# Just How Many of Us Are ‘Out There?’ 3,800? 17,000? 146,000?

This post is mainly for statistics geeks, and possibly insurance actuaries, and maybe also those with morbid curiosity. Keep in mind that I was a journalism major in college, not a mathematician.

Ever since starting into the Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor genealogy quest decades ago, one question among many has stayed on my mind — just how many of us are “out there?”

Hoping for some expert guidance, recently I read An Essay on the Principle of Population, authored in 1798 by church parson Thomas Robert Malthus, an Englishman. He observed that a population grows at a geometric rate and doubles every 25 years.

Applied to the Jacob and Maria (Nein) Minerd Sr. family, starting in the year 1791, when they settled in southwestern Pennsylvania, the couple and their family of children and spouses numbered about 15. If we double that “15” number nine times – the number of 25-year blocks of time in which the doubling theoretically occurred – it brings us to a possible MMMM population today of 3,840 cousins and spouses.

That number does not seem accurate for us, and was wholly unsatisfying to me. Our MMMMs reproduced at a rate far greater than Malthus’ prediction.

Actual facts show that Jacob and Maria had 12 children (of whom eight are known) who in turn bore 87 grandchildren, 469 great-grandchildren and 1,344 great-great grandchildren, for a total of 1,912 lives, virtually all before the year 1900.

So I looked elsewhere for a better way to make an estimate.

As dark and strange as it may sound, the death statistics posted on our website over more than 20 years may just help us estimate a reasonably accurate range of possibilities.

Work with me here. At year-end 2020, our Minerd.com “In Lasting Memory” webpage listed the names of 3,000 known cousins and spouses who had passed since July 1, 2000, the date 20.5 years earlier when I began counting in earnest.

Since 7,488 days had elapsed over that time period, to New Year’s Eve 2020, it means we lost one cousin or spouse about every 2.5 days.

Slicing and dicing those numbers another way, it means an average of 146.3 cousins have passed away every year since 2000.

But that’s only a fraction of the true total of deaths which have occurred in every nook and cranny of the extended family near and far. We still do not know many, many of the branches who are alive today.

Here’s why that matters in the pursuit of our big question.

The United States Center for Disease Control reports that 2,845,838 Americans died in the 2019 calendar year, which calculates to 869.7 for every 100,000. [More on the CDC website]

So if my math is correct – and please point out any errors of my ways if found – just under one in 100 Americans died the past year, which translates to a figure of 0.869 percent. So … if we assume that our MMMMS die at the same rate as the rest of their fellow Americans, then the 146.3 relatives we lose on average means our total population alive today could be 16,835 cousins and spouses.

Whoa. That’s a big number. But believe it or not, perhaps it’s not big enough. Our data might not match the CDC’s. Let’s look at another batch of statistics.

Sadly, I’ve observed that on a handful of days, our death rates were much higher than one every 2.5 days. In fact, on these calendar dates, the number was actually four per day – March 3, 2004 — Oct. 14, 2007 – March 11, 2008 — May 31, 2008 – and April 12, 2013 — totaling 10 every 2.5 days.

Is it possible that four deaths per day are closer to the reality?

Let’s run the numbers. If we truly lose an average of four cousins every day, or 1,460 a year, our total living population could be as high as 146,000. That blows my mind.

This count does not include the massive families of Jacob’s sister Maria Elisabeth Gaumer and brother Friedrich Meinert Jr. (Meinder) and their other siblings, which would propel the totals into the stratosphere.

The truth is that we will never know the actual number. I’m not sure God wants us to know. It’s just impossible. But the question is one of the first I plan to ask St. Peter at the Pearly Gates someday when it’s my turn to become a statistic.

What do you think?

# Sharing Minerd.com’s ‘Annual Review 2020’

The worldwide coronavirus pandemic and lockdown – mixed with an embattled presidential election season, inflamed racial tensions and social media overload – shaped the quality of connection and respite in 2020 that Minerd.com and our Facebook page and blog are intended to be.

These online properties document a social history of old Pennsylvania German families to the current time. Today the clan is made up of a very wide range of cousins who racially and culturally are White and Black and richly mixed with everything else. Politically, they are Blue, Red, indifferent and expatriate. What binds us all together despite the breadth of diversity, culture and opinions is the family bond. It’s an absolute thing.

