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.
Document 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.
Document Scan and Transcription: CLAIMANT’S AFFIDAVIT
Filed by Taber & Whitman Co., Attorneys, Washington, D.C.
Act of June 27, 1890
Widow No. 862970
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.)
- Samuel P. Repsher
- 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
What 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.