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.

Valuing a Presidential Library” – by John Payne, The Book Collector, Oct. 21, 2020
22 Online Historical Photo Databases” – Family Tree Magazine, Oct. 21, 2020
Library of Congress and National Park Service Receive Historic Collection on Women’s Rights” – Fine Books & Collections – Oct. 9, 2020
Understanding German Language and Surnames” – by James M. Beidler, Family Tree Magazine, Oct. 2020
The Next Page: Remembering August Wilson” – by Timothy Lydon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct. 4, 2020
16 Things to Write Down About Yourself for Posterity” – by Allison Dolan, Family Tree Magazine, Oct. 2020
Clarence Wolf: a personal history and perspective” – by Bruce E. McKinney, Rare Book Hub, Oct. 1, 2020
What we saw” – by the Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct, 1, 2020
Philadelphia’s Renaissance Manuscripts” – Fine Books & Collections – Sept. 24, 2020
The Life and Horticultural Art of Rachel ‘Bunny’ Mellon” – Art & Object – Sept. 7, 2020
Contemporary Collectors: Josiah Kirby Lilly, Part 1” – and Part 2 – by David Randall, The Book Collector Podcast, June 24, 2020
The Internet Archive’s noble mission” – by the Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 24, 2020
The Florence Flood of 4th November 1966” – by Mario Witt, The Book Collector Podcast, June 3, 2020
Books: Maybe We Aren’t Reading Them, But They Still Make Great Props” – by Michael Stillman, Rare Book Hub, June 2020
Another Valuable Ancient Document Obtained Under Shady Circumstances Likely Heading from the U. S. Back to Iraq” – by Michael Stillman, Rare Book Hub, June 2020
This Is How Deeply the Coronavirus Changed Our Behavior” – by Zoe Schneeweiss, Dan Murtaugh, and Bloomberg Economics, Bloomberg Markets, May 28, 2020
Deepfakes Are Going To Wreak Havoc On Society. We Are Not Prepared.” – by Rob Toews, Forbes, May 25, 2020
Inside the NSA’s Secret Tool for Mapping Your Social Network” – by Barton Gellman, Wired, May 24, 2020
Reminiscences of a California Collector: Mrs. Edward Doheny” – The Book Collector Podcast, May 20, 2020
Wecht: Nation’s ideological split ‘very disturbing’ ,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 17, 2020
Writing about the dead during a pandemic: ‘They are not a statistic or data point’ ” – by Katie Pellico and Brian Stelter, CNN Business, April 25, 2020
Archaeology Is Revealing New Clues About Shakespeare’s Life (And Death)” – The Conversation, April 22, 2020
Beyond Silent Spring” – by Matthew Wills, Fine Books & Collections, Spring 2020
The Social-Distancing Culture War Has Begun” – by McKay Coppins, The Atlantic, March 30, 2020
City of Antwerp and Google Put 100,000+ Books Online” – Fine Books & Collections, March 25, 2020
Printing and the Mind of Man: The Inside Story” by Percy H. Muir, The Book Collector Podcast, March 18, 2020
We’re Not Going Back to Normal” – by Gideon Lichfield, MIT Technology Review, March 17, 2020
The ‘Internet of Things’ Is Sending Us Back to the Middle Ages” – by Joshua A.T. Fairfield, The Conversation, Feb. 19, 2020
Texas A&M University Libraries to Celebrate Nicholas A. Basbanes Collection” – Fine Books & Collections, Feb. 18, 2020
David Rubenstein Gives $10 Million to Support New Visitor Experience at Library of Congress” – Fine Books & Collections, Feb. 18, 2020
Maine Library Turns Down Offer for 5,000+ Sailing Books and Space to House Them” – by Michael Stillman, Rare Book Hub, Feb. 2020
You’re never going to have a legacy, so give up trying” – By Olivia Goldhill, Quartz at Work, Jan. 22, 2020
Robert Caro’s Papers Headed to New-York Historical Society” – New York Times, Jan. 8, 2020
May T.S. Eliot letters send an overdue #MeToo message” – by Rafia Zakaria, CNN.com, Jan. 8, 2020
Volcanic Rock Discovery Calls Theories About Life’s Origins Into Question” –Inverse, Jan. 4, 2018 – Pocket, April 2020
On Media: 2019 marks the end of metro daily newspapers” – by Andrew Conte, NEXT Pittsburgh, Jan. 1, 2020
The Smithsonian Explores Collectors’ Magnificent Obsessions” – by Jennifer Howard, Fine Books & Collections, Winter 2020
Playwright Arthur Miller’s Archive Opens to Researchers” – Fine Books & Collections, Jan. 2020
Financially Squeezed College Is Selling Its Shakespeare First Folio” – by Michael Stillman, Rare Book Hub, Jan. 2020

