The Interconnected 1972 Graduating Class of Connellsville Area (PA) High School

L-R: cousins Peg Mansberry, Joe McKnight, Jill Aird

At our national family reunion last summer, I thought it was amazing that three cousins came who all were 1972 graduates of Connellsville Area (PA) High School – Peggy Sue (Grimm) Mansberry (of the family of Jennie [Enos] Snyder) —  Joe McKnight (of the William Stewart McKnight branch) — and Jill (Channing) Aird (granddaughter of Agnes [Miner] Miller).

But Joe, knowing that our pioneer Minerds settled nearby in 1791, and that their offspring had grown exponentially in headcount over time, figured that the actual number of grads in the 600-member class had to be much, much higher. In fact, the count as of today has been identified as an astonishing 35-plus. View the list>>>

Our family today is indeed massive. Check out the math. The ancestors of most of us, Western Pennsylvania pioneers Jacob and Maria (Nein) Minerd Sr., produced at least 1,957 descendants by the year 1900, comprising just the first four generations of offspring.  This includes their dozen children – 87 grandchildren – 470 known great- grandchildren – and 1,400 known great- great- grandchildren – mainly all born before the turn of the 20th century. Just imagine then how these numbers grew even more in the 120 years since 1900.

Joe recently posted on Facebook about his vision for going deeper into researching this question and request for others to engage in the process:

Our class, (The Connellsville High School Class of 1972), has many members who are cousins, as descendants of the Minerd family tree. Upon learning that this was true of myself, Jill Channing, Peggy Grimm, Lou Ann Miner, and Debbie Minerd, I was curious as to how many more cousins there might be in the class of ’72. I asked Mark Miner, who is Creator and administrator of if maybe he could look into it. I provided Mark with the list of all the names in our commencement program. Mark scanned the list and was excited to message me back a list of around 40 names. Through the help of those listed above, we were able to confirm currently 33 names. I found a lot of obituaries and the ladies did also, and readily knew a few. You can click on the link to view the names, and how connected. Mark has an amazing website, which he developed 20 years ago, and connects over 50,000 cousins, mostly from the Somerset and Fayette County areas. It would be awesome if some of you would look at the list and at the website to see if you might also be cousins. The 33 names who are confirmed are in dark print, and includes classmates who married into the Minerd clan. If you can confirm even a classmate who married someone with Minor/ Miner/ Minerd/Minard connections, please message my Facebook account, email me at, or just comment on this post. It has been interesting and fun to find all these cousins in our class. Thank you in advance for any assistance!

Newly Discovered WWII Casualty Thomas ‘Glenn’ Burnworth

Johnson Chapel Cemetery near Confluence, PA

In the course of carrying out their mission to serve and protect our nation, far too many of our cousins in the military — comprised of Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor cousins and their spouses — have made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives during wartime and peacetime. On our webpage “In Lasting Memory,” we seek to highlight their names and honor their memory so they will never be forgotten.

The past week, new research identified the 65th known cousin to lose his life in military service — Thomas “Glenn” Burnworth, son of Thomas Ziba and Melissa (Show) Burnworth of the family of Job and Mary (Ream) Flanigan of the Johnson Chapel community near Confluence, PA. Glenn is the 22nd known World War II casualty in the extended clan.

During World War II, Glenn joined the U.S. Army Air Forces and trained in Miami Beach and flexible gunnery school in Laredo, TX. He then was deployed to the South Pacific as a sergeant in the 868th Bomb Squadron. While on a combat mission on Aug. 7, 1945, just eight days before the Japanese surrender, his B-24 bomber — a four-engine Liberator known as the Lady Luck 11 — was en route home from a night mission.

The airplane with its 11-man crew attacked what appeared to be a Japanese fishing fleet. But anti-aircraft fire tore into the fuselage, and the craft spun out of control over South Korea. The Lady Luck 11 crashed and exploded against the Mangwood Peak mountain near the villabe of Manhae. All were killed instantly.

A local druggist, Hyung Duk Kim, gathered and buried the bodies and kept their identification materials. Some years later, he erected a monument measuring 11.5 feet high at the site. At the time of the crash, the family was notified but was not told for seven months that their son had finally been declared dead.

