52 Prompts in 52 Weeks #2 – Tombstone Tuesday – Susanna (Belles) Williams

This prompt is for Tombstone Tuesday and is exactly what it sounds like. I’ll be sharing a family tombstone with you. The tombstone below is for Susanna (Bellesfield or Bellesfelt or Belles) Williams[1] who was my 4th great-grandmother. Her marker is a beautiful gray color and has what is called, in the monument business, a half round shape. I can discern no decorative carving on the marker at the top.

Photo added to Find A Grave by louise floria

Here’s how the line goes back from me:

Jodi Lynn Strait, who is daughter of
William C. Strait, Jr. (+Martha Westra), who is son of
…….Beatrice Irene Repsher (+William C. Strait, Sr.) who was daughter of
………George Arthur Repsher (+Anna M. Karthaeuser) who was son of
…………John Joseph Repsher (+Caroline Bonser) who was son of
……………Suzanna Williams (+Jacob H. Repsher) who was daughter of
………………Suzanna Belles (or Bellesfelt or Bellesfield) (+Joseph Williams)

Susanna’s tombstone is located at a rural church called St. John’s which is an Evangelical Congregational Church. I believe this church was also known as Custard’s Church. The church is still active today and the cemetery seems to be well-maintained based on the pictures found at Find A Grave.

The churchyard itself is located on North Easton Belmont Pike in Bartonsville in Monroe County in eastern Pennsylvania just south of current Interstate Route 80. It north of the intersection of N. Easton Belmont Pike and Custard Road. You can see grave markers on both sides of North Easton Belmont Pike which runs through the cemetery from north to south. The GPS coordinates for the churchyard are: 40.99242, -75.28489. Google Maps has a nice view of the cemetery (clicking on the image below will bring it up in a new window and it is easier to see): 

Source: Google Maps

Zooming out on Google Maps a bit gives you a good feel for where the cemetery is in location to current Route 80 (again, clicking on the image below will bring it up in a new window and it is easier to see) and the town of Bartonsville:

Source: Google Maps

As you can see from the Find A Grave picture, the tombstone was broken at some point and now has two metal braces holding the stone together and upright. The wording is a bit hard to read but I can make out the following:

wife of
Joseph F. Williams
May 9, 1808
Aug. 18, 1869
61 yrs, 3 mths,
& 9 days

There is some sort of saying at the bottom of the tombstone that is not possible to make out from the picture alone. Besides the lettering being slightly filled in by mold/lichen growth, the bottom of the saying is obscured by grass and leaves. I am curious if seeing the stone in person would help with reading the saying or if age/weathering has done it in. I would also like to see where her husband Joseph’s marker [2] is in relation to Susanna’s marker. Find A Grave is a treasure for pictures of tombstones within a cemetery but not so much for the physical locations in the cemetery itself. Perhaps some exploration of this cemetery on my next research trip?

I like that someone, possibly a family member or the church itself, took the time to fix the tombstone. So many times, broken tombstones are left to the elements, vandalized, or just removed when a cemetery is moved for a dam or reservoir. I like that the lettering on it is still fairly legible given its age of almost 150 years, assuming it was placed in 1869. I like that Susanna’s birth and death dates are consistent with the years, months and days also on the stone.

And that’s this Tuesday’s prompt… Glad to have Susanna’s tombstone in the family collection.

[1] Tipton, Jim, compiler, “St. John’s Cemetery,” digital image, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 03 April 2017), entry for Susanna Williams, memorial #93923843.
[2] Tipton, Jim, compiler, “St. John’s Cemetery,” digital image, Find A Grave (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 03 April 2017), entry for Joseph Williams, memorial #93923929.


Sunday’s Obituary – Blanche (Mery) McNeil – Died 25-November-2003

Relationship to me: 1st cousin, 2x removed

This obituary was found online at Pocono Record by searching the online obituaries. Published on November 27, 2003.


