52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #22 – John J. Repsher

Relationship: 2nd Great-grandfather
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One of the things that a budding genealogist is often told by more seasoned researchers is to check to see what other folks have done/found before you. Wise advise because there are some dedicated researchers out there. One of those researchers investigating the Repsher line is a gentleman named Donald R. Repsher. He took the time to put his findings into a book called Repsher Origins[1] which I was fortunate to find. Donald has traced the Rebscher line back to Hans Friedrich born in 1639/40.

From Donald, I learned the origins of the Repsher name. Originally spelled REBSCHER, the German origins of the name are rooted in an ancient occupation.

Rebe: the German word for vine or grape. Schere: the German word for shears or scissors (scheren: to shear or cut). “[2]

Thus my Repsher ancestors would be vine-tenders or pruners, a very important function in the tending of vineyards in the Old Country. They would have been highly-skilled laborers contributing to overall health of the vines and vital to increasing yields during harvests.

By the time my second great-grandfather was born the name had been Americanized to REPSHER. His given name was John Joseph and he was born on 03 July 1854 in a little, rural town called Mountainhome located on the eastern edge of Pennsylvania in picturesque Monroe County.[3] His parents were Jacob Henry Repsher and Suzanna Williams. He was their second child and second son. He and his older brother, Emmanuel, would not be alone for long. In all, Jacob and Suzanna had 14 children:

  1. Emmanuel James, born 08 September 1852
  2. John Joseph, born 03 July 1854
  3. Jacob H., born 23 January 1856
  4. Aaron Jerome, born 03 November 1857
  5. Samuel Paul, born 04 September 1859
  6. Sally Ann, born 22 September 1861
  7. Charles Frederic, born 21 July 1863
  8. Pherman Johnson, born 21 July 1865
  9. Jesiah Kichlein, born 08 July 1866
  10. Armon S., born 27 July 1869
  11. Mary Elizabeth, 24 August 1872
  12. George A., born 12 March 1875
  13. William H., born 02 October 1877
  14. Stillborn child with unknown birth date
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Jacob’s handwritten sheet listing his children “one after the other and living.”

Most of the birth information[4] comes from a handwritten sheet that John’s father Jacob sent to the Pension Bureau when filing for a pension claim. John’s sister, Sally Ann, was not listed because she died on 26 December 1862[5] at 18 months old. John’s bother, Charles Frederic, is not listed since he died 04 October 1881.[6] Both died before The Act of 27 June 1890 authorizing the payment of pension to Civil War Veterans.

Looking at the dates, I think July must have been a tough month to keep track of birthdays! In this family, five of the children (35%) were born in that month. September was also a front-runner with three children born during that month.

John was only 6 years old when the Civil War began 12 April 1861. It was touched off when Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The war raged on for few years before his father, Jacob, enlisted to fight with the Union. Jacob enlisted as private in Company I of the 147th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry on 19 December 1863. He served for almost nine months and was discharged on 09 September 1864 at Atlanta, Georgia.[7]

When John was 10 years old, one of the last major events of the Civil War occurred. It was the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., on 14 April 1865.

Around 1875/76 John married Caroline Bonser. He was around 22 and she was around 17 years old. Following in his parents footsteps, John also had 14 children. I believe the saying is “Go big or go home!” Their first child was born in late 1876 and the rest came along at consistent intervals, as was quite common at that time. John and Caroline had the following children:

  1. Emma Susan, born 21 September 1876
  2. Mary Elizabeth [Lizzie], born 16 September 1878
  3. Letitia A., born 28 January 1881
  4. John H., born 17 May 1883
  5. James Franklin, born 24 August 1885
  6. Lewis Allen, born 29 April 1888
  7. George Arthur, born 02 October 1890
  8. Ella M., born 23 September 1893
  9. Robert Joseph, born 14 May 1897
  10. Lillian Ma, born 24 November 1899
  11. William Fred, born 24 November 1899
  12. Jennie F., born 08 May 1901
  13. Stillborn child, birth date unknown
  14. Stillborn child, birth date unknown

The birth information comes from Anna Maria (Karthaeuser) Repsher who was married to John’s son, George Arthur (#7 from above). She took the time to record the family group sheets and John and Caroline’s family is one of the first ones in the records.[8]

John Joseph Repsher was born in eastern Pennsylvania and raised all his children there too. According to the 1910 U.S. Census[9] and his death certificate[10] he was a carpenter by trade.

John J. Repsher

John Joseph Repsher

John was only 58 years old when he died on 28 January 1913.  His obituary states, “John J. Repsher died at his home at Analomink on Tuesday morning about 2 o’clock at the age of 56 years, 6 months and 25 days.”[11] Nope, not a typo on my part while stating his age in the obituary. There is a date discrepancy on his birth year depending on what source is consulted. The month of July and day of 03 are not in dispute.

  • John’s death certificate says he was born 03 July 1856. Of course, John wasn’t there to confirm that (he was dead) so the informant, son George Repsher, most likely told them the wrong date.
  • John’s obituary might be based off the death certificate but most likely it’s the same informant that provided information to the newspaper as well as for the death certificate.
  • John’s tombstone has the date of 03 July 1854.
  • John’s daughter in-law recorded his date of birth as 03 July 1854.
  • The year of 1854 fits neatly into the time line of his older brother Emmanuel’s birth in 1852 and younger brother Jacob’s birth in 1856. Every two years, donthca know!

My 2nd great-grandfather, John Joseph Repsher, was buried in the Analomink United Methodist Churchyard on 31 January 1913.[12]

REPSHER John J and Caroline - Find a Grave

John J. and Caroline B. Repsher grave marker, Find-A-Grave memorial #18041315.

[1] Donald R. Repsher, Repsher Origins (Knoxville, Tennessee: Scribes Valley Publishing Company, 2004).
[2] Repsher, p. 7.
[3]”Analomink United Methodist Churchyard,” digital image, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 29 June 2013), entry for Caroline B. Repsher, memorial #18041315.
[4] Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Undated lined paper listing the children of Jacob Repsher.
[5] Repsher, p. 35.
[6] Tipton, Jim, compiler, “St. John’s Cemetery,” digital image, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 24 June 2014), entry for Frederick F. Repsher, memorial #93923398.
[7] Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
[8]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. 2; privately held by held by the blog author, Tucson, AZ, 2015.
[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] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate file no. 6479 (1913), John J. Repsher; Division of Vital Statistics, New Castle.
[11] Unknown newspaper, obituary for John J. Repsher (28 January 1913); folder: “Repsher Family File,” vertical files; Monroe County Historical Society, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
[12] Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate file no. 6479 (1913), John J. Repsher.


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