Sunday’s Obituary – Frank Belli – Died 03-February-2002

Relationship to me: husband of 2nd cousin, 1x removed

This obituary was published in Morning Call from March 2 to March 3, 2002 and is can be found online at Legacy.com.

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BELLI Frank, 86, of Stroudsburg, Feb. 28, 2002, in Salisbury Township; husband of the late Helen F. (Barry) Belli. Mass of Christian Burial 10 a.m. Monday, St. Lukes Catholic Church, Stroudsburg. Interment, Stroudsburg Cemetery. Call 9-10 a.m. Monday in the church. Memorial contributions may be made to Stroudsburg Little League, P.O. Box 61, Stroudsburg, 18360. Joseph J. Pula.

 

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #21 – Jesse Repsher’s Indictment

Person of Interest: Jesiah K. Repsher, a.k.a. Josiah or Jesse Repsher
Relationship: paternal 2nd great granduncle


Source Citation: Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Court of Oyer and Terminer, February Term 1917 , case 1, indictment, Commonwealth v. Jesse Repsher; Monroe County Archives, Stroudsburg.


Document Description: This is a copy of the original indictment found in the criminal court case file for Jesse Repsher. Original document has printing/typing on both sides of the sheet. The paper size is legal. The copy quality is servicable and both the writing and typing are legible. Nothing appears to be cut off or missing when it was copied.


Document Scan/Transcription:
Typewritten side of paper
IN THE COURT OF OYER AND TERMINER AND GENERAL JAIL DELIVERY OF THE COUNTY OF MONROE.
No. 1  February Oyer and Teminer, 1917.
Monroe County, SS.

THE GRAND INQUEST of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, inquiring for the County of Monroe, upon their solemn oath and affirmations, respectfully DO PRESENT: That Jesse Repsher on the third day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and sixteen, at the County aforesaid, and within the jurisdiction of this Court, in and upon one Charles Paul in the peace of God and of the said Commonwealth, then and there being, feloniously, wilfully [sic] and of his malice aforethought, did make an assault and him the said Charles Paul the said Jesse Repsher then and there feloniously, willfully and of his malice aforethought, did kill and murder, contrary to the form of the Act of the General Assembly in such case made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

And the inquest aforesaid upon their oaths and affirmations aforesaid, DO FURTHER PRESENT That the said Jesse Repsher of the said third day of December in the year of our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and sixteen at the County aforesaid, and within the jurisdiction of this Court, in and upon one Charles Paul in the Peace of God and of the said Commonwealth then and there being, feloniously did make an assault and him the said Charles Paul the said Jesse Repsher then and there feloniously, did kill and slay, contrary to the form of the Act of the General Assembly in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Ira A LaBar [his signature]
District Attorney

Typewritten/handwritten side of paper (middle section)
IN THE OYER AND TERMINER OF February Session, 1917, No. 1
COMMONWEALTH vs. Jesse Repsher.
INDICTMENT.
Murder; Second Count, Manslaughter
February 12th, 1917.
A TRUE BILL
Samuel B. Mikels, Foreman. [his signature]
Now February 12th, 1917, the defendant Jesse Repsher being arranged in open Court pleads not guilty.
Jessiah Repsher [his signature]
Eo die. District Attorney similiter, et issue.
M. J. Gilliland, Co. Dect., Pros.

Typewritten/handwritten side of paper (left section)
COMMONWEALTH’S WITNESSES:
M. J. Gilliland
Peter Warner
Dr. A. A. Wertman
Abraham Bush
Jerome Butz
Peter Transue
Joseph Mader
Frank Walter
Mrs. Frank Walter
Albert Smith
Adam Greenzweig
Addison Learn
Emmett Storm
Albert Springer
Will McWilliams
John W. Smith
Marie C. Paul
Chales K. Smith
Charles Engle

Typewritten/handwritten side of paper (left section)
Feby 21, 1917. Defendant sentenced to undergo separate or solitary confinement in the Penitentiary for a period of time not less than fifteen years and not more then twenty years.
By the court, Chas B. Staples, P. J.


Analysis: I had already discovered the newspaper articles written about Jesse’s murder trial but was curious to see what the documents related to the court case looked like. So, I sent away for them. This document is the indictment of Jesse Repsher found among the papers kept at the Monroe County Archives in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. An indictment is a formal charge or accusation of a serious crime.

