52 Prompts in 52 Weeks #5 – Friday’s Faces – Who’s Baby is This?

The idea behind the Friday’s Faces from the Past is to post a photo of an ancestor that I can’t identify or some “orphaned photo” that I found at an estate sale or flea market or tell the story behind a cherished family photo. For this week, I’m going with an unidentified person.

I have a photo of a baby that was in one of my grandmother Beatrice (Repsher) Strait’s photo albums that I inherited. The sepia photo, from around the turn of the last century, is glued very securely to black paper. The photo dimensions are 3-1/2 by 5 inches. Nothing is written on the photo or the black paper margins.

The baby is dressed in white, common for the times, and calmly sits cross-legged on a patterned blanket. Both the blanket and the baby are posed on the professional photographer’s ornate wicker chair. The right hand rests on its right thigh and the left hand rests on the arm of the chair. Blonde curls spill down the baby’s forehead and it (not sure if the baby is a boy or girl) has a very serious expression. Its eyes are looking steadily at something; perhaps the photographer, a favorite toy, or the parents. I should probably compare those ears with others in the family.

The photo has been creased in the middle at some point and is slightly damaged. There are two photos on the opposing side of the black paper to which this baby’s photo is glued. The first is of Beatrice Irene Repsher in her 1st Holy Communion dress. The second is one of Beatrice’s brothers also in 1st Holy Communion garb.

The subject of this post is overall a quite attractive portrait. I just adore the baby, its curls, and the ornate chair on which the baby is posed. Now, if I just knew who it was and how they tie into the family tree…


52 Prompts in 52 Weeks #3 – Wedding Wednesday – Westra-Strait Invitation

This week’s prompt is to display some old wedding photos or scan some wedding invitations and announcements. I have some of those that I can share over the coming weeks.

Even though my parents were divorced in 1980, I’d like to share their wedding invitation. I reserve the right to post photos of my mom in her wedding dress later in the year.

This is the invitation to the wedding of my parents: William Charles Strait, Jr. and Martha Ethel Westra. The front of the cream-colored invitation is embossed (raised up in relief) with the image of wedding bells tied with a ribbon along with embossed lettering at the bottom right. The invitation is cut to look like a book or a bible.

The front of the invitation

The inside of the invitation has all the pertinent information to get the wedding couple and their invited guests to the church on time. They were married in St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church on Halsted Street in Newton, New Jersey. Martha’s father is Albert Westra. They were married on a Saturday, September 20th in 1958 at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Their reception was held at the Newtonian Inn (now the Hampton Diner) on Route 94 in Newton.

The inside of the invitation

For those of you who are curious: No, I never ever use my mother’s maiden name on any security questions that websites may ask you to answer. Even if I didn’t have her maiden name on this blogpost, it’s just way too easy to find out information like that online nowadays.

There you have it. A wedding invitation in response to this week’s Wedding Wednesday prompt.

52 Prompts in 52 Weeks #1 – Amanuensis Monday – 1976 Postcard

Welcome to the first post of my 2018 project!

An amanuensis is a person whose job is to write down what another person says or to copy what another person has written. This particular Monday prompt is designed to encourage bloggers to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. I think this postcard fits into either the letter or the historical artifacts category.

My aunt, Mercedes (Strait) Scabet, received the postcard pictured below in 1976 when her aunt, Bernice (Strait) Wood, was traveling in Europe. Bernice’s brother, Williams Charles Strait, Sr., was Mercedes’ father. Here is the family connection:

(Clicking on the Family View Report above will bring it up in another window with much clearer format.)

The front of the postcard has a view of some distinctive buildings, very German looking. There is also a fountain in the foreground on the left.

