52 Documents in 52 Weeks #26 – Elaine Struss-Feret’s Memory Card

Person of Interest: Elaine Marie (Struss) Feret
Relationship: 1x cousin 1x removed

Source Citation: Elaine M. Struss-Feret Memory Card, 2016; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2017.  Elaine M. Struss-Feret paper memory card created by Morgan Funeral Home in Netcong, NJ, for funeral services. Lists full birth and death dates.

screen-shot-2016-12-25-at-8-30-52-pmDocument Description: Memory or prayer or holy cards have been around for a long, long time. The earliest known example is a hand-colored woodcut print of St. Christopher from 1423.[1] As more modern printing techniques came into use, hand-coloring gave way to lithography. Then, as printing became even cheaper in the 1900s, these cards became widely distributed to friends and family members at the funeral homes that attended the deceased. The fronts of the cards generally feature either a picture of the deceased or some sort of religious, especially Roman Catholic, imagery or sayings. The backs generally have the person’s name, sometimes their birth and death dates in varying degrees of completeness, and a prayer or poem. This card is 2-1/2″ by 4″ in measurement and printed on both sides. The front of this card is full-color. There are full birth and death dates for Elaine listed.

memory-card-elaine-m-struss-feretDocument Scan and Transcription: Back of Card
In Loving Memory of
Elaine M. Struss-Feret
September 11, 1949
December 7, 2016

I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one,
I’d like to leave an afterglow
of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo
whispering softly down the ways,
of happy times and laughing
times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those
who grieve, to dry before the sun.
Of happy memories that I leave
when life is done.

Morgan Funeral Home, Inc.
Netcong, NJ

Front of Card: Printed with various images


Analysis: The funeral home was nice enough to send me a number of cards, eight in total. I’ve scanned four of them for this post to give a feel for the types of things found on the front of the cards. Sometimes the family chooses on one image, sometimes there are a variety.  Elaine’s cousin, Annie, chose a beautiful selection of flowers and sayings for the front and a joyous poem for the back to celebrate Elaine’s life.

Even if I didn’t already know that Elaine was Roman Catholic, the classic symbolism on the front of the cards would point me in that direction. The white lily is a symbol of purity and is closely associated with the Virgin Mary. The lamp (featured on two cards) symbolizes the presence of God and the existence of the soul. The wheat is a symbol of the bounty of the Earth and the connection to the Holy communion wafer. A white dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit and the thorns are an expression of grief or sin. Along the left-hand sides of the cards are found Latin crosses, Greek letters of Chi Ro (P with the X over it), and an individual Ro all which represent Jesus as the anointed one.[2]

Additionally, this document gives you hints about what to look for next. Usually, the funeral home is the one who handles the interment which leads to the cemetery the person is buried in. Most likely the funeral home is located very close to the cemetery being used. The town in which the funeral home is located will give you a hint about what newspaper to look for a death notice or an obituary. The state will give you a hint on where to write for a copy of the death certificate.

This is an original record printed by the Morgan Funeral Home in Netcong, New Jersey, and sent to me here in Tucson. The information is both primary and secondary. Elaine’s birth date is secondary, someone had to tell the funeral home when her birthday was. Elaine’s death date is primary in that the funeral home was involved in the preparation of the death certificate and transport of the body to the funeral home on the day or next day after her death. The evidence is direct in that it answers the research questions, “When was Elaine of Netcong, New Jersey, and daughter of William Struss and Helen Repsher, born and when did she die?”


Depending on how much the funeral home or family choses to print on the card, these playing-card sized documents can be helpful in pinpointing when a person died. The minimum information that I’ve seen on the cards I have are the person’s name with a birth year and a death year or the person’s name with their death date and no birth date. Elaine’s is nice in that it list her birth and date places in their entire month-day-year format.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_card
[2] http://www.boston-catholic-journal.com/a-primer-to-catholic-symbolism.htm and http://www.catholictradition.org/Saints/signs4.htm


52 Documents in 52 Weeks #10 – William Charles Strait’s Form SS-5


William Charles Strait, Sr.

Person of Interest: William Charles Strait
Relationship: Grandfather

Source Citation: William Charles Strait, SS no. 146-10-5034, 03 December 1936, Applicaton for Account Number (Form SS-5), Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Maryland.