Circa 1949, the remains were dis-interred and shipped to Johnson Chapel for burial in the church cemetery. Among those traveling to attend the funeral were the Oran Show and Robert Jenkins families of Richeyville, PA and the airman’s half-brother Donald Show from South Dakota.

In July 1965, the Air Force’s Airman Magazine printed a story about Glenn and his crewmen, written by Master Sergeant James A. George and Airman First Class Chris Stauder. The article was excerpted and reprinted in the Meyersdale (PA) Republican, Aug. 5, 1965, two decades after the incident.

Glenn’s grave marker was photographed in July 2017 by’s founder, in the hope of connecting him to the family someday, which is now done.

Kate Miner and Her One-Room Schoolhouse

Kate and her 8 siblings at the Fairmont School – enlarge

For five years, in the mid-to-late 1910s, Kathryn “Kate” Miner taught in one-room schools of Springfield Township, Fayette County, PA in the years before they closed and were consolidated into the Connellsville School District. One of her buildings was at Indian Creek, where she appears to have boarded with a local family and on weekends returned home to see her parents. Another was the Fairmont School in her hometown of Mill Run, seen in this rare image circa 1915, and located across the road from the historic Indian Creek Baptist Church.

Numbered “1” in this image, Kate had her hands especially full teaching and keeping discpline at Fairmont because among her pupils were her eight younger siblings, numbered accordingly. They include: 2. Clyde Miner — 3. Raymond Miner — 4. Wesley Miner — 5. Maggie (Miner) Dull — 6. Franklin Miner — 7. Edward Miner — 8. Ralph Miner — and 9. Lester Miner.

Kate’s career as a public school educator ended in 1920, when she married Daniel McKinley Burkholder, the son of James Wesley and Jenny (Hartzell) Burkholder of the family of Michael Ansell Firestone. The Minerd-Miner and Burkholder families were close, as Daniel’s sister, Rebecca married Kathryn’s cousin Otis “Freed” Minerd, and another sister Ida Alpharetta wedded double-cousin James “Franklin” Younkin.

In the late 1930s, Kate’s husband and son-in-law Lewis Cecil Ohler helpled to construct Fallingwater®, the house over a waterfall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family that is widely considered America’s “most famous modern house.” Daniel was a general worker on the project, and Lewis helped to quarry stone from nearby sites and assist with plumbing installation. Kate’s brothers Ralph, Frank and Lester also were employed at Fallingwater of the years, with their unique stories chronicled in our 2004 reunion booklet, Fallingwater: A Long Family Affair.

William Beltz’s Painful, Disfiguring Civil War Back Injury

William Beltz’s hunched back

His fragile back horribly distorted by a Civil War injury, William Henry Beltz bore the appearance of a hunchback for the rest of his long life, worsening as time went on. Born near Schellsburg, Bedford County, PA, he was the son of Lewis Beltz and stepson of Matilda (Comp) Beltz.

The slightly built William stood 5 feet, 2 inches tall in adulthood and weighed 123 lbs. After the Civil War broke out, he joined the Union Army, enlisting on his 17th birthday and was placed within the 55th Pennsylvania Infantry. In the spring of 1864, he saw action at the battles of Petersburg, Cold Harbor and Drewry’s Bluff, all near Richmond. While carrying heavy loads of ammunition in his knapsack one day, his undersized frame could not bear the weight, and his spinal column shifted out of place, causing debilitating pain. He “broke down completely” later that year and was admitted to Hampton Hospital at Fortress Monroe, where he spent the remainder of the war there.

In June 1868, back at home, he applied for and was awarded a military pension. John A. Livingston, his former company commander, wrote that “if any man in the country deserves a pension that man is William H. Beltz.” He and his wife Isabella moved to the Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh, where he taught penmanship, oratory and dramatic art in the city schools. He authored “True to the Flag,” which the Braddock Herald once said was “a play that lays hold of the motions and you must laugh and can’t help but cry.” In 1908, he spoke at a church event, reciting his poem, “The Battle of Cold Harbor,” which the Connellsville Daily Courier noted “was highly appreciated by everyone present. The house was filled.”