Blanche M. McNeil, 83, of East Stroudsburg, died Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 25, in Laurel Manor, Stroudsburg.  She was the wife of Warren K. McNeil, at home, to whom she was married 60 years.  Born on Nov. 7, 1920, in East Stroudsburg, she was the daughter of the late Andrew and Jennie (Repsher) Mery.  She was a lifetime resident of Monroe County.  A 1938 graduate of East Stroudsburg High School, she was employed in the office at the former International Boiler Works in East Stroudsburg. She then worked in the office of Stroud Manor Nursing Home in East Stroudsburg.  Blanche was a member of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, East Stroudsburg, and its Women’s Guild.  In addition to her husband, she is survived by one daughter, Kay D. Allen and her husband Russell of Deering, N.H.; one granddaughter, Jill Rapp and her husband Carl of Deering, N.H.; two great-grandsons, Adam Rapp and Aidan Rapp; three sisters, Jane Predmore of East Stroudsburg, Leona Mutchler of East Stroudsburg, and Elaine Swink and her husband Clair of Lebanon, Tenn.; one brother, John Mery of East Stroudsburg; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by one brother, Raymond Mery.  Funeral Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 25 Lackawanna Ave., East Stroudsburg.  The Rev. Kathleen Ash-Flashner will officiate.  Burial will follow in Prospect Cemetery, East Stroudsburg.  There will be a viewing from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 28, at William H. Clark Funeral Home, 1003 Main St., Stroudsburg, and 9:30 a.m. until the time of the services on Saturday at the funeral home.  The family has requested that memorial contributions be mad to Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 25 Lackawanna Ave., East Stroudsburg, PA 18301.

Sunday’s Obituary – Florence (Fluck) Repsher – Died 23-January-2004

Relationship to me: wife of 1st cousin, 2x removed

This obituary was found be searching the Pocono Record’s online obituaries (screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-6-50-03-pm) on January 25, 2004.


Florence E. Repsher, 88, of Quakertown died Friday, Jan. 23, in Belle Haven Nursing Home, Quakertown. She was the wife of Ross Repsher. They were married for 63 years in August.  Born in Richland Township, Bucks County, she was a daughter of the late Oswin R. and Anna (Horne) Fluck.  She was a graduate of Quakertown Community High School Class of 1933. Florence worked for more than 10 years as a bookkeeper for Quakertown National Bank before retiring in 1978. Previously, she was employed as a stenographer at the former Mountain Lake House, Marshalls Creek. Florence was a member of St. John’s United Church of Christ, Richlandtown, where she served on the Altar Guild. She was also a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, Upper Perkiomen Chapter, and had served as a Mother Advisor to the Rainbow Girls. She had also volunteered at Grand View Hospital’s Child Care Center, Sellersville. Surviving with her husband are two daughters, Cheryl Farber and husband, Arthur, of Quakertown, Diane Huffman and her husband, Robert, of Marshalls Creek; a sister, Naomi Mann of Quakertown; a brother, Willard “Bud” Fluck and his wife, Anna, also of Quakertown; six grandchildren, Cort, Barrie, Cameron, Brooke, Shana and Evan; and two great-grandchildren, Owen and Ross.  Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, in St. John’s United Church of Christ, Richlandtown. Interment will be in Richland Town Union Cemetery, Richlandtown. Family and friends are invited to call from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, in the church.  The family requests memorial remembrances in the form of contributions to St. John’s United Church of Christ, P.O. Box 356, Richlandtown, PA 18955 or the American Diabetes Association, One Plymouth Meeting, Suite 520, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462-1316.

Sunday’s Obituary – William Repsher – Died circa 1973 or 1974

Relationship to me:  1st cousin, 3x removed

This is one of the newspaper clippings that my grandmother Beatrice Strait had in her collection. When asked how William Repsher was connected to us, I got a curt answer. “He’s a Repsher. Somehow he’s related.” This is an undated clipping from an unknown newspaper.

