponded with me about the Karthaeuser family. She is the mother-in-law of my 2nd cousin 1x removed, Paul Franklin Karthaeuser. Elly sent me family photos and information that she had about Katrina. Other information about her came from the Family History Library located in Salt Lake City.

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Katrina was born between 1837 and 1838 in Oggersheim, Germany.[1] Oggersheim is just a few miles west of Mannheim in west central Germany. I have not found any records yet that indicate she ever left Germany to travel or visit the United States.

She was probably married to Ludwig Karthaeuser shortly before 1857. This is an estimate based on the fact that her first son, my 2nd great-grandfather, John Adam Karthaeuser was born on 07 April 1857 in Sinsheim, Germany.[2] She was a reproductively busy woman after that! Daughter Catherina was born 11 January 1860 in Oggersheim;[3] son Karl was born 20 October 1861 in Oggersheim;[4] son Anton was born 27 August 1864 in Oggersheim;[5] daughter Elisabetha was born 25 July 1866 in Oggersheim.[6] There was another son named Lorenzo (Lawrence)[7] but his birth date and birth place has yet to be discovered. The birth records also indicate that her husband, Ludwig, was about 10 years older than Katrina.

Katrina Adam 088There is a picture of her carefully tending to some plants in a small window garden. The mix of plants is interesting. There are a couple of small trees and some plants that look to be succulents. I have to wonder if they produced anything that ended up on the dinner table.

Just like her marriage date, I don’t have her death date. Pictures would indicate though, that she lived a long life. Katrina Adam 086One shows her as an older, and more frail, woman moving around her home but hunched over just a bit. She is dressed in dark clothing and her hair is tucked neatly under a black cap. I will have to dig into some German records to see what else I can discover about Katrina (Adam) Karthaeuser. Records await!

 

 

 


[1] Eleanor G. Freeman, Mays Landing, New Jersey, correspondence to Jodi Lynn Strait, pedigree chart for Charles Karthaeuser, 09 March 2012, Karthaeuser documents and pictures.
[2] Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 81.
[3] Certificate #8 from FHL Intl. Film 1,258,132 titled “Births 1854-1869 Germany, Bayern, Oggersheim.”
[4] Certificate #121 from FHL Intl. Film 1,258,132 titled “Births 1854-1869 Germany, Bayern, Oggersheim.”
[5] Certificate #46 from FHL Intl. Film 1,258,132 titled “Births 1854-1869 Germany, Bayern, Oggersheim.”
[6] Certificate #89 from FHL Intl. Film 1,258,132 titled “Births 1854-1869 Germany, Bayern, Oggersheim.”
[7] Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”, p. 197.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #11 – Sidney B. Wood aka Henry Menard

Relationship: 1/2 3rd Great uncle
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I have a much larger story that I will be publishing later on in the year that relates to my 2nd great-grandfather William Henry Hunt and three of his other brothers who fought in the Late War of the Rebellion.

Sidney B. Wood is the 1/2 brother of William Henry Hunt. Sidney and William’s mother was Eliza Menard and Sidney was a child by her first husband (given name as yet undiscovered); William was a child by her second husband, Enoch Hunt.

This post specifically addresses the manner in which Sidney B. Wood alias Henry Menard died. I found it to be a fascinating little tidbit that illustrates the benefits of doing a thoroughly exhaustive records search.

I had assumed that Sidney had died in battle during the Civil War for a couple of reasons. Sidney’s mother Eliza had said in a pension file affidavit[1] that Sidney was in the Regular Army and was killed. William, speaking about his brother, said, “Brave boy, he reenlisted, fought all through the war, rose to the orderly sergeant in a regular Batt[alion]” and that his bones were bleaching in Richmond.[2] Since the Civil War was raging at this time, it would have been reasonable to assume that Sidney had died in battle. This highlighted the risk of assuming without verification.

Found within Henry/Sidney’s pension file[3] was a handwritten sheet with no form number. On this sheet was the following report dated 30 July 1869 by the captain of the battalion who Henry/Sidney had served under:

Respectfully returned with the information that on the 29th of April 1866 1st Sargent Henry Menard [Sidney B. Wood] of this battery had permission to take his horse and to leave the camp of the battery near Richmond Va. for the purpose of going to town for his own pleasure. While absent he became grossly intoxicated, rode his horse at a very rapid rate and being unable to guide or control him, ran into a tree on the edge of the sidewalk and fractured his skull. This injury was the cause of his death.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 3.51.19 PMIt turned out that Sidney died in a drunk driving accident not on the battlefield. Obviously automobiles were still quite a few years in the future so it wasn’t as if his friends could take away the keys to the horse! Since Henry/Sidney did not die of anything related to his war service, the pension bureau rejected both his widow Kate’s and his mother Eliza’s applications for pension.


