Sepia Saturday #336: Rock-a-bye Baby










This card was sent to my grandparents, William Charles and Beatrice Irene (Repsher) Strait shortly after the birth of their daughter, Mercedes Marie Strait in 1936. It is signed by a person named “Mrs. Booth.”

Who is this Mrs. Booth to the Beatrice and William Strait family?

Turns out Mrs. Booth was a friend and neighbor to William Strait. She was a woman who had a very interesting first name of “Chatty.” Chatty J. Booth (42) and her husband George W. (39) were living at 46 Pine Street in April of 1930.[1] They were renting the house in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey, for $20 per month. They were married around 1909-1910 when George was 19 and Chatty was 21. They had two single daughters living with them in 1930, Hazel E. (20) and Beatrice A. (14). All were listed as being born in New Jersey as were their parents.

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Chatty’s husband George was working as a weaver in the fabric mills and he was not a veteran. The industry code of 7759 later assigned to George’s occupation (not by the enumerator) was designated as an operative for an industry that had a lot of descriptions:

“Artificial leather; Bags (except paper & leather); Bedding factory; Braids; Comforts & quilts; Elastic woven goods (weaving); Flags & banners; Grass carpet or matting; Haircloth; Hat & cap materials; Horse blankets, carriage robes, etc; Linoleum; Mats & matting (from cocoa fiber or grass); Millinery factory; Narrow fabrics (not specified); Not specified textile mill; Oakum; Oilcloth & linoleum; Quilt mill; Regalia, badges, & emblems; Shade-cloth factory; Shoestring factory; Trimmings (not elsewhere covered); Upholstering materials; Waste; Yarn (not specified)”

Chatty’s daughter Hazel was working as a student nurse. Hazel’s assigned industry code of 5594 was a little less complicated and fell neatly into trained nurses within the college or university industry.

The Booth family at 46 Pine Street in 1930 was living right next door to William Strait and his mother. Audrey (42) and her sons William C. (19) and Karl H. (16) were living at 44 Pine Street along with Audrey’s older sister Belle (60) and Belle’s husband William Knox (62).[2] I’m sure they shared cups of sugar, gossiped on the back porches, and worried about the depression together.

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By 1940, the Booth family had moved to 83 Sparta Avenue, Newton.[3] Chatty (52) and George (49) were living alone; their daughters most likely had married. Chatty was the informant for this census as indicated by the little circled x next to her name. They are renting the house for $23 per month. For their education, Chatty had finished 6th grade and her husband 7th grade. They were both born in New Jersey. They were living in the same place (indicating Newton) as they had been in 1935.

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Neither were working in a private housekeeping industry and at this time both Chatty and George were working as weavers in the textile mill for wages. An interesting item to note is that George only worked 26 weeks in 1939 while Chatty worked more weeks showing 48 weeks of work. However, for those 26 weeks George earned $1,100 while Chatty earned $1,014. Translation: George earned $42.30 per week while Chatty earned less than 1/2 that at $21.13 per week!

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They most likely moved from Pine Street to Sparta Avenue sometime between 1939 and 01 April 1940. Their vacating the house allowed William and Bea to move into it. This can be deduced from where William and Bea were located later in the 1930s.

Beatrice and William were married on 12 October 1935 in Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey, in St. Michael’s Church by Edwin E. Lange who officiated the ceremony.[3] When William applied for his Social Security number on 03 December 1936 he listed his address as Brooklyn Road, Stanhope, New Jersey.[4] Since Bea grew up and lived in Netcong/Stanhope, they were most likely living with Bea’s mother at this time (1936).

My grandmother always said that Audrey was upset that Bea had married her son and I’m sure there was much agitation on Audrey’s part to get Bill to move closer to her! It must have worked since Polk’s 1938-39 Newton city directory shows that William and Beatrice were living at 71 Sussex Avenue.[5]

Since William and Beatrice were listed as living at 71 Sussex Avenue in 1938-39 then living at 46 Pine Street per the 1940 census, the Booths must have moved to their house on 83 Sparta Avenue sometime between 1939 and April of 1940 when the census  was taken.

The Mrs. Booth from the card was a neighbor and friend of William Strait’s family. Looking into how she interacted with the family also helps to highlight the benefits of a genealogist’s research into a family’s FAN club (friends, associates, and neighbors). The Booths are not a family of interest to me. But someone researching them could narrow down the timeframe of when they moved from Pine Street to Sparta Avenue by researching my Straits too.

Oh! And this marks the halfway through 2016 point! Looking forward to the rest of the year with my fellow Sepia Saturdayists. Or is it Saturdians?

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo: Baby in a bassinet

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[1] 1930 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 20, page 6B (penned), dwelling 149, family 154, George W. Booth; digital image, ( : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publicationT626, roll 1384.
[2] 1930 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 20, page 6B (penned), dwelling 148, family 153, Audrey Strait; digital image, ( : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publicationT626, roll 1384.
[3] 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. 84. Privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2016.
[4] William Charles Strait, SS no. 146-10-5034, 03 December 1936, Applicaton for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.
[5] R. L. Polk, compiler, Polk’s Newton (Sussex County, N.J.) City Directory 1938-39 (New York: R.L. Polk & Co., 1938), 95.


9 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday #336: Rock-a-bye Baby

  1. A charming, if mistaken, poem about babies. I expect that style would not be found in today’s drug store greeting card display. Your analysis of the census is great. I’ve learned more about some of my research subjects by checking out their neighbors.


  2. What a sweet old fashioned card. I have found similar types in the baby books of grand and great-grand parents of which we are now in possession. And what a fine job of sleuthing out the identity of Mrs. Booth and how she came to be sending a congratulatory baby birth card to your grandparents! 🙂


  3. A lovely old card which finally told the truth about babies – I knew they didn’t get delivered by the stork! Perhaps Chatty was really a Charlotte. Oh and by the way we are all ‘Sepians’; coined by Bruno many moons ago and how we like to be collectively known on the Facebook group.


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