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:


“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.


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

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #19 – David and Sarah Strait’s Bible Pages

Person of Interest: David A. and Sarah (Card) Strait
Relationship: 4th great grand aunt and husband (David’s grandfather, Abraham Strait, is my 6th great-grandfather and Sarah’s grandfather, John Angle, is my 6th great grandfather)

Source Citation: David Strait Family Bible Records, 1790-1909, The Holy Bible (Cooperstown, N.Y.: H. & E. Phinney, 1824), births, deaths, and marriage pages; original is privately held by Beth [Jane Elizabeth] Willis, Lockport, New York, 2017.

Document Description: This is a photocopy (possibly a copy of a copy) of the David Strait family record pages and was sent to me by Ernst Wirdel (husband of Gwendolyn Charmion Strait] on 08 November 2008. The copy quality is serviceable. Among the pages, there is a copy of the the Bible’s title page with a handwritten note “Printed 1824” at the bottom. I love the full title of the book which is quite long. The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments: Together with the Apocrypha: Translated out of the Original Tongues, and with the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised. Whew! It’s good peace of mind to know that the translations in this bible were diligently compared and not just haphazardly compared. Various handwritings are noted over the span of years that these records cover.

There are two lined sheets, listing other family members’ births and deaths, that were sent to me along with the Bible pages. They may or not have been kept with the Bible. Since I don’t know for sure, I have not included them in this post.

The publisher is H. & E. Phinney  which was a publishing firm that was founded by Elihu Phinney and picked up by his sons, Henry and Elihu Jr., in 1813 when he passed away. They were known for numerous Bible editions produced from 1822 to 1848. [1] Stereotype printing is a type of relief printing using a metal plate cast in a mold made from composed type or an original plate.

Document Scan/Transcription:
Title Page

H. & E. Phinney’s Stereotype Edition.
Holy Bible,
Containing the
Old and New Testaments:
Together with
the Apocrypha:
Translated out of the Original Tongues,
and with
the Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised.
Canne’s Marginal Notes and References
To which are added,
An Index;
An Alphabetical Table
of All the Names in the Old and New Testaments, with Their Significations:
Tables of Scripture Weights, Measures, and Coins, &c.
Printed 1824 [penned in]
Cooperstown, (N.Y.)
[Bottom line is cut off but ends with] by H. & E. Phinney

Possible inside front cover page or blank page at beginning of Bible
David Strait
Preached by the late Rev’d [name illegible]
on Romans 16 & 17-18 verses
July 17 184[copy cuts off here]

David Strait’s
book January
14th 1841

David Strait

Property of Jane Elizabeth Willis,
7 Wausau St,
Ogdensburg, NJ 07439 [This is an old address for Beth. She currently resides in Lockport, NY.]
[There is other scribbling/notes on this page. Nothing conclusive comes from it and poor copy quality hinders transcribing it.]

Marriages Page
David Strait and Sarah Strait, late Sarah Card, were married Dec. 14th, 1816. The births of their children are recorded on the other side of this leaf.
James Crane & Mary Strait were married June 23, 1838
David Bailey & Nancy Strait were married October 5th, 1839
Anthony L. Day & Elizabeth Strait was married May 3rd, 1841
George Walther & Phebe Strait were married July 2nd, 1853
Jacob R. Strait & Francis Brown Thomas were married July 9th, 183[copy is cut off here]
Amos B. Crain & Lydia S. Post married Sept. 3, 1883
Aaron Willis and Malinda Blanch Crain married Christmas, Dec. 25, 1909

Births Page
Nancy Strait was born on Wednesday Sept 3rd 1817
Mary Strait was born on Wednesday May 19th 1819
Abigail Strait was born on Friday January 25th 1822
Elizabeth Strait was born on Wednesday January 19th 1825
Jacob R. Strait was born on Friday April 6th 1827
Phebe Jane Strait was born on Sunday December 14th 1828
Hiram H. Strait was born on Tuesday June 14th 1831
Martha F. Strait was born on Friday August 19th 1836

David Strait was born on January 11th 1790
Sarah Strait was born on July 4th 1799

George Walther born March 25 1801

Deaths Page
Phebe Card [Sarah’s mother] died Wednesday March 22 1854
Peter Card [Sarah’s father] died February 12th 1818
Nancy [Strait] Bailey died Wednesday June 16th 1869
Mary [Strait] Crane died Sunday December 29th 1872
David Strait died Thursday morning at half past five o’clock May 7th 1874
Sarah Card Strait died Nov. 24, 1879
Jacob R. Strait died Dec. 18, 1881
Hiram Heally Strait died Sunday January 13th 1901
Geo. A Walther died December 19th 1856
Albert Walther died Tuesday a 12 o’clock am October 6th 1874
George Walther died Jan 21, 1887
Abby S. Strait died Feb. 19, 1899
William Arthur Crain died Nov. 3, 1909
Anthony Ludlow Day died Dec 28, 1898
Edgar Arthur Day died May 15, 1906

Analysis: Given that New Jersey did not start collecting vital records until May 1848, family bibles are a great source for births, marriages, and deaths. It was considered a great honor by many pious ancestors to receive a bible in which to record their family history. Many times, a Bible is the only record of a family’s genealogy. A careful analysis of the entries will help determine how reliable you feel the information may be.