[1] Lyman Wood (Pvt., Co. G, 83rd NY militia, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 446,752; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Exhibit J, Affidavit of Eliza Hunt, 05 September 1882.
[2] William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. WC 852,451; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Letter from William Henry Hunt to Pension Commissioner, 03 September 1883.
[3] Sidney B. Wood (1st Sargent, Co. F, 5th Regiment U.S. Artillery, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 147,611; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #10 – Mercedes (Strait) Scabet

Relationship: Aunt
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Unfortunate news this week. My aunt Sadie passed away a few days ago.

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James William and Mercedes Marie Scabet nee Strait. Circa 1995.


Her obituary published in the NJ Herald on 08 March 2015 reads:

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, Jill and Jennie. [Jodi, Jill and 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. Online condolences may be offered at www.smithmccrackenfuneralhome.com.


Seems obituaries are good for giving “just the facts, ma’am” but not for giving the flavor of a persons life. Here is my attempt to give some more life to her story.

Aunt Sadie spent the last few years of her life battling against the debilitating Parkinson’s disease. It seems that neurological problems tend to run in the family since her father, William Charles Strait, Sr., passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1961. Because of Parkinson’s, she had to move into assisted living at Bristol Glen in Andover for the last bit of her life. However, long before that, she lived at 11 Lincoln Place in a neat white house for years and years. Just down the street at 43 Lincoln Place lived her mother, Beatrice. Across the street from her lived the Crawns and next to them a spunky little woman named Rachel who was often invited to holiday dinners with us at Beatrice’s home.

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Left to Right: William Charles Strait, Jr., Martha Ethel (Westra) Strait, William Charles Strait, Sr., Mercedes Marie Strait, Beatrice Irene (Repsher) Strait. Circa 1959.

Born on 26 September 1936 in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey[1], Mercedes Marie Strait was named after one of her mother Beatrice’s favorite teachers, Sister Mercedes Marie, a nun at St. Michael’s School in Netcong. She was the daughter of William Charles Strait and Beatrice Irene Repsher. Mercedes was her “real” name but she was always known in the family as “Sadie”. She grew up in Newton and was a vivacious young girl. Here is a picture of her in a uniform that her mother sewed for her. Her brother, Billy (William), is with her modeling his uniform too. She played in the back lots along Sussex and Pine Streets in Newton with her brother and cousins. They climbed trees, played with the chickens in Uncle Billy Knox’s chicken coop and, I’m sure, threw rocks at things just like all kids do at some point in their childhood!

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Billy and Sadie Strait

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Billy and Sadie Strait showing their patriotism around WWII

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Cousin Patty Strait (left) with Sadie Strait

She went to Newton public schools and graduated from Grammar School in 1951 and Newton High School in 1955 when it was still located at what is now the current Halstead Street grammar school.

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She got decent grades in school as some of  her report cards show:school004 school010 school016 school026

Newton High School 1955 Diploma - Mercedes STRAITAfter graduation, she took a job as a payroll clerk at United Telephone Her life-long friend and soon to be sister-in-law, Martha Westra also worked there as an operator. Sadie didn’t stay a clerk for long and moved up in the ranks to become one of the few women in the company who actually climbed up the telephone poles to make repairs! Sadie would stay with United Telephone, and all it’s resulting sales and changes in names, for her whole career. She Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 11.17.21 AMwas recognized numerous times for outstanding service to the company. Among them was a safe driving award:

“United field workers honored for driving” – Lafayette – United Telephone of New Jersey has recognized its field employees who have driven 10 and 15 years without preventable accidents.  Each of the qualifying employees was given a jacket during safety award ceremonies. Safety awards are part of the company’s comprehensive safety program, which began in 1976.  Approximately 350 company vehicles traveled more than three and a half million miles on the roadways last year alone handling New Jersey customers’ service and repair needs… The recipients were… Mercedes Scabet…

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Mercedes Marie Strait marries James William Scabet

Sadie married James William Scabet on 07 September 1963[2] at a small ceremony held at her mother’s house on 43 Lincoln Place. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2013. While Sadie and Jim never had children of their own, Jim had six children by his first wife, Catherine. Sadie was a part of their lives and enjoyed all the step-children, step-grandchildren that were born over the years.