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

Rev. Dr. William “Bradford” Harbaugh enlarge>>>

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

Minerd.com was launched May 1, 2000

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.]

Grieving Parents Say ‘Yes’ to God’s Plan in Response to Daughter’s Tragic Death

Jamilyn Hull – enlarge>>>

Having just returned home from a mission trip to Haiti, where she was preparing to adopt a baby girl, and with plans to work for a non-profit overseas, the 26-year-old Jamilyn Renee Hull faced a very bright future. She was a talented photographer and had traveled around the world, looking for ways to help women become more self-sufficient and capturing that in images. During one visit to Israel, she wrote, “I was walking places where Jesus walked, and getting my eyes on places I had only read about in my Bible.” She was flourishing, doing what she felt called to do, using her God-given talents to live out her faith.

But the day after her homecoming from Haiti, over the Father’s Day Weekend in 2015, while going home late at night following a visit with her father, she was killed in an automobile accident. Just like that.

At the time, her parents David and Jennifer Hull – he of the family of John Andrew and Susan (Pletcher) Miner of Somerset County, PA – were living in Humble, TX, where he was executive pastor of small groups for the 15,000-member Woodlands Church. The family’s emotional devastation wrought by this senseless death was so personal and so overwhelming that it could not be captured in any manner of words, except ultimately for just three – “We say yes.

David and Jennifer, with their deep Christian faith and trust put to a severe test, first questioned “Why?” They sought an answer in scripture and prayer. What they received in response, as unimaginable and irrational as it may sound to some, was that this tragedy was part of God’s plan for their lives, and that they must surrender their all to it and obey. On a moving and intimate video the couple later recorded, David says “If God will give you comfort at times like that, in the worst moments of your life, and when you lose a child, you have to make hard decisions and see situations that are very tough, and if God will do that for parents, what can’t God do?

The Hulls’ steadfast belief that God is in charge led them to make a move to Heartland Church, an interdenominational, multiethnic place of worship in Indianapolis, where today he is executive pastor of ministries. And in a permanent step of faith, he had a single word “Yes” tattooed on his hand, so that in moments of doubt, darkness or despair, as well as in rejoicing, he always would be brought back to his and Jennifer’s relationship with a living God whom they believe is all loving and merciful. Be sure to check out the website JamilynHull.com.

Shed Younkin’s Hand-inked Family Record Fraktur


The old Pennsylvania-German art of “fraktur” — a type of folk art featuring artistic calligraphy and colorful illustration — was utilized by many early families to maintain an heirloom record their births and deaths.

This example is from the family of William “Shedrick” and Caroline (Cupp) Younkin of near Rockwood, Somerset County, PA. Lettered and illustrated in a combination of black and red inks, it records the family over a span of 100 years, from Shedrick’s birth in 1838 to the death of a daughter in 1938. Their six children listed Missouri Wingerd, Levi “Grant” Younkin, Thomas Wilbert Younkin, Ella Linda Hauger, Susan Edith Miller and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Wable. Sadly, their son Thomas is marked for the first death, at the age of three in 1873.

