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 “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.

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