Front of the postcard

The descriptions [and translation/explanation] on the back of the postcard read as follows:

At the top left corner
Gastastätte Burgruine Landshut [restaurant named Burgruine Landshut like the castle nearby]
Inh. Barbara Rüter [proprietor’s name]
555 Bernkastel-Kues, Tel. 0 65 31 / 24 91 [address and phone number]

At the bottom left corner
555 Bernkastel a. d. Mosel – Marktplatz [the marketplace in front of the restaurant]

Overlay on the stamp
Bitburg [cancellation city]
An der Pforte De Südeifel [located “at the gate of the southern Eifel” which is a mountain range]

Circular postmark
Bitburg [cancellation city]
-8-6.76-19 [date of 08 June 1976]

Bernkastel-Kues is a city that is split into two by the Moselle River. Bernkastel is to the east of the river and Kues is to the west. It is a well-known wine-growing center on the Middle Moselle in the Bernkastel-Wittlich district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. One of the major attractions, and subject of the postcard, is the medieval marketplace surrounded by spectacular gabled timber-frame houses from the 17th century and earlier. The fountain in the foreground of the postcard picture is called St. Michaelsbrunnen or St. Michael’s fountain.

Google maps has the a view of the city with the castle marked on the river bank at a significant bend. The castle Burgruine Landshut, built in 1277, burned in 1692 and is now just a ruin.

Source: Google maps

I see that the 50 pfg (=fennig, a German penny) postage stamp, picturing a radio telescope, on the back is from a 1975 German series on industry and technology. This matches with the cancellation date of 08 June 1976.

Back of the postcard

The postcard was sent to Sadie’s address of 11 Lincoln Place, Newton NJ 07860. The message from Bernice to Sadie and her husband James Scabet was this:

Hi Folks, I’m having a wonderful time. We have getting [sic] around every minute seeing the sights. We go to London on a five day tour Wednesday. I’ve seen two castles already. They are something. Love, Bernice.

So, what genealogy significance does this postcard have? It tells us a few things:

  • Bernice Wood was alive in June of 1976
  • Sadie and Jim Scabet were living in Newton, New Jersey, on Lincoln Place in 1976

One could use this information to track down deeds to the Scabet’s house on Lincoln Place. One would know not to look for any death record for Bernice before early June of 1976. One could look for 1976 passenger manifests in which Bernice Wood appears.

It didn’t really add anything to my family tree. I just like it for being interesting postcard and enjoyed the little bit of research I did for this blog to find out about Bernkastel-Kues. And I did transcribe a familial historical artifact, the point of the prompt for this week!

Sunday’s Obituary – Edward Ogar – Died 11-November-2010

Relationship to me: brother-in-law of sister, uncle of nephew

Published in the New Jersey Herald on November 11, 2010 and also found online at Legacy.com.

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-7-38-11-pmEdward S. Ogar STILLWATER — Edward S. Ogar, 55, of the Swartswood section of Stillwater Township, died Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010, at home.Born in Queens, N.Y., Mr. Ogar lived in Colorado and Las Vegas, Nev., before moving to Swartswood in 1991. He was a self-employed carpenter. The son of the late Casimir Charles and Dorothy Helen Fremer Ogar, Mr. Ogar is survived by two brothers, Alan Ogar and Thomas Ogar, both of Stillwater; one sister, Carol Roof, also of Stillwater; two nephews and two nieces. A funeral service will be held at 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High St., Newton. Visitation will be held Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. at the funeral home.


Sunday’s Obituary – Myrtle (Dennis) Strait – Died 08-October-2005

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

The Strait folder in the vertical files of the Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey, had this obituary newspaper clipping. It was published in the New Jersey Herald, 09 October 2005.