Shedrick was the product of two consecutive marriages between the Minerd and Younkin clans. His parents were John M. and Laura (Minerd) Younkin, and his maternal grandparents were Jacob and Catherine (Younkin) Minerd Jr., all of Somerset County. They lived quiet, paced lives as farmers, devoted to each other. When a daughter gave birth out of wedlock, in 1879, Shedrick signed a legal agreement to keep and maintain the boy at his own expense. In about 1900, they helped raise a granddaughter. Shedrick and Caroline and some of their offspring are known to have attended the very first Minerd-Miner Reunion in southwestern Pennsylvania, held in 1913 at Ohiopyle, Fayette County. View Caroline’s old family Bible, courtesy of the Rockwood Area (PA) Historical Society.

A related art form, known as “taufschein,” recording births and baptisms, was featured as the Minerd.com “Photo of the Month” for March 2019. The image highlights a paper record commissioned in 1851 by James and Mary (Bernhardt) Fegely of Berks County for their son David “Wilson” Fegely.

Younkin Memorial Stained Glass Windows in the Kingwood Church of God, Somerset County, PA

A few of the 9 Younkin windows at the church. View>>>

The original Kingwood Church of God in Somerset County, PA was established in 1876, with its dedication ceremony led by Rev. John Hickernell, who years before had planted the Old Bethel Church of God in the nearby community of Hexebarger.

After 44 years, the Kingwood building was renovated in 1920, including a two-story addition and a vestibule with a bell tower. New stained glass windows were installed throughout the sanctuary, and nine sets of cousins of the extended Younkin family made donations to dedicate windows in honor and memory of loved ones.

The church burned to the ground in early January 1934. Somehow, the windows miraculously survived. Having served the community for 57 years, and with a current membership of about 160, the structure was rebuilt. A Building Committee of four church members oversaw the process, of whom three were of the Younkin family. The committee’s names are inscribed in stone and mounted today on the face of the brick structure.

Thanks to an array of wonderful photographs by Younkin cousin Linda Marker, generously shared, a new page has been created on Minerd.com as a guide to all the Younkin family stained glass windows at the Kingwood Church of God in Somerset County, PA. More>>>

Chew, Wilcocks and the Ingersoll Brothers: Prominent Philadelphia Landowners Who Sold Southwestern Pennsylvania Farmland to the Minerd/Younkin Family

Justice Chew, J.E. Ingersoll, C.J. Ingersoll, B.C. Wilcocks

“Chew and Wilcocks” are familiar names to many researchers of early southwestern Pennsylvania land ownership records, and for good reason.  Together, Benjamin Chew Sr. and his son-in-law Alexander Wilcocks owned 43 tracts totaling nearly 12,000 acres in Somerset and Fayette Counties in the late 1700s. These lands were held by the family for some six-plus decades.

As residents of Philadelphia, 240 miles away, Chew and Wilcocks were absentee owners. In fact, they may never have actually laid eyes on the lands they owned. Chew (1722-1810) was active and influential in state politics and, in addition to serving as Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, was the attorney for the family of Pennsylvania’s founder, William Penn. Wilcocks (1741-1801), who married Chew’s daughter Mary, was his law partner, judge and recorder of deeds in Philadelphia.

In 1837, the Wilcocks’ heirs sold one of their tracts to local farmer Jacob and Catherine (Younkin) Minerd Jr. and their eldest son John Minerd.

Documents in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania show that Chew and Wilcocks played important roles in developing the largely uncultivated lands of Somerset and Fayette Counties. With the help of on-the-scene agents, these influential Philadelphians touched the lives of any common farming families.

Philadelphians Owning Faraway Property – As did many foresighted government officials of that era, Chew and Wilcocks could envision the investment potential of their thousands of acres of virgin timber and river lands. Their holdings were acquired from the Penns during the American Revolution, when the Penns’ ownership rights, granted by British royal charter, became null and void. Less than a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed, March 21, 1777, the partners received a detailed description of each of their tracts in a document compiled by Henry Rhodes.