I had to look up a few terms. I’d never heard of a court of “Oyer and Terminer” before this. Turns out, it’s an old court name either currently or formerly given to courts of criminal jurisdiction in some states, e.g. Pennsylvania and Georgia.[1] Oyer is from French law meaning a hearing or inspection and terminer is also from French law meaning the deciding or settling of the case. This indictment happened during the February session of the Oyer and Terminer in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. It was case No. 1.

In the indictment, Jesse was charged with a count of murder and a second count of manslaughter. I was curious about the difference and found an article written in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review in May of 1949 titled “History of the Pennsylvania Statute Creating the Degrees of Murder.”[2] This article takes the reader all the way back to 1681 to start the discussion.

Murder is a capital offense in Pennsylvania so there was much discussion around the degrees of murder and the appropriateness of the death penalty. Judge Charles B. Staples made sure to point out (and it was covered in the news articles) that he was personally against capital punishment. So, for Jesse’s sake, the jury needed to be very clear on what fell into first vs. second degree murder. I don’t, however, know what specifically was said since the transcription of the testimony and court proceedings was not among the papers sent to me from the Monroe County Archives. The final result was that the jury found Jesse guilty of 2nd degree murder and his attorney was successful in keeping him from going to the electric chair.

After inspecting all the papers sent to me in relation to this, I was stunned at the swiftness of Jesse’s indictment, trial, conviction, and sentencing. The entire trial, including jury selection and testimony of witnesses, took a total of just three days!

A chronology can be constructed from the documents in the file that were sent to me.

  • 03 December 1916 – Jesse assaults and murders Charles Paul in Pocono Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania[3]
  • 04 December 1916 – M. J. Gilliland, County Detective, presents information to the Justice of the Peace[4]
  • 04 December 1916 – A warrant for the arrest of Jesse Repsher was issued[5]
  • 03 January 1917 – Jesse petitioned to have attorney appointed to him[6]
  • 22 January 1917 – Jesse remanded to the county jail[7]
  • 10 February 1917 – Subpoenas issued to witnesses to come testify at the indictment to begin on 12 February 1917[8]
  • 12 February 1917 – Court appointed Samuel D. Shull to be Jesse’s attorney[9]
  • 13 February 1917 – Indictment occurred and Jesse entered not guilty plea[10]
  • 13 February 1917 – Trial jury picked[11]
  • 13 February 1917 – District attorney Mr. Ira A. LaBar opened the case of the commonwealth,witnesses were called and testified[12]
  • 14 February 1917 – Witnesses were called, Commonwealth rested, defense attorney Miss Dolly O’Dea opened their case, witnesses were called, Jesse was called to the stand[13]
  • 15 February 1917 – Witnesses were called/recalled, defense rested, Commonwealth recalled witnesses, Commonwealth plead to jury, Defense plead to jury, court charged the jury to return a verdict, jury retired, jury returned[14]
  • 15 February 1917 – Verdict of guilty of murder in the second degree entered by jury[15]
  • 21 February 1917 – Jesse sentenced to prison[16]

This indictment document is a copy of an original and does not appear to be tampered with during the copying process. I would classify this copy as being the same as the original. It is primary information in that it was recorded firsthand as the proceedings against Jesse took place. Different handwritings and signatures show this was a fluid document being updated as the events occurred. We can see foreman Samuel B. Mikels signed the True Bill accusing Jesse of first degree murder with a second count of manslaughter. We can see the sentencing written out a week later in another hand.

The indictment is direct evidence in relation to the research questions, ” What was Jesse Repsher of Monroe County, Pennsylvania, indicted for in 1917?” and “What was the sentence that Jesse Repsher of Monroe County, Pennsylvania, was given as a result of his murder trial in 1917?” It is indirect in that it does not answer the research question, “What was the charge, verdict, and sentencing (if any) in the murder trail of Jesse Repsher of Monroe County, Pennsylvania?” The verdict document found in the other related documents must be consulted and combined with this one in order to answer that question.