Document Description: This document looks to be a photocopy of the microfilm of an original document stored at the Social Security Administration (SSA) in Baltimore Maryland. It is 5-1/2″ by 10″ in size but it is not clear from this document whether the scale has been adjusted for copying convenience. The form is the standard SS-5 Form which is an application for a Social Security Card and the form was created by the SSA. The original appears to have been tri-folded possibly to mail it in a smaller envelope.

Background information regarding Social Security: You can’t get away from doing some history homework while researching your genealogical records. It’s just not going to happen! The documents created by the Social Security Administration are no different. Knowing the progression of the laws surrounding Social Security help the researcher navigate records and point to where the documents can be found. According to the introduction provided by Social Security Administration website “this background material [1969 Abe Bortz book and the 1976 Newman “Preliminary Inventory”] is the narrative involving SSA’s organizational history. This is vital to navigating the Social Security records since they are almost always stored and cataloged by title of the SSA organization which created the records.” The Committee for Economic Security was established in June 1934 in response to the economic crisis brought about by the Great Depression. The committee was tasked with providing legislative recommendations to relieve economic insecurities. The committee presented its recommendations to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January of 1935. Their recommendations, Roosevelt’s own ideas, and Congress’ ideas were all merged to create the Social Security Bill (R.R. 7260, Public Law No. 271, 74th Congress) which was signed into law on August 14, 1935.

People began applying for their unique Social Security Number shortly after 1935 and this SS-5 form was created to facilitate the issuing of numbers. The numbers are a nine-digit number which originally were in an “AAA-GG-SSSS” format. The first three digits were geographically related and the “numbers were assigned beginning in the northeast and moving south and westward, so that people on the east coast had the lowest numbers and those on the west coast had the highest numbers.”[1] The middle two digits represent a group number that, for administrative reasons, were not assigned in consecutive order. There was some logic that involved assigning even and odd numbers into four broad groups:

  1. odd numbers from 01 through 09
  2. even numbers from 10 through 98
  3. even numbers from 02 through 08
  4. odd numbers from 11 through 99

The last four digits are serial numbers are were issued consecutively within the assigned group number. However, to combat the modern problem of identity theft, in June of 2011 the SSA began a randomization project to eliminate the geographical significance of the first three digits.

Copies of a person’s Social Security Applications can be ordered only if the person is deceased. The application and some instructions can be found at the Social Security Administration website. There is a fee and some rules around how to order. You will be required to furnish proof of death if the person was born less than 120 years ago. Make sure to read up on all the requirements so that you don’t waste your money or delay getting your documents!

william-charles-strait-ss-applicationDocument Scan and Transcription: Form SS-5 Header
Treasury Department
Internal Revenue Service
U. S. Social Security Act
Application for Account Number
146-10-5034 [penned above the top line on the form]

Form SS-5 Body
1. Employee’s first name: William
1. Middle name: Charles
1. Last name: Strait [there is a “363” penned in after his last name]
1. (Married woman give maiden first name, maiden last name, and husband’s last name)
2. Street and Number: Brooklyn Road
3. Post office and state: Stanhope, New Jersey
4. Business name of present employer: Darlington Fabrics, Inc.
5. Business address of present employer: Mill Street, Newton, N.J.
6. Age at last birthday: 26
7. Date of birth, month-day-year, subject to later verification: 7 17 1910
8: Place of birth: Sparta Township [NJ pended in after this]
9: Father’s full name: Ora Simpson Strait
10. Mothers full maiden name: Audrey Hunt
11. Sex: Male/Female, check which: Male [checked]
12: Color: White, Negro, Other (specify), check which: White [checked]
13: If registered with the U. S. Employment Service, give number of registration card: No
14. If you have previously filled out a card like this, State place and date: No
15. Date: 12-3-1936
16: Employee’s signature, as usually written: William Strait [signature]

Detach along this line.

Analysis: This document has some powerful genealogical information contained within it. Especially nice is the request for either the applicant’s full or maiden name, if a married female, and the full maiden name of the applicant’s mother. It can be hard to ferret out a female’s maiden name and this application asks for those items specifically. From this form, a short biography for William Charles Strait can be written:

26-year-old William Charles Strait was working for Darlington Fabrics, Inc. located on Mill Street in Newton, New Jersey, on 03 December 1936 when he applied for his Social Security Number. He was born on 17 July 1910 to parents Audrey Hunt and Ora Simpson Strait. At the time he was living on Brooklyn Road in Stanhope, New Jersey, and commuting to work in Newton. He was a white male that was assigned SS#146-10-5034.