Sadie was involved with St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic church. Every Sunday, my mom, sisters (Jill and Jenni), and I would meet Sadie and her mother at the church for morning services. We would sit quietly in the very front pew during the mass. Once it was over, though, there were donuts and pastries waiting at the after-mass get togethers. Then, we got to pile into Sadie’s car (except mom, she went home). If I was especially grumpy on a particular Sunday, Aunt Sadie would infuriatingly call me by the name Sarah. “Is Sarah having a bad day?” she would say and I would just fume at that! She got a kick out of it and I learned to not stay grumpy too long. When she was young, Jill had trouble saying Jodi, Jill and Jenni. It came out Sodie, Silly and Senni. As we got older, Aunt Sadie would affectionally refer to us as Sodie, Silly and Senni.

Sadie would drive us to Grandma Strait’s house were we got to spend the rest of the day playing on the living room floor and running around the yard. On special occasions, we picnicked in the back yard. Christmas Eve was always spent a Grandma Strait’s house. While my sisters and I got to open our presents from Grandma Strait, Sadie and Jim would take a picture every year of Sadie sitting on Jim’s lap. Aunt Sadie would also make sure the we had little something specials on the holidays like shiny new 1/2 dollars and a small chocolate bunny for Easter.

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Beatrice (left) and her daughter Sadie (right) in Wildwood, New Jersey. Aunt Sadie seems to be fixing some problem on niece Jill’s dolly! Early 1970s.

Before my dad and mom were divorced, we would all travel as a family (me, mom, dad, Jill, Jenni, Sadie, Jim and grandma Strait and Gram’s brothers and sisters) down to southern New Jersey in early September each year to spend a week at Wildwood. We would swim in the ocean, walk the boardwalk (“Watch the Tram Car Please!”), visit the piers and go to Cape May to look for Cape May opals.

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Aunt Sadie was also a huge Elvis fan. She was a member of the Elvis Presley Fan Club. The club sent her a post card of Elvis and named some of his fan’s favorite songs.

I have many fond memories of Aunt Sadie, too numerous to list out here.

She will be missed. And you can call me Sarah!


[1] Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri, compiler, “Family George Arthur Repsher and Anna Repsher nee Anna Karthaeuser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Newton, New Jersey, 1971-1995), p. 10; privately held by held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2015.
[2] Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 85; privately held by held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2015.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #9 – Anna Marie (Karthaeuser) Repsher

Relationship: Great-grandmother
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Sit back, relax, and enjoy. This is a long post…

“My mother was a great big fat woman,” Grandma Strait would blurt out. “And once I was old Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 6.42.36 PMenough, I did all the work taking care of my younger brothers and sister. Since I was the oldest, my mother would let me feed and bathe and change them while she slept for days on end.”

I heard this statement any number of times while sitting on Grandma Strait’s living room couch. She was the oldest daughter of Anna Maria Karthaeuser with her husband George Arthur Repsher.[1] While Gram Strait did speak plainly, I’m not sure that my great-grandmother Anna would want to be remembered that way: fat and lazy. There had to be more. Who was Anna Marie Repsher nèe Karthaeuser, really?

In exploring the life of my great-grandmother, it turns out that Anna and I have a shared passion. After Anna married George Repsher, she became interested in family history. She began collecting information for hand-written family group sheets. At each of the Repsher yearly family reunions, held first in 1938, she would update the sheets for all the births, deaths, and marriages that had occurred during the preceding year. The handwriting is consistent throughout these records and my grandmother, her daughter Beatrice, told me that it was her mother’s handwriting.

Anna Karthaeuser was born to parents John Adam (alternately seen as Adam John) Karthaeuser and Anna W. Mergenthaler.[2] There is some discrepancy on her birth year. On Anna’s family page* with her husband George Arthur Repsher, she records her birth date as 31 March 1889.[3]

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*No, Anna did not fill in her own death date. Careful comparison of the capital “S” and the “9” to other samples show that it is her grand-daughter Elaine’s writing. Elaine took over as scribe in 1970 when these particular reunion records end.

The 1900 census, which specifically asks for birth month and year, has her listed with her parents and born in March of 1890.[4] While in most cases a Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 6.48.46 PMdiscrepancy of one year might not seem significant, it will become important later in this discussion when she is around 16 or 17. According to her obituary, she was born in Port Richmond, Staten Island, New York.[5] The 1900 census also shows that she and her parents were living at 21 New York Avenue, Richmond Borough, Richmond County, New York.[6] Her father’s occupation is listed as hotel keeper. Also living in their household are two boarders and a workman.

