Sepia Saturday #319: Basket Case


In the inspiration photo, there are ladies doing their ironing with baskets near them. It matched perfectly with this kitten, all sugar and spice, in a basket. My maternal aunt, Mercedes Marie (Strait) Scabet, received this birthday card from her grandmother, Anna Maria (Karthaeuser) Repsher when she was a young girl. The kitten, wearing a red polka dot dress, is in a handled basket that mirrors one found in one of my favorite photos of Mercedes’ mother, Beatrice (Repsher) Strait.

A friend of Beatrice’s took this photo of her and gave her a 11″ x 14″ copy. Beatrice is sitting in her favorite easy chair with her crocheting on her lap. Her picture window floods the room with sunshine. In the foreground are two baskets. One basket contains the balls of cotton crochet thread for her current project. The other holds silk flowers, bright pinks and buttery yellows. On the side table, to Beatrice’s left, is a smaller basket containing silk orchids, peonies, and lilies.

Gram Strait in chair

Since this is a medium shot of Beatrice, what you don’t see in the picture are the other baskets all around her! My grandmother Strait kept things in baskets all around the house. Let me show you a better picture to illustrate…


Friend Rachel at Bea’s house, November 21, 1987

This was Rachel, one of Gram’s friends who also lived on Lincoln Place. Rachel lived across the street from 11 Lincoln Place where my Aunt Sadie resided. She would come up to Gram’s house at 43 Lincoln Place to visit often. Rachel is sitting in Gram’s easy chair in front of the picture window.

There are four baskets on the living room floor. To Rachel’s right is an apple basket with Gram’s newspapers and crossword puzzle books. To her left are two more baskets, one of which contains crocheting projects. Yet another basket, with knitting needles poking out the top, can be seen in the background behind the bentwood chair.

Even the plants hanging in the window got baskets. Two of the three vines in the picture of Rachel were displayed in wooden hanging baskets. Gram Strait raised violets and many of them were found sitting on window sills, all over the house, in tiny baskets.

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The old wooden blocks now living, in a basket of course, at granddaughter Jill’s house.

The basket with the rope handles served a number of different purposes over the years. When my sisters, Jill and Jenni, and I were young, the basket held the old wooden blocks and tinker toys that my father and his sister played with when they were little. We would dump the toys out of the basket onto the living room floor to build towers and houses. It was a requirement that the toys be returned to the basket before lunch or dinner was served. Eventually, the toys were packed up and relegated to the attic and the basket graduated to holding whatever current needlecraft project Gram was working on.


The picture to the left shows Gram (circa 2004), again in her favorite chair, with the rope-handled basket, this time full of teddy bears. Sitting on the table to her left is another basket, most likely containing the TV remote and her letter opener.

Over the years, baskets of all sizes held dolls, teddy bears, crafting projects, Christmas ornaments, towels, plants, bolts of fabric, yarn, plastic easter eggs, and all manner of frogs. The beautiful picture above of Beatrice with her crocheting just touches on the baskets that could be found in her house!


The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo: Baskets

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Sepia Saturday #318: Passport Puzzle

This hand-colored card is from Aunt Sadie’s great-grandfather, Adam Karthaeuser. If you run your finger over the dog and the duck, you can feel the colored pencil marks. The paper is slightly wavy due to the drying of the watercolors also used. A close look at the inside cover lettering around the “A Happy” and “Great” reveals guide lines used to keep the lettering straight.

The inscription underneath the card in the scrapbook says, “Sent from Masonic Home in Tappan, N.Y.” The artist’s signature near the dog’s left front foot reads “•Deck•” which is most likely a fellow Masonic Home resident. I have a photo of John Adam Karthaeuser at the German Masonic Home from around 1937:

John Adam Karthaeuser 081

The majority of documents I have found show that Adam (as he was known) was born in Germany.

1900 US Census[1] shows Adam (43) was born in April 1857 in Germany. It also shows he immigrated in 1887, had been in the country 13 years, and was naturalized. He had been married for 15 years which puts his marriage year circa 1885. His occupation was hotel keeper.

1900 US Census - Adam KARTHAEUSERa

1900 census

1910 US Census[2] shows Adam (53) was born in Germany. It also shows he immigrated in 1887 and was naturalized. He had been married for 25 years which puts his marriage year circa 1885. His occupation was Boarding house keeper.

1910 US census - Adam KARTHAEUSERa

1910 census

1920 US Census[3] shows Adam (62) was born in Germany. It also shows he immigrated in 1887 and was naturalized in 1892.

1920 US census - Adam KARTHAEUSERa

1920 census

1930 US Census[4] shows Adam (67) was born in Germany. It also shows he immigrated in 1887 and was naturalized. He was married when he was 27 years old which puts the marriage year circa 1884.