I have used this form to find the parent’s of some Repsher cousins when parentage was unclear. This can be especially useful when you have a number of people with the same name in the family. Straits and Repshers, I’m talking to you!

This SS-5 Form is an original document in that it looks to be a strict photocopy of the microfilm of the original records. There are no apparent changes to the document (no redaction or overprinting) and is in William’s original writing. It provides a nice example of his signature in case I need to compare it to other documents.

The information on the document that is primary (firsthand) relates to William’s current address, his age, his gender, his race, his employer, and his employer’s address. The secondary information relates to his birth date (he doesn’t remember his birth date, his parents have told him), his birth place, and his parents. It may seem weird that his age is primary when his birth date is secondary. While he wouldn’t remember his birth date, he can attest to the number of years that are passing that make up his age.

The evidence is direct in relation to the research question of, “When was William Charles Strait of New Jersey born and who were his parents?” in that the questions are explicitly answered by this form. The evidence that his parents were married would be indirect in that some other evidence must be combined with this to prove that his parents were legally married or presenting themselves as a wedded couple. Parentage and marriage are not necessarily the same thing.


SS-5 forms are a great genealogical resource. It can be useful in finding birth dates, places, parents’ names, maiden names, and current employment information. It can, however, be a bit tricky when ordering this record if you don’t have the applicant’s Social Security number, need to provide proof that the applicant is dead, or need to show that both of the applicant’s parents are deceased (born less than 120 years ago), especially when the purpose of ordering the application is to find out parents names. There wasn’t anything surprising that I learned about my grandfather by ordering this form but it does help provide confidence that I’ve done reasonably exhaustive research into this ancestor.

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

Sepia Saturday #354: Faith and Masses



This  card was sent to Aunt Sadie by her Grandmother Strait (Audrey) for Easter. It is a traditional religious Easter card showing a priest in the middle of a service offering the chalice up to a candlelit altar. Roses surround the vignette in the center and a close-up of the chalice is presented at the bottom right of the front of the card. The inside has an open bible with a rosary laid across it. The saying inside reads:

“One Easter prayer I make today
is that you’ll always find life’s way.
A path of beauty, joy and light,
a path that’s always in God’s sight,
a path that leads to all that’s true,
with His hand always guiding you,
– I pray this path will always be the chosen path of you and me!”

An interesting aspect of the card is that you can tell that it was produced before 1962. Even if I didn’t know that the card was from Aunt Sadie’s Shirley Temple Scrapbook (1937 t0 1943), the fact that the priest is facing the altar is a huge indication of the date. Before the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (September 1962 to December 1965) occurred, a sepia354003traditional Catholic mass (Tridentine) was performed by the priest almost exclusively with his back to the congregation. Aunt Sadie had a booklet entitled The Mass for Children published in 1925.[1] Almost all of the colored drawings in the booklet show the priest and altar boys facing the altar.

Some major changes that the Council made were that the priest could say mass versus populum, meaning the officiant could face the congregation, that the mass could be said using vernacular language instead of Latin,  and that the priest’s clothing along with religious artwork/decorations became less ornate.


Beatrice (left), Helen (right) and Art (center)

Aunt Sadie was raised in a Catholic household. Her mother, Beatrice, and Beatrice’s siblings (all but Hank who was too young) received their First Holy Communion from St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church in Netcong, New Jersey, around 1922 or 1923, long before the Second Council’s changes took effect. They had their portraits taken in their Communion outfits.


Adam Repsher

The girls are wearing all white; dresses, veils, shoes and stockings. The boys are dressed formally, although they are still wearing short pants, and each is carrying a rosary and prayer book.


Robert Repsher

Beatrice always had signs of her faith around her home. She attended mass each Sunday until her age afforded her a special dispensation from having to go to mass. She had a pair of Sacred Heart portraits (Mary and Jesus) hanging in her living room.

When I inherited some of both Beatrice’s and Sadie’s things, there were three versions of St. Joseph “Continuous” Sunday Missal & Hymnal. The missals provide guidance on the structure of the mass, what is being celebrated based on the liturgical calendar, and just how the participants are required to respond. They are designed to encourage active participation in the mass. sepia354005

Along with some funeral cards, tucked into this particular missal were some religious cards. One relates to how a family should behave in their day-to-day interactions and was distributed by St. Joseph’s Church on Elm Street in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. This was the church Beatrice, Sadie, and eventually, my sisters and I all attended for years.