The 1900 census indicates that Anna’s parents immigrated to the United States in 1887.  A passenger manifest shows them listed together and that A. Karthauser and Anna Mergenthaler arrived on 21 April 1887 in the Port of New York on the ship Westernland.[7] Adam is 30 years old and his calling/occupation is clerk. Anna is listed with her maiden name and is 27 years old. They are both traveling from traveling from Germany and list their native country as Germany. The image quality (see below) is poor and their intended destination is difficult to make out. They are carrying one piece of luggage each and Adam was berthed in Fore Section G and Anna was berthed in Aft Section A.

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Another date discrepancy pops out upon continued inspection of the 1900 census. According to the census, Anna’s parents have been married for 15 years, which would put their marriage date sometime in 1885. That would indicate they were married for two years before immigrating to America. However, on the passenger manifest which is dated 21 April 1887, Anna’s mother is listed with her maiden name of Mergenthaler. Adding to the confusion is a marriage certificate which indicates a marriage date of 25 February 1892.[8] This would mean that Anna’s parents were married in New York almost two (or three) years after Anna was born in 1889/1890, thus making her born out of wedlock. It would also mean that Anna’s Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 4.10.53 PMparents were in America almost five years before they were married. Could it be that they were married in Germany before immigration? If so, then why is Anna W. listed with her maiden name on the manifest? Were they married once in Germany and then married again in New York State? Further investigation is needed to resolve these questions.

Anna seems to have been raised in a well-off household. There are some early pictures of her, taken by professional studios, which indicate that her family could afford to keep her well-dressed.

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Anna Marie Karthaueser is next found in the 1910 census living in the household of her father-in-law John J. Repsher.[9] Not a surprise here since getting married seems a normal step for a young lady. Records indicate that, when she was 19, Anna married George Arthur Repsher in Stroudsburg, Monroe County, Pennsylvania. The wedding took place shortly after the New Year on 18 January 1910 at St. John’s Lutheran Evangelical Church.[10] But wait. This brings up the questions of why is she now living in Pennsylvania and how did she get there?

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It turns out this incongruity shows the dangers of relying strictly on census information to build a person’s life story. There is a chapter of Anna’s life that the census information completely glosses over. It has to do with how she ended up in Pennsylvania and a little snippet of information found in the hand-written family group sheets mentioned earlier.

We know that Anna’s father changed professions and moved sometime between 1910 and 1920 because the 1920 census shows him as a store clerk in Kings County, New York.[11] Kings County is located at the southern end of Long Island and Richmond County is on the northern end of Staten Island which is just across the Gravesend Bay separating the two islands.

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In 1910, Anna’s parents (aged 53 and 48, respectively) are living with eight boarders, one of whom is Charles Gruber known to be the brother of Anna W. Mergenthaler. There are no children listed in the household. This census is one that asks how many births and how many children are now living. The census indicates that Anna W. has one living child.

Anna herself is now 21 and living 76 miles to the west of New York City with her husband, George Arthur Repsher, in Stroud Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania.[12] As stated previously, the couple is living in the household of her father-in-law, John J. Repsher and his wife Caroline. Again, how did a New York City girl end up in rural eastern Pennsylvania? Given that one needs to meet someone to marry them (the principle of propinquity) how did she and George Arthur meet?

Before trying to answer these questions, let’s look at her parents’ household in the 1920 census records. John Adam and Anna W. Karthaeuser (aged 62 and 57, respectively) were living in Kings County. But the interesting thing is that they now have a 13-year-old son, Charles.[13] Working backwards from this age, suggests Charles would have been born around 1906 or 1907. According to a birth certificate issued by the state of New York, Charles was born in NewScreen Shot 2015-02-24 at 8.08.58 PM York City on 14 February 1907 to parents Adam Karthaeuser and Anna W. Mergenthaler.[14] This birth certificate would seem to corroborate the information found in the census record.

Even more questions are generated from this interesting birth information. If Charles was born in 1907, why was he not listed as a three-year-old in the 1910 census with his parents? And why would the 1910 census say that Anna W. had only one living child when, if Charles is truly their son, it should read as two living children since he was born before the 1910 census was enumerated? How did Charles end up in the household of John and Anna W. Karthaeuser?

