These two little Scottie dogs, wearing festive gold bows, are peering up at a sign which is pointing the way to Merry Christmas. In fact, “All signs point to a Merry Christmas” if the one-sided card is to be believed. Aunt Belle sent this card to Mercedes Strait and it’s one found in her Shirley Temple Scrapbook. Aunt Belle has also written on the back “Sorry you people didn’t get out this fall – hope you can before long. We want you [to] see Dotty Lee – she’s a p….” Not sure what Dotty Lee is but my best guess is a “pip.”
Given that Scottish terriers were one of the most popular pets in the 1930s (Monopoly token anyone?), they feature very prominently in the Christmas cards that Aunt Sadie received.
And one more Scottie dog related to Christmas before I start this post about Uncle Billy. This card came from Aunt Sadie’s great-grandfather, John Adam Karthaeuser, and was sent in 1937. The saying inside read, “I’ll bite if there’s a better wish than the same old Merry Christmas.”
Belle S. Hunt, Sadie’s great Aunt, was married to William Knox. This post is about him.
William M. Knox was born 1867 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to parents William Knox and Mary Lewis.
William might have been born in Pennsylvania but the family moved to New Jersey shortly after his birth. Three-year-old William is found in the 1870 census living with his parents William M. (43) and Mary L. (43) in Stillwater, Sussex County, New Jersey.
In this census, William’s siblings were Isabella (13) at home, Jennie N. (12) at school, Charles S. (9) at school, and Rose A. (8) at school. William was listed as being at home. William’s father had $800 in real estate and $300 in personal property. Everyone was listed as being born in New Jersey.
Twelve-year-old William is found in the 1880 census living with his parents William M. (51) and Mary L. (51) in Hampton, Sussex County, New Jersey in dwelling #25 of enumeration district 179. William’s father was working as a carpenter and his mother was keeping house. His father’s parents are listed as being born in Scotland. Everyone else (parents and children) in the household were listed as being born in New Jersey.
William’s siblings were listed as Jennie (22) working as a dressmaker, Charles (19) working as a farm laborer, and younger siblings Rose Ann (17) and John (7) both listed as having no occupation. The sister from the earlier census, Isabella, was not listed with the family.
When William was 25, he was married to Miss Belle Hunt on 24 September 1892 by the Reverend Frank Hunsinger in Belle’s parents’ home.
Thirty-two-year-old William is next found in the 1900 living with wife Della (30) in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. They were enumerated by Fred L. Foster on 21 June 1900 and were living with their six-year old son Julius. This particular census lists the person’s birth month and year. William’s was listed as July 1867, Belle’s as August 1869 and son Julius’ as November 1893. This census does have William listed as being born in Pennsylvania. Likewise, Julius was listed as having a father born in Pennsylvania.
The Knox couple had been married for seven years and Belle said (assuming she’s the informant) that she had one living child** for the one child she has had. William’s occupation was listed as a shoemaker and he had not been out of work during the year while Belle was keeping house. Julius was attending school. The family owns their home but it did have a mortgage on it.
** It should be noted here that everyone on the Strait side of the family has told me that Julius was an adopted child.
In 1910, William M. Jr (42) was listed in the census living with wife Bella (40) in Newton, New Jersey. Son Julius (16) was still living with them. Additionally, William’s father William M. Sr. (81) had been widowed and was now living at 44 Pine Street with them. William Jr. was listed as being born in Pennsylvania but William Sr.’s parents are now listed as being born in New Jersey where they had been listed as being from Scotland in the 1880 census.
William Jr. was still working as a shoemaker at the shoe factory and Belle was keeping house. Neither William Sr. nor Julius was listed with an occupation. The family owned the house they were living in but it was mortgaged.
William’s father had most likely died between 1910 and the 1920 census; after all, he was 81 in 1910! William M. (52) and Bella (50) were living in Newton, New Jersey, on 14 January 1920. Their son Julius (26) was still living with them but now they had a new daughter-in-law named Marion (22).
William was working as a laster, someone who fastens the upper part of a shoe to the inner sole, in the shoe factory. Julius was working as a teller at the bank. Both were working for wages. The family was still living at 44 Pine Street and they owned the house that was mortgaged for $7 per month. Think about that for a minute. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
William and Belle lost their son Julius in 1920. He was buried in Newton Cemetery and they erected a beautiful light grey gravestone on the family plot for him and placed a footstone with his initials on it. The writing on the headstone is hard to make out but it does say, “Julius C. Knox 1893-1920.”