Two other cards are smaller versions of the Sacred Hearts. These are Roman Catholic devotions which are not part of the official liturgy but are considered to be a private practice of piety and spirituality. The Sacred Heart of Jesus shows his physical heart as a representation of his love for humanity. Mary’s heart is often referred to as the Immaculate Heart of Mary. While they both symbolize love, there are subtle differences in the two devotions.


Since I was born in the 1960s, I had never experienced what a mass was like before the Second Council’s changes. To keep me and my sisters interested in the service, Beatrice and Sadie always sat in the very front pew with us so that we could see what the priest and attendants were doing. Modern Catholic masses are very interactive: Sit, stand, sit, respond, kneel, sing, sit, stand, etc.

I was very surprised when Bruce (then husband) took me to a pre-Council style mass around 2005 in a small church located near Sabino Canyon Road, Tucson. This style mass is not easy to find as most churches have adopted the Council’s recommendations. The women were all required to wear a head covering (usually a little lace cap pinned to the hair on the top of the head), the mass was in Latin (which I do not speak), and the priest never faced the congregation. Even though I was well aware of the order of the mass from years of attending when I was younger, I found the mass to be very confusing. While many people were extremely upset at the modern changes, when comparing the two styles, I much prefer the modern, post-Council mass. Call me silly but I like to understand the language everyone is speaking!

I’ve long since given up going to a formal mass each Sunday but Beatrice’s and Sadie’s faith have had lasting influences in my life. For example, Catholic guilt is a unique experience and that version of guilt still sneaks up on me every once in a while!

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo (originally #303, 31 Oct 2015): Candle


[1] Rev. William R. Kelly, The Mass for Children: Instruction in Story Form for Use in the Primary Grades with Colored Drawings Accompanying the Text According to Modern Educational Methods (New York: Benzinger Brothers (Printers to the Holy Apostolic See), 1925).

Sepia Saturday #348: Congratulations on Your New Baby








This card shaped like a bib is the one card in the collection, from Aunt Sadie’s Shirley Temple Scrapbook, that is actually shaped like a piece of clothing although this was never hung out on the laundry line to dry. The saying inside says, “Happy for you in that ‘Blessed Event’ – In the safe arrival that Heaven sent; And wishing you all as a Family the greatest of joy through the years to be.”

I have one photo of my great grandmother Audrey (Hunt) Strait that relates to laundry.


But enough about laundry. My curiosity was piqued with the baby bib card. Who is this Mrs. M. Palazzi sending Beatrice (Repsher) Strait a congratulations card?

Since Aunt Sadie was born in 1937, I started with the 1930 U.S. census. A search for first name “M” and last name “Palazzi” turned up the Palazzi household in Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey.[1]



The family owns their own house which is valued at $6,000 in 1930. They are living on Mechanic Street. Michael is a chiropractor with his own general practice.

I would say that Jennie C. Palazzi is the card sender, just based on this. Why? Well, for the following reasons:

  • Beatrice (Repsher) Strait was 26 when Sadie was born in 1936. In 1936, Jennie would have been 35. They are not quite the same age to have gone to school together but they may have been friends.
  • Netcong is a small town. Beatrice was living with her parents in Netcong in 1930 on Ledgewood.[2] They most likely lived very close to each other. This 1920 Sandborn map show the relative locations of the streets.[3]


  • There were no other Palazzi families found in the Netcong or the surrounding area. Also, there were no Palazzi families found in the Newton/Sussex County area.

Jennie C. Palazzi, wife of Michael, sent Beatrice a beautiful congratulations card to celebrate the birth of my Aunt Sadie. It’s one bib, however, that my grandmother Beatrice didn’t have to launder.

P.S. My dad has confirmed my findings! The Palazzi family lived directly across the street from Anna K. Repsher (Sadie’s grandmother) when she lived on Maple Avenue in Netcong, New Jersey. They were neighbors.