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-5-57-07-pmWilliam Repsher – William H. Repsher of 53 High St., Newton, died Friday evening in Newton Memorial Hospital following an short illness. He was 77.

Born in Swartswood, he lived in Newton four years and lived in Sussex 35 years before that. He was a retired well driller.

He is survived by his widow, Edith; a daughter, Mrs. Evelyn Hadowanetz of New York; two brothers, Warren and Harry., both of Newton; two sisters, Mrs. Elsie Wright and Mrs. Mabel Benson, both of Sussex; four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 8 p.m. tomorrow from he Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, Newton. Brother Abrams of the Jehovah Witnesses officiating.

[F]riends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at the funeral home.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #37 – William Struss’s Family Group Sheet

Helen (Repsher) Struss

Person of Interest: William and Helen Struss
Relationship: Great grandaunt and husband (Helen and my grandmother Beatrice were sisters)

Source Citation: 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. 87; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, Arizona, who inherited the copies of the originals from grandmother Beatrice Strait who inherited them from mother Anna Repsher who compiled them. This handwritten sheet does not offer a list of materials used and contain no specific documentation for any piece of data.

Document Description: This is a copy of a family group sheet found in Anna Repsher’s compilation of the John Joseph and wife Caroline (Bonser) Repsher’s family and descendants. It is 8 1/2 by 11″ and is regular (not college ruled) notebook paper. Copy of the compilation was passed from compiler Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher to daughter Beatrice (Repsher) Strait to Beatrice’s granddaughter Jodi Lynn Strait. The original compilation was with Elaine Struss-Feret but upon Elaine’s death in 2016 passed to Georgana (Smith) Repsher. The original is still be updated with information obtained each year at the John J. and Caroline Repsher family reunion held each year at Weona Park in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, on the third Sunday of July.

Document Scan/Transcription:
William Struss
William Struss born Sept 17-1906
died Aug 25-1955
son of John Struss from Germany

Helen H. Repsher (wife) born Sept 10-1911
died [blank]
daughter of George Repsher and Anna Karthaeuser

married July 2-1942

Children of marriage
1-Boy born dead Feb 15-1943
2- Elaine Marie born Sept 11-1949
weight 5 lbs 10 oz

Married in St. Michael’s church Netcong N.J. attendants William Strait Sr
and Beatrice Strait at 8 P.M. Father Lange officiating
Helen graduated from St. Michael’s Grammar School June 21-1925
Helen baptised [sic] in St. Michael’s church Sept 24-1922
Helen confirmed in St. Michael’s church June-1923

Elaine Marie Baptised [sic] Oct 9-1949 in St. Michael’s church Netcong N.J.
Sponsors Adam Repsher and Beatrice Strait at 1:30 P.M.
Father Lange Officiating

William Struss was electrocuted in Branchville working on his
job at time of big flood disaster year of 1955
Elaine Struss graduated June 15-1967 Netcong High School

Analysis: The decision on what family group sheet to share was a process. I wanted one of the 196 pages in the compilation to provide a good example of the types of things my great-grandmother included on her handwritten family group sheets. But a good genealogist doesn’t post things on the living so that knocked a lot of sheets out of contention since, without some extra research, I couldn’t guarantee that all the children listed with the family were deceased. Also, there were some considerations with the notations that talked about children born out of wedlock or adopted either into or out of the family. Some of that information might not be common knowledge within the family.

Even though there’s no death date filled in for Helen Repsher, she did pass away on 23 December 1990.[1] And the same holds true with Helen’s daughter Elaine who recently passed away on 07 December 2016.[2] As such, this sheet was a safe pick for the blog.

An examination of the handwriting on this page shows that the same person recorded all the information on the sheet. An examination of the ink also shows that all the information on the sheet was recorded at the same time. There is no variation in script or ink. Since William Struss died in 1955 and Elaine was recorded as graduating in 1967, I suspect that my great grandmother, Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher sat down to record all of this information between 1967 and her death in September of 1970. There is also a very real possibility that some of the information was copied at that time into this compilation since a notation on the first page indicates that it was “started Jan 20th, 1911.” It makes me suspect that someone has another Repsher family compilation even older than this one.

