High up in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Yosemite National Park in California, in 1931, Osta Arminta (Cain) Miner rests along the Mist Trail at the top section of the dramatic 317-foot Vernal Fall.
Osta’s husband, William Allen Miner, handwrote this caption on the back of this image: “Vernal Falls over twice as high as Niagra. in Yosemite Valley. We climbed hundreds of tiresome steps to get to the top of them where a beautiful lake lay in the basin of solid rock.”
Off and on during the late 1910s, and again from about 1920 to their deaths, the Miners made their home in Southern California, in the outskirts of Pasadena. Will and Osta enjoyed camping vacations throughout the southwestern United States, as shown by their snapshots sent to loved ones, taken in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. The couple also resided over the years in El Monte and Rosemead, CA, where Will worked as a carpenter and house contractor during a time when these communities were booming in their growth as suburbs of Los Angeles.
It was a much different lifestyle than the rural farms where each had grown up, Will near Nineveh in Greene County, PA and Osta just over the state line in Hundred, WV. In an interesting twist, Will’s brother Harry Orlan Miner married Osta’s sister Armena Viancy Cain and dwelled in Washington, PA.
Photographs have surfaced of Civil War veteran William “Frederick” Weller and his wife, Mary Coleman, of the family of Joseph and Sarah (Weyand) Coleman of Somerset, PA. The couple were joined in matrimony less than a year after the war’s end, on Jan. 23, 1866, when he was age 24 and she 16.
Frederick stood 5 feet, 7½ inches tall and had a fair complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. He served with 52nd Pennsylvania Infantry during the conflict and often wrote letters to Mary. While on duty at Morris Island, SC in 1865, he contracted typhoid fever which led to bronchitis, heart disease and lung problems. Recalled Abraham Howard, his tentmate and messmate, “I never expected to see him get of[f] Morris Island alive, he was so low from the diseases…” Frederick was sent to a hospital in Charleston and thence to another in the District of Columbia. After receiving an honorable discharge, he came home in July 1865.
The couple spent decades as farmers. In the late 1880s, he began receiving a Civil War soldier’s pension from the federal government. An original copy of their marriage license, proving the legitimacy of their union, today is included in his pension file in the National Archives.
He found it difficult to work at farming, complaining often to neighbors Harmon Barron and Samuel S. Miller about “spells of sickness” which included pain in the chest and difficulty in breathing. Perhaps finding politics a lighter form of work, he is believed to have won the elected position of Director of the Poor in 1888-1892.
Circa 1898, apparently unhappy at home, Frederick made plans to become a resident of the Soldiers’ Home in Erie, PA. While en route, he stayed overnight in a hotel in Sharon, and nearly died of natural gas inhalation. Reported the Sharon Herald, “Frederick Weller … was found unconscious in his room … where he had blown out the gas before going to bed… To the physician at Sharon who attended him he said his wife is a consumptive and that when his pension money was exhausted his children kicked him out. He bewailed his fate, and wished he had died.”
On the last day of his life, on May 16, 1907, Frederick seemed to be in reasonable health. His brother came for a visit, and they talked for two hours. But after the brother’s departure, he complained of sharp heart pain, fell into bed and died. An obituary in the Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier said that he had been sick for a few days “but his death was unexpected and came as a blow to his friends and family. [He was] a consistent member of the Lutheran church and was well known throughout the county. He was an excellent citizen and the community will miss him.”
These images originally were published in The History of Christ’s, Casebeer Evangelical Lutheran Church 1845-1945, Berlin (PA) Publishing Company, 1945.
Upon the death of Dr. Charles Herbert LaWall in Philadelphia in 1937, his portrait was painted and presented by artist Leon A. Spielman (right) to the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, received by President Wilmer Krusen
Charles had served for years as dean of the College, his alma mater. He was widely known as the author of a revised, comprehensive code of ethics for pharmacists in an effort to expand quality standards in the profession. It was entitled “Pharmaceutical Ethics” and printed in the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association. He served on its national executive committee of the Association in 1920-1921, and his other memberships included the American Chemical Society, The American Association for the Advancement of Science and Philadelphia’s prestigious Franklin Institute.
The choice of painting Charles seated reading, against the backdrop of crammed bookshelves, is especially appropriate. He kept an extensive research library in their home and relied heavily upon his accumulated body of knowledge for his many published writings. He once credited his wife as one “who does not object when I bring old or new books home, and who endures in silence the chaotic appearance of our home during periods when manuscript is in preparation or proof is being read; whose stimulating companionship has made all my work possible.” Among his many publications were The Curious Lore of Drugs and Medicines (Four Thousand Years of Pharmacy), The Pharmacy and Science of Dickens’ Writings and Tomato Ketchups.
His wife, Millicent Saxon Renshaw, of the family of Elizabeth (Heilman) Mills Renshaw of Mauch Chunk/Jim Thorpe, PA, also was a graduate of the College, having received her degree in 1904. She became a pharmacist in her own right and at one time served on the teaching staff of the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia. She also helped to edit the publications United States Pharmacopoeia, the Practice of Pharmacy and the United States Dispensatory. She held strong views about stenography as “women’s work,” once writing that women should not work in jobs that “require arduous manual labor” but rather fields such as stenography where they could employ their “almost infinite amount of patience and capacity for endurance.” In addition to her many professional accomplishments, she retained a love of her German heritage and loved to bake yellow cake using saffron, known to her as a “common household remedy” among Pennsylvania Germans.
Here’s my updated list of news articles and blog posts which have impressed me most since mid-October 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.