What genealogical information is gleaned from this document? To be honest, not much! It was more of a morbid curiosity thing on my part. While it does put Jesse in a particular place at a particular time, it does not provide any evidence related to his birth, marital status, or death. It does provide a clue where to look for him next (some penitentiary in Pennsylvania) and would explain why he wouldn’t be found in a census with family members in Stroudsburg in 1920.

CONCLUSION

The documents sent to me from the Monroe County Archives provided good facts around the particulars of Jesse’s indictment. A little dry, but interesting. We learn what witnesses were called and need to consider if these people were part of Jesse’s F.A.N. (friends, associates, and neighbors) network. We learn that District Attorney, Ira A. LaBar, accused Jesse of feloniously, willfully and with malice aforethought assaulting and killing one Charles Paul.  We learn that this indictment document, combined with the other papers stored around it, contains a good outline for when and what happened in the trial. I’ll leave you to read the newspaper articles (link above) for a much livelier account of what happened during the trial!


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyer_and_terminer
[2] Edwin R. Keedy, “History of the Pennsylvania Statute Creating Degrees of Murder,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 97 (May 1949): 759-777.
[3] Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Court of Oyer and Terminer, February Term 1917 , case 1, information document, Commonwealth v. Jesse Repsher; Monroe County Archives, Stroudsburg.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Court of Oyer and Terminer, February Term 1917 , case 1, arrest warrant, Commonwealth v. Jesse Repsher; Monroe County Archives, Stroudsburg.
[6] Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Court of Oyer and Terminer, February Term 1917 , case 1, petition for attorney, Commonwealth v. Jesse Repsher; Monroe County Archives, Stroudsburg.
[7] Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Court of Oyer and Terminer, February Term 1917 , case 1, arrest warrant, Commonwealth v. Jesse Repsher; Monroe County Archives, Stroudsburg.
[8] Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Court of Oyer and Terminer, February Term 1917 , case 1, witness subpoena, Commonwealth v. Jesse Repsher; Monroe County Archives, Stroudsburg.
[9] Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Court of Oyer and Terminer, February Term 1917 , case 1, attorney appointment, Commonwealth v. Jesse Repsher; Monroe County Archives, Stroudsburg.
[10] Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Court of Oyer and Terminer, February Term 1917 , case 1, indictment, Commonwealth v. Jesse Repsher; Monroe County Archives, Stroudsburg.
[11] Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Court of Oyer and Terminer, February Term 1917 , case 1, court minutes, Commonwealth v. Jesse Repsher; Monroe County Archives, Stroudsburg.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Monroe County, Pennsylvania, Court of Oyer and Terminer, February Term 1917 , case 1, verdict, Commonwealth v. Jesse Repsher; Monroe County Archives, Stroudsburg.
[16] Ibid.

Sunday’s Obituary – Gwendolyn Charmion (Strait) Wirdel – Died 07-January-2013

Relationship to me: 1st cousin, 2x removed

Gwendolyn Charmion (Strait) Wirdel’s obituary was published online at Legacy.com and in the New Jersey Herald from Jan. 17 to Jan. 19, 2013.

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Gwendolyn Charmion Wirdel 

BEL AIR, Md. – On Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, Gwendolyn Charmion Wirdel, 82, of Bel Air, Md., died peacefully in her sleep. Mrs. Wirdel was the daughter of Ward B. Strait and Katherine E. Strait (Current).

She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Ernst O. Wirdel; son, Duane Robert Wirdel, and his wife, Lori Susanne White-Wirdel, of Newark, Del.; nephew, Dennis Degroat, and his wife, Linda Degroat, of Stillwater; and great-nephews, Kyle and Brian Degroat, also of Stillwater.

Mrs. Wirdel was a proud member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants and was able to trace her lineage back to the 102 passengers who arrived in 1620.

A graveside service will be held Friday, June 7 (her 83rd birthday), 11 a.m., at North Church Cemetery, in her hometown of Hardyston.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mrs. Wirdel’s name to the American Cancer Society , P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #20 – Florence Ervey’s DAR Application

Person of Interest: Jacob Angell
Relationship: 6th great grand uncle (brother to my DAR patriot John Angle #A002804 who was my 6th great grandfather)


Source Citation: Membership application, Florence May Linaberry Ervey, National no. 512696, on Jacob Angle (1720-1786, New Jersey), approved 16 July 1965; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C.


