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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 4.27.55 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 2.45.01 PM

[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.


3 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday #317: Four or Fore? No, Aunt!

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