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Charles Repman & Family - Wampum, PA

Charles L. Repman and his wife Laura (McDaniel) Repman were prominent and longtime residents of the town of Wampum, Pennsylvania. Together they operated Repman’s Confectionary Store (also known as the Repman Agency) on Main Street Wampum for about six decades.

Charles was born in Wampum to Levi and Jennie (Douthitt) Repman in June 1880. Jennie Douthitt, Charles’ mother and the second of his father’s three wives, died suddenly in July 1889 when young Charles was just nine years old. Her death led to a sensational murder trial in 1891 when Ida (Repman) Elder, Charles half-sister from Levi’s first marriage, was accused of poisoning her with arsenic. I believe Jennie’s remains were exhumed from Slippery Rock Cemetery to prove whether her death was a result of poisoning or heart disease as it was previously thought. Her family stood by her side and Ida was later acquitted of all charges. An article in the March 18, 1891, edition of the New Castle News reads; “She was discharged and received the congratulations of the attorneys and witnesses many with tears in their eyes. It was an effecting scene that will not soon be forgotten.”

In 1899 Charles, or Charlie as he was known, opened Repman’s Confectionary Store on Main Street in Wampum – even though the main business district was on Beaver Street at that time. He married to the former Laura B. McDaniel in 1902 and they made their home on Clyde Street in Wampum. Laura, born in approximately 1881 in Big Beaver Township, Lawrence County, was the daughter of Samuel and Rebecca (Dix) McDaniel. In 1923 they opened a brand new building built right next door to their old store on Main Street. The old store was situated where the empty lot/parking area sits alongside the newer building today.

They sold all sorts of items including candy, ice cream, food stuffs, sundries, stationary, tobacco, cigars, records, and Victrolas/phonographs. They also dealt in all periodicals and acted as a local distributor of the New Castle News and other publications. Their business was a general store divided into two halves separated by an archway. On the right side was the confectionary store selling all sorts of items, while the other side was mainly where the newspapers and periodicals were on display. A sign above the store indicates they also sold pianos! My uncle Charlie DeMarc Jr. told me he remembers going to Repman’s for ice cream when he was a kid. He said he was fond of Mr. Repman because he was gave him a larger scoup of ice cream then the nearby competitor store of Isaly’s Dairy.

Charles and Laura were longtime members of the United Presbyterian Church in Wampum, where Charles performed as an accomplished organist and served as an elder. Charles also served on the Wampum Borough Council for twenty years. They had two children: a daughter Ida Lucille, who died young in 1911 at the age of about six, and a son Harry “Eugene” born on July 16, 1913. Eugene went on to attend Geneva College in Beaver Falls, obtained a master’s degree from Columbia University, became an accomplished musician and skilled teacher of music, married the former Jeanne M. Scott in Beaver Falls in October 1940 (they later divorced), saw service in World War II, and later joined his parents in managing the store in Wampum.

The Repman family presence in Wampum came to an abrupt end in 1960-61. In late February 1960, Charles and Laura took a vacation to Florida with Mr. & Mrs. Harold W. Marshall of Marshall’s Funeral Home in Wampum. Charles grew ill, was sick for about ten days, and passed away in Hollywood, Florida, on March 9, 1960. He was returned home to Wampum for burial at Clinton Cemetery. Laura, seemingly in good health, died suddenly later that year on October 20. Son Eugene, who carried on management of the store, grew despondent and sadly committed suicide (gunshot to head) in the store on the morning of Thursday, August 17, 1961. His death shocked the local community. Laura and Eugene was both laid to rest in the family plot in Clinton Cemetery.

The store, a longtime fixture in Wampum, was sadly closed and the Repman’s personal property was sold off during an estate sale held in November 1961. The building was sold to Dale Brown and Thomas Houk, who in turn sold it to Louis and Helen Leonetti of Wampum. The Leonetti’s reopened the business as Leonetti’s Confectionary Store. I am not sure how long they operated the store but possibly into the 1980’s. Since then the building has been in use by various occupants over the years.