“Myrtle Strait” – OCALA, Fla. — Myrtle D. Strait, 77, died Saturday at Newton Memorial Hospital.  Born in Franklin, N.J., to the late George and Iva Dennis, Mrs. Strait had lived in Hope, N.J., and Stroudsburg, Pa., before moving to Florida.  She was predeceased by her son, Michael, in 1991.  Mrs. Strait is survived by her husband of 59 years, Warren; three sons, Dennis of Hope, Bruce of Springville, Pa., and Jeffrey of St. Augustine, Fla.; two daughters, Roxana Greene of Ocala, Fla., and Laurie Strait of East Stroudsburg, Pa.; eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.  Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Pinkel Funeral Home, 31 Bank St. (Route 23), Sussex.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #51 – William Strait’s Baseball Career

Person of Interest: William Charles Strait
Relationship: Father

Source Citation: Newton Bisons baseball team, ca. 1955; digital image 2016, privately held by William Strait, Lafayette, New Jersey, 2017. William sent this to his daughter Jodi Lynn in August of 2016. The original is in good condition and is an 8 x 10 inch black-and-white photo with a thin border.

Document Description: This photo of the Newton, New Jersey, Bisons baseball team is a digital copy. The original is an 8 x 10 inch black-and-white photo. Digital copy is clear and shows the photo was not cropped. Fifteen young men are pictured along with their baseball equipment. They are all wearing uniforms and caps. A baseball backstop can be seen on the left side of the photo.

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-11-27-16-amDocument Scan/Transcription:
The only lettering on this photo refers to the name of the baseball team on the front of the uniforms: Bisons.

Analysis: Dad’s birthday is close to this posting date so I thought I’d make this week’s post about him! And it’s a short one since this is right smack in the middle of the holiday season.

Photographs are a great jumping off point for asking questions while talking to (or interviewing) family members. In this case, my father sent me the photo which prompted a brief discussion about his short-lived baseball career.

According to Dad, there were four teams that played against each other during the summer break.  The teams played at the Memory Park ballfields in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey, located on Straway Boulevard. The same ballfields are still in use today and the community swimming pool is located in the same park.

Dad played the outfield and alternated between center, right and left outfield. He played for two summers. There were two local leagues, the Babe Ruth League and the Little League. If you were good enough, you were moved up and got to play in the American Legion League.

Dad gave me the names of the boys in the photo as he remembers them.
Back row, left to right: ——- Philhower, Bob Greene, William Strait (Dad), Bill Rabbs, ——-, Dick Bunker, Jimmy Treelore, Tommy Salsa.
Front row, left to right: Dave Yetter, Wayne Savacool, ——- Scott, ——-, Larry Tallman, Tommy Remark, Donnie Smith.


Photos can get discussions started about your family members and their activities. Ask about the items found in the photo like props, clothing, alien spacecraft, buildings, signs, cars, other people, hairstyles, and objects. Ask some questions and then be quiet! Listen to what they’re saying. Also, don’t be too rigid in what you’re looking to get them to say. Sometimes letting the conversation and questions run their own course can yield some of the best information. You might learn something new!

Sunday’s Obituary – Joseph M. Guirreri – Died 30-May-1980

Relationship to me: Paternal step-grandfather

Joseph’s second wife Beatrice (Repsher) Strait had this newspaper clipping from an unnamed newspaper in her collection.


Joseph Guirreri – Joseph Guirreri, 66, of 43 Lincoln Place died Friday in The Beth Israel Hospital Newark. Born in Brooklyn, he lived in Newton all of his life. He had been an employee of the Ludlow Paper Co., Stanhope, retiring 14 years ago. He was an army veteran of WWII. He was a member of the American Association of Retired Persons No. 44 of Newton and St. Joseph’s Friendship Club of Newton. He is survived by his wife, Beatrice; one daughter Mary Ann Ulmer of Newton, one stepdaughter Mercedes M. Scabet of Newton; one stepson, William C. Strait of Newton; one sister, Mrs. Rose DeStefano of Orlando, Fla.; two grandchildren and three step grandchildren. Funeral services will be held Monday at 9:30 a.m. fromthe Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High Street, Newton to St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Newton, for a 10 a.m. Mass of the Resurrection. Burial will be at Newton Cemetery. Friends may call Sunday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.