1930 US census - Adam KARTHAEUSERa

1930 census

1940 US Census[5] shows Adam (82) was born in Germany and that he had been naturalized. By this time, he was widowed.

1940 US Census - Adam KARTHAEUSERa

1940 census

His marriage certificate[6] shows that Adam married Anna Merkenthaler on 25 February 1892 in New York City. It shows a very specific birthplace for Adam of Oggersheim, Rhinefalz, Germany.


So, I was pretty certain that my 2nd great-grandfather was from Germany and was not a United States citizen until he was naturalized in 1892 as evidenced in the 1920 census.

But the marriage certificate highlights a discrepancy in his marriage information. Over all the census years, Adam and/or Anna was very consistent on how long they were married:

  • 1900 – 15 years married = 1885 (1900 less 15)
  • 1910 – 25 years married = 1885 (1910 less 25)
  • 1920 – no info
  • 1930 – married when 25 = 1884 (1857 plus 27)
  • 1940 – widowed

So, why the date of 25 February 1892 on the marriage certificate? Given that he was naturalized in 1892, I would speculate that Adam and Anna decided to get married in New York City where they were currently living. They may not have had their original German marriage certificate or they may just have done it to cement their status as newly-minted citizens of the United States of America. The marriage year around 1885 may have been when they actually considered themselves married and thus what they told the enumerators.

According to his daughter Anna, Adam’s exact birth date was 07 April 1857,[7] which corresponds to the information on the 1900 census. So imagine my surprise when I turned up this passport application.[8]


This application has the following information:

  • Form was for native citizens, No. 76282
  • Oath of Allegiance sworn on 14 July 1903
  • Passport issued on 15 July 1903
  • Birth Date 07 April 1857 (corresponds to family info)
  • Permanent residence is Rosebank, Staten Island, New York
  • Occupation was hotelier (corresponds to 1900 census info)
  • Applicant is 46 years old (1903 less 46 = 1857, corresponds to censuses)

However, Adam swears in this application that was he born in New York City. He swears his father is a naturalized citizen. All of the censuses contradict this information in that he gave his birthplace as Germany (as well as his parents) when the question was asked by the enumerators. The document has his signature:

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However, I can’t use the card above to compare signatures. I suspect the card maker also did the signature since there are guidelines (as with the other lettering) on the card signature. Adam wouldn’t have needed guidelines for his own signature.

This application happened before people were issued social security numbers so the notary public accepted Adam’s sworn allegiance and the certification of the witness at face value when he notarized the document. It would not have been the notary public’s job to prove the information.

I suspect this application is for my 2nd great-grandfather. I’m not sure why he felt the need to lie about his nativity. Perhaps, there was some event back in the homeland that he needed to attend to or needed to be there for. Perhaps, applications for native born citizens went through quicker. Perhaps, he used the wrong form by mistake. Whatever the reason, it’s now a mystery for us to ponder 100+ years later.

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo: Dog

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[1] 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 ( : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1154.
[2] 1910 U. S. census, Richmond County, New York, population schedule, New York City, ED 1322, p. 7B (penned), dwelling 122, family 143, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1073.
[3] 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 ( : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1167.
[4] 1930 U. S. census, Hudson County, New Jersey, population schedule, Jersey City, ED 162, page 23A (penned), dwelling 210, family 467, Adam Karthaeuser; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 02 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publicationT626, roll 1356.
[5] 1940 U. S. census, Rockland County, New York, population schedule, Orangetown, ED 44-35, sheet 12B, German Masonic Home, line 53; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 18 January 2015); citing NARA microfilm publicationT627.
[6] 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, 2011.
[7] 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; privately held by held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2011.
[8] “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 January 2015), entry for Adam Karthaueser, NARA Series: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; Roll #: 632; Volume #: Roll 632 – 09 Jul 1903-18 Jul 1903.

Sepia Saturday #317: Four or Fore? No, Aunt!






These three characters are definitely getting into trouble and are taking a tumble on the inside of this beautiful birthday card given to my Aunt Sadie by her Aunt Helen.

Given today’s Sepia Saturday theme, I could talk about the fact that my sister has been employed by the United States Golf Association for a number of years. I could talk about long pants vs. short pants. But I’m going to talk about Sadie’s Aunt Helen since she didn’t get a post in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project in 2015. And she had four younger brothers that survived to adulthood, so that fits the theme.