As the years progressed, William suffered increasingly from spinal pain. It was the equivalent, he claimed, of having lost a hand or foot, rendering him unable to perform manual labor. Physicians noted that the spinal column fully three inches out of alignment which caused his left lung to collapse. His condition was photographed from time to time, with the images provided to the government as further proof of his disability. This image, found in his pension file, was provided courtesy of the National Archives in St. Louis. More>>>

Movie Heartthrobs Harland Wynn Tucker and Marie Walcamp Honeymoon in Japan


Ohio natives Harland Wynn Tucker of Toledo and Marie Walcamp of Dennison were movie stars of the silent film era who married each other. They met when acting together in a series produced by Universal Studios, known as The Dragon’s Net, and their wedding was held in 1920 in Tokyo, Japan. Here, the honeymooners are aboard ship en route back to the United States. Enlarge>>>

Harland was the son of Judge Robert Tucker of Portland, OR, of the family of Jones and Catherine (Welker) Tucker. He was considered a hearththrob although he never had starring movie part. Early in his career, he played leading roles in stage plays in Los Angeles. In 1935, he portrayed Lord Throgmorton in the play Mary of Scotland, authored by Maxwell Anderson and Helen Hayes and later made into an RKO Radio film starring Katharine Hepburn and Fredric March. In 1936, he was in the film Charlie Chan At the Opera for Twentieth Century Fox. Among his other movie appearances were in Kid Galahad (starring Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart), Missing Witnesses (starring Dick Purcell, John Litel and Jean Dale) and Slim, all circa 1937.

Marie was the daughter of Arnold and Mary (Mackel) Walcamp. Her filmography included more than 100 productions between 1913 (The Werewolf) and 1927 (In a Moment of Temptation), many of them silent films where she often was a heroine of the action and Western genre. Reported one newspaper, “Her popularity in series and westerns during WWI was second to none in the industry.”

The Tuckers dwelled in Hollywood and are known to have performed together in films such as On the Ragged Edge (1928) and in carnivals with Jack Benny. They separated in February 1934 but within a few months were reconciled. For years, they are known to have traveled to Ohio to visit Marie’s brother Harry and to nearby Pittsburgh, leading Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph columnist George Seibel to write in 1935 that “Marie Walcamp, who is a Pittsburgh girl, was famous before she married George Sharp’s leading man. She was the desperate cowgirl of the early Western movie serials; more redskins, greasers, and cattle-rustlers have bitten the dust before her trusty rifle than the total losses at Gettysburg.” At her tragic death at the age of 42, syndicated Hollywood columnist Robbin Coons wrote the following:

Marie Walcamp is dead, victim they said, of worry over poor health. The new generation of film fans would not remember the name. Once upon a time kids stomped and whistled and cheered when it flashed on the screen, usually on Saturday matinees, which was serial pictures. Marie, with her blonde curls streaming, dared death week after week with the brawly little Eddie Polo… When Marie went abroad the natives cheered as loudly as for Mary Pickford, then the queen of screen drama. They mobbed her and fought for her autograph. And when she died she rated a couple of sticks of type. Hollywood has no serial queens today to compare with those of the Marie Walcamp era.


Santa Claus and the Missouri Pacific Lines Magazine, 1926


For the second straight year, presents an unusual, almost 100-year-old image of Santa Claus on the cover of the Missouri Pacific Lines (MOPAC) railroad company magazine. Cousin Edward Harlan “E.H.” McReynolds, the grandson of Missouri pioneers, was its longtime editor until his tragic demise during the depths of the Great Depression. Enlarge>>>

Based in St. Louis, the MOPAC was a small regional midwestern railroad which dramatically expanded in the 1920s and ’30s. Edwin was hired in 1923 as assistant to the president and director of publicity-advertising. Over the span of his 14-year career, among other roles, he served as editor of the company magazine, and his name graced the masthead of each and every issue. Edward once wrote of his gratification in the “continuous publication of what has come to be widely acclaimed as one of the outstanding employe magazines in America.”

View the MOPAC magazine archive on >>>

This issue was printed in December 1926; last year’s was the December 1927 issue. shares in wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.’s Recommended News Stories and Blog Posts Since April 2019


Here’s my updated list of news articles and blog posts which have impressed me most since April 2019, all originally posted on the “Favorite Links” page of my award-winning website,

These stories have some connection to my favorite themes — 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 reporting on the who, what and when. The pieces go deeper into the how and why of issues and are worthy of sharing.