In order to answer these questions, the story now turns back to those hand-written family group sheets mentioned earlier. Page 82 of these records[15] provides a couple of clues. Here is the family group sheet for Charles Ludwig Karthaeuser:

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According to this record, Charles’ parents are not John Adam Karthaeuser and Anna W. Mergenthaler but a man named Peter Le Grande and Anna Karthaeuser. At the bottom of the document we find out that Charles Karthaeuser was born out of wedlock in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The top of the document lists his birth date as 13 December 1906, a full two months before his “official” birth certificate. These little tidbits of undisclosed family information provide answers to many of the previously raised questions. Let’s look at each one.

How did a New York City girl end up in rural eastern Pennsylvania? Anna was 16 years old in 1906 (maybe 17 if her birth year truly was 1889) which is young but sufficiently old enough to become pregnant. Her father was a hotelkeeper (1900) and boarding house keeper (1910) so it is likely that she knew any number of men coming and going from the hotel or boarding house. Perhaps one of the hotel guests, boarders or working men was the Peter Le Grande named in the family group sheet. Given the stigma of out of wedlock pregnancy in the early 1900s, Anna would have been sent away with the excuse that she was “visiting” friends or relatives. There is no record of a listed unwed mother’s home in Stroudsburg. It may be that there was no home or there may have been one but nobody talked about it or listed it in public records as such. Most likely she was shipped off to family friends or acquaintances in Stroudsburg to save her parents the shame of having an unmarried, pregnant daughter.

Given that one needs to meet someone to marry them (the principle of propinquity) how did Anna and George Arthur meet? Since Charles was born in Stroudsburg it can be assumed that Anna spent most of her pregnancy in or around this town. This provided the opportunity for George to meet Anna either during or shortly after her pregnancy. They were married in Stroudsburg on 18 January 1910[16] less than four years after Charles was born.

If Charles was born in 1907, why was he not listed as a three-year-old on the 1910 census with his parents? And why would the 1910 census say that Anna W. has only has one living child when, if Charles is truly their son, it should read as two living children since he was born Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.14.38 PMbefore the 1910 census was enumerated? Charles was still with relatives or close friends in Stroudsburg during the 1910 census since he is not listed with Anna and her new husband George or with Anna’s parents John and Anna W. This photo shows a very young Charles at Sheller’s Farm in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Perhaps the Shellers were close friends and this was where Anna spent her time during and after the pregnancy.

How did Charles end up in the household of John and Anna W. Karthaeuser? As is the practice today, it is not uncommon for grandparents to raise illegitimate issue as their own. If Anna W. was Charles’ mother, she would have been 45 years old when she had Charles. While this is not out of the realm of possibility, it is highly unlikely that she got pregnant again especially after having her last child more than sixteen years earlier. John Adam’s change in occupation and residence between 1910 and 1920 may have been precipitated by the bringing of Charles into the household as their own child. The move across Gravesend Bay may have been done to avoid the questions raised by the sudden appearance of a child. Anna and George Repsher probably wanted to start a family of their own without bringing the complication of another man’s child into the equation. Thus, Charles was sent off to New York City to be raised by his grandparents as their son and an amended (or falsified) birth certificate was issued by the state of New York for his “official” birth date of Valentine’s Day in 1907.  This allowed Anna to start a new chapter in her life.

George and Anna wasted no time in starting their family. Shortly after their marriage in January, their first daughter and my grandmother, Beatrice Irene (Bea), was born on 18 August 1910 in Analomink, Monroe County, Pennsylvania.[17] Another daughter, Helen Hildegard (Toots), followed shortly after on 10 September 1911.[18]

At 23 years old, Anna suffered a tragedy. She gave birth to a son on 04 September 1913 and they named him after her father John Adam. The baby was not stillborn, but he was sickly and only lived for six days, passing away on 10 September 1913.[19]

Between 1911 and 1913, George and Anna moved their growing family from Analomink, Pennsylvania, over the Delaware River and approximately 40 miles east to Stanhope, Sussex County, New Jersey, which is located on the picturesque shores of Lake Musconetcong. It is here in New Jersey that son Arthur George (Art) was born on 08 September 1914.[20] Three more sons followed like clockwork every two years: Adam Otto, born 06 October 1916;[21] Robert William (Bob), born 05 August 1918;[22] Henry Allen (Hank), born 03 October 1920.[23]

Slightly less than three years later, Anna gave birth to another baby girl on 08 January 1923, but unfortunately this daughter was stillborn.[24] There was no recorded name for this baby girl. This event brings Anna’s child bearing years to an end. Including Charles, she now has had nine children in total over the course of thirteen years: six sons, five of which survive to maturity, and three daughters, two of which survive to maturity.