When I compare the handwriting and the inks, I see at least four different people making entries. I feel that Sarah is the original recorder of her, David’s, and their children’s information in 1841 based on the following reasoning:

  • The handwriting is consistent for all the entries throughout most of Sarah’s married life (1816 to 1879)
  • The ink is consistent for her, David’s and their children’s information
  • Sarah made careful, double lines after her original entries on each page
  • Sarah had a unique way of writing “Strait” using a single line to cross both of her “T”s

Sample 1 of Sarah’s “Strait”

Sample 2 of Sarah’s “Strait”

  • David’s death (May 7th 1874) is recorded in a different handwriting, and, by virtue of his death, rules him out as the person making the entry
  • Sarah’s death (Nov 24, 1879) is recorded in a different handwriting than even David’s death, which indicates that someone else has taken up the duty of making entries
  • Sarah made careful, double lines after her original entries on each page

David Strait’s name appears a couple of times on the possible inside front cover page or blank page at beginning of Bible. A comparison of the letter S shows a possible signature, or at least a handwriting sample, for David.

David’s “S”

Sarah’s “S”

David’s S is a more closed off one compared to Sarah’s, which is a more loopy open style and continues throughout the rest of her entries within the Bible.

Based on a careful analysis of all the S’s found in the pages, I see four different people have contributed to the Bible records:

Sample 1: Sarah’s writing

Sample 2: closed off and curlicued

Sample 3: closed off but no curlicues

Sample 4: Not closed off

For this example, since I have not examined the original Bible, I assumed that the photocopies I have of it are a true representation of what the records are. This is an original record.

The Bible publication date of 1824 means that Sarah entered the information about the children’s birthdates (the earliest is 1817) all at once and probably in 1841 when the family received the Bible.

The information found within the Bible pages is a mixture of both primary (firsthand) and secondary (hearsay or secondhand). Primary would be Sarah’s marriage date to David (she was there) and their children’s birthdates. I would classify the listings of marriages as secondary since there’s no way to determine if Sarah (or the others recording it) was actually present when the events took place.

The listings on these pages fall into the the direct evidence category. Evidence like “Mary Crane died Sunday December 29th 1872” answers, quite directly, the question of when did “Mary Crane of New Jersey, wife of James Crane and daughter of David and Sarah Strait, die?”


These Bible pages are a great source of information about the David and Sarah (Card) Strait family especially since New Jersey didn’t start collecting vital records until May of 1848. The pages also provide a basic lesson on comparison of handwriting. I don’t claim to be a handwriting expert but careful analysis shows that a number of people all had their turn at recording information for posterity. Bibles can be tough to locate, possibly missing, owned by non-family members, libraries, archives, or societies but are well worth the effort of trying to track down. Get talking to your cousins. You never know what they might have in their possessions. I didn’t know about this gem until Ernst contacted me!

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elihu_Phinney

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #18 – John Joseph Repsher’s 1880 Census

Person of Interest: John Joseph Repsher
Relationship: Paternal 2nd great grandfather

Source Citation: 1880 U. S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Jackson Corner, ED 220, p. 5 (penned), p. 290 (stamped) dwelling 36, family 40, John Repsher; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 April 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1157.

Document Description: These documents are part of the Tenth Census of the United States which was taken in 1880. It is the tenth census taken since 1790. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for taking the censuses. After 72 years (and not before owing to privacy reasons), the records are released to the public by the National Archives and Records Administration.  The U.S. Census Bureau provides the interested researcher a great overview of each census. In the 1880 overview, we find that Rutherford B. Hayes was president, that the act authorizing the 1880 census gave supervision of the enumeration to a body of officers, known as supervisors of the census, who were specifically chosen for work on the census, that the superintendent of the census and all supervisors were to be presidential appointees and were subject to Senate confirmation and that the terms of both were to expire when the census results were compiled and published.

According to the 1880 overview site, the details of the enumeration were this:

“Each supervisor was responsible for recommending the organization of his district for enumeration, choosing enumerators for the district and supervising their work, reviewing and transmitting the returns from the enumerators to the central census office, and overseeing the compensation for enumerators in each district.

“The census act required each enumerator ‘to visit personally each dwelling house in his sub-division, and each family therein, and each individual living out of a family in any place of abode, and by inquiry made of the head of such family, or of the member there of deemed most credible and worthy of trust, or of such individual living out of a family, to obtain each and every item of information and all the particulars.’ In case no one was available at a family’s usual place of abode, the enumerator was directed by the law ‘to obtain the required information, as nearly as may be practicable, from the family or families, or person or persons, living nearest to such place of abode.’

“The census act also provided for the collection of detailed data on the condition and operation of railroad corporations, incorporated express companies, and telegraph companies, and of life, fire, and marine insurance companies (using Schedule No.4 – Social Statistics). Fines were to be imposed on officials of ‘every corporation…who shall…willfully neglect or refuse to give true and complete answers to any inquiries authorized by this act.’

“In addition, the superintendent of census was required to collect and publish statistics of the population, industries, and resources of Alaska, with as much detail as was practical. An enumeration was also made of all untaxed Indians within the jurisdiction of the United States.

“The 1880 decennial census was taken on five schedules: Population, Mortality, Agriculture, Social Statistics, and Manufacturing.”

Both Ancestry.com (fee site) and FamilySearch.org (free) offers digitized copies of the census and are searchable by name. The History and Growth of the United States Census: 1790 – 1890 was a document prepared for the Senate Committee on the Census in 1900 and as written by Carroll D. Wright, the Commissioner of Labor, and William C. Hunt, Chief Statistician of the 12th census. If you’re into statistics or reading up on the historical background of the censuses, this is a great document to dig into.