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo (originally #297, 19 Sept 2015): Laundry


[1] 1930 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Netcong, ED 55, page 13A (penned), dwelling 248, family 227, Michael Palazzi; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 August 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1374.
[2] 1930 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Netcong, ED 55, page 15A (penned), dwelling 329, family 290, George A. Repsher; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 03 August 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1374.
[3] Netcong, New Jersey [map], 1920, 100 foot scale, “Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey (Sheet 1),”; digital images, Princeton Library (http://map.princeton.edu/mapviewer/#/w9505261q : accessed 22 September 2016).

Sepia Saturday #342: Bea’s School Portrait


This young girl is sitting pretty with a frame around her face. It is one of Aunt Sadie’s Valentine’s Day cards found in her Shirley Temple Scrapbook. A little, piebald dog is waiting patiently by her right leg. The tilt of her head reminded me of the Sepia prompt photo and both reminded me of a picture of Sadie’s mother (my grandmother) Beatrice Irene (Repsher) Strait.


This school photo of Beatrice is from Stanhope Public School in Stanhope, Sussex County, New Jersey, taken around 1920. (The squareness of the smock she’s wearing is also reminiscent of what the woman is wearing in the prompt photo.) Beatrice would be around eight years old at the time. Her soft, light hair was pulled back away from her forehead and the rest fell around her shoulders. She was wearing a bulky, knit sweater rolled up around her wrists.

I am fortunate to have three of Beatrice’s report cards from Stanhope Public Schools from grades 1 to 3.

Grade 1
Her grade 1 report card shows that she was enrolled for the 1918-1919 school year. Mr. Joseph McMickle was the superintendent/principle of the school. The teacher was L.W. Davison although there’s no indication if the teacher was male or female. Beatrice was eligible to be promoted to 2nd grade at the end of the school year. The signature of the parent is George Repsher, her father. It gives a very nice sample of his handwriting and a signature to use if I ever need to compare it to another document.Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 4.02.40 PM

The back of the report card shows that Beatrice got Fs (for fair, grade 75 -85) and Es (for excellent, grade 85-95) on most of her lessons. She took the basic 3Rs (Reading, Writing, & Arithmetic) along with Grammar/Language and Physical Training. She got Es for her deportment scores. It was noted on the report card that any grade less than F (Fair) would not be honored for promotion.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 4.47.09 PM

She was tardy seven times during the school year and absent from class quite a few days, 50.5, possibly more given that February is smudged and illegible. In the section labeled “ATTITUDE TOWARD SCHOOL WORK,” she was marked in December, May and June as “Wastes Time” and marked in May and June as “Copies; Gets Too Much Help.” But to counter that, she was marked in January, March and April as “Shows Improvement” and marked in September and November as “Very Commendable.” In the section labeled “RECITATIONS,” she was marked in November, December, May and June as “Capable of Doing Much Better” and marked in December as “Work Shows a Falling Off.” However, she did get marked in September, January, March, April, and June as “Showing Improvement.” In the section labeled “CONDUCT,” she was marked in June as being “Restless; Inattentive” and marked in December, May and June as “Whispers Too Much.” Her conduct was marked as “Shows Improvement” in September, November, January, March and April.

Reviewing some of the other categories that Beatrice was not marked as deficient in shows categories such as Indolent, Work is Carelessly Done, Gives Up Too Easy, Inclined to Mischief, Rude; Discourteous at Times, Annoys Others, Seldom Done Well (relating to recitations), and Appearing Not to Try.

The Method of Grading (for all 3 grades in this school) was:

  • A – Admirable, Grade from 95 to 100.
  • E – Excellent, Grade from 85 to 95.
  • F – Fair, Grade from 75 to 85.
  • P – Poor, Grade from 60 to 75.
  • M – Very Poor, Grade below 60.

Quite a bit different from our modern grading of A (top scores) through F (failing). I can imagine some students going home and hang-doggedly standing in front of their parents, having to admit to getting mostly Ms and being Inclined to Mischief!