Germany’s Far-Right Party Radicalizes” – New York Times, Oct. 27, 2019
Displaying, not Hiding, the Reality of Slave Labor in Art” – New York Times, Oct. 27, 2019
The Untold Story of the Secret Mission to Seize Nazi Map Data” – Smithsonian Magazine, November 2019
‘We are still here’: Jewish community, city come together to remember and repair one year after attack” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct. 27, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook Can Help the News Business” – New York Times, Oct. 25, 2019
Deborah Marrow, a Getty Leader With Global Reach, Dies at 70” – New York Times, Oct. 9, 2019
Herculaneum scroll: Shining a light on 2,000-year-old secrets” – BBC News, Oct. 4, 2019
The Colored Settlements in Washington County” – Historical Marietta, Ohio
Collections Moving On, But Whereto?” – by Michael Stillman, Rare Book Hub, Oct. 2019
When Young George Washington Started a War” – by David Preston, Smithsonian Magazine, October 2019
Monument disputes: Answering bad history with better history” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 22, 2019
From prisoner to poet to Pulitzer: Exploring Carl Sandburg’s relationship with Pittsburgh” – by Christopher D. George, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 22, 2019
Extensive Underground Railroad Record Debuts at Swann’s Americana Sale” – Fine Books & Collections, Sept. 17, 2019
John Steinbeck’s Epic Ocean Voyage Rewrote the Rules of Ecology” – by Richard Grant, Smithsonian Magazine, September 2019
A 42,000-Year-Old Man Finally Goes Home” – by Tony Perrottet, Smithsonian Magazine, Aug. 22, 2019
The National Gallery of Art Presents the First 50 Years of Photography” – Fine Books & Collections, Aug. 15, 2019
America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One” – New York Times, Aug. 14, 2019
A Giant Factory Rises to Make a Product Filling Up the World: Plastic” – New York Times, Aug. 12, 2019
To Accept a Gift of Books or Not. A Dilemma for Libraries” – by Michael Stillman, Rare Book Hub, Aug. 2019
Why Walking on the Moon Meant So Much” – by David Shribman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 21, 2019
Yankee Publishing Acquires Family Tree Magazine” – Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, July 19, 2019
Barnes & Noble Purchased by a Hedge Fund. Times Have Changed” – by Michael Stillman, Rare Book Monthly, July 2019
FOIA Is a Joke” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 1, 2019
Appalachian writers revisit J.D. Vance’s seminal work ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ ” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 28, 2019
Catholic Community Focuses on Compassion Rather Than Condemnation of Suicide” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 10, 2019
Google Made $4. Billion From the News Industry in 2018, Study Says” – New York Times, June 9, 2019
A Grave Burden” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 9, 2019
Physicists Debate Hawking’s Idea That the Universe Had No Beginning” – Quanta Magazine, June 6, 2019
The Price of Imperfection is Going Up” – by Bruce E. McKinney, Rare Book Hub, June 2019
Alexander Hamilton Letter, Stolen 80 Years Ago, Finally Located” – by Michael Stillman, Rare Book Monthly, June 2019
The Amazing Discovery of the Bibliography of Christopher Columbus’ Son” – by Michael Stillman, Rare Book Hub, June 2019
I.M. Pei, Master Architect Whose Buildings Dazzled the World, Dies at 102” – New York Times, May 17, 2019
The Folger’s Future” – Fine Books & Collections, May 15, 2019
Deepfakes Are Coming. We’re Not Ready” – by Brian Klaas, Washington Post, May 14, 2019
George Romero’s Archives Acquired by University of Pittsburgh” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 16, 2019
After the World Looks Away” – by Keith C. Burris, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 13, 2019
Facebook co-founder: It’s ‘time to break up’ the social network” – Washington Post, May 9, 2019
What Is the Met Gala, and Who Gets to Go?” – New York Times, May 4, 2019
She was the ‘queen of the mommy bloggers.’ Then her life fell apart.” – Vox, May 2, 2019
Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library to be Established in North Dakota” – Fine Books & Collections, May 1, 2019
Julian Assange is a journalist: Targeting the WikiLeaks founder sets a dangerous precedent” – by the Editorial Board, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 16, 2019