To read an article about a 1921 robbery at Repman’s click here: ROBBERY ARTICLE. Charles Repman had a new building built for his business in 1923. To read about it click here: NEW STORE BUILT. The Repman’s all passed away in close succession in 1960-1961. To read their obituary’s click on: CHARLESOBITLAURA’S OBITEUGENE’S OBIT. To see a funeral card from Laura’s service click on: LAURA’S FUNERAL CARD. To read a 1963 article mentioning Repman’s successor at the store click on: LEONETTI’S ARTICLE.


Repman family. From left its Charles, wife Laura, and son Eugene. Circa late 1950’s. (Photo courtesy of Suzanne Jackson)


Old photo of the Repman’s Confectionary Store on Main Street in Wampum. I believe the main entrance was the doorway on the right side. Inside the store was separated into two main halves, which were acessible through a large archway in the center wall.


Charlie Repman with his old peanut roasting machine that he purchased in 1903. For many years folks would come in to the store just to get a bag of the tasty peanuts. (c1955) Full Size


Several late 1950’s receipts from Repman’s store in Wampum. Full Size


View of building formerly housing the Repman’s store – now housing the River of Life Ministry and Esther’s Fabrics. The top floor appears to contain several apartments. Apr 2010.


View of back of building where stairs lead up to apartments. Apr 2010.


The large Repman stone at Clinton Cemetery. The four flat markers in front indicate the gravesite of the Repman’s. From the bottom its Charles, Laura, Eugene (with veteran’s marker minus flag), and Ida. Apr 2010.


Closeup of marker for Charles. Apr 2010.


The side of the building is now adorned with a colorful mural. Note the DeCampli & Sons (I believe the “sons” are the owners of the building) on top. It looks like the Esther’s Fabrics sign is removed and perhaps a new business is housed in the right hand portion of the building. (Feb 2011)


A closeup of the mural, which appears to possibly be the Wampum Bridge crossing the railroad tracks and the Beaver River. (Feb 2011)

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Comment

  1. I took piano lessons from Eugene

    Henrietta Davis Grekila · 12/31/2011 07:13 PM · #

  2. I remember many of times going there and my parents buying me candy and of course the peanuts.

    Ron Teck · 01/15/2012 11:52 PM · #

  3. Penny candy and the peanut machine on the left when you walk in the door !!

    Richard Householder · 05/30/2012 09:27 AM · #

  4. Leonetti’s must have been open into the early 80’s, because I have very clear memories of going in there to buy the penny pretzel sticks and spending my whole allowance on candy after school – and I was born in 1974. So, unless it closed during the fall that I was in kindergarten, I couldn’t remember the after school part unless they stayed open through the early 80’s.

    Beth Hennon Peters · 06/07/2012 08:01 AM · #

  5. I remember my brother Jim and I would to to Repman’s after Sunday mass at St Monica’s church. we would buy the Pittsburgh press for 25 cents and dad would always give us some change to get a cherry Coke. What a wonderful memory of that store and town. Ron

    Ron Murphy · 04/05/2015 04:07 PM · #

  6. We always called it “Reppies”. I remember the doctor ordering coke syrup for my sister’s upset stomach. There was a tap for syrup and one for the soda. They put some syrup in a cup and didn’t charge anything. You couldn’t buy coke in bottles or cans! I remember the wood floors creaking as people walked through the store and the smell of roasted peanuts. Charlie would stand by the front door and hand them out for free if Laura wasn’t watching. LOL. There was a pay phone booth in the back that had a waiting line almost every night. Kids didn’t even have to spend their nickel because they would give the number to their callers and have them call the pay phone.

    If you made a left after passing the roasted peanuts and the soda fountain, you would be in the appliance area. My family bought their first TV from the Repmans. It had a little black and white screen in a wood cabinet with tubes galore in the back.

    They also had table and chairs where you could sit and have your coca cola, malts, sundaes, etc. Dry cleaning hung in the back. You could pay your telephone and electric bills at the little half door office. Eugene usually worked in the office. (I think Brown & Houk’s Hardware Store took payments for water)?

    On one of our birthdays, our neighbor treated my sister and me to banana splits. We were so excited! Very fond childhood memories of special times in Wampum.

    Marlene craven · 02/16/2016 07:04 PM · #