The year 2020 was to have been a much more pronounced celebration of Minerd.com’s 20th anniversary. The Covid-19 lockdown also slowed traditional research and reunion travel activity. But on the flip side, more time was freed up for online exploration and writing which greatly expanded Minerd.com’s already vast library of biographies, features and historic images. More content was brought forth to be shared for publication by cousins at large than ever before, and more cousins joined the dialogue on our private Facebook page.

The numbers bear out the public response to the work. Total Minerd.com page impressions increased 2.9 percent, and total visitors were up 11.3 percent, as compared with 2019. Our member-only Facebook page added 197 new members, up 44 percent.

Discovering new interpersonal connections are at the heart of this initiative. As one example the past year, with help from cousins Joe McKnight, Jill (Channing) Aird and Peggy (Grimm) Mansberry, a new study identified 40 cousins and spouses in the 1972 graduating class of Connellsville Area High School in the county where our pioneer ancestors settled in 1791. Six more are being studied for possible inclusion. The total class size was 598, meaning our cousins comprised 6.7 percent. Most if not all of these cousins alive today did not realize that they were related to so many whom they had known for such a long time.

At least one cousin from Pennsylvania likes to print out Minerd.com pages for reference. She wrote that “I have a whole binder of family stuff taken from that website lol.” Another cousin from Kentucky, formerly of Southern California, wrote of our social media page that “This is one of the most interesting sites on Facebook.”

More highlights from the past year>>>

# Tim Freshley and the Restored Winning Car from the First Sebring Endurance Race

Today’s 12-hour motor race at Sebring, FL is world-renowned for speed and endurance, mirroring the European version at LeMans, France. USA Today readers twice have voted Sebring the top motorsports event in North America.

The very first Sebring race, held 70 years ago on New Year’s Eve 1950, was won by a Crosley Hot Shot model bearing number “19,” owned by Vic Sharpe. Years later, the #19 car was saved from oblivion by racing enthusiast Barry Seel and skillfully restored by Timothy Wayne Freshley – former husband of Nila Diane Osborne of the family of Walter Herbert and Lucinda Katherine “Kate” (Martin) Skinner of Clarksburg, WV.

Considered by experts as “a stunning, as raced, restoration,” Tim completed his work in his garage in Randolph, OH. He brought #19 back to Sebring for display in the Gallery of Legends. Today the vehicle is owned by collector Bill Cunningham and housed in his “Bill’s Garage” in Lakeland, TN.

The first track was on an airport runway at Hendricks Field and is considered American endurance racing’s birthplace. On that day, there were no grandstands, ticketing booths or public-address system for spectators, and only a small number of restrooms. Bales of hay marked the track outlines, and the pit rows were shaped by folding tables held together with planks of wood. The winning drivers of the first race – which lasted for six hours — were Bobby “Ralph” Deshon and Frits Koster.

To outperform cars with larger, more powerful engines, Deshon and Koster ran that first race entirely in high gear without shifting. A history authored by Seel and Louis Rugani says that “It was Bobby’s first time in an endurance race, and he had made a couple of mistakes that cost them some distance. He tried to shift the non-synchro transmission in the turns and lost a lot of speed. It was because of Frits’s great driving ability that they were able to make up the lost distance. Frits kept the little car in high gear and just let it scream on the straightaways. Going into the corners they would just sit up and let the air resistance blowing against their body slow them down for the turn, once through the turn they would slide back down in the seat. Vic had figured that the little engine ran about 7500 rpm all the way…”

Today, the race is branded as “Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.” Past winners include legends such as Mario Andretti, Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, A.J. Foyt, Stirling Moss and Bobby Rahal, among many others. Celebrity actors who have raced there have been Steve McQueen (circa 1970) and James Brolin, Gene Hackman and Paul Newman. For more, visit: SebringRaceway.com – CrosleyAutoClub.com – and BillsGarage.com.

# “Bears by Ruth” Surround TV’s “Miss Ruth” of San Diego

A family of adorable teddy bears surrounds the late Ruth Helen (Braem) White Worden of San Diego, CA. She hand-crafted these “Bears by Ruth” as gifts for University Christian Church members who had been hospitalized. She was well-known in San Diego as the character “Miss Ruth” on the “House of Happiness” television show broadcast locally during the 1960s and ’70s.