Chew and Wilcocks jointly held their Somerset/Fayette properties for about 14 years, until November 1790, when they divided their holdings. Chew was allocated 5,947 acres and Wilcocks 6,011 acres.

Many of the tracts had fancy names, such as Death of the Fawn, White’s Little Mill Seat, and Hunting Lot, and were often rented to farmers for cultivation. Hunting Lot — the tract that was sold to the Minerds — contained 318 acres and was located in what is now locally called Hexebarger in Upper Turkeyfoot Township, near the Old Bethel Church. Chew admired Hunting Lot and once wrote about its “excellent upland-meadow.”

The Minerds Take Occupancy – Tax records suggest that Jacob may have begun occupying Hunting Lot as early as 1829. Then after eight years, he was in a position to own the property. It sat to the west of the village of Kingwood, in a hills-and-valleys section known locally as “Hexebarger” — German for “witch mountain.”

How Minerd, an unlettered farmer, came into contact with the faraway Wilcocks and Ingersoll heirs is not known, though probably their communications were made through an intermediary. As absentee owners, Chew, Wilcocks and the Ingersolls utilized agents to handle day-to-day administration of the properties.

One of Chew’s agents was attorney Abraham Morrison, who has been dubbed “the patriarch of the Somerset County bar.” Morrison lived across the street from the county courthouse and in his career served as the first county commissioners’ clerk, county treasurer, prothonotary and clerk of courts, register of wills and register of deeds.

Morrison kept in touch with Chew by writing letters containing details of developments and asking opinions of certain matters. One was penned from Somerset on Feb. 13, 1808, and contains nuggets of information of interest to genealogists, historical researchers and archeologists. In it, Morrison summarized leases with Jacob Streight, Peter Kendle, Mr. Shunk, Frederick Zufalt, Jacob Neffe, George Arnold, Joseph Mattick, John Lighty and Daniel Miller. Morrison also mentioned the names Shapthat Dwire, William Tissue, Mr. Ringer, Mr. Wood, Mr. Biggs and Adam Faidley.

The letters describe terms and conditions of the leases, which required labor in return for low rental rates. For instance, Jacob Neffe rented “Turkey Bottom” (today part of Casselman) for a three-year term, for a penny a year. In return, Neffe agreed to build a barn and stable measuring 20 by 24 feet, plant 30 apple trees, make all the outside fences “good and sufficient,” and pay all taxes.

The Minerd 1837 acquisition enlarged their Hexebarger farm to 500 acres, which played an important role in the family’s growth and development. Four generations lived there until 1867, when the final section was sold out of the family. Minerd and his wife Catherine Younkin raised nine children there, and four sons — John Minerd, Henry Minerd, Jacob Minerd III and Charles Minerd — bought portions after their father’s death.

In 1851, at the heyday of the Minerd habitation, about 35 family members lived in various dwellings within the farm’sborders. One of the Minerd grandsons, the six-year-old Andrew Jackson Miner, was the great-great grandfather of the founder of this website. Another, Daniel Martin Younkin, referred to the Minerds as “early settlers in what was known as the ‘Hexebarger’ community, which is a provincialism that is still frequently applied to that locality…. The topography is unusually rugged and the primitive inhabitants were themselves a rugged, sturdy people.” When grandson Martin Miner returned for a visit in 1905, he remarked that the “old ear marks of boyhood days are about all obliterated.” Many of the grandchildren gathered for a first-ever family reunion in 1913, and could say that they or their parents had once  lived on the farm.

Chew’s Son-in-Law Alexander Wilcocks (1741-1801) – On May 18, 1768, Alexander wedded Mary Chew ( ? -1794). A man of public affairs, he served as a justice for the County of Philadelphia and was a member of the Committee of Safety, in addition to his role as recorder of deeds after the end of the American Revolution.