Grade 2
Her grade 2 report card shows that she was enrolled for the 1919-1920 school year. Mr. Joseph McMickle was still the superintendent/principle of the school. The teacher was again L.W. Davison. Beatrice was eligible to be promoted to 3rd grade at the end of the school year. The signature of the parent is George Repsher, her father. His signature is done in a beautiful blue ink from September to March, black in April and May, and absent from the report card in June. It was noted that Beatrice was “Especially Good in Writing.”Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 4.03.02 PM

The back of the report card shows a marked improvement from the prior year. Beatrice again got Fs (for fair, grade 75 -85) and Es (for excellent, grade 85-95) on most of her lessons. In addition to Reading, Writing, & Arithmetic, Grammar/Language, and Physical Training, Beatrice was now working on her Spelling, getting all Es in that category. Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 5.44.35 PM

She was only absent 22 days in this school year and tardy only three times. In the section labeled “ATTITUDE TOWARD SCHOOL WORK,” she was marked only once in November as “Wastes Time.” She was marked as “Very Commendable” in September and knocked it out of the park with “Shows Improvement” in all months except September and May. The teacher still felt that Beatrice was “Capable of Doing Much Better” and marked her as such in November, January and April in the section labeled “RECITATIONS.” Beatrice must have liked to talk because she got dinged in the “CONDUCT” section as “Whispers Too Much” for September, November, February, March and June. However, her conduct “Shows Improvement” from October-December, March, April and June.

The parents were warned that:

“Special attention is called to the serious consequences of Irregular Attendance. It is important to remember that the loss of even a portion of a school session often proves to be a serious interruption to progress, and tends to produce a lack of interest in the school work. Excuses showing good cause for the absence or tardiness should always be sent promptly to the teacher on the return of a child to school. Neglect of this may cause the child to be sent home after the excuse.”

Parents were also encouraged to “show their interest in the child and school by occasional visits” and these visits would “prove a great source of inspiration and help to both the pupil and teacher.”

Grade 3
Beatrice’s grade 3 report card shows that she was enrolled for the 1920-1921 school year. Mr. Joseph McMickle was still the superintendent/principle of the school. The teacher for this year was one G.D. Best, who had impeccably neat cursive handwriting. Beatrice was eligible to be promoted to 4th grade at the end of the school year. The signature of the parent is George Repsher, her father, and all the signatures are present except for June.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 4.03.32 PM

The back of the report card shows that Beatrice’s curriculum was starting to fill out. She was studying Reading, Spelling, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, Grammar/Language, Physiology, and Physical Training. She was also now required to take exams at the end of each half and those grades were recorded at December and June. Again, she was receiving nothing less than Fair (Fs) and Excellent (Es) scores but this school year she received solid As in Writing except for February and March when she got Es. Her best score was a 97 on her December Physiology exam.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 6.21.59 PM

She was absent 42 days in this school year but tardy only three times. Beatrice was the oldest of eight children. All seven of her siblings had been born by 1920 and it is probable that her absences from school had everything to do with her being expected to help out with the raising of her siblings. If any one of her younger siblings was sick, she would have stayed home to care for them.

The teacher was very sparing in her marks in all of the various categories. Beatrice got a “Shows Improvement” in May and June and a “Very Commendable” in September and March within the “ATTITUDE TOWARD SCHOOL WORK” section.  She was marked as “Capable of Doing Much Better” only once in March, marked as “Showing Improvement” in November, May and June and marked as “Very Satisfactory” in September and October in the “RECITATIONS” section. In the “CONDUCT” section, she received only one “Restless; Inattentive” mark in January. She must have been able to contain her urge to whisper and this teacher made no comment about that particular trait in this school year. She received a “Very Good” in October, November, and April-June.

Further Schooling
I believe Beatrice then transferred over to St. Michael’s Roman Catholic School in Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey, after 3rd grade. It would seem the family made a move during that time but Netcong (in Morris County) and Stanhope (in Sussex County) are practically the same city, just with a county line running right through the town.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 4.14.43 PM

The absence of a report card for her 4th grade year points to this and her 8th grade diploma is from St. Michael’s.

I have noted an incongruity in the timing of her schooling. The chronology of her promotions would have run as such using the Grade 1 through 3 report cards as a basis:

1918-1919 – Grade 1
1919-1920 – Grade 2
1920-1921 – Grade 3
1921-1922 – Grade 4
1922-1923 – Grade 5
1923-1924 – Grade 6
1924-1925 – Grade 7

But her diploma shows that she graduated from 8th grade on 21 June 1925. Perhaps she skipped over a grade when she made the shift from Stanhope Public Schools to St. Michael’s School in Netcong.


Beatrice completed the 8th grade and was the first person in her family to graduate from grammar school. She also picked up a love of vocabulary from her schooling and was quite good at the Reader’s Digest WORD POWER® vocabulary quiz that ran regularly in that magazine.