Documents Scan/Transcription: Numbers relate to columns on the population schedule

Notes found either at the top or the bottom of the schedule
Note A. – The Census Year  begins June 1, 1879 and ends May 31, 1880
Note B. – All persons will be included in the Enumeration who were living on the 1st day of June, 1880. No others will. children BORN SINCE June 1, 1880, will be OMITTED. Members of Families who have DIED SINCE June 1, 1880, will be INCLUDED
Note C. – Questions Nos. 13, 14, 22 and 23 are not to be asked in respect to persons under 10 years of age.
Note D. – In making entries in columns 9, 10, 11, 12, 16 to 23, an affirmative mark only will be used-thus /., except in the case of divorced persons, column 11, when the letter “D” is to be used.
Note E. – Question No. 12 will only be asked in cases where an affirmative answer has been given to either question 10 or to question 11.
Note F. – Question No. 14 will only be asked in cases when a gainful occupation has been reported in column 13.
Note G. – In column 7 an abbreviation in the name of the month may be used, as Jan., Apr., Dec.

Page 5 Header
State: Pennsylvania; County: Monroe; Inhabitants in: Jackson Corners; S.D. No.: 5; E.D. No.: 220; Enumerated by me on the 10th day of June 1880; Enumerator: Thomas D. Metzgar; penned Page No.: 5; stamped Page No.: 290.

Page 5 Detail
lines 24-27, John, Caroline, Emma and Mary E. [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
Street Name: [blank]
House Number: [blank]
1. Dwelling number in order of visitation: 36
2. Family number in order of visitation: 40

Household Data
3. Name: Repsher John; —- Caroline; —- Emma; —- Mary E.
4. Color: W; W; W; W
5. Sex: M; F; F; F
6. Age at last birthday prior to 01 June 1880: 25; 23; 3; 1
7. If born within census year, month of birth: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
8. Relationship to head of household: [blank]; wife, daughter, daughter

Civil Condition
9. Single: [blank]; [blank]; /; /
10. Married: /; /; [blank]; [blank]
11. Widowed, Divorced d.: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
12. Married during census year:  [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

13. Profession, occupation or trade: Laborer; keeping house; [blank]; [blank]
14. Number of month unemployed during census year: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

15. Is person sick or incapacitated on the day of the enumeration: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
16. Blind: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
17. Deaf and Dumb: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
18. Idiotic: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
19: Insane: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
20. Maimed, crippled, bedridden or otherwise disabled: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

21. Attend school within the census year:  [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
22. Cannot read: [blank]; [blank]; /; /
23. Cannot write: [blank]; [blank]; /; /

24. Place of birth: Pa; ‘”; “; ”
25. Place of birth of father: Pa; ‘”; “; ”
26. Place of birth of mother: Pa; ‘”; “; “

Analysis: The above listings/transcriptions are a bit hard to read, I admit it. So why go through the pain of typing it all out? It forced me to look at every single box and tick mark and code and notation. So, let’s put the above in a more user-friendly, narrative format:

On 01 June 1880, John Repsher (25) was living with his wife Caroline (23) and two young daughters, Emma (3) and Mary E. (1). The family was living in Jackson Corners, Monroe County, Pennsyvlania, when Thomas D. Metzgar arrived to enumerator them on 10 June 1880. Mr. Metzgar was working in his Supervisor’s District of 5 which oversaw Enumeration District 220. In order of visitation, the family was labeled as living in dwelling #37 and as family #40.

John was working as a laborer and Caroline was keeping house. John and Caroline were listed as married and their two daughters as single. All were listed as being born in Pennsylvania as were each of the individuals’ parents. The family was healthy in that none of the columns for blindness, deaf and dumbness, idiocy, insanity, or disability were checked. The census indicated that both John and Caroline could read and write.

This is a fairly straightforward census with John and Caroline just beginning what would evenutally turn out to be 14-child family. The 1880 census tells the reader the specific relationships within the family group, so no guessing is necessary. Nothing pops out as being odd with this family. However, it doesn’t hurt to go look at the enumerator instructions to see how things were to be reported. The IPUMS, which stands for the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, website has a handy place to look up all enumerator instructions for the 1880 census. Some of the instructions found there include:

  • The word family, for the purposes of the census, includes persons living alone, as previously described, equally with families in the ordinary sense of that term, and also all larger aggregations of people having only the tie of a common roof and table. A hotel, with all its inmates, constitutes but one family within the meaning of this term. A hospital, a prison, an asylum is equally a family for the purposes of the census. On the other hand, the solitary inmate of a cabin, a loft, or a room finished off above a store constitutes a family in the meaning of the census act. In the case, however, of tenement houses and of the so-called “fiats” of the great cities, as many families are to be recorded as there are separate tables.
  • It is desirable that the children of the family proper should follow in the order of their ages, as will naturally be the case.
  • Color.-It must not be assumed that, where nothing is written in this column, “white” is to be understood. The column is always to be filled. Be particularly careful in reporting the class mulatto. The word is here generic, and includes quadroons, octoroons, and all persons having any perceptible trace of African blood. Important scientific results depend upon the correct determination of this class in schedules 1 and 5.
  • The term “housekeeper” will be reserved for such persons as receive distinct wages or salary for the service. Women keeping house for their own families or for themselves, without any other gainful occupation, will be entered as “keeping house.” Grown daughters assisting them will be reported without occupation.
  • The organization of domestic service has not proceeded so far in this country as to render it worth while to make distinctions in the character of work. Report all as “domestic servants.”
  • Regarding occupation, use the word “huckster” in all cases where it applies. [Huckster is defined as a person who sells small items, either door-to-door or from a stall or small store and of which the goods may be of questionable value.]


Nothing unusual or questionable popped out at me in the analysis of this 1880 census for John and Caroline Repsher. I did find them with their two eldest daughters, Emma and Mary E., and this corroborates other family history information. It is interesting that all the health questions were included but the family seems to be healthy. I think the enumerator instructions were more entertaining this time than the analysis!

