William Charles Strait, Sr.

William C. STRAIT Sr 076

17 July 1910 – 29 May 1961



Sepia Saturday #332: A Few Bridges of Sussex County





This birthday card was given to my Aunt Sadie from Kitty Smith who would go on to marry Sadie’s uncle, Adam Repsher. (Kitty has a scheduled Sepia Saturday post for 30 July 2016.) I had to search the inside of cards for an image of a bridge. This card is rich with pastel colors and has a bucolic spring scene on the front. Some blue ribbed ribbon is used as embellishment on the front. On the inside, a foot bridge stands ready to take someone back over the stream to the orange-roofed cottage which is hiding in the background.
IMG_9934Out here in Arizona, there are plenty of bridges but they’re over dry river beds and washes. When traveling around the back roads of Pima, Pinal, and Cochise counties, it’s quite an event to actually IMG_9939see running water and usually the people in the car exclaim, “Hey, look, look, look! There’s water running!” This video on YouTube shows what happens when the rivers are running. This is the same Rillito River from the dry photo, just one block over during Monsoon Season of 2006.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 9.55.57 AMBut water under bridges is a common sight from where I grew up in Sussex County, New Jersey. The Dingman’s Ferry and Bridge is one our family has crossed over any number of times on our way into Pennsylvania. It’s a toll bridge that is used to get over the Delaware River. Nicholas A. Tonelli has a wonderful photo of this two-lane, wooden slatted bridge on Flickr Commons. It’s a very narrow bridge and very rattly when your car is going over it.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 10.24.35 AMRural Sussex County has small bridges all over. This 1912 vintage postcard, from the collection of Donald A. Robbins, Newton, shows one in Swartswood taking people over the Paulinskill. The postcard gives a great view of the tall trees and pastures that used to make up much of the county’s land. The bridge has since been replaced by a more modern bridge named the H-03 on Route 622. This particular one was downstream from the 1890 original bridge. The original was described as: “During the development of plans for the new bridge, local historians advised the County that the original Bridge H-03 built circa 1890 was a metal truss bridge on stone masonry abutments located several hundred feet downstream of the existing bridge.”

This is another beautiful stone bridge at Running Brook Farm in Lafayette, Sussex County, New Jersey.  This historic district in Lafayette was recently added to the New Jersey Register of Historic places.Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 11.19.49 AM

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 6.54.10 PMThe Sussex County Historical Society has a number of glass plate negatives from which that my father was fortunate to be able to make prints. One of those glass plates shows another old bridge in Augusta, Sussex County, New Jersey. This bridge is located on Augusta Hill Road just before it the road intersects with Rt 206 also known as Hampton House Road through this part of Sussex County. That is the Paulinskill under it. The map shows the location of the Augusta Hill Road bridge.Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 3.03.01 PM

And my last one is another vintage postcard that shows Stillwater Bridge in Stillwater, Sussex County, New Jersey. I’m quite sure this bridge has long since been replaced too by something more modern and much wider.

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

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Sepia Saturday #331: Three Peas in a Pod







It’s very cool that Mercedes Strait received a birthday card on her 3rd birthday from the hospital in which she was born, Newton Memorial Hospital. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the hospital also hosted get togethers each year for all the babies born at their facility.

This bear seems to be bringing a cake with three candles to Mercedes. Which brings us to the theme of “three” for this post. My thoughts automatically went to me and my sisters. Together we’re Jodi, Jill, and Jenni. Our parents took us to the studio when we were younger and had our portraits done together.  Our first one with all three of us was in 1972.


Jodi, Jill, and Jenni, circa 1972

We repeated the process in 1973… I don’t seem to mind that some of my teeth are missing.


Jodi, Jenni, and Jill, circe 1973

And again in 1974… The advantage of being the oldest is that I never had to wear hand-me-downs. Jenni got to wear the same dress Jill had on in 1972!


Jill, Jenni, and Jodi, circa 1974

And again in 1975… Jill swears to this day that mom used a weed-wacker to cut our bangs. Go ahead, go back to the earlier photos to look, Jill’s not wrong.