In 1930, William (62) and Belle (60) had taken in Belle’s younger sister, Audrey Strait (42) who was my great-grandmother, as she had been recently widowed. Audrey’s two sons, William (19) and Carl (16), were also in the household. 44 Pine Street was (and still is) a big, 2-story Victorian home near the corner of Pine Street and Sussex Avenue. The house was owned by William and was valued at $2,000. Again, think about that for a minute… The family owned a radio.
William listed that he was married when he was 25 and Belle was 23. The interesting thing that I found in this census is that William was now unemployed but Belle was working as a practical nurse in a private household.
The last census currently available to search for William and Belle is the 1940 census. It’s often called a double census because it asks questions relating to where the people were in 1935. This particular family didn’t move around much. William (72) and Bella (70) were living at 44 Pine Street. Audrey’s son, William was living next door to them at 46 Pine Street.
Belle was the informant for this census as indicated by the little circled x next to her name. Bella’s sister, Audrey R. Strait (52) was still living with them and paying rent. Joining the household were three children designated as “state child”: Harry (11), Margaret (9) and Andrew (8) Burtt. William was listed as a laborer for the road contracting industry. No one else in the household was listed as having an occupation.
This census also asked about education levels. William, Belle and Audrey had all completed the 8th grade. Harry was in 4th grade, Margaret in 3rd grade and little Andrew was in 1st grade.
William and Belle celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on 24 September 1942. They were featured in an article in the Newark Evening News.
The full article reads:
“Married 50 Years Today – Special to the Newark News. – NEWTON – Mr. and Mrs. William Knox of 44 Pine street are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary today. They were married at the home of Mrs. Knox’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Hunt of Lafayette by Rev. Frank Hunsinger. Mrs. Knox was Miss Bella Hunt. They have lived at Newton since their marriage and in the house where they now reside for 46 years. Knox was born in Scranton, Pa., the son of William Knox and Mary Lewis Knox. Mrs. Knox was born in Newton. He is 76 and she is 74. Both enjoy good health and take an active interest in present day affairs. They have no children. Knox was employed by the H. W. Merriam Shoe Co. 46 years, retiring when the company moved to Baltimore several years ago. Tonight the couple will have a party of relatives and friends at their home in honor of the anniversary.”
I find it a little sad that they chose not to mention Julius as their son in this announcement.
William was affectionately called Uncle Billy by those in the Strait family. The picture below is of Belle’s nephew (Audrey’s son) William and her husband Bill Knox.
My father (Audrey’s grandson and Belle’s grand nephew) remembers that Uncle Billy built a chicken coup in the backyard and would spend time with them.
William Knox passed away in 1951 and was buried in the Newton Cemetery. He has a beautiful grey footstone to mark the place.
 “Married 50 Years Today,” anniversary, Newark Evening News, 24 September 1942. Also, Newton Cemetery (19 Lawnwood Ave, Newton, New Jersey), William M. Knox marker; photograph taken by Jodi Lynn Strait, 19 May 2008.
 1870 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Sitllwater, p. 9 (penned), dwelling 71, family 74, Wm M. Knox; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 November 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 889.
 1880 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Hampton Township, ED 179, p. 3 (penned), dwelling 25, family 25, William M. Knox; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 November 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 798.
 “Married 50 Years Today,” anniversary, Newark Evening News, 24 September 1942.
 1900 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 172, p. 24A (penned), dwelling 511, family 562, William M. Knox; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 September 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 995.
 1910 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 179, p. 9B (penned), dwelling 184, family 202, William M. Knox; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 November 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 909.
 1920 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 138, p.11B (penned), dwelling 273, family 285, William M. Knox; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 September 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1068.
 1940 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newton, ED 19-23, page 263 (stamped), sheet 14A, family 292, William Knox household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 September 2016); citing NARA microfilm publicationT627, roll 2384.
This card shaped like a bib is the one card in the collection, from Aunt Sadie’s Shirley Temple Scrapbook, that is actually shaped like a piece of clothing although this was never hung out on the laundry line to dry. The saying inside says, “Happy for you in that ‘Blessed Event’ – In the safe arrival that Heaven sent; And wishing you all as a Family the greatest of joy through the years to be.”
I have one photo of my great grandmother Audrey (Hunt) Strait that relates to laundry.
