Person of Interest: Jacol Henry Repsher
Relationship: 3rd great-grandfather
Source Citation: Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War), pension no. W.C. 632,252, claimant’s statement, made by Jacob Repsher, undated document; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Document Description: This is a hand-written 5″ by 8″ lined sheet of loose paper found in Jacob’s Civil War pension file which has 103 pages in total. This document has been copied onto a legal-sized paper. It looks to be written in pencil and lists his children in his own handwriting with a certification by him at the bottom. The children are listed in birth order and there are ten children listed in all.
Document Scan and Transcription: [original spelling (and misspellings) maintained]
Perhaps I Maid som Balk [?, not sure what this word is]
And I got mi first wife yet
and the childrens names and Births
Emanuel J. Repsher born Sep 8 1852
John J. Repsher born July 3 1854
Aaron J. Repsher November 3 1877 [sic, should be 1857]
Samuel P. Repsher Sep 4 1859
Pherman J. Repsher July 21 1865
Jesiah K. Repsher July 8 1867
Arman S. Rephser July 27 1869
Mary E. Repsher August 24 1872
George A. Repsher March 12 1875
William H. Repsher Oct 2 1877
this is one After the other &
living – yours truly
this is corect
Analysis: Jacob could write but spelled by ear for this document as evidenced by the “mi” for my, and “corect” for correct, and “maid” for made. He certified that he still had his first wife (either she wasn’t dead or they weren’t divorced) and that these were his living children at the time he wrote this list. What can’t be determined is if he’s listing the children from his own memory. I would, however, suspect that he was sitting down with wife, Susanna, to list them out rather than just relying on his memory. Not implying that men don’t remember children’s birthdays, but Jacob might have been more concerned about the support of his family and left all aspects of the children to wife, Susanna. Jacob’s listing is almost as good as Eliza’s affidavit from my first week’s post for 2017. He’s concerned specifically with all the living children at the time because the pension office was concerned with the possibility that minor children would qualify for a pension too.
Aaron was listed as being born in 1877 and I think this is a mistake and should be 1857. Also, there’s a significant gap between Samuel and Pherman which suggest some children that were either stillborn or died at a young age. Just from this list of living children, it’s impossible to tell. Other sources must be considered if one is trying to figure out all the children of Jacob and Susanna.
This is an original source in that it is Jacob’s listing of his living children, one after the other, complete with his own interpretations of how words are spelled. When I look at the original copied onto the legal-sized sheet sent to me it does not look to be tampered with or changed in any way. I have cropped it for this blog. It hasn’t been transcribed or changed in any way to be incorporated into another document.
The information seems to be primary information in that Jacob was the children’s father and, as far as I have determined to this date, always lived with the family. He wasn’t a traveling salesman or worker/captain on a ship or career military. He was a humble shoemaker and would have witnessed (or been extremely close) the births of his children at home.
The evidence is direct if the research question is, “Who were the living children of Jacob Repsher, of eastern Pennsylvania, and his wife at the time he was applying for his Civil War pension?” It would be indirect, meaning it would have to be combined with other sources, if I were trying to determine all the children that Jacob and Susanna had together. Additionally, while he says that “I got mi wife yet” other evidence must be combined with this in order to determine where and when the couple were married.
This is a great document in Jacob’s own handwriting with his signature at the bottom. When combine with the numerous other documents found in the Civil War pension file, some of Jacob and Susanna’s children’s birth dates can be determined. Some death dates can also be determined because the pension office took a while to determine the legitimacy of Jacob’s claim. Living children from one document might be deceased by the time another document was generated. All of this can be used to locate the family in census records and also to possibly track down birth records (certificates or registers), death records, and a possible marriage record for Jacob and Susanna. When weighing evidence, this weighs strongly towards being a reliable source despite Jacob’s spelling errors and one 1877 instead of 1857 as a birth year.