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo: Posing for a portrait

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 4.42.50 PM

Sepia Saturday #341: Kitty (Smith) Repsher


This little girl is clutching her dolly tightly as the puppy with a polka dot bow is trying to pull the doll away. It is a card that was in my Aunt Sadie’s scrapbook. The girl holding the dolly is reminiscent of the woman holding the boy in the boat in the photo prompt. Both of which reminded me of a lovely picture of Sadie’s aunt and my great aunt Kitty and her son Jeff.


Kitty (Smith) Repsher

Kitty didn’t get a 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks posting since she’s not one of my direct ancestors. This is her biography.

Catherine “Kitty” Smith was born on 15 July 1920 in Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey, to parents Arthur and Ellen “Nellie” (Riedinger) Smith.[1]

Kitty was born too late in 1920 to make the 1920 U.S. census. However, Kitty’s grandparents, parents, and sister, Margaret, are found on this census. They were enumerated in Netcong, Morris County, New Jersey, on 09 January 1920. Dwelling #92 held both the Jacob and Carrie Smith family (#102) and his son Arthur’s family (#103).[2]

Kitty’s grandparents were married couple Jacob (39), a locomotive engineer on the steam railroad, and Carrie (42). Both were born in New Jersey as were their parents. They could read and write and both spoke English. An item of note is that the enumerator got Carrie and Ellen’s names mixed up; Ellen was listed as Jacob’s wife and Carrie as Arthur’s wife. Jacob was renting the house on what the enumerator, Thomas J. Grogan, called “Macadam Road.” It would be interesting to know if this was the first paved road in Netcong.

Kitty’s parents were married couple Arthur (19), a laborer on the steam railroad, and Ellen (19). Both were born in New Jersey as were their parents. They could read and write and both spoke English. Arthur was listed as renting the house that he shared with his parents. It is unclear whether Jacob and Arthur were both contributing to the rent payment or whether Arthur was paying Jacob. Arthur and Ellen had a daughter named Margaret (10/12) who, due to her young age, was marked as not being able to read, write or speak English. Her age of 10/12s would put her birthday around March of 1919.

Kitty (9) first appeared in the U.S. censuses in 1930 with her parents Arthur (30) and Nellie J. (30) who were still living in Netcong.[3] Kitty’s mom was using her nickname of “Nellie” instead of Ellen by now. Arthur was still working in the steam railroad industry but this time as an engine inspector. The “classified index of occupations,” according to the census bureau, was later filled in (not by the enumerator) as 8577 which was “boiler washers and engine hostlers” relating to Arthur’s occupation.

Kitty’s parents were both married when they were 17 which means they were married about 1918. Older sister Margaret (11) was attending school as was Kitty. Younger brother Roger C. (5/12) was born around November 1929 based on the enumeration taken on 23 April 1930 by enumerator Earl S. Wemple. Everyone was listed as having been born in New Jersey as were their parents. The family (#313) was living in dwelling #354 (not street number) on Allen St. very close to the southern shore of Lake Musconetcong. They owned a radio and were paying $24.00 per month in rent.

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Arthur’s parents Jacob (49) and Carrie L. (52) were listed in the previous dwelling #353 and as family #312. This might indicate a duplex house or that Kitty’s parents and grandparents share the house. Jacob was also paying $24.00 in rent.

Kitty (19) appeared in the next census taken in 1940.[4] She was still living with her parents Arthur (39) and Nellie J. (40) and her siblings Margaret (21) and Roger (10). The family was living on Dell Avenue in Netcong. This was the same house that they were living in 1935 and just a block over from Allen St.

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The census indicates that Arthur had completed 7th grade and Nellie had completed 5th grade. Both Kitty and Margaret had graduated from high school as indicated by H-4. Younger brother Roger was still in school but had completed 3rd grade.

Kitty’s father Arthur was working as a machinist at the railroad’s roundhouse. He worked 48 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. He was employed 52 weeks the year before and earned $1,800 for his labor that year. There was no other income coming into the household. Nellie was laboring at housework. Both Kitty and Margaret were looking for work but had been unemployed for 104 weeks indicating they’d been looking for work since April 1, 1938. This census was supposed to indicate who provided the information with a little x with a circle around it. However, for the Smith household, there was no such mark made.