Which bring us back to my Grandmother Strait’s comment that once she was old enough, her mother Anna expected her to do a lot of the work while her mother slept all day. Given what we now know about post-partum depression it is entirely possible that Anna suffered from this malady and, as Beatrice would have it, not just simply work adverse. It also must have been exhausting to be pregnant or nursing almost constantly for thirteen straight years! (see post-script * below)

Despite all the hard work raising a family, the Repshers had an opportunity to get out and about and have some fun. Located nearby, the family frequented an amusement park called Bertrand Island on a peninsula that jutted out into Lake Hopatcong. According to LandingNewJersey.com, the park was:

“first developed as a Picnic Ground around the time of World War One, it was enlarged by owner Louis Kraus and ultimately included a wooden roller coaster, the “Wildcat”, [which] opened in 1925, an aeroplane swing, a cafeteria, picnic groves and a dance hall as well as an attractive bathing beach, a diving tower and boat docks.”[25]

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In a world where television and computers didn’t dominate entertainment, Bertrand Island was fun for the entire Repsher family and one visit to the park prompted a family portrait. Here is seen the entire George Arthur Repsher family on the Bertrand Island midway probably circa 1925. I especially like the short pants and striped socks on my great uncle Hank and that dressing for a day of fun included suits and ties. The other interesting item to note is all of the boys’ ears. Beatrice’s son, William, certainly inherited the ears, of all the things to inherit!

The family would also picnic along the banks of Lake Musconetcong on summer days. The picture at the right shows Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher and her daughter Beatrice enjoying the Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 4.16.44 PMweather and relaxing. In the winter when the lake froze, the kids would skate from one end of the lake to the other and would watch the local workman cut and store great big blocks of ice in the ice house.

One of Anna’s favorite things to do was to collect wildflowers. According to Beatrice, “My mother would go out for a walk and come back with great big bunches of them. It drove my father crazy. He thought they were just weeds.” She would pick Queen Anne’s Lace, black-eyed Susans, chicory, Goldenrod, daisies, and foxtails. She didn’t discriminate; she just picked them all.Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 4.17.07 PM

All of the children attended St. Michael’s Catholic School in Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey. The driving force behind this choice of schools was Beatrice. She was so enamored with the nuns, she convinced her father George that, even though they lived in Stanhope, she should attend the school in Netcong. In actuality, Netcong and Stanhope are the same town with the Sussex/Morris county line running right through the middle along the Morris Canal.

Soon, all of the siblings were attending St. Michael’s and everyone was being baptized and confirmed into the church. At 34 years old, Anna was baptized on 19 April 1924 in Netcong at St Michael’s Church.[26] One day later, George was also baptized.[27] Shortly after, in May of the same year, she was confirmed into the faith, again at St. Michael’s Church.[28]Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.35.06 PM

This baptism later in her life brings up another question about Anna. Was she baptized twice? There is a photo of a young Anna dressed in the classic first Holy Communion garb. It was taken at a photographic studio in New York City. Following the progression of the Catholic sacraments,Anna was most likely baptized by her parents early in her life so that she could become eligible to receive the Eucharist. There is nothing found so far that indicates if this Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 4.21.27 PMhappened when she was an infant or sometime later. Later in life, it could be that as Beatrice wrapped the family into Catholicism, Anna felt the need to renew her faith in the church and was re-baptized in order to be confirmed into St. Michael’s church in New Jersey.

The 1920 census finds the George and Anna Repsher family living in a rented house on Bedford Avenue in Stanhope.[29] George (29) worked as a fireman on the steam railroad. Anna (30) had no occupation listed, but managing the household must have kept her busy. Their children Bea, Toots, Art, Adam and Bob were all shown in the household. Since the census was taken on 08 January 1920, Hank was not listed because he wasn’t born until October later in the year.

According to the 1930 census, the Repsher family was living just across the Sussex/Morris county boundary on Ledgewood Avenue in Netcong, Morris County.[30] They were renting the Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 4.21.37 PMhouse for $30 per month and they owned a radio. George (40) was working as an engineer at the sand pit. Anna (41) was again listed as having no occupation. Bea and Toots were old enough (20 and 19 respectively) to have jobs and were working as quillers (handlers of bobbins of silk) in a silk mill. The boys, now including Hank, were listed as having no occupation but were most likely attending school at St. Michael’s.