Anna was pretty consistent in the format of all her family group sheets. She started with the name of the family (father) as the first line of the sheet. At the top, she then recorded the applicable information about the father (birth, death, parents) and the mother (birth, death, parents) and right after that their marriage date. Following the marriage date were the children from the marriage or a notation that there were no children. Sometimes, if the children were married, spouses were noted. If the children were multiples (twins) that is noted. The bottom half of the sheet was reserved for additional information like baptisms, schooling, marriage details, etc.

I like this page because it has a lot of little notations that help to fill out family of William Struss. We learn that William and Helen were married in Netcong, New Jersey, in the evening at 8 pm by Father Lange at St. Michael’s Church. They were attended by Helen’s sister Beatrice and her husband William Strait. We learn the Helen graduated in 1925 from grammar school, baptized in 1922 (eleven years after her birth), and confirmed in 1923. We learn that their daughter Elaine was born in 1949 and baptized that same year. We learn that the family suffered losses when William and Helen had to bury a stillborn son in 1943 and when William was tragically killed while on the job in 1955. We learn their daughter Elaine graduated from high school in Netcong in June of 1967. We learn that there was a big flood in 1955. We even learn the tiniest detail that Elaine weighed 5 pounds and 10 ounces when she was born.

The thing I don’t like about the sheet (and the compilation in general) is that it’s completely unsourced. Anna may have been present her granddaughter Elaine’s birth but I’m pretty sure that she didn’t participate in William Struss’s birth in 1906 in Germany. Each sheet in this compilation must be examined carefully and each piece of information analyzed. She also does not normally record the birth or death places. Occasionally, a marriage place is recorded.

This is an authored work even though it is unpublished. Anna presents all the information in a unique format that no one else has done. She chose how to present it and what to include. It is a hybrid of both primary, secondary and undetermined information. Anna would know the birth dates of her children and her marriage date but items around her parents, in-laws, and extended family would come from other sources. The evidence is varied in that, depending on the research question, it could be direct (explicit), indirect (not explicit) or even negative.


This family group sheet provides a wonderful jumping off point for research into William Struss’s family. Since it is unsourced, I consider the information found within it “clues” about where to go look for original documents and primary information. Next steps would involve locating a marriage record for William and Helen, searching for a death record for William Struss, digging up church records for everyone listed, ferreting out information about a great flood in 1955, and finding newspaper articles about William’s accident. When looking at family group sheets, whether handwritten like this one or a pre-printed form that’s been filled in or typed up, the good genealogist will evaluate both the reliability of the recorder and the information found within. This is a case of trust my great grandmother but verify!

[1] “Helen Struss,” obituary, newspaper clipping, 25 December 1990 (penned), unidentified newspaper [most likely the New Jersey Herald]; Strait family newspaper clipping, privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, Arizona, 2017.  Inherited in 2010 by Ms. Strait from her grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait Guirreri of Newton, New Jersey.
[2] Elaine M. Struss-Feret Memory Card, 2016; privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ 85757, 2017.  Elaine M. Struss-Feret paper memory card created by Morgan Funeral Home in Netcong, New Jersey, for funeral services. Lists full birth and death dates.

Sunday’s Obituary – Adam Otto Repsher – Died 29-April-2004

Relationship to me: paternal great uncle

Since this was my grandmother’s brother, she clipped a couple of obituaries from newspapers for Adam Repsher. One comes from the Star-Ledger and the other, a death notice, is from an unnamed newspaper.


“Adam O. Repsher, 87, WWII veteran, Hercules retiree, Legion commander” – Adam O. Repsher, 87, of Stanhope died yesterday in Saint Clare’s Hospital, Denville.

