52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #27 – Susanna (Williams) Repsher

Relationship: 3rd Great-grandmother
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Susanna’s story picks up as Jacob Henry Repsher’s story (http://wp.me/p4WHi0-54) ends….

Once Jacob H. Rephser passed away on 14 January 1907,[1] his military pension income ceased. That meant his wife Susanna really needed to file a widow’s claim in order to have an income to support herself. She filed a claim on 02 February 1907.[2]

While she had no children under 16 years of age to support, the small parcel of land that she was left in Jacob’s will couldn’t provide the income she needed to care for her own needs. The land was “about one acre with an old house and shoemaker shop on, located at Bartonsville PA.” The taxable property was worth about $350 as listed on the tax assessment books for the year of 1905.[3]

Unfortunately, in the years before Jacob died, the property became encumbered with a couple of liens. J.E. Everitt was awarded a lien against the property on 31 January 1905 for $35 in the Court of Common Pleas during the December term of 1904.[4] Another lien was awarded on 05 January 1907 during the December term of 1906 for $125 to cover a mortgage on the property taken out in 08 June 1898.[5]

Rental of the property was explored to see if that might be an option for Susanna. Nope, that would have only brought in $36 per year income. Selling the property was also considered. Nope, a public sale wouldn’t bring in enough to cover the liens and mortgages. Also, the property was likely to be foreclosed on at any moment.[6]Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 12.28.57 PM

Eventually, Susanna was awarded an $8 a month pension retroactive to 05 February 1907.[7] It must have been a struggle for her to live on this sum after the $24 a month pension Jacob had been receiving. She would receive this small pension amount until her death 07 July 1908.[8]

Susanna Repsher was 71 years old when she passed away but she had a life filled with large families.

She started her life out in August 1836 in rural eastern Pennsylvania; born to parents Joseph F. Williams and Susanna [Bellesfelt] Belles. Like her husband, she came from a large family filled with many siblings. Joseph and Susanna Williams had 12 children:[9]

  1. David Williams, born about 1826
  2. Lucinda Williams, born about 1828
  3. Emmanuel Williams, born about 1831
  4. Rebecca Williams, born about 1832
  5. Mary Ann Williams, born about 1833
  6. Sarah Williams, born about 1835
  7. Susanna Williams, born about 1836
  8. Isabel Williams, born about 1839
  9. Christian Williams, born about 1841
  10. Joseph J. Williams, born about 1844
  11. Samuel Williams, born about 1847
  12. Margaret Williams, born about 1849

Susanna started her life with Jacob Henry Repsher (see his blog post) in 1851 and had her own large family. She spent her life as a housewife raising a family and being a partner to a shoemaker.

As with a lot of women in the day, schoolwork was not seen a priority. She wasn’t literate and couldn’t sign her name. On all the pension documents, she consistently signs her name with a mark. [10]

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Because Susanna could only sign with a mark, witnesses who could write their names had to be present for her. Her son, Samuel P. Repsher, and his wife Sallie A., served as her witnesses.[11]

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When she was asked to provide evidence in her widow’s pension claim, her affidavit provides a small semblance of her speaking style. She is recorded as saying, “I am unable to furnish any more evidence in my Claim for Pension for the reason that there haint any more people living around here…”[12]

Susanna was born late enough in American history to not be completely lost as a wife listed as only a first name in a will. Her parents and her maiden name were known. Susanna’s siblings and children can be identified. She was listed in census’ by name, not as just a tic mark in a column. She probably had a hard time making ends meet at the end of her life but she survived her child bearing years, saw most of her children grow up, and lived to be 71 years old.


[1] Tipton, Jim, compiler, “Stockholm Methodist Church Cemetery,” digital image, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 12 November 2011), entry for Jacob H. Repsher, memorial #17379662.
[2] 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. Declaration for Original Pension of a Widow – Child or Children Under Sixteen Years of Surviving, dated 02 February 1907.
[3] Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252; Taxable Property schedule, dated 02 March 1907.
[4] Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252; Judgements and Liens vs. Jacob Repsher and Susanna, dated 25 February 1907.
[5] Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252; Certified examination of Grantor’s Index, County of Monroe, Pennsylvania, dated 18 February 1907.
[6] Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252; Affidavit of Samuel Musselman, dated o8 September 1907.
[7] Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252; Dropped pensioner form, dated o1 May 1909.
[8] Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252; Form 3-1081, dropped pensioner form, dated 26 March 1909.
[9] Donald R. Repsher, “First Generation in America” (Bath, Pennsylvania:  self-published, 2006), 34.
[10] Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252; Declaration for Original Pension of a Widow – Child or Children Under Sixteen Years of Surviving, dated 02 February 1907.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252; Affidavit of Susanna Repsher, dated 11 March 1907.

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