Domestic life seemed to be going smoothly for Anna until the 1930s when some major changes occurred. Besides having to deal with the hardships of running a full household during the Great Depression, Anna started to lose family members. It began when her mother, Anna W. Karthaeuser, passed away on 03 July 1935 in Hackensack, Bergen County, New Jersey.[31] Her daughter Bea was married to William Charles Strait on 12 October 1935.[32] Next, husband George passed away on 30 March 1936.[33] He was only 46 years old at the time. Within nine months, she had lost her Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 4.21.55 PMmother, had a daughter marry, and had seen her husband pass away. Additionally, the threat of the United States being involved in another World War was looming large on the horizon in the closing years of the decade. Her sons were all of age to be drafted into the service or to enlist and this most likely added stress to her life.

The census enumerated on 27 April 1940 shows that Anna (51) was living on Maple Avenue in Netcong which is the same place where she was living in 1935.[34] Daughter Bea was not in the household; she had moved out to set up her own housekeeping with her new husband, William, in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey.[35] However, Toots (28) was still living at home and was employed 24 hours a week as a winder in the hosiery industry where she made $390 in 1939. Two of Anna’s three boys still living with her were also employed. Adam (23) had finished high school (indicated by H-4 on the census) and was working 40 hours a week at the ammunition plant in transportation where he took home $534 in 1939. His younger brother, Bob (21) is working 42 hours a week as a bagger at the mineral wool (plano) factory and brought home $564 in wages in 1939. He had only finished his junior year of high school and did not graduate (H-3). The youngest in the family, Hank, was still attending school and wasn’t employed.[36]

The questions about wages on the 1940 census had a lot to do with the recently implemented Social Security program. Starting in 1937, employers were

“required by law to deduct regular sums from the pay envelopes and pay checks of the great Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.47.11 PMmajority of employed persons. These deductions are for taxes levied by the Federal government in order to finance that part of Social Security programs which includes a plan of regular payments to aged workers and, in some cases, their dependents.”[37]

As the 1940s progressed, all four of Anna’s sons joined the service. Bob joined the Army in 1941 and served until 1945.[38] His older brother, Adam enlisted in 1943 and served until 1945 as a CB.[39] Both Art and Hank joined the Navy.[40] The picture at the left shows the Repsher family in mid-1940s with some of the boys in uniform. Luckily, all of the boys served out their tours of duty and returned home safely to the United States.Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.46.50 PM

As her children left the household one by one and took their incomes with them, Anna needed to find a way to support herself. The type of work that George labored at before he died wasn’t the type of job that left a pension for Anna. Like many women during World War II, Anna found the opportunity to join the work force. When she was about 55 years old, she secured a position as an operator at the Dover Handbag Company in Netcong. According to her obituary, she worked there until she retired.[41]

The 1950s and 1960s were busy for Anna. Her sons and daughters had married and started their own families in the early 1940s and were now bringing numerous grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren, to her doorstep for visits. She also became involved in various clubs. Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 4.29.38 PMBecause of her sons’ military service, she served as a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Musconetcong Post of the American Legion of Stanhope and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars with the Lakeland Post of Netcong. As a member of the Legion of Mary, she stayed involved with St. Michael’s Church where she and her family worshipped for many years and where her children went to school.

Anna passed away on 23 September 1970 at Dover General Hospital.[42] She had been living at 19 Hill Road in Stanhope in a downstairs apartment of her daughter Toot’s house for years before her death. She was 81 years old. She was buried in Stanhope Union Cemetery.

My great-grandmother Anna Repsher was a big, tall woman; that much is true. I would have to refute my grandmother’s claim that she wouldn’t do any work. She raised a family, ran a full household, was gainfully employed by Dover Handbag, volunteered with multiple organizations, and organized family reunions. My great-grandmother Anna was far from lazy!

(*) – recently spoke (22 December 2016) with one of Anna’s granddaughters, a daughter of her son Adam.  The granddaughter said, “Nope, not post-partum depression. She would frequently take to her bed for several days at a time and she did this all her life. Tell her though that you were going shopping and she’d be up and ready in 1/2 hour!” Anna was also overheard to have said that having children one right after the other was “the way to do it.” That way, they could be raised to care and look after each other. Ha! Well, guess that means Gram Strait wasn’t too far from the truth! Maybe Anna isn’t as industrious as I make her out to be. You decide.