Jodi, Jenni, and Jill, March 1975

We grew up running around on the streets and playgrounds of Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. And got called Jodi-Jill-Jenni, all one word, very regularly.

I believe that thinking of the three of us as one unit is what attracted me so much to a pastel I have in my living room. It was done by artist Brian Keeler based in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania. His use of color and light just fascinates me. Oh, and it is three women!


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

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Sepia Saturday #330: Keeping Occupied


This card is one in the Shirley Temple scrapbook that belonged to my Aunt Sadie. A young woman, very reminiscent of Betty Boop, is waiting on a soda being delivered by the clerk. She has a dog with her but the clerk doesn’t seem to mind. The Valentine’s Day card has the saying “You ‘soda’ got me on the run. Say you’ll be my honey bun!”

The Sepia Saturday prompt shows some men hard at work putting some typesetting together. I had planned to make a list of historical occupations for my ancestors. But, as I was thinking about how I would organize this, bigger questions arose: How do I figure out a person’s occupation? Is it the occupation they toiled the longest at? Is it their last one? How old do they have to be to be considered in the “grown-up” workforce? Do you count the jobs they had as teenagers? It’s not as easy as it seems to classify everyone!


Audrey (Hunt) Strait in the middle of bringing the laundry in….

For example, I have a number of domestic godesses turned outside-the-home workers in my family. My paternal grandmother Beatrice Irene (Repsher) Strait worked in the silk mills before marriage, became a housewife then, when her husband died in 1961, she began a seamstress business out of her house to support herself. Beatrice’s mother, Anna Maria (Karthaeuser) Repsher, was a housewife then, during WWII, became a factory worker at Dover Handbag and worked there for years until she retired. My mother, Martha Ethel (Westra) Strait, moved back into the outside workforce in the early 1980s where she worked as an assembly line worker for E. J. Brooks Company, made air filters for a spell, then worked for Samsung making microwaves in Ledgewood. So, while many of my ancestral women toiled away solely as housewives (Audrey Romine (Hunt) StraitSarah Matilda (Kimble) Strait, Etta Berendine (Pauw) Westra, etc.) some explored other avenues to support themselves.

Albert Westa, circa 1985, holding one of his tabletop models

Albert Westra, circa 1985, holding one of his tabletop windmill models

And what about the men in the family tree that had multiple occupations? My maternal grandfather Albert Westra worked as a dairy farmer when he first arrived in America in 1928 but then became a carpenter constructing houses in Sussex County, New Jersey. He worked almost as long as a dairy farmer as he did as a contractor. My paternal grandfather William C. Strait, Sr. was a factory worker working as a weaver in one of the mills (Darlington) in Newton for years. Before that, he worked for Hardy’s machine shop in Andover during World War II. He then became a handyman at St. Paul’s abbey where, again he worked for years, at that occupation. My 2nd great-grandfather Ira Wilson Strait worked in the mining industry before he switched to farming and bought a small strawberry farm in 1908.

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Bill Strait made this ring at Hardy’s Machine Shop. He wore it on his ring finger.

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 3.29.48 PMAnd does military service count as an occupation? William Henry Hunt was apprenticed as a blacksmith before running off to fight in the Civil War. After that, he retured home to become Railroad Station agent/blacksmith for the Sussex branch of the Lackawanna Railroad. My dad William C. Strait, Jr. served in the Army in the early 1970s and also worked as the 3rd man at a grocery store before an employee strike provided him with opportunity to move into carpentry.

And what do you use to classify their occupation? My great grand-father Adam John Karthaeuser is found in a census as hotel keeper, on a birth certificate as a merchant, and on a passenger manifest as a clerk. Which is his main occupation? How would he describe himself? And would the answer change based on when in his life he was asked? I’d say so!

So, I have farmers, miners, shoemakers, hotel keepers, clerks, laborers, handymen, blacksmiths, carpenters, housewives, factory workers, and tailors in my family line. It’s not a simple thing to classify them. I don’t come from a long line of lawyers or ship’s captains. I think I’ll have to stick with describing how the ancestors supported themselves when I write up their biographies!

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

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