Aunt Helen was born Helen Hildegard Repsher on 10 September 1911 in Analomink, Monroe County, Pennsylvania.[1] Analomink is a rural town in Stroud Township about 5 miles northwest of the larger town of Stroudsburg. Brodhead Creek (formerly known as Analomink Creek) runs through the town on the west side of current Route 447. Analomink is the local Native American word for “tumbling water” and the Analomink Falls are located there. The town was founded in 1848 and was originally known as Spragueville. According to Wikipedia:

At the time, the sprags, made of wood, were widely used in coal mines to lock the wheels of mining cars to prevent rolling. The term sprag was also applied to the prop used to support the roof of a mine. It was from the local production of sprags that the village’s name is believed to have evolved.[2]

She was the second daughter and second child of George Arthur Repsher and Anna Maria Karthaeuser. Sadie’s mother, Beatrice (Bea), was her older sister and the two sisters were born in Analomink before the family moved to New Jersey. Her four younger brothers, Arthur George (Art), Adam Otto (Adam), Robert William (Bob) and Henry Allen (Hank) were all born in the Stanhope/Netcong area of New Jersey.

At some point in her childhood, she was given the nickname “Toots” or “Tootie” and it stuck. (My sisters and I always called her Aunt Tootie.)

Just like all her brothers and sister, Helen attended St. Michael’s Catholic School in Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey. She was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith at St. Michael’s on 24 September 1922.[3] Toots graduated from St. Michael’s, with her 8th grade diploma, on 21 June 1925.[4]

She and Bea went to work in the silk mills in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey, and they were involved in a horrific train/car crash in 1932. For the full story click here.

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She was present when her older sister Bea got married to William Strait in 1935 and served as a bridesmaid.


Back of the photo says “Bill Strait and Toots”

Helen married William [Wilhelm] Struss on 03 July 1942 in St. Michael’s Church in Netcong. Father Lange officiated the 8 p.m. wedding ceremony where William and Bea Strait served as their attendants.

With all the chaos of the second World War happening at the time, William and Helen were anxious to start their family and Toots got pregnant shortly after their marriage. I don’t think William got to experience all the joys of Toots’ pregnancy, since William was soon in the service and was shipped off to El Paso, Texas. A postcard sent on 26 October 1942 to William and Bea Strait from PV.T. W. Struss (D.M.D. / W.B.G.H.) stationed at Fort Bliss states:


“Well Bill first off all I must thank you for the work you did on my car and I am glad you took the tires I said you could have for I don’t think I’ll need them for a long time. Hope the kids and Beat and you are all well. Regards Bill.”

Their baby boy was born on 15 February 1943 but, sadly, was stillborn.[5] Toots was heartbroken. William came home safely after his service in WWII and they settled into married life. Their daughter, Elaine, was born in 1949.

A great flood hit northern New Jersey in August of 1955. Tragedy struck the Struss family when William was electrocuted on the job fixing downed electrical lines damaged by the flood. On August 25th, the boom of his truck touched live wires, traveled down the metal, and killed William instantly.[6] Helen was left widowed and with a six-year-old daughter.

All four of Helen’s brothers served in the military during World War II. When they came home, the brothers became active with the American Legion. As an offshoot of their involvement, Toots joined Musconetcong Unit No. 278 of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary. She was a lifetime member.


Helen, Adam, Hank, Art and Bob with Bea in front

Many of her family members also served in the fire department. She was a lifetime member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Firemen of the State of New Jersey. She was involved locally as a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Stanhope Hose Company No. 1.

She lived in Stanhope for 77 years and we would visit her house, especially around Christmas. Tumbling out of the car, Jill, Jenni and I would tramp up to her front door, pass through the chilly closed-in porch, and pile into the living room. There was a toy train that would travel around the base of her Christmas tree. For years, we exchanged presents with Toots and Elaine (my godmother).

Helen passed away shortly before Christmas on 23 December 1990 at Dover General Hospital in Dover, Morris County, New Jersey. She was interred in the Stanhope Union Cemetery in Mount Olive Township on 27 December 1990.[7]


The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo: Four

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[1] 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. 87; privately held by held by Jodi Lynn Strait,Tucson, 2011.
[3] Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”, p. 87.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Social Security Administration, “Social Security Death Index (SSDI),” Database, (, entry for Wilhem Struss, 1955, SS no. 147-07-4543.
[7] “Helen Struss,” obituary, newspaper clipping, undated, unidentified newspaper [most likely the New Jersey Herald]; Strait family newspaper clipping, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, 2011.