Among the clergymen portraying the Founding Fathers in colonial costume in this color-tinted image was Rev. William Mullen Minerd, wearing the yellow jacket third from right. He appears to be holding a Bible as part of a June 1932 pageant in the railroading town of Rockwood, Somerset County, PA, honoring the 200th birthday of our nation’s first president George Washington. Reported the Somerset Daily American, “The group created quite a sensation at the pageant by their dress and their ability as actors. Their work was so impressive that they were given an invitation … to present their acts in the Washington Bicentennial at Fort Necessity, July 4…. The scenes depicted by the Rockwood folks were the inauguration of George Washington, the Ball and the corner stone laying.” In this troop, Rev. Minerd portrayed the character of Samuel Allyne Otis, inaugural Secretary of the Senate.
Others, left to right: Rev. Tomfea of the United Brethren Church; Rev. L.W. Gross of Glade, PA, dressed as Roger Sherman, Senator from Connecticut; Rev. Minerd’s cousin James “Jim” Younkin, portraying Vice President John Adams; Rev. V.N. Miller of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, portraying Washington; Domer Kimmel; George Hamilton, as Gen. Henry Knox, first Secretary of War; Rev. W.F. Berkebile of the Dunkard Church, as Robert Livingstone, who administered Washington’s oath of office; G.A. (or C.R.) Miller, as Gen. Arthur St. Clair, President of the Continental Congress; and Domer Kimmel of Schrock, PA. Seated: J.S.W. Snyder, trainer for a ball at the pageant.
The son of Charles Marion and Sabina Matilda (Pierce) Minerd, Rev. Minerd received his license to preach in 1916. His career took him to a number of communities in southwestern Pennsylvania — Freedom, Armstrong County (1916); Jennerstown (1918-1919); Bethany (1919-1924?); Freedom and Salem, Armstrong County (1924-1927?); Valencia (1930); and Harnedsville (1930-1936). His final charge was in the four-church Somerset Circuit of the Evangelical United Brethren Church — Husband, Pleasant Hill, Beulah and Mostoller.
This image is courtesy of the Rockwood Area Historical Society. This organization preserves the history and genealogies of Rockwood, Markleton, Casselman, New Centerville Boroughs, Black, Milford, Middlecreek and Upper Turkeyfoot Townships in Somerset County, an epicenter region of our family’s growth and development over more than two centuries. Several of our cousins recently have been active in a sweeping reorganization of the Society’s facility in Rockwood, among them Kristi (Gross) Brant of the family of Harry David and Amanda (Burkett Miner; Janet (Gary) Orawiec of the family of Jacob and Minnie (Miner) Gary; and Linda Marker and Laurel Peirsel of the family of William Lincoln and Margaret (Nicola) Younkin.
Billy Rugh’s grave marker is inscribed with this verse of scripture from the Book of John: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” His inspiring life followed by a heroic death plunged the city of Gary, IN into mourning and — unheard of — shut down its steel mills for an entire day.
William Arthur Rugh was born near Moline, IL, the son of William Oregon and Henrietta (Glenn) Rugh and stepson of Margaret Ann (Emerick) Baxter Rugh of the family of Iowa pioneers Emanuel and Elizabeth (Boderfield) Emerick. As an infant he lost use of his left leg and for the 40 ensuing years of his life he considered it a useless appendage. He migrated in adulthood to Gary, where he worked at the age of 40 as a newsboy, selling newspapers every day on the block between at Sixth Avenue and Broadway.
In the fall of 1912, he learned that Ethel Smith, a teenage woman whom he did not know, had been badly burned in a motorcycle gasoline explosion. She faced certain death unless receiving a substantial graft of skin. It did not take Billy long to decide that his bum leg could be used for this purpose and invited surgeons at Gary General Hospital to perform an amputation.
At first they declined, but when word became public, the hospital relented when the community was overwhelming in its support. Said the Chicago Tribune, “he has received $600 in money, a free life insurance, offers of enough artificial limbs to supply a centiped, and felicitations from all parts of the country.” Citizens of Gary nominated him to receive a Carnegie Medal from the Carnegie Hero Fund. Local women athletes organized an indoor benefit baseball game. Newspapers across the country voiced their support. One, the Pittsburgh Press, wrote this in an editorial.
When we come to think of it, Mr. William Rugh, you are not only a hero but you are also a gentleman. In the exclusive homes of the West End, London; of Fifth ave., New York, and of the aristocratic quarters of our own city of Pittsburg, there are many carefully nurtured and expensively “educated” and elegantly attired claimants to that latter title who are not capable of such gallantry as that shown by your offer. With all their advantages of ball-rooms and drawing-rooms, you are their superior in manners.
“I can’t understand it,” he said to a newspaperman. “Why are people so good to me?” The surgery went forward and was successful. But while 160 square inches of skin were taken from his removed leg, and grafted to Miss Smith, a recovery was not to be. The stump began to heal, but his lungs and bronchial passage became infected with pneumonia. And on Oct. 18, 1912, just 15 days after his surgery, he died. His final words, said the Moline Dispatch, were “Guess I’m some good — after all.” As the news of his passing became known, Gary’s Mayor Thomas Knotts appointed a committee to look into the possibility of commissioning a statue. A wreath was placed along the street where he once hustled to sell papers.
The St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported that “for the first time in their history the steel mills of Gary will be idle to-morrow. All stores will be closed. There will be no crowds in the theaters and concert halls. In every church there will be said a prayer for the soul of a crippled newsboy. Every minister will speak of the city’s greatest deed of heroism. Thousands of people will try to catch a last glimpse of the face of the man who had died with a happy smile on his lips…”
Honorary pallbearers included Gary’s mayor, the president of the Gary Commercial Club, general superintendent of Illinois Steel Company, general manager of the American Bridge Company, general manager of American Sheet and Tinplate Company, president of the YMCA of Gary, superintendent of schools in Gary, a banker and the commander of the Knights Templar. The cortege to the cemetery was a mile long. More>>>
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.