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #16 – Henry Allen Repsher’s Gravemarker

Person of Interest: Henry “Hank” Allen Repsher and Eleanore (Purvis) Repsher
Relationship: Paternal grand uncle and wife (Hank and my grandmother Bea were brother and sister)

Source Citation: Phoenix Memorial Park and Mortuary (200 W Beardsley Rd, Phoenix, Arizona), Henry A. and Eleanore B. Repsher grave marker; photographs taken by Jodi Lynn Strait, 24 April 2017.

Hank and Eleanore are located in Section 30B of the cemetery.

Document Description: Okay, this really isn’t a document; I’m using document here in the loose sense of the word. This is an artifact that marks the grave location of Henry Allen Repsher and his wife Eleanore Betty Purvis. Find A Grave does have a photo of the grave marker but I decided to go take a look myself and I was so glad that I did. Henry and Eleanore’s marker consists of an 24 x 24 inch slab of marble with a slightly smaller bronze plaque attached to it. The Repsher family name and given names are cast into the plaque but then dates are screwed onto the plaque to allow appropriate dates, if need be, to be attached. What you don’t get from Find A Grave is that their son Thomas Repsher is buried right next to them! That was a nice surprise to find Tommy there with his parents. Or that they are buried in section 30B in one of the Garden of Rests. Or that they are all buried under a nice evergreen tree when the rest of the cemetery is fairly open with little foliage.

Hank, Eleanore, and Tommy are all under this tree. The marker in the foreground on the left (grave markers are facing towards the base of the tree) belongs to Hank and Eleanore and the Tommy’s is the second from the left in the foreground. They are all cremated based on the information provided by a nice young man named Spencer who was the cemetery employee who showed me to their grave sites.

Thomas Repsher’s grave marker next to his parents.

Background information on the cemetery: This is a fairly young cemetery with the first interment occurring in 1964. It is laid out in a grid pattern and the cemetery has an additional 30 acres to expand into. According to Spencer (the employee mentioned above who was nice enough to chat with me about the cemetery), there is no way to know who is buried vs cremated based solely on the size of the plots. In other words, some regular sized plots may have a casket, may have an urn with cremations, or may have both. It is a park cemetery meaning that most of the grave markers are flush to the ground. However, there is a an eclectic mix of ground-level markers (many with upright 1-foot tall flower holders), upright headstones, full-length grave covers, some homemade memorials, family burial plots, free-standing community (meaning they aren’t dedicated to just one particular family) mausoleums, benches, fountains, and sculptures. I’ve included some of the more interesting ones here for you to get a sense of the cemetery.

A larger upright headstone for the Skornik family.

An upright headstone, full-length marble grave cover with a long, poignent letter to the deceased engraved on it, and decorations.

From ashes, arises the phoenix….

A wooden marker…

One outside wall of one of the mausoleums.

James Stephen DeWit got some pretty descriptive stuff written on his full-length grave marker. Apparently, he was born on the dining room table and eventually died at his own dining room table.

The full-length grave cover for James Stephen DeWit

And since he loved to fly, the family placed an airplane shaped bench at the foot of his marker so that visitors could sit and chat with him.

The airplane-shaped DeWit bench

And perhaps the most heart-wrenching gravesite in the whole cemetery was this one:

The Montez family

All four individuals perished on the very same day ranging in age from 36 to 14 to 7 to 3 years old. Some sort of awful tragedy befell this family on 26 July 2014.

Document Scan/Transcription:
Henry A.
1920 – 1995
Eleanore B.
1917 – 1987

Analysis: Analysis surrounding this grave marker is sparse. There are no symbols to interpret since the bronze plaques on the graves around Hank and Eleanore also have the same ivy pattern. There are no embellishments to give us clues to their religious affiliations, hobbies, exact birth or death dates, or marriage date. In fact, it shouldn’t be inferred from Henry and Eleanore being on the same plaque, that they were married. More evidence is needed before that can be concluded. Other sources have told me that Tommy was their son but no such inference can be made based solely on the grave markers contiguous location to each other.

The grave marker is an original source. The death years should be considered primary (firsthand) since the cemetery is the one who buried them and they would know what death year to attach to the plaque. The birth years are secondary (hearsay) in nature since neither Hank nor Eleanore would remember their own births but they would know based on what others told them. The evidence is direct (explicit) if the research question is, “What was Hank Repsher’s birth year and death year?” but indirect (not explicit) if the research question is, “What is Hank Repsher’s birth date and death date?”


While online sites like Find A Grave and BillionGraves are certainly handy for supplementing your family history while sitting at home, there is nothing like a trip to the actual cemetery. I unexpectedly found Tommy next to his parents, got a feel for where they are all buried, learned what section they’re buried in, and some useful information about the cemetery itself.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #15 – Susanna Repsher’s Affidavit

Person of Interest: Susanna (Williams) Repsher
Relationship: 3rd great-grandmother

Source Citation:  Widow’s affidavit, 21 February 1907, Susanna Repsher, widow’s pension certificate no. 632, 252; service of Jacob Repsher (Pvt., Co. I, 147th Pa. Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…, 1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

courtroom_1_smDocument Description: This affidavit (a written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation, for use as evidence in court) is one of many different documents found in Jacob’s Civil War pension file. It is on legal size paper and has a mixture of pre-printed, typed, and handwritten items on it. Susanna made her affidavit on 21 February 1907 at Bartsonville, Monroe County, Pennsylvania. The pension office dated it as received on 25 February 1907. It also has the signatures of two persons as witnesses. It does have one area that is covered by another piece of paper but that does not seem to be obscuring any wording.

susannaaffidavit001Document Scan and Transcription: CLAIMANT’S AFFIDAVIT
Filed by Taber & Whitman Co., Attorneys, Washington, D.C.
Act of June 27, 1890
Widow No. 862970
Jacob Repsher
Co. I 147 Pa
State of Pennsylvania
County of Monroe } s. s.