It should be noted that the country was just coming out of the Great Depression (1929 – 1939) and that the Social Security Act had been enacted in 1935. Thus all the questions on the 1940 census about employment and wages from the previous year.

Kitty Graduation

Kitty is on the left.

Kitty may have already known future husband Adam Repsher’s family since her sister-in-law, Beatrice Irene Repsher, had a photo of Kitty in her high school graduation cap and gown.

Kitty and Adam married in Netcong on 28 June 1942 at St. Michael’s Church. The ceremony occurred at 3 p.m. and was officiated by Father Lange. Adam’s brother Art Repsher and Margaret Ward served as attendants.[5]

Son Jeffrey (pictured above with Kitty) was born before Adam joined the army to fight in World War II from 1943 to 1945.[6]

After the war, Kitty and Adam had three more children, two boys, Michael and John, and a girl named Ann.

Adam and Kitty lived in the Stanhope/Netcong area (really the same town with a county line running through it) for years. They were both very active in the fire department and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and their respective auxiliaries. They were also very active in senior citizens activities as they got older. Adam received an award in May of 1980 for Senior Citizen of the Year.[7]

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Adam receives an award while Kitty looks on

Kitty passed away on 30 August 2007 and was buried in the Stanhope Union Cemetery next to her husband.[8]

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Find A Grave’s photo of Adam and Kitty’s gravemarker

Her full obituary reads:[9]

“Catherine Repsher” – HACKETTSTOWN – Catherine Repsher, 87, died peacefully Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007 at House of Good Shepherd, where she had been a resident since May.  Born July 15, 1920 in Netcong, she was the daughter of Arthur and Ellen Riedinger Smith. Her husband of 61 years, Adam, died in 2004. She was a lifelong resident of the Netcong-Stanhope area.  Mrs. Repsher was a parishioner of St. Michael’s Church in Netcong. She was a past president and life member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Unit 278, past president of Sussex County American Legion Auxiliary, a member of Stanhope Hose Co. No. 1 Auxiliary, a life member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Firemen of the State of New Jersey and a life member of the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary.  She is survived by three sons; Jeffrey of Mt. Bethel, Pa., Michael of Charlestown, N.H., and John of Bradford, Vt.; a daughter, Ann Moyer of Mt. Bethel; four grandchildren, Leah Repsher of San Francisco, Calif., Jason Repsher of Reno, Nev., and Adam Moyer and Carrie Moyer of Mt. Bethel.  Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 8:30 a.m. from the Morgan Funeral Home Inc., 31-33 Main Street, Netcong, to St. Michael’s Church for a 9:30 a.m. Liturgy of Christian Burial. Interment will follow at Stanhope Union Cemetery. Visiting hours are Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home, with American Legion services at 7 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mrs. Repsher’s memory to the American Legion Auxiliary Education & Scholarship, c/o 67 Whitebirch Court, Lumberton, N.J. 08048.

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo:

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[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. 90; copy privately held by held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2011
[2] 1920 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Netcong, ED 41, p. 5B (penned), dwelling 92, family102, Jacob Smith; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 May 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1061.
[3] 1930 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Netcong, ED 55, page 16A (penned), dwelling 354, family 313, Arthur Smith; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 May 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1374.
[4] 1940 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Netcong, ED 14-86, sheet 8B, family 164, Arthur Smith household; digital image, Ancestry(http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 May 2016); citing NARA microfilm publicationT627, roll 2372.
[5] 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. 90; privately held by held by Jodi Strait-Shutts, 6961 W. West Arrow, Tucson, AZ, 2011.
[6] “Adam O. Repsher, 87, WWII Veteran, Hercules retiree, Legion commander,” obituary, undated newspaper clipping, ca. 2004,The Star-Ledger [Newark, NJ]; Strait family newspaper clippings, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2011.
[7] “Senior Citizen Award,” news article, newspaper clipping, May 1980 (penned), unidentified newsaper [most likelyNew Jersey Herald ]; Strait family newspaper clippings, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ, 2011.
[8] Tipton, Jim, compiler, “Stanhope Union Cemetery,” digital image, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 13 May 2016), entry for Catherine Repsher, memorial #57466197.
[9] “Catherine Repsher,” obituary, New Jersey Herald, 31 August 2007, online obituaries (http://www.njherald.com/link/521612/herald-historical-archives: accessed 20 March 2012). Print edition has the obituary on page A-8 for 31 August 2007.