Document Description: This is the application of Florence for admittance to the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) or just DAR for short.


Logo of the DAR

Background on the DAR: The DAR was founded in 1890 and incorporated by an Act of Congress in 1896. The membership organization is a “non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children.” There are currently 185,000 members with 3,000 chapters in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and international chapters in Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, France, Germany, Guam, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom. As of 2017, more than 950,000 members have joined the organization since its inception.[1]

The DAR ancestor/patriot may not necessarily have been a soldier. Applications are accepted if proof can be found that the ancestor provided support to the American revolutionary cause in some way. For example, if your ancestor provided supplies or lodging for troops, they could qualify as a patriot.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the National organization owns a top-notch genealogical library and archive, a Genealogical Research System (GRS), a museum, and Constitution Hall, a convention venue. They provide grants to non-profits and numerous scholarships to qualifying applicants. Each year, the national society invites members to attend an event called the Continental Congress. Their 126th Continental Congress will begin on June 28, 2017 and be held in Washington, D.C.

Jill and Jodi at the DAR Van Bunschooten Museum, 19 July 2008

Local chapters own and manage any number of historical sites, libraries, and archives. For example, my Chinkchewunska Chapter owns and operates the Van Bunschooten Museum in the highlands of northwestern New Jersey. This Dutch Colonial 2-story house was built around 1797 and originally served as the home of the Reverend Elias Van Bunschooten. The house is now a museum and research library and maintained by the chapter. They are very active in finding grave sites of Revolutionary soldiers, replacing stones (if needed), and documenting where the grave is located.


Document Scan/Transcription: I had intended to show you a DAR application but, as a good genealogist, I thought first to check on the rules of posting applications online. Turns out, I’m not allowed to show you them. Glad I checked. Per the DAR, on the most recent application I ordered, in big red lettering:

“RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF THE DOCUMENTS YOU JUST RECEIVED

“Purchase of a record copy of a DAR application paper or supplemental application paper does not transfer any intellectual property rights or ownership to the purchaser. The DAR asserts copyright protection on record copies and prohibits the posting of images of DAR application papers and supplemental application papers online in any form by anyone. By ordering a record copy either electronically, by mail, or by fax, the purchaser acknowledges awareness of this policy and agrees not to post images online.

“Supporting documentation files are comprised of documents from a variety of sources and repositories. DAR makes no assertion of ownership or copyright. Copies are provided for personal research purposes only. Researchers should contact the original owning repository for permission to publish.”

Copies are provided for the sole use of the person ordering the copy but not if the sole use is to post them online!

So, since I can’t show you the images or provide the transcription, which violates the privacy of the member, let me talk to you about the general sections you will find in a DAR application.

  • The cover page provides the personal information of the applicant. For privacy reasons, when ordering records, this page just has the member’s name, her NSDAR number, and the associated ancestor information and service description. In this case, Jacob Angell furnished supplies to the cause.
  • The second page is the lineage page. It provides birth, death and marriage information linking the DAR member back to the ancestor, regardless of the number of generations.
  • The third page provides the descriptions of the references or sources used to prove lineage from one generation to another. This is especially useful to point you in the direction of sources or references you may not have known about previously. The newer applications require that the applicant show which sources belong to which generations. Older applications may or may not break out the sources into generations.
  • The fourth page provides details on the patriot ancestor’s service, marriage and children.

Some notes about markings that the proofing genealogists may put on the application as they check it. A tick mark shows that the fact has been proved. Parentheses placed around information, by the genealogist not the applicant, means that the proofing genealogist does not feel this fact was supported by the sources provided. Additional handwritten notes may also be present.

Analysis: While this is an original record, given the complicated nature of a DAR application, it would not be beneficial to discuss here all of the different types of information (primary, secondary, and undetermined) and evidence (direct, indirect and negative) you would find on the application.

CONCLUSION

DAR applications can be a useful resource if you discover that there is a Revolutionary War ancestor lurking about in your family tree. They are worth ordering if you have a Revolutionary ancestor (or suspected one) and are a great resource for finding descendants and filling out branches on your family tree. Additionally, becoming a member of a local chapter opens your world up to a plethora of opportunities to volunteer in your community.


[1] http://www.dar.org/national-society/about-dar/who-we-are/who-we-are