In the matter of the above described claim for pension, personally appeared before me a Justice of the Peace in and for the said County and State, Susanna Repsher age 70 years, whose P.O. address is Bartonsville, County of Monroe, State of Pa, who being by me first duly sworn according to law declares that she is the claimant in the said claim and that neither she nor the said Jacob Repsher were married prior to their intermarriage in 1851, that no person is legally bound for her support, that all the property she has consists of nothing more than her legal rights in her husband’s estate which consists of a lot of land about one acre with an old house & staple thereon and the same is covered with Judgement and mortgage for all that it is worth, there are a few old household goods, she says that she has nothing in her right, and no life insurance but a will was found and all the property was bequeathed to her but after payment of all the debts and expenses there won’t be anything left for her and she has no income of any kind and is unable to do any work.

That as to any will or life insurance.

Susanna X Repsher, her mark. (Signature of claimant.)

  1. Samuel P. Repsher
  2. Sallie A. Repsher    (Signature of two persons who can write if claimant signs by X mark)

Sworn and subscribed to before me this 21 day of Feb 1907 and I hereby certify that the contents of this affidavit were fully made known to affiant before swearing thereto, and that I have no interest, direct, or indirect, in the prosecution of this claim.

Amandus Possinger (Signature of magistrate)
Justice of the Peace (Official character of officer.)

If you have and official Seal impress it here. [Nothing here]

Analysis: This is a statement about the financial status of Susanna Repsher, widow of Jacob Repsher who served in Co. I of the 147th Pennsylvania regiment. She was trying to stress to the pension office the necessity of receiving the pension. She swears that she had no one legally obligated to care for her, that the little real property that she owned was not worth anything because there was a judgement and a mortgage held against it, that there were no household goods that could be sold to contribute to her upkeep, and that there was no life insurance for her to fall back on. In other words, she’s poor, broke and in need of a pension.

Susanna was not a literate woman. She had to sign the affidavit with an “X.” Her mark was not distinctive; it was just a simple x with no embellishments or curlicues. Because she signed the affidavit this way, she was required to have two persons who could write witness her statement. Those two witnesses were Samuel P. and Sallie A. Repsher. Although I know these to be two of her children from other evidence, their relationship to Susanna was not delineated in this affidavit.

There are a few genealogical tidbits to be found in this affidavit.

  • Susanna was 70 years old on 21 February 1907 which puts her estimated birth year around 1837
  • She was married to Jacob Repsher in 1851
  • Neither she nor Jacob were previously married
  • She had a bit of real property, one acre with an old house
  • In 1907, she was living in Bartonsville, Monroe County, Pennsylvania
  • Jacob passed away before 21 February 1907
  • Jacob died testate

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-6-10-01-pmWhat can I do with these tidbits? Dig some more! This affidavit provides plenty of clues or direction on what to look for next. First, I would comb through the rest of the file to glean what I could from it. But let’s say this is the only document I had to work from. I would start looking for a marriage record between Jacob Repsher and Susanna in 1851 in Pennsylvania, I would look at the probate records at the Monroe County, Pennsylvania, since Jacob died with a will, and I would look for legal notices about judgements/mortgages on Jacob’s property. Looking for a birth record for Susanna would have to wait a bit since I’ve only got an approximate year, no maiden name, and no indication that she was born in Pennsylvania. One thing I love about genealogy is that it’s never-ending. There’s always some where else to look, a new stone to overturn.

This is an original source record since it’s a straight copy of the document found in the pension file. The affidavit was created for the Civil War pension board at the time of Susanna’s claim. The affidavit has lots of good primary information and we know that Susanna is the informant because it’s her sworn statement. First-hand information would be Susanna’s marriage to Jacob in 1851 (she was present), her age (she’s aware of the passing of years for herself), her address (she knows where she lives), the existence of Jacob’s will (she knows it was found and that she was the beneficiary), and her financial status (she knows how much she’s struggling).

The evidence is either direct or indirect based on the format of the research questions take. For example, it is direct if the question is “What year was Susanna married to Jacob Repsher, Civil War veteran from Pennsylvania?” That would be 1851 which explicitly answers that question. It is indirect if the question is “What is the marriage date for Susanna married to Jacob Repsher, Civil War veteran from Pennsylvania?” That would be unknown except for the year. We would need to combine it with other evidence in order to find the full marriage date for this couple.


Susanna Repsher was in some financial distress in early 1907 when she applied for a Civil War pension based on her deceased husband’s military service. She sat down with Amandus* Possinger, a Justice of the Peace, who verified that Susanna swore to the statements she made in the affidavit, in order to make some statements about her age, address, and financial status. Her children accompanied her to office in order to witness her statement since she wasn’t literate enough to sign her own name.

* I’d never heard of this name for a man before so I looked it up. It is derived from Latin amanda meaning “lovable, worthy of love”. Saint Amandus was a 5th-century bishop of Bordeaux. It was also borne by a 7th-century French saint who evangelized in Flanders.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #14 – Samuel Stanley Repsher’s Obituary

Person of Interest: Samuel Stanley Repsher Sr.
Relationship: 1st cousin 4x removed (grandson of John J. Repsher, my paternal 4th great grandfather)

Source Citation: “Samuel Repsher, contractor, dies,” obituary, Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania), 27 March 1938, p. 18, col. 6; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/274863294/ : accessed 09 April 2017), Historical Newspapers Collection.