Her husband — Rev. Joseph Ray White of the family of Robert Marshall and Mary Rebecca (Pope) White of Hopwood, PA – was pastor of the church. The couple had met as students at Bethany College in West Virginia, and were united in marriage in 1941. Their union endured for 56 years until cleaved apart by death. After obtaining their degrees at Bethany, Joseph enrolled in Yale University’s School of Divinity and Ruth at Boston’s Emerson College to train for a future in the radio industry.

Among Joseph’s early pastorates were churches in Stony Creek, MD and Charleston, WV. Then in 1951, he accepted a call to move cross-country and become director of Christian education at Seattle’s University Christian Church. The Whites moved again to San Diego in 1957 when he was named senior pastor at University, and they remained for several decades.

# Author Thomas Beck and His ‘Tommy Two Shoes Mysteries’ Series

Continuing in a series promoting authors in the family, this month’s image shows Thomas Beck and a poster of his seven books. Cousins on the family’s member-only Facebook page will recognize Tom — of the family of Raymond and Rebecca (Rugg) Miner of Indian Head, PA — for his regular posts about his immediate and at times quirky family of yesteryear. Other of his writings are published on his “Thomas Beck’s Blog” as well as on this website, headline “Tales of the Raymond and Rebecca (Rugg) Miner Family,” Part 1 and Part 2.

His “Two Shoes” books feature a fictional Pittsburgh detective, named appropriately enough Tommy “Two Shoes” Minerd. The four books to date describe the adventures when Tommy “steps into a tangled web of extortion and corruption … [vowing] to find the men responsible for assaulting him, his friends, his family and the woman he loves.” Their titles are From Mountains to More – Entangled – 12 Days of Murder – and Partners for Life. Tom’s non-Two Shoes works are entitled Hannah’s Messiah – The Walls Came Tumbling Down – and Addie. Check them out on Amazon and Kindle.

Tom attended our Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor Reunion in 2019. In a post headlined “WOW, What a Week End,” he wrote this of his first-time experience: “I applaud all who I met and who have contributed so much over the years to keep the family ties strong. I pray that these bonds will expand and draw us closer together.’Finally brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace be with you’. II Corinthians 13:11.” In a fascinating twist, his late wife Cindy (Morrison) Beck was a member of the Connellsville (PA) Area High School Class of 1972, of which 38 known student body members are cousins within our clan.

Other cousin-authors highlighted in previous Minerd.com Photos of the Month include Mary “Michele” Miner and her novel Their Moon Was Cardboard (July 2020) – Jack Lewis and his novel Storm Coming: A Novel of the Civil War in Western Virginia (December 2017) – and Jeffrey T. Minerd’s fantasy adventure novel, The Sailweaver’s Son (November 2016).

# Kent Paser’s Homemade Mustang II Airplane

The late Kent Milton Paser of Littleton, CO spent his career pursuing his passion, aviation. This Mustang II airplane, which he built in his home garage, is now preserved in the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver.

Kent spent three-and-a-half years constructing this aircraft from scratch. He researched, designed, manufactured, installed and tested each modification separately. For his materials, he purchased 4-feet by 8-feet sheets of aluminum and cut and shaped each piece by hand. With a wing span of 26 feet, the plane made its maiden flight in the winter of 1971 with the call numbers N5672. This sleek and efficient racing machine is still discussed in flight circles around the world.

Kent detailed his creation in his 1994 book Speed With Economy, which spells out all of the modifications he made to increase speed and efficiency.

Kent began his career with Martin Marietta as an aerospace engineer. While sending man into space with Skylab and helping to put man on the moon through the Apollo flights, he also created significant tools for space and star charts currently used in The International Space Station. Sharing his passion for flight with astronauts and rocket scientists and the like, Kent retired after 33 years.

Kent’s wife, Sandra Ammerman-Paser, is the daughter of the late Myrl D. and Opal Marie (Ferguson) Ammerman of the family branch of Margaret (Pring) Cornell. In the summer of 2000, shortly after this website was launched, Sandra made contact and shared a significant amount of content and images for her branch, going back to her great-great-grandfather, 1844 Indiana pioneers John and Barbara (Shaeffer) Minerd Jr.