[1] Pennsylvania Department of Health, birth certificate 1234010-1910 (1910), Beatrice Irene Repsher; Division of Vital Statistics, New Castle.
[2] Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 81.
[3] Ibid.
[4] 1900 U. S. census, Richmond County, New York, population schedule, New York City, ED 611, p. 12A (penned), dwelling 203, family 246, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1154.
[5] “Mrs. George A. Repsher,” obituary, undated newspaper clipping, ca. 1970, unidentified newspaper [most likely New Jersey Herald]; Strait family newspaper clippings, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2011.  Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.[6] 1900 U. S. census, Richmond County, New York, population schedule, New York City, ED 611, p. 12A (penned), dwelling 203, family 246, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1154.
[7] “New York, Passenger Lists,1820-1857,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 December 2014), entry for A. Karthauser,  Microfilm series M237, Roll 505, List 436, line 126-127, Image 1024.
[8] New York City, New York, marriage certificate no. 124-1892 (1892), Karthaeuser-Mergenthaler, certificate number is penned; Digital copy with Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ.
[9] 1910 U. S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Stroud Township, ED 49, p. 4A (penned), dwelling 70, family 73, John J. Repsher; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1376.
[10] “Pennslyvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985,” digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 February 2012), marriage entry #350 for George A. Repsher, St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; citing Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
[11] 1920 U. S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, ED 889, p. 9A (penned), dwelling 100, family 201, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011).
[12] 1910 U. S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Stroud Township, John J. Repsher.
[13] 1920 U. S. census, Kings County, New York, population schedule, Brooklyn, ED 889, p. 9A (penned), dwelling 100, family 201, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 October 2011).
[14] New York, Department of Health, Birth Registrations, birth certificate 329 (1907), Charles Ludwig Karthaeuser. Issued in New York City, New York on 06 March 1907.
[15] Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr.”, p. 82.
[16] “Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985,” , marriage entry #350 for George A. Repsher.
[17] Pennsylvania Department of Health, birth certificate 1234010-1910 (1910), Beatrice Irene Repsher; Division of Vital Statistics, New Castle.
[18] Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri, compiler, “Family George Arthur Repsher and Anna Repsher nee Anna Karthaeuser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Newton, New Jersey, 1971-1995), p. 9.
[19] Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr.”, p. 81.
[20] Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr.”, p. 88.
[21] Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr.”, p. 90.
[22] Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr.”, p. 95.
[23] Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr.”, p. 96.
[24] Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr.”, p. 81.
[25] Landing New Jersey, “Bertrand Island Amusement Park on Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey,” http://www.landingnewjersey.com/bertrand.htm : 2013.
[26] Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr.”, p. 81.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Ibid.
[29] 1920 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Stanhope, ED 127, p. 12B (penned), dwelling 113, family 123, George A. Repsher; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 02 August 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1068.
[30] 1930 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Netcong, ED 55, page 15A (penned), dwelling 329, family 290, George A. Repsher; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 03 August 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1374.
[31] Eleanor G. Freeman, Mays Landing, New Jersey, to Jodi Lynn Strait, hand-written group sheet labeled “Paul Karthaeuser, Jr.”, 09 March 2012, Karthaeuser documents and pictures.
[32]Marriage certificate for William Strait and Beatrice Repsher, church issued certificate, family papers collection, 1935.
[33] George A. Repsher Memory Card, 1936; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2011.  Digital copy of paper memory card created by unidentified funeral home.
[34] 1940 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Netcong, ED 14-86, page 1241 (stamped), sheet 11A, family 223, Anna Repsher household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 December 2014); citing NARA microfilm publicationT627, roll 2372.
[35] 1940 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 19-23, page 263 (stamped), sheet 14A, family 291, William C. Strait household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 07 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm publicationT627, roll 2384.
[36] 1940 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Netcong, ED 14-86, page 1241 (stamped), sheet 11A, family 223, Anna Repsher household.
[37] Old Age and Survivor Benefits Under the Federal Social Security Law (New York: Prentice Hall, Inc, 1939), 3.
[38] Sussex County, New Jersey, probate case files, docket no. 35487A, Robert W. Repsher (1990), record of death, 29 January 1990; Sussex County Surrogate’s Office, Newton.
[39] Sussex County, New Jersey, probate case files, docket no. 45540, Adam Repsher (2004), death certificate, 29 April 2004; Sussex County Surrogate’s Office, Newton.
[40] William C. Strait (Lafayette, NJ), interview by Jodi Lynn Strait, 20 December 2014; interview held by Strait, Tucson, Arizona, 2014.
[41] “Mrs. G. A. Repsher Of Stanhope, 81,” obituary, undated newspaper clipping, ca. 1970, unidentified newspaper; Strait family newspaper clippings, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2011.  Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.
[42] Ibid.