Document Description: This is the obituary for Samuel Stanley Repsher that originally ran in the Morning Call (an Allentown, Pennsylvania, newspaper) on 27 March 1938. While this is a digital copy and clipped from the page that it appeared on, it has not been altered. The entire page has been digitized and resides at Newspapers.com, a pay website, that specializes in old historical newspapers.

Document Scan/Transcription: 

Samuel Repsher, Contractor, Dies

Samuel Repsher, 75, Bethlehem businessman, contractor and builder, died at 7:40 p.m. Saturday at the late home, 112 W. Fairview St., Bethlehem. He had been ailing for the past 15 years.

He was born Sept. 21, 1862, in Freemansburg, Pa., a son of the late Joseph Repsher and Matilda Buss Repsher. His father served in the Civil War and was killed in the battle of Cedar Creek.

During his active career as a contractor he built 75 houses and 22 garages in Bethlehem and vicinity. He resided in Bethlehem for the past 60 years and was engaged in addition to being a contractor, in the real estate, coal, meat and hauling business.

In addition to erecting many dwelling throughout the city, Mr. Repsher also razed many buildings in the city during the building boom.

A brother, William H. Repsher, also a contractor and one sister Matilda Kratzer and three children preceded him in death, Elizabeth, Herbert Henry and Paul George.

Survivors are his wife, Caroline Bartlieb, Kunkletown, whom he married 55 years ago and the following 13 children:

Samuel Stanley Jr., Honesdale; Raymond Robert, Arthur Layton, Chicago; Roy Russell, Chapman’s Quarries; Mrs. Clarence Dieter, Bethlehem; Charles Roland, at home; Mrs. Walter Fink, Bethlehem; Joseph Peter, Baltimore; Mrs. Harry Bader, Earl Edward, Bethlehem; Mrs. Carl Robinson, Mrs. George Grube, Calvin Repsher, Bethlehem.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Entombment will take place in Memorial Park mausoleum.

Analysis: I picked this recently found obituary for a few reasons.

First, highlights how prolific the Repshers truly are with a listing of 16 children for Samuel and Caroline (Bartlieb) Repsher. Samuel wasn’t the only one with a large family. Samuel’s grandfather John Joseph had 11 children, his uncle Jacob Henry had 14 children, his first cousin John Joseph had 14 children, and his first cousin Emanuel James had 10 children.

Second, it a great example of all the different types of information found within an obituary. All of these bits of information provide opportunities to research and order more records related to the family.

  • Military: Samuel’s father, Joseph Repsher, fought in the Civil War and was killed in the battle of Cedar Creek.
  • Occupation: Samuel’s occupation was a contractor and builder but he also had his fingers in real estate, coal, meat and hauling businesses.
  • Medical: Samuel had been ailing for 15 years.
  • Economic: Bethlehem experienced a building boom.
  • Sibling’s occupation: Samuel’s brother William H. Repsher was also a contractor.
  • Residence: Samuel lived at 112 Fairview Street in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
  • Parentage: Samuel’s parents names were Joseph and Matilda (Buss) Repsher.
  • Birth date and place: Samuel was born 21 September 1862 in Freemansburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Marriage date: Samuel was married in 1883 to Caroline Bartlieb.
  • Residence of children: Arthur Layton lived in Chicago, Joseph Peter had moved to Baltimore, Samuel Jr. lived in Honesdale, etc.
  • Burial: Samuel was interred in the Memorial Park mausoleum.

Third, it provides a good lesson in analyzing the names found within an obituary. Based on the information on the obituary, some basic family groups can be constructed:

Joseph Repsher and Matilda Buss had the following children:

  1. William H. (died before 1938)
  2. Matilda (died before 1938 and was married to someone named Kratzer)
  3. Samuel

Joseph and Matilda’s son Samuel married Caroline Bartlieb and had the following children:

  1. Elizabeth (died before 1938)
  2. Herbert Henry (died before 1938)
  3. Paul George (died before 1938)
  4. Samuel Stanley
  5. Raymond Robert
  6. Arthur Layton
  7. Roy Russell
  8. _________ (daughter who married Clarence Dieter)
  9. Charles Roland
  10. _________ (daughter who married Walter Fink)
  11. Joseph Peter
  12. _________ (daughter who married Harry Bader)
  13. Earl Edward
  14. _________ (daughter who married Carl Robinson)
  15. _________ (daughter who married Charles Grube)
  16. Calvin

A good researcher would not assume, however, that Joseph and Matilda only had three children. Samuel may have had other brothers and/or sisters, they just weren’t listed as survivors in this obituary. Most likely Samuel’s daughter Elizabeth died young and was not married as she is not listed under a husband’s name like her four surviving sisters. It is unfortunate that the common custom of listing a daughter under the husband’s full name was followed in this obituary; we don’t even get their first names. However, the full name of each husband does allow for some solid stepping stones for locating the names of the daughters and their marriage information.

This is an original source in that it’s just a straight scan of a newspaper page hosted on a pay website. Since it doesn’t look to be altered, it can be considered the same as if I had examined the newspaper in person.

The information found in this source is mostly secondary. The small pieces of primary information are Samuel’s death date, his funeral service and his burial place in that it was reported to the newspaper very close to the time it happened. Everything else is secondary in that it is hearsay and the newspaper is relying on what was provided to them about marriages, names, residences, etc.

