Tales from a Long Ago Forest

by Donald R. Repsher

Deprived of their land by the treachery of a colonial government, this is the story of Lenape Indians who clung tenaciously to their heritage and how the lessons they learned can help us now.


The story of the Lenape points to a long, complex tradition of hospitality and assimilation in Lenape-hocking, which includes southeastern New York State, eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

The word Lenape means “people.” The name is symbolic of the kind of people they were, continually welcoming and assimilating newcomers and thereby creating through thousands of years the original “melting-pot” of civilization on the North American continent. A more specific name is “Delawares,” which is an English term for the river that runs through their ancient homeland, and a reminder of the place of origin for the people who are now living elsewhere.

The Lenape were held in high regard by many other Indian nations. They were referred to as “grandfathers,” a term of respect implying not only their ancient status but their wisdom and spirituality. Referring to original documents, "The Common Sense Life" begins with Norse Sagas and Christopher Columbus and continues with highlights in the history of the people. In keeping with Lenape Tradition each chapter suggests wisdom that can be learned from their experiences and spirituality.

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          *154 pages    *6x9 format  

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About the Author

Donald R. Repsher (1929-2020) was born in Bangor, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. A graduate of Bangor High School, Albright College, and United Theological Seminary of Dayton, Ohio, when one of its predecessor seminaries was located on the Albright College campus in Reading, Pennsylvania, Donald was ordained into the Christian ministry in 1954 and retired from First Presbyterian Church in Weedsport, Cayuga County, New York, forty years later in 1994.

In the intervening years, he had served United Methodist congregations in New Berlinville, Bethlehem, and a circuit of three congregations in Lehighton, Weissport, and Big Creek, all in eastern Pennsylvania, and The Church of the Good Shepherd (United Methodist) in Willingboro, New Jersey. He then served the First Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Orange County, New York, from 1971 to 1986, working with a successful congregational merger between United Methodists and Presbyterians, and in 1986 moved to Weedsport, New York, where he retired.

It was a letter from Alice Repsher Paulsen (Poughkeepsie, NY) inquiring about the possibility of being related that enlightened Donald to his German ancestry. His curiosity aroused, Donald visited St. John's Cemetery in Bangor and found the gravestones of relatives and ancestors he had never known about. As usual, one thing led to another, and Donald was soon tracking census records and going through church record books, trying to learn more about Repsher ancestors.

Eventually learning that his paternal ancestors had come from Beerfelden in southern Hesse, Germany, and its surrounding villages, and that the correct spelling of his name was Rebscher, he was browsing the Internet when he found the name of Traudel Rebscher of Beerfelden, who was married to Horst Schnur, who became an e-mail friend and made possible the extended church records of the Lutheran churches in Beerfelden and nearby villages. 

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