Mary died on Aug. 22, 1794. Alexander followed her to the grave 11 years later, on July 22, 1801.

At his death, the Wilcocks’ lands were inherited by these of their children: Benjamin Chew Wilcocks, Elizabeth Wilcocks, Samuel Wilcocks, Ann Wilcocks (wife of attorney Joseph Reed Ingersoll) and Mary Wilcocks (wife of lawyer Charles Jared Ingersoll). These parcels remained in the possession of the Wilcocks heirs for nearly four decades.

The Nation’s Financial Panic of 1837 – The 1830s were an era of change and financial uncertainty. Digby Baltzell’s book, Philadelphia Gentlemen, noted that during the decade, Americans embarked on “an era of ‘wild cat'” spending. As President Andrew Jackson began to dismantle the controversial Bank of the United States, the economy became increasingly “speculative and unsound,” wrote historian Arthur Schlesinger. “Crop failures in 1835 toppled the first domino. Farmers could not pay merchants and speculators, who in turn could not pay banks.” In New Orleans, the price of cotton plunged, triggering the collapse of several financial firms which led to multi-million-dollar losses by major banks in Boston and New York.

By 1837, the nation was in a full-blown financial panic. The value of the Wilcocks real estate declined, at a time when two of the husbands of the Wilcocks daughters — Charles Jared Ingersoll and Joseph Reed Ingersoll — were running for political office. It’s likely that their decision to sell was driven by a need to raise cash, at discounted prices more affordable to farmers like the Minerds.

Wilcocks’ Son Benjamin Chew Wilcocks (1776-1845) – Married Sarah Waln ( ? – ? ), daughter of William Waln. The couple bore two daughters, Mary Waln Campbell and Helen Julia Robbins.

In 1795, when the teenage Benjamin was traveling to Holland on business, John Adams wrote to his son John Quincy Adams, asking that “you will Shew him as much Civility as you can. He will be able to tell you all the news we have.” He went to China in 1799 as an agent of his father-in-law. There, he w as a merchant trading in fabrics, porcelains and fineware. He also is said to have been a pioneer in smuggling opium from China and Turkey into the United States, with some critics today referring to him as a drug lord. The New York Times described Benjamin many years later as “a man so tall the Chinese called him the ”high devil,” whose flamboyant life style led him far from his Quaker heritage.” His father-in-law’s business failed during a financial panic in 1819, and Benjamin became saddled with a $72,000 debt to a merchant named Wu Bingjian.

With business in shambles, Benjamin was named in 1820 as the United States Consul to China, with is base of operation in Canton. He held this post for the rest of his years in the country. He left Canton for good in 1827, although the amount of his indebtedness was forgiven in return for his many years of service “helping Chinese merchants collect debts in Philadelphia,” said the book The Chinese Cornerstone of Modern Banking.

Benjamin was a patron of the miniature portrait painter Benjamin Trott. He also commissioned a set of eight large bells to be mounted in the historic St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia, at the corner of Pine and Third Streets, where George Washington had once attended.

His nephew Sidney George Fisher Sr. wrote this in his book A Philadelphia Perspective, “For some weeks  before I left town he had sunk into a state of profound depression, similar to that with which he was once before affected, which lasted for 12 years during which he never left his house and from which he was roused some 3 or 4 years ago. When he was roused, he compensated by extraordinary activity for his long seclusion and apathy.”

Wilcocks’ Son-in-Law Charles Jared Ingersoll Sr. (1782-1862) –

On Oct. 18, 1804, Charles Jared was united in marriage with Mary Wilcocks (1784-1862). Their nine offspring were Charles Jared Ingersoll Jr., Alexander Wilcocks Ingersoll, Harry Ingersoll, John Ingersoll, Benjamin Wilcocks Ingersoll, Elizabeth Fisher, Edward Ingersoll, Ann Meigs and Samuel Ingersoll.