But enough about laundry. My curiosity was piqued with the baby bib card. Who is this Mrs. M. Palazzi sending Beatrice (Repsher) Strait a congratulations card?
Since Aunt Sadie was born in 1937, I started with the 1930 U.S. census. A search for first name “M” and last name “Palazzi” turned up the Palazzi household in Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey.
The family owns their own house which is valued at $6,000 in 1930. They are living on Mechanic Street. Michael is a chiropractor with his own general practice.
I would say that Jennie C. Palazzi is the card sender, just based on this. Why? Well, for the following reasons:
- Beatrice (Repsher) Strait was 26 when Sadie was born in 1936. In 1936, Jennie would have been 35. They are not quite the same age to have gone to school together but they may have been friends.
- Netcong is a small town. Beatrice was living with her parents in Netcong in 1930 on Ledgewood. They most likely lived very close to each other. This 1920 Sandborn map show the relative locations of the streets.
- There were no other Palazzi families found in the Netcong or the surrounding area. Also, there were no Palazzi families found in the Newton/Sussex County area.
Jennie C. Palazzi, wife of Michael, sent Beatrice a beautiful congratulations card to celebrate the birth of my Aunt Sadie. It’s one bib, however, that my grandmother Beatrice didn’t have to launder.
P.S. My dad has confirmed my findings! The Palazzi family lived directly across the street from Anna K. Repsher (Sadie’s grandmother) when she lived on Maple Avenue in Netcong, New Jersey. They were neighbors.
 1930 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Netcong, ED 55, page 13A (penned), dwelling 248, family 227, Michael Palazzi; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 August 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1374.
 1930 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Netcong, ED 55, page 15A (penned), dwelling 329, family 290, George A. Repsher; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 03 August 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1374.
 Netcong, New Jersey [map], 1920, 100 foot scale, “Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey (Sheet 1),”; digital images, Princeton Library (http://map.princeton.edu/mapviewer/#/w9505261q : accessed 22 September 2016).
When Aunt Sadie was born, her mother’s friends and family sent well wishes. This card comes from Violet and quite humorously wishes my grandmother, Beatrice (Repsher) Strait, “Lots of Luck” and called the baby Mercedes Ann instead of the correct name of Mercedes Marie. Violet was the daughter of Charles Lincoln Hunt (who was the son of William Henry Hunt) and Sadie’s first cousin once removed. Violet would come to visit Grandmother Strait (Audrey) about three or four times a year.
The baby on the front of the card is surrounded by pink roses. They also surround the bow on the inside. Roses were absolutely my grandmother’s favorite flower even though she raised violets by the hundreds for many years.
The photo prompt of a wine growers advertisement reminded me of a snippet of a poem that led me to look up the rest of that verse:
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
– Ernest Dowson, from “Vitae Summa Brevis” (1896)
Days of wine and roses!! My grandmother was a vibrant young woman who often said to me, “You know, I was never at a loss for beaus. I had my pick of boyfriends.” One of my favorite snapshots of her shows Beatrice (on the right) sitting on a blanket with her mother Anna on the banks of Lake Musconetcong, Morris/Sussex County, New Jersey. I normally crop the photo to focus on the people when posting and I usually cut out the wine bottle at the bottom. But since we’re talking about the days of wine and roses, this time I left it in! Also, a close inspection of the photo shows two, count them two, six packs of some sort of beverage just over Beatrice’s left shoulder. Perhaps beer, perhaps soda. The angle of Beatrice’s left hand holding the paper makes me wonder what’s hiding under there….
And here is Beatrice hamming it up with a group of friends. I would speculate that since the man in the middle has a cross on his top, he was probably one of the lifeguards. Not sure where the guy on the left thought he was going to put his hand but my grandmother had a firm grip on his wrist. And the poor kid on the right was certainly getting harassed a bit with that leg around his neck! And I just hope no one got burnt with the cigarette the guy on the right was holding. Beatrice’s sister Helen’s leg was quite close to him.
The whole Repsher family got in on the fun during the lazy, summer days. They paused their activities to have someone snap this picture of them by their car. Since he didn’t pass away until 1936, I would speculate that someone was the patriarch of the family, George Arthur Repsher.
These photos were probably taken shortly before the Great Depression hit which sank the country into one of the longest, deepest and most widespread depressions of the 20th century. Beatrice and her family certainly made the most of their days of wine and roses!