A Mass will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday in St. Michael’s Church, Netcong, after the funeral from the Morgan Funeral Home, 31-33 Main St., Netcong.

Mr. Repsher was a dynamite packer with Hercules Inc. in Kenvil, where he worked for 40 years before retiring in 1978. He was a member of the Hercules Retirees Breakfast Club.

An Army veteran of World War II, he served in the Pacific Theatre.

Mr. Repsher was a life member and past commander of the American Legion Musconetcong Post 278, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Lakeland Post 2347 and the Disabled American Veterans Mino Brice Chapter 63, Dover.  He was past commander of the Sussex County American Legion, past vice commander of the New Jersey American Legion and served on the American Legion Children and Youth Committee Department of New Jersey.  He also served as a finance officer with the Netcong-Stanhope American Legion Ambulance Squad.

He was an exempt fireman with the Stanhope Fire Company, a life member of the New Jersey State Fireman’s Association and a member of the Sussex County Shade Tree Commission.Mr. Repsher served as a Democratic committeeman and was a past grand knight of the St. Michael’s Knights of Columbus Council, Netcong.Born in Stanhope, he lived in Netcong for many years before moving back to Stanhope.

Surviving are Catherine, his wife of 61 years; sons, Jeffery, Michael and John; a daughter, Ann Moyer, a sister Beatrice Guierrie [sic, should be Guirreri], and four grandchildren. screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-5-21-30-pm

“Repsher” – Adam O., of Stanhope, N.J., age 87, on Thursday, April 29, 2004, husband of Catherine, father of Jeffrey of Sparks, Nev., Michael of Charlestown, N.H., John of Bradford, Vt., and Ann Moyer of Mount Bethel, Pa., brother of Beatrice Guierrie [sic, should be Guirreri] of Newton, N.J., grandfather to Leah Wilson of Sausalito, Calif., Jason Repsher of Reno, Nev., Adam Moyer of Mount Bethel, Pa., and Carrie Moyer of Phillipsburg, N.J. Funeral services will be held on Monday, May 3, at 8:30 a.m. from the MORGAN FUNERAL HOME, 31-33 Main St., Netcong, to a Liturgy of Christian Burial to be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. at St. Michael’s Church in Netcong.  Interment to follow at Stanhope Union Cemetery.  Visiting hours are Sunday, May 2, 2-4 and 7-9 p.m.

Sunday’s Obituary – Stanley J. Feret – Died 28-November-2001

Relationship to me: husband of 1st cousin, 1x removed

I have two clippings for Stanley J. Feret, both of which came from Beatrice Strait’s collection. They are undated and unnamed newspapers.


“Stanley Feret” – Services for Stanley J. Feret, 54, of Whippany will be at 11 a.m. Monday in the Bradley-Braviak Funeral Home, 49 Whippany Rd., Whippany.  Mr. Feret, who died Wednesday in Morristown Memorial Hospital, was a technician with Lucent Technologies in Morris Plains for 33 years before retiring last year.  He was a member of the Sons of the American Legion Squadron No. 155 of Whippany and the National Rifle Association and assistant secretary of the Morris County Women’s Bowling Association.  Born in Newark, he lived in Irvington before moving to Whippany 27 years ago.  Surviving are his wife, Elaine; a son, Greg, and a brother, Thomas.


“Feret” – Stanley J., of Whippany, on Nov. 28, beloved husband of Elaine (nee Struss), father of Greg and his wife, Tracie, of Whippany, brother of Thomas of Verona, also survived by his former wife Patricia Lombardi of Hackettstown, and several aunts, uncles and cousins.  A funeral service will be held at The BRADLEY-BRAVIAK FUNERAL HOME, 49 Whippany Rd., Whippany, on Monday Dec. 3, at 11 a.m. Interment will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.  Friends may visit on Sunday 2-4 and 7-9 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, those who wish may contribute in his memory to the Cedar Knolls Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 511, Cedar Knolls, N.J. 07927.