A lawyer by training, his political career began with election to the U.S. House of Representatives circa 1813. From 1825 to 1829, he was United States Attorney, but was fired upon the election of President Andrew Jackson. His next elected post was to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1830. Then in 1837, the year in which the heirs sold their farmland to the Minerds, he was a delegate to the Pennsylvania State Constitutional Convention, secretary of the Legation to Prussia and made an unsuccessful attempt at a seat back in the House. He was elected to Congress in 1840 and served as chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

As a Congressman, Charles Jared was friends with former Presidents James Madison and James Monroe. But he regularly was in conflict with the policies of Secretary of State Daniel Webster and President Andrew Jackson. He and Webster clashed as the senator launched an investigation into Charles Jared’s alleged receipt of a bribe. The Foreign Relations perch gave Charles Jared an opportunity to launch a strong counter-attack, charging misconduct on Webster’s mis-handling of a Canadian border matter some years earlier. Webster responded viciously, saying his opponent’s “mind is so grotesque, so bizarre — it is rather the caricature of a mind, than a mind. When we see a man of some knowledge, and some talent, who is yet incapable of producing any thing true, or useful, we sometimes apply to him a phrase borrowed from the mechanics. We say, there is a screw loose, somewhere. In this case, the screws are loose all over.”

Robert V. Remini’s book Daniel Webster said that Webster’s “harangue was as thorough a job of demolition as ever heard in the Senate. He squelched Ingersoll.” Charles Jared then fired back another salvo, starting an official investigation of his own, alleging embezzlement and corruption. Watching all of this unfold on the Senate floor, John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary about their “malicious personal enmities.” Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederacy, earned Charles Jared’s anger when preparing a pro-Webster summary for publication.

Charles Jared left the House of Representatives in 1847 and returned to Philadelphia, where he died in 1862.

Son-in-law Sidney George Fisher Sr. wrote that Charles Jared’s “conversational powers, & his gentlemanlike manners make him exceedingly agreeable…. He was in many respects a remarkable person and during a long life held a conspicuous position as a public man, having been twice in Congress and for many years district attorney in this city when the place was far more respectable than it has since become…. His intellect was not of a high order, but he wrote & spoke with east, animation, and earnestness & was witty at times, generally sarcastic, clever, pointed, odd, never eloquent or profound.”

 Wilcocks’ Son-in-Law Joseph Reed Ingersoll (1786-1868) – Was of medium height, light complexion, bright blue eyes and auburn hair. On Sept. 22, 1813, he married Ann Wilcocks (1781-1831). They were the parents of three — James Ingersoll, Mary Wilcocks Ingersoll and Joseph Ingersoll. Sadly, Ann died in 1831, and was eulogized as “a woman of great personal attractions, an amiable temper, and most refined and accomplished manners.”

As with his brother Charles Jared, Joseph was a lawyer. Circa 1810, he had the rare opportunity for a young man to argue a case before the United States Supreme Court, presided by Chief Justice John Marshall.

Joseph was elected to Congress in 1812 but defeated in a re-election bid two years later. President James Madison appointed him as a United States Attorney, a post which he held until 1829, when he was removed from office after the election of President Andrew Jackson. Then in 1840, on a ticket opposed to Jackson, he was again elected to Congress. He supported tariffs on imported products by which to protect American producers and opposed to the annexation of Texas.

Eulogist David Paul Brown wrote that Joseph was “the Cicero of the American Bar, and he may be truly said to be one of Plutarch’s men, nay, if I have read his annals rightly, one of the noblest of them. He was a man of geneal alacrity, of systematic and untiring industry, of refined manners, of a frank and urbane spirit, exemplary integrity, and a most signal example of benevolence.”