# Minerd.com’s Recommended News Stories and Blog Posts Since Jan. 2020

Here’s my updated list of news articles and blog posts which have impressed me most since the start of 2020, all originally posted on the “Favorite Links” page of my award-winning website, Minerd.com.

These stories have some connection to my favorite themes that help shape the website — Americana, culture, art, journalism, science, technology, faith, history/genealogy, German-ness … and my hometown of Pittsburgh. They cover important issues in our society but do more than just report on the who, what and when. The pieces go deeper which is why I like them.

# Rev. Dr. Brad Harbaugh and the Non-partisan, Non-denominational Work of the Capitol Commission

At a time when our nation is sharply and bitterly divided in politics as well as spiritual and moral questions, Rev. Dr. William “Bradford” Harbaugh of Raleigh, NC oversees a team of non-denominational, non-partisan, non-political ministers in states coast to coast. These ministers serve in the name of Jesus, bringing a pastoral presence and providing prayer and biblical guidance through clearly written expositional Bible studies and personal soul care. They bring gospel hope and spiritual strength to all governing leaders and staff of both major parties, all human beings serving under duress. The result often is peacemaking. This ministry meets personally with governors, lieutenant governors, treasurers, secretaries of state, attorney generals and state and congressional legislators.

As President/National Minister of the Capitol Commission, Brad seeks to incite the church to pray for all their leaders. He points people consistently to their prayer tool, the website Pray1Tim2.org. He points out “praying for all your leaders is the priority command given by God to fight the good fight.” He is deeply concerned about the apathy of all Americans regarding foundational rights, rights given to every human being by God.

One of them, religious freedom, was a topical focus on Aug. 31, 2020 at the Commission’s National Gathering in Topeka, KS. Although the mission of the Commission focuses on the gospel and discipleship, the ministry felt it was important to inform the church of the battle for religious freedom going on in America and around the world. Brad wanted people to understand the hard-won battle in our nation’s formation and the reason why our founding fathers made religious freedom the first 16 words of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Therefore, the public was invited for this specific seminar.

Brad recently hosted a broadcast roundtable, “Is Your Religious Freedom At Risk?” featuring former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback who today is U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. The panel included Louisiana State Chaplain Michael Sprague, Missouri State Chaplain John Battaglia and Kansas State Minister David DePue. Call-in questions were made by Senator Donzella James (D-GA), Senator Kim Hammer (R-AR), State Rep. Doug Richey (R-MO) and State Rep. Jason Chipman (R-MO) as well as Georgia Public Service Commission Vice Chairman Tim Echols. The 58:38 minute-broadcast is available for viewing on YouTube, ROKU Apple TV and Amazon Fire.

Brad is the son of the late William Gradon and Dorothy (Husak) Harbaugh of Wellington, OH, of the family of Allen Edward and Margaret (Williams) Harbaugh, the famed “Mountain Poet” of Mill Run, PA. He is affectionately known as “Papa” to nine grandchildren. He and his wife Robin have been blessed with 42 years of marriage.

# ‘Donna’ – An Admiring, Overdue Tribute to a Pioneering and Inexhaustible Genealogist

Donna (Younkin) Logan changed my life and my perception of how our Pennsylvania German pioneer families have grown to vast sizes and shaped Americana. She left us too soon. Sadly, it’s taken me a baker’s dozen years to complete writing this memoir which I began in 2007.

For more than 15 years, from the late 1980s to her death on Jan. 4, 2006, Donna was a pioneering researcher as well as organizer of the National Younkin Reunion and publisher of the “new” Younkin Family News Bulletin. She spent those years digging into old records, copying photos, visiting cemeteries and corresponding with Younkin descendants all over the United States and beyond. She freely shared her vast resource of research information, always with cheer and enthusiasm. As said her sister Jean, “Donna would do anything for a Younkin.”

I don’t know where she got her drive — or her energy.

Perhaps her greatest achievement and most enduring legacy was the lesson of inter-connectedness, that while we all share a DNA link, we also are part of the greater whole of our nation in its mainly good, sometimes bad and occasionally ugly.

Her last discoveries were of Younkin-Junghen connections in Germany, and also the launch of a Younkin DNA project utilizing technology to determine precise bloodlines. Her passing was a powerful shock, and she is still missed by many. Among veteran Younkin reunion-goers, she stands as a one-word name, simply “Donna.”