The evidence is a mixed bag of direct and indirect depending on the research question asked. For example, direct evidence is found when asking “When and where was Samuel Repsher, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, born?” The direct answer is “21 September 1862 in Freemansburg, Pa.” No other evidence is needed to answer the question. Now, don’t get that confused with correctness. This evidence could be totally wrong. Other sources must be consulted before it can be conclusively stated that there is enough proof that Samuel was born on this day. Another example of direct evidence is found when asking “What was Samuel Repsher, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, wife’s maiden name?” The question can be directly answered as “Caroline Bartlieb.” An example of indirect evidences is found when asking the question, “What was the first name of the daughter, married to Walter Fink, of Samuel Repsher of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania?” This obituary cannot answer this question directly. Some other source (marriage certificate, marriage announcement, etc.) must be found related to her first name.


This is a particularly robust obituary in that it tells the reader exactly when Samuel was born, the names of his parents including his mother’s maiden name, details about his father’s military service, children, wife’s maiden name and residences of many of the people listed. It was well worth digging up in order to flesh out Samuel’s family group.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #13 – Caroline (Bonser) Respher’s 1920 Census

Caroline (Bonser) Repsher and husband John J. Repsher

Person of Interest: Caroline (Bonser) Respher
Relationship: 2nd Great grandmother

Source Citation: 1920 U. S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, East Stroudsburg, ED 48, p. 3B (penned), dwelling 52, family 56, Caroline Repsher; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 April 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1603.

Document Description: These documents are part of the Fourteenth Census of the United States which was taken in 1920, shortly after the end of World War I. It is the fourteenth census taken since 1790. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for taking the censuses. After 72 years (and not before owing to privacy reasons), the records are released to the public by the National Archives and Records Administration. In accordance with the 72-Year Rule, the National Archives released the 1920 records to the public in 1992.  The U.S. Census Bureau provides the interested researcher a great overview of each census. In the 1920 overview, we find that the census date was changed to 01 January (it was April 15th in 1910) based on a request from the Department of Agriculture. They argued that more people would be home in January compared to April and that farmers would have a better recollection in January of the crops harvested in the prior fall.

According to the 1920 overview site, the details of the enumeration were this:

“For the 1920 census, “usual place of abode” became the basis for enumeration. Individuals were enumerated as residents of the place in which they regularly slept, not where they worked or might be visiting. People with no regular residence, including “floaters” and members of transient railroad or construction camps, were enumerated as residents of the place where they were when the count was taken. Enumerators were also instructed to ask if any family members were temporarily absent; if so, these people were to be listed either with the household or on the last schedule for the census subdivision.

“The format and information in the 1920 census schedules closely resembled that of the 1910 census. The 1920 census, however, did not ask about unemployment on the day of the census, nor did it ask about service in the Union or Confederate army or navy. Questions about the number of children born and how long a couple had been married were also omitted. The bureau modified the enumeration of inmates of institutions and dependent, defective, and delinquent classes. The 1920 census included four new questions: one asking the year of naturalization and three about mother tongue. There was no separate schedule for Indians in 1920.

“Because of the changes in some international boundaries following World War I, enumerators were instructed to report the province (state or region) or city of persons declaring they or their parents had been born in Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, or Turkey. If a person had been born in any other foreign country, only the name of the country was to be entered.

“The instructions to enumerators did not require that individuals spell out their names. Enumerators wrote down the information given to them; they were not authorized to request proof of age, date of arrival, or other information. The determination of race was based on the enumerator’s impressions.”

Both Ancestry.com (fee site) and FamilySearch.org (free) offers digitized copies of the census and are searchable by name.

Documents Scan/Transcription: Numbers relate to columns on the population schedule
Page 3B Header
State: Pennsylvania; County: Monroe; Name of Incorporated Place: East Stroudsburg Borough; Ward of City: District #1; S.D. No.: 7; E.D. No.: 48; Enumerated by me on the 5th day of January 1920; Enumerator: Carolyn B. Smith; Sheet No.: 3B; stamped page number does not exist.

Page 3B Detail
lines 52-58, Caroline, Robert and William Repsher, Lilian, Jennie and Elizabeth Cobb, and Harry Sharbaugh Jr. [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
1. Street, Avenue, Road, etc: North Courtland St.
2. House number: 286
3. Number of dwelling: 52
4. Number of family in order of visitation: 56

Household Data
5. Name: Repsher Caroline; —- Robert; —- William F.; Cobb Lillian; Cobb Jennie; Cobb Elizabeth; Sharbaugh Harry Jr.
6. Relation: Head; Son; Son; Daughter; Daughter, Granddaughter, Grandson
7. Tenure, home owned or rented: R; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
8. Tenure, if owned, free, or mortgaged: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Personal Description
9. Sex: F; M; M; F; F; F; M
10. Color of race: W; W; W; W; W; W; W
11. Age at last birthday: 61; 22; 20; 20; 19; 1 10/12; 10/12
12. Single, married, widowed, or divorced: W; S; S; W; W; S; S

13. Year of immigration: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
14. Naturalized or alien: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
15. If naturalized, year of naturalization: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

16. Attend school since Sep. 1, 1919: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
17. Whether able to read: Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]
18. Whether able to write: Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]

Nativity and Mother Tongue
19. Person, place of birth: Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania,Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
20. Person, mother tongue: German; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
21. Father, place of birth: Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania,Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
22. Father, mother tongue: German; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
23. Mother, place of birth: Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania,Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
24. Mother, mother tongue: GermanGerman; German; German; German; [blank]; [blank]
25. Whether able to speak English: Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]

26. Trade, profession, or particular kind of work done: none; Weaver; Weaver; none; Warper; none; none
27. Industry, business, or establishment in which at work: [blank]; Silk Mill; Silk Mill; [blank]; Silk Mill, [blank];[blank]
28. Employer, salary or wage worker, or working on own account:  [blank]; W; W; [blank]; W, [blank];[blank]
29. Number of farm schedule: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Analysis: The above listings/transcriptions are a bit hard to read, I admit it. So why go through the pain of typing it all out? It forced me to look at every single box and tick mark and code and notation. So, let’s put the above in a more user-friendly, narrative format:

On 01 January 1920, Caroline Repsher (61), head of household, was living in the borough of East Stroudsburg, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, with sons Robert Repsher (22) and William F. Repsher (20), daughters Lillian Cobb (20) and Jennie Cobb (19), granddaughter Elizabeth Cobb (1 10/12) and grandson Harry Sharbaugh Jr. (10/12). Caroline was renting the house at 286 North Courtland St. when enumerator Carolyn B. Smith visited the household on 05 January 1920 to record the family’s information. Ms. Smith was working in her Supervisor’s District of 7 which oversaw Enumeration District 48. In order of visitation, the family was labeled as living in dwelling #52 and as family #56.