As a lawyer in private practice, Joseph in 1844 argued a trial involving the city’s bloody anti-Catholic protests known as the “church riots” – “Orange riots” and “Kensington riots.” For a year, appointed by President Fillmore, Joseph served as Minister to the United Kingdom, also known as the Court of St. James. Others who have held this ambassadorship over the years have been Robert Todd Lincoln, Andrew W. Mellon and Joseph P. Kennedy, among others. Joseph was a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts and Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

His nephew Sidney George Fisher Sr. wrote that Joseph’s “mind was decidedly commonplace, his range of knowledge narrow. He possessed however that sort of ability which produces success, fluency of speech, agreeable manners, great power of labor, & determined will. He had a large practice at the bar, but he was a jury-lawyer; he had a respectable position in Congress, because he worked well on Committees & was known to be upright & honorable, but he was not distinguished & never made a speech that excited public attention.”


Visualizing the Generations


Visual representation of 4 generations of Minerd offspring

As of today, the total known headcount of children, grandchildren, gr-grandchildren and gr-gr grandchildren of southwestern Pennsylvania pioneers Jacob and Maria (Nein) Minerd Sr. is 2,342.

Virtually all were born by the year 1900.

Here’s a visual representation of what that big number looks like — blue figures represent each male and pink each female. In my case, one of the blue figures in Generation 4 symbolizes my great-grandfather Harry Orlan Miner of Washington, PA.

I’m of the 7th generation. Some of those alive today belong to the 8th or 9th. Some have asked how many of us are “out there.” At one time years ago I thought the number could be 50,000. Perhaps it is approaching 100,000. We’ll never truly know a precise number.

The headcounts used for this graphic include natural-born, step, foster and adopted children, including infants who died at birth where the gender was known.

First Time Author Michele Miner and Her Novel ‘Their Moon Was Cardboard’

Michele and her new novel – enlarge>>>

First-time author and long-time theatrical manager Mary “Michele” Miner — granddaughter of Clyde Calvin and Bertha (Smith) Miner of St. Louis — signs copies of her new novel, Their Moon Was Cardboard, published earlier this year. Michele’s plot revolves around the fictional Southern California character Matthey Cole, a “successful freelance production stage manager, currently working at the Parkinson Hopkins Theatre on a world premiere, [who] becomes involved in murder, the NSA, sex and maybe drug trafficking while trying to get her show open,.” she writes. “Just part of the job for a stage manager in Los Angeles.”

Michele has spent years as a freelance theatrical production stage manager, logging such Broadway credits as Division Street (1980) and Burn This (1987, starring John Malkovich). From there she became a production manager at Pomona College where she also taught for six years. Today she and her husband are involved with Parson’s Nose Theater in Pasadena, a company known for performing professional, 90 minute adaptations of classics. She first made contact with the founder of this website in early 2004, and has remained interested in her pioneer Ohio roots of more than two centuries ago.

Michele’s better half, Paul Perri, is a noted Broadway, Off Broadway, film and television actor. His Wikipedia page says he is “best known for portraying Edwards and Skinless Parker in Hellraiser: Bloodline, Harry Hume from Chaos, and as Dr. Sidney Bloom from Manhunter.” He’s also played parts in episodes of Seinfeld, ER, Frasier, NYPD Blue, The West Wing and Grey’s Anatomy. Paul’s Broadway credits include Burn This, A View From the Bridge, Macbeth and The Bacchae. His Los Angeles regional credits range from God’s Man In Texas, True West and Hitler’s Head to Ivanov, Golden Boy, Hurlyburly, Counselor-At-Law, Day and Nights Within, Much Ado About Nothing and Love’s Labours Lost. Paul has performed for the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Yale Repertory and Cohoes Music Hall. His film credits include The Insider, Freeway, Gathering Evidence, Demolition Man, Memoirs of An Invisible Man and Delta Force II, while his TV credits include Battlestar Gallactica, Killer Instinct, CSI: New York, Smallville, Dark Angel, The Twilight Zone.

See other cousin-authors and their books as the “Photo of the Month” in December 2017December 2016 – and March 2016.