Donna’s Mind — Donna’s mind and motive always fascinated me. She had a deep belief that one of the greatest qualities of life was to have a history. And she seemed genuinely gratified when giving others the gift of their genealogy. I don’t kinow if this was the product of being the eldest child of divorced parents, or starting to face an empty nest once her children were in high school — or having her Younkin grandparents living so far away in later years after having grown up with them nearby. She considered the sharing of memories to be a “true gift.”

She definitely was blessed with a high curiosity drive from a young age. She once wrote that “As a child, I was forever asking my Dad why we were the only family with this name. A name, I might add, that my teachers always spelled and pronounced incorrectly! Each year the new phone book would come out. I would check to see if any new YOUNKIN’s had moved to town.”

After having not seen them for about a decade, Donna and her sister Jean and young nephew Derek flew to Arizona in about 1987 to see their grandparents Karst and Catherine (Brown) Younkin, of the family of Aaron Schrock and Sarah (Alton) Younkin. While there, Donna’s grandmother brought out “a huge box from storage filled with memories,” Donna later wrote. “This box contained an emormous collection of photographs, documents, hand-written memoirs and one very special item – an old (published 1938) issue of the Younkin Family News Bulletin.” She also saw a photograph of the Nebraska sod house where her grandparents had once lived.

These finds fueled her imagination and sense of purpose in going deep into her family’s past.

Her daughter Jennifer suggests that Donna’s personality type was as a “campaigner,” someone who is “extraverted, intuitive, feeling, and prospecting.” Some of the fruits of this type are a free spiritedness, charm, independence, energy and great joy in making emotional connections with others. These truly were her gifts.

Her First Call — Her first call came one Saturday afternoon in July 1989 as I was hurrying to get out the door. My brothers and I were about to embark on a road trip to Cleveland to see a ballgame between the Indians and Oakland A’s. I didn’t have much time, but once I knew why she was on the phone, delayed for just a bit and ended up talking for several minutes. more>>>

# Award-Winning Minerd.com Family Website Marks 20th Anniversary

Two decades after the Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor family of southwestern Pennsylvania launched the Minerd.com website to expand its information-sharing network, the site is marking its 20th anniversary this year.

Minerd.com has a national following averaging 30,000 visitors a year and twice has been named by Family Tree Magazine as a “top 10 family website” in the nation. Over two decades, it has attracted more than 3 million visitors, generated award-winning research and been cited in scores of books, magazine articles and news stories.

“The website proves the case of how vastly inter-connected we all are and tries to be a unifying presence in an era of harsh political, racial and spiritual divisiveness in our nation,” said website founder Mark A. Miner. “It tangibly links our families to the broader backdrop of Americana over time and educates tens of thousands of our extended cousins and friends that their ancestral roots are in Fayette and Somerset Counties here in regional Pittsburgh.”

A private, related “National Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor” Facebook page was launched last year and has grown to more than 580 cousin-members in the United States and as far away as Costa Rica. Another project, the Minerd.com Blog, was created in 2015 to more widely share the latest family history research for the online community and educate the public about how families have influenced the culture and history of American communities.

Minerd.com’s primary feature is a biographical archive preserving the stories of a sprawling number of descendants of Jacob and Maria (Nein) Minerd Sr. who settled on the border of Fayette/Somerset Counties in 1791, and related Younkin, Harbaugh, Ream, Gaumer and other Pennsylvania German families. It also promotes the Minerds’ every-other-year national reunion and highlights the family’s diversity through feature stories, reunion archives, charts and 17,000 images.

Among the more popular pages are the “Photo of the Month” and “In Lasting Memory” which documents more than 2,800 deaths of cousins and their spouses since 2000. The site’s encyclopedic “Civil War Guide” tells the detailed stories of hundreds of Civil War veterans along with their battles and casualties.

Miner originally envisioned Minerd.com after developing several generations of websites in the 1990s in his professional employment. Today he is self-employed as the CEO of marketing consulting and publishing firms.

The Sept. 1, 2020 edition of the Somerset (PA) Daily American prints an article about this story headlined “Award-winning Minerd.com family website marks 20th anniversary.” [Subscription required.]

The Aug. 25, 2020 edition of Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier published “Minerd.com family website marks 20th anniversary.” [Subscription required.]