There were three widowed women living in the household, Caroline, Lillian, and Jennie. Both Robert and William were listed as being single as were the two young grandchildren. No one in the household had attended school since 01 September 1919 and all but the grandchildren were able to read, write and speak English. All were listed as being born in Pennsylvania including the individuals parents. No one had any citizenship other than American. Caroline was listed as having a native tongue of German but Ms. Smith crossed out this information.  Robert, William, and Jennie were all employed by the silk mill working for wages. Robert and William were weavers and Jennie was a warper.

The basic questions asked in this 1920 census give us a brief glimpse of Caroline and some of her children. There seems to be some tragedy surrounding the family in that Caroline and two of her daughters, Lillian and Jennie, are widowed at the time of the census. Perhaps the great influenza epidemic and/or World War I, which both happened around the time of the census, had something to do with this.

The enumeration of this particular family unit brings up some interesting questions and highlight the dangers of making assumptions:

  • Why did Lillian and Jennie both have the same last name of Cobb?
    • Could the enumerator have made a mistake?
    • Could the two girls have both married men with the same last name?
    • Perhaps the sisters married brothers or cousins named Cobb?
  • And which daughter, Lillian or Jennie, did the granddaughter Elizabeth Cobb belong to, if either?
  • And why was grandson, Harry Sharbaugh Jr. living with Caroline?
    • Where was Harry Sharbaugh Sr. and how was he related to the family?
    • Was he the son of another of Caroline’s daughters and, if so, where is she?
  • Were William and Lillian truly the same age at 20 years old?
    • Was this an enumerator mistake?
    • Or perhaps they were twins?

The census itself does not answer any of these questions. That makes this census evidence (relevance of information) relating to the above questions indirect in nature and this census evidence must be combined with other sources of information. For example, a hand-written family group sheet prepared by my great grandmother, Anna K. Repsher, corroborates that Lillian was married to a man named Frank Cobb and that he died on 06 October 1918.[1] A daughter named Elizabeth was listed as a child of this union and again corroborates that she was a granddaughter of Caroline as found in the census. Another family group sheet has some remarks about Jennie and her first marriage to a man named Frederick Cobb who died 03 October 1918 in the flu epidemic.[2] But even with this information, one should not assume that Frank and Frederick were brothers.

Some of the languages defined for the 1920 census

Instructions to the enumerators are a good way to make sure you understand what each item on the census means. The instructions for the 1920 are found on a handy website called IPUMS which stands for the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. Perusing the instructions for the 1920 census at IPUMS shows that:

  • The list of principal foreign languages for column 20 (mother tongue) consisted of a list of 63 languages ranging from Albanian to Magyar to Yiddish.
  • Regarding occupations the enumerator were told that “Care should be taken in making the return for persons who on account of old age, permanent invalidism, or otherwise are no longer following an occupation. Such persons may desire to return the occupations formerly followed, which would be incorrect.”
  • For person with more than one occupation, the enumerators were told that “If a person has two occupations, return only the more important one-that is, the one from which he gets the more money. If you can not learn that, return the one at which he spends the more time. For example: Return a man as farmer if he gets more of his income from farming, although he may also follow the occupation of a clergyman or preacher; but return him as a clergyman if he gets more of his income from that occupation.”
  • Working at housework was given no credit if there were no wages involved. Instructions were “In the case of a woman doing housework in her own home and having no other employment, the entry in column 26 should be none. But a woman working at housework for wages should be returned in column 26 as housekeeper, servant, or cook, or chambermaid, as the case may be; and the entry in column 27 should state the kind of place where she works, as private family, hotel, or boarding house.
  • A birth place (within the United States) of the individual had some specific instructions in that “If the person was born in the United States, give the State or Territory in which born. The words “United States” are not sufficiently definite. A person born in what is now West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Oklahoma should be so reported, although at the time of his birth the particular region may have had a different name. Do not abbreviate the names of States and Territories.” This tells you that the name at the time of the census was used, not the name of the place at the time of the person’s birth. A subtle but important piece of information.

This census also has some notations on the far right for the family members that are employed. Robert, William and Jennie all have “528” handwritten in the far right hand column. IPUMS also is handy for looking up industry codes. This one is fairly straightforward in that 528 stands for silk mills within the semi-skilled operatives in the textile industries. Since the codes were added after the census was taken, they’re not really not much aide except to help decipher some enumerator’s poor handwriting. If you can’t make out the scribbling in the industry column, the additional codes may help with that.


The fact that Caroline, Jennie, and Lillian were all widowed by 01 January 1920 suggests some obvious further research into their husbands’ deaths and makes me want to ferret out information on their marriages. Harry Sharbaugh living in the household suggests that yet another of Caroline’s daughters was married but has passed away by the time the census was taken. It is somewhat sad to think of all the people who didn’t make it to be enumerated in this particular census within Caroline’s family.

[1] 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. 114. Privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ.
[2] 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. 126. Privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ.