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letters home (continued)

Chester County Ramblings - Sun, 2017-10-15 12:33

My post yesterday letters home has sparked interest in Chester County genealogy buffs and thanks to Tina S. of West Chester, we have some pieces to the puzzle of my soldier letter writer, William Rapp of New Tripoli, Lehigh Couny PA.

But before then a note: I got them from a friend who purchased them at auction.

Tina first messaged me when she found more on William’s mother, Florence. This is what she said:

Hi. I have found that Florence divorced her husband and raised her son herself before 1940. …lHer parents were John A Kuntz 1854-1938 and Mary Alice Rex 1858-1945.

Florence must have been one plucky lady. Divorce for women at that time was extraordinarily difficult.

Here is her obituary:

She was a teacher, and obviously a very independent lady for her time. She lived with her son until her passing at 92. She was a teacher for 43 years!

Tina is looking for relatives we can contact. Much like Finding Your Roots on PBS. What Tina has learned via Ancestry.com is no one seems to be looking for William. Perhaps his descendants and relatives did not know he existed? Only more research will tell.

Tina discovered an article written about William in 2006 in the Morning Call.

Man’s lifetime home dates to a 1770s log cabin

HOUSE DETECTIVE

April 30, 2006|By Frank Whelan Of The Morning Call

There is a house on the edge of New Tripoli out on Decatur Road about a stone’s throw from the 19th century brick Ebenezer UCC church. A simple white shingled little place, it began its life as a log cabin. There is history here and that is my beat. They call me the house detective.

On a certain bright April morning I found myself bouncing west with the home’s owner, Jayson Boushell, 28 year old real estate guy who works with his wife, Jessica, at Countrywide Home Loans.

As the country opens up before us Boushell is telling me about the house and the unique fellow who lives there.

His name is William Rapp, and it is his story about the house I had come to hear. Although he has purchased the house, Boushell says that it was part of the agreement that Rapp would live there as long as he wanted to.

History is made rich by the people who occupy the buildings, so I was pleased for the opportunity to learn about Rapp’s life while he was an occupant of the house.

We pull up to the house and Rapp is there to greet us. He is 83 and does not get around as much as he use to. But his mind is sharp.

Rapp has lived here almost all of his life, at least since the early 1930s, in this old building. Most of that time was spent living with his mother, a school teacher who once taught him in a one room schoolhouse….Rapp had been in the service in World War II in both Europe and Asia, crossing the Rhine and waiting for that invasion of Japan that never to happened. He went to Muhlenberg College, later got a degree in industrial engineering and worked at Bethlehem Steel…..

William’s father’s name was Louis Rapp. He is a bit of a mystery.

Tina through her genealogy research discovered Louis Rapp (William’s father) was born in 1888 but was living with an Aunt & Uncle in 1900 at age 15 in Brooklyn, NY and in 1910 he is with a different family member of his mother’s. He is 22 and still in Brooklyn.

Tina is looking for 1920 to see what turns up.

Tina also through her genealogy research has NOT found the divorce of William’s parents Florence and Louis Rapp yet but they were together in 1923.

Florence then reportedly gets ill in January 1928 through April 1929. It says an attack of jaundice. We don’t see him with her after that time in 1923.

In 1930 Louis Rapp is living in Philadelphia- or Chester Pa (not sure). The WWII registration says he’s staying in Washington DC in 1942.

Louis , like the son he seems to have abandoned, also apparently signs up for WWII. Were they in Washington DC and surrounding area at the same time we wonder?

Stay tuned! I will also post more when I get through more of the letters! Initial research indicates that family members may have the surname Rex, and some quite possibly either live or used to live in Chester County.


Categories: Pennsylvania

Top Stories Around The Main Line Last Week

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Sun, 2017-10-15 12:00
Two political figures deal with criminal proceedings; I-476 shoulder to open for traffic; winning lotto ticket sold in Bryn Mawr; and more.
Categories: Lower Merion

When Old Meets New: 7 Stunningly Restored Homes For Sale In Eastern Pennsylvania

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Sun, 2017-10-15 10:20
Here are seven breathtaking examples of renovated historical properties for sale in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Categories: Lower Merion

Recent Foreclosures In Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Sun, 2017-10-15 08:55
Here are the latest foreclosures in the area.
Categories: Lower Merion

letters home

Chester County Ramblings - Sat, 2017-10-14 17:52

Sometimes I am inexplicably drawn to things. That happened today when I bought a pack of letters a son wrote to his mother throughout World War II.

His name was William Rapp. The letters are from him to his mother. Her name was Florence Rapp and she lived in New Tripoli Lehigh County.

The letters start in November of 1942 when he is at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland.

The first letter I read he is telling his mother about a Veronica Lake movie he saw called “I Married a Witch”. That made me smile because I remember watching it as a little girl on the black-and-white television in my parents’ breakfast room – I loved that movie!

I have not read all the letters yet, although I have sat here obsessively reading them since I got home a little while ago.

The letters progress from being hand written on stationary to War Department V-Mail Service letters.

The V-Mail letters are like photo copies of the original letters and shrunk and mailed in tiny envelopes.

From Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum:

V-Mail or Victory mail, was a valuable tool for the military during World War II. The process, which originated in England, was the microfilming of specially designed letter sheets. Instead of using valuable cargo space to ship whole letters overseas, microfilmed copies were sent in their stead and then “blown up” at an overseas destination before being delivered to military personnel

I never knew about this mail process until I bought these letters. It’s fascinating.

William, or Billy as he sometimes signs his letters, is a prolific writer. And the letters stretch well into 1945. They go from London to France to I’m not sure where – I will learn that as I finish reading the letters.

But in these letters the soldier writes home to his mom, we learn about life in wartime Europe although I daresay it seems he sanitized the conditions somewhat to spare her feelings and keep her from worrying.

He speaks about seeing a play in London with, and a vacation pass of sorts where he went on a trip to Scotland.

We have a glimpse into a soldier’s life in France during World War II when he speaks about learning to sleep in a sleeping bag on the ground covered with pine needles.

One letter that really got to me so far was writing to his mother after he learned his grandmother had died.

Another letter, I learned he had been at Muhlenberg before war broke out.

I found his obituary. He passed away in 2007:

The Morning Call: William R. Rapp Obituary

William R. Rapp, 85, of New Tripoli, passed away on Tuesday, September 11 in his home, where he enjoyed gardening and chess. Born in Allentown, he was a son of the late Louis and Florence M. (Kuntz) Rapp. He was a 1938 graduate of Slatington High School with honors, fourth in his class and a member of the National Honor Society. Graduating with senior honors from Muhlenberg College in 1942, he was admitted to the A.S.T.P. at Ft. Bragg, N.C., and subsequently attended the Georgia Institute of Technology for one year studying mathematics and engineering. Bill served active military duty overseas in both the European and Pacific theaters of War during World War II in the Army attaining the rank of T/4 with the 3186 Signal Service Battalion. He attained a military specialty in that capacity although he saw no combat in the Pacific because the war ended before he reached Manila, Philippines.

Once he returned to the Lehigh Valley, Bill was employed by PP&L for four years being given a special training program. He was a commercial representative in Lancaster County and wrote ad copy. He was employed by Bethlehem Steel Corp. for 26 years dividing his time between industrial engineering and computer science. He was a member of Chapter 77 of the Industrial Engineering Society while employed as an industrial engineer. In computer science, he wrote FORTRAN programs for mainframes, principally I.B.M. Bill also wrote several in-house papers for Bethlehem Steel for maintenance, and also for providing for the combination mill at Saucon Mills as well as multiple machine interference factors.

He owns a copyright in a development of Ellipse Odyssey written in basic language of an Apple Computer. He was a member of New Life Evangelical Lutheran Church, New Tripoli. Survivors: There are no immediate survivors.

Services: Graveside services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, September 14, Ebenezer Cemetery, New Tripoli. No calling hours. Arrangements by Keller Funeral Homes, New Tripoli. Contributions: To be made to the church, c/o the funeral home, P.O. Box 75, New Tripoli, PA 18066.

Published in Morning Call on Sept. 12, 2007

And now I, a perfect stranger, have some of his letters home. I don’t know their journey on their way to reach me since the obituary states he died without survivors. I’m not sure that he ever married.

There are so few of the greatest generation left. And when we speak about honoring veterans, these are the small stories we should remember. The stories of good men who throughout our history, have fought for our freedoms.

Thanks for stopping by.


Categories: Pennsylvania

Man Missing For 5 Months Found At Hospital / 4 PA Pizzerias Among Best In USA / College Student Shot By Cops

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Sat, 2017-10-14 12:19
Check out the top news that made headlines this week across the Patch network in Pennsylvania.
Categories: Lower Merion

Conshohocken State Road Restricted Next Week In Lower Merion

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Sat, 2017-10-14 12:00
Bridge work will require lane restrictions and flagmen for several days next week, PennDOT said.
Categories: Lower Merion

Ardmore Home, Former Du Pont Estate, Has Billiards Room, Balcony, Ballroom, And More

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-10-13 17:14
This former Du Pont estate is the embodiment of the Old Main Line. See photos and full details here.
Categories: Lower Merion

Lower Merion HS Hosting 'Maroon & White' Day Oct. 14

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-10-13 16:39
Come support the student council, various club, and the Lower Merion High School football and field hockey teams at the special event.
Categories: Lower Merion

PennDOT Opening Shoulders On 476, 95 In Delco To Ease Congestion​

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-10-13 15:34
Drivers will be able to use the shoulder as a travel lane under a new dynamic, part-time program, PennDOT said.
Categories: Lower Merion

'Fords Fight For Life' Raises Thousands For Local Cancer Foundation

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-10-13 14:36
Well done, Haverford High School Football and Fords Fight For Life Night organizers!
Categories: Lower Merion

Lower Providence Man Charged With 100 Counts Of Child Porn, Child Abuse: DA

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-10-13 14:33
Breaking: Images and videos showed prepubescent girls, toddlers, and infants being sexually assaulted by adult men, the DA said.
Categories: Lower Merion

Main Line 'Miracle Worker' Cast Prepares By Living Like Helen Keller

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-10-13 12:18
As young local actors prepare for the production in December, they will get a lesson in what it's like to live without sight or hearing.
Categories: Lower Merion

Radnor Commissioner Mentored Kids Before Child Porn Charges

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-10-13 11:13
Phil Ahr, who is facing numerous child porn related charges, mentored young students through a program from his employer in the past.
Categories: Lower Merion

Main Line Police, School District Cracking Down On Bus Passing Next Week

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-10-13 10:01
A Main Line police department and a Main Line school district will be targeting drivers who pass stopped school buses next week.
Categories: Lower Merion

Your Guide to Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood and Nearby Open Houses

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Fri, 2017-10-13 08:36
Looking to move? Here is the list of upcoming open houses nearby.
Categories: Lower Merion

The 5-1 Eagles stake their claim to be among NFL's best

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2017-10-13 07:22
Usually, it is the loser's lament.

The refs cost us the game.

Not last night.

Against all odds - including Pete Morelli's officiating crew - the Eagles went into Carolina last night and beat Cam Newton and the Panthers, 28-23.

The Eagles are 5-1, sitting atop the NFC East and rightfully staking a claim to being one of the best teams in the NFL.

They played without their crucial cog, right guard Lane Johnson. And it showed early as backup Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled early, giving up a key sack to Julius Peppers that led to a Carson Wentz fumble. But Vaitai settled down and played well in the second half.

It is this mantra of "next man up" that has become the calling card of this team. And it just happens to be the trait of good teams. And make no mistake, Doug Pederson's club is a very good team.

Starting middle linebacker Jordan Hicks went down with a turned ankle in the first half. No problem. Joe Woods stepped up and filled the bill.

Carson Wentz was money again, throwing three more TD passes and showing he is quickly becoming one of the elite signal callers in the NFL, far beyond what is usually expected of second-year players. Wentz's ability to come to the line of scrimmage and quickly dissect a defense - including switching out of a play when he sees something he can exploit - is the mark of a savvy veteran like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

The Eagles faced the uphill challenge of a short week and traveling to Carolina.

But it wasn't just the Panthers that seemed to be providing the opposition.

They had to deal with Pete Morelli's officiating crew.

The trend showed up early, a bunch of ticky-tack calls, in particular on the Eagles defense. There was an unnecessary roughness call on running back LeGarrette Blount for what appeared to be routine blocking. That was followed a few minutes later by no call when Blount was thrown to the ground by a Panther clearly after the whistle.

The Eagles were called for 10 penalties for 126 yards; the Panthers just one infraction for 1 yard.

Sound lopsided? Actually, it continued a trend.

In the last four Eagles games done by Morelli's crew - all on the road - the Birds have been flagged 40 times for 396 yards, while the home team has been hit just eight times for 74 yards.

And none of it matters at this point.

What matters is this: The Eagles are 5-1, staking a claim to be among the NFL's elite.

The only downside: We now have to wait more than a week for the Birds to get back on the field, a Monday night matchup vs. the Redskins.

Can't wait.
Categories: Pennsylvania

No tax hike for Delco - for 4th straight year

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2017-10-13 07:01
Delaware County Council has a pre-holiday - and pre-election - present for county residents.

Taxes will not be going up next year.

That makes four straight years without a tax hike.

As you might expect, with two seats on County Council up for grabs on the Nov. 7 ballot, news of a fourth straight year with increasing taxes is viewed differently according to your political persuasion.

Dave White, the Republican incumbent who is running for another term along with John Perfetti, said "Delaware County is on the move," touting growth in the county that has resulted in 25,000 new jobs and 500 new business startups.

The Democratic challengers, Kevin Madden and Brian Zidek, are less impressed.

Click here for the full story.
Categories: Pennsylvania

More violence on the streets of Chester

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2017-10-13 06:47
It has not been a good week on the streets of Chester.

Police are investigating the latest wave of violence on city streets.

In a 24-hour period, two men were killed and two others wounded in three separate shooting incidents.

You can get all the details here.

The two fatal shootings brings the city's homicide total to 26 for the year. There were only 27 all of last year. There have been 33 homicides in the county.

The city has boosted a reward fund for information on gun violence in the city, beefed up the number of officers on patrol and added state police to try to quell the violence on city streets.

Nothing has worked.

Police Chief James Nolan feels the frustration, both from residents and his own police force.

"What we can't correct is the lack of concern for human life," Nolan told a local TV station.

So what is the answer for the city.

It's one residents and officials need to address now, before the next round of gunfire breaks out.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Patch Contributor Roundup: Vietnam War Memorial; Astronaut Scholarship; What Are Toxic Rainbows?; More Local Stories

Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood Patch - Thu, 2017-10-12 15:36
Some of the best and most useful content comes from the Patch community. Here's a roundup of stories from this week.
Categories: Lower Merion