The Charming Illinois Farmscape of Civil War Veteran William Hawkins


This charming sketch of 130 years ago depicts the Illinois farmscape of Civil War veteran William Hawkins and his wife Duanna Burgoin of the family of James and Mary (Miner) Burgoyne. Enlarge>>>

It originally was published in the 1889 book, Portrait and Biographical Album of Vermilion and Edgar Counties Illinois, Vol. 1, by Chapman Brothers.

Visible are his home and barns, livestock, windmill, buggy and many more elements of farm life. The marking in the caption shows that the farm was located in Section 7, Township 18, Range 12.

William served in the 125th Illinois Infantry during the war. While on picket duty one day in Dallas, GA, he used his wits to elude capture by the enemy and was able to remain with his unit for the balance of the conflict. He returned to Illinois after his discharge and purchased a farm in Catlin Township, Vermilion County. He received a nearly full-page biographical profile in the 1889 history, which said:

He is actively engaged in tilling the soil and raising stock… as finely improved and well cultivated a farm as is to be found throughout the length and breadth of this rich agricultural region…. He of whom we write was the eldest of the family, and was bred to the life of a farmer, and habits of industry and frugality were early taught him by precept and example. He engaged in farming, tending sawmill, and in other occupations till he had obtained man’s estate, and in the spring of 1860 sought the fertile prairies of Vermilion County, this State, accompanied by his wife and child, with a view of establishing a home here permanently. He has since been a valued resident of Catlin Township, with the exception of the bitter years spent on Southern battlefields, when with true patriotism he heroically gave up home and tore himself from his loved ones to aid his country in the time of her greatest trial… [For] three long and weary years [he] served faithfully and efficiently through many hard campaigns and suffered the hardships and privations of a soldier’s life without a murmur… He owns 170 acres of choice, ell-tilled land, on which he has erected a fine set of buildings, including a roomy, substantially built residence, a view of which with the surrounding lawns, beautified by lovely shade trees, is an attractive addition to this volume…. Mr. Hawkins is a valued member of this community, and his loyalty to his country is as marked as in the days when he courageously took his life in his hands and marched forth to do battle for its honor and the preservation of its integrity.




New! The Civil War Guide to the Meinert-Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor Family

The Civil War Guide

The website has always been about something bigger, a different way of looking at a single family and its contribution to Americana.

Over the sweep of the clan’s experience, little can rival the collective horror of the Civil War, where everyone was impacted in some way.

This past week, I launched a new comprehensive guide to the family’s wartime experience. This includes individual pages backed by 40-plus years of deep research on many facets of a clan’s interaction with the conflict of murderous violence, mass death and unspeakable grief never before experienced in the United States.

The Guide includes the following pages:

More will be added when our latest National Archives findings are processed and written. Hopefully this can help if your child or grandchild has a Civil War project in school or if you’re planning a battlefield visit, or if you have your own curiosity and interest.

The SS Norman B. Ream of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company


Cousin Norman Bruce Ream — who built a fortune in Chicago and New York business circles — received a singular honor when a major steamship was dedicated with his name. Born in rural Ursina, Somerset County, PA, he was wounded twice in the Civil War and then, having moved to Iowa, began trading in livestock and grain. During one day in 1883, he sold a half million bushels of wheat in Chicago, which led to a price drop of three-quarters of a cent, in essence allowing him to manipulate the market. With economies of scale in mind, he helped to consolidate a number of small steelmakers and railroad companies into larger, combined entities.

NormanBReamOreHaulerBlogAs he grew in stature and wealth, Norman became a trusted friend of such business giants as Marshall Field, Cyrus McCormick, Philip D. Armour, Robert Todd Lincoln (son of the assassinated president) and Charles Schwab. He served on the boards of directors of U.S. Steel, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the Pullman Company, National Biscuit Co. (Nabisco) and the Equitable Life Assurance Society, among many others.

During his term on the U.S. Steel board, the company built a fleet of long and wide ore-hauling vessels for use in the Great Lakes. One fabricated by Chicago Ship Building Company was named the SS Norman B. Ream and operated for many years by U.S. Steel’s Pittsburgh Steamship Division. The vessel was 587 feet in length with a beam of 58 feet, draft of 28 feet and gross tonnage of 7,053 feet.

The Ream homeport was in Duluth, WI. After disuse for five years, it was sold in 1965 to Kinsman Transit Company. In the 1960s it operated under the name Kinsman Enterprise and after a subsequent sale to Seaway Terminal Company was renamed Hull No. 1. The aged vessel finally was sold for scrap in Turkey in 1989. The Ream is cited in Al Miller’s 1999 book Tin Stackers: The History of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company.

Enlarge the image>>>

Like Daughter, Like Father: WV Country Music Hall of Famer Jack Hawker


LIKE DAUGHTER, LIKE FATHER –’s “Photo of the Month” in June 2018 featured electric bassist Lisa Lynn Lizzie-Ann (Hawker) Janoske, newly inducted into the West Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, having performed with such Nashville legends as the Hager Twins from Hee Haw, Doyle Holly, the Statler Brothers, Ronnie Milsap, Tanya Tucker, Herb Humphrey and Lynn Anderson.

Then in 2019, Lisa’s father, the late Jack Hawker, posthumously joined his daughter in the Hall of Fame. Early in life, Jack possessed a natural talent for music. It’s said that he could pick up a few spoons and “get a tune from them.” He never took lessons of any kind and could not read music but played everything by ear, including the harmonica, drums, bass, mandolin and lap dulcimer but especially the guitar. At the age of 35, in 1966, he and some friends formed “Bob White and the Country Boys,” with Jack on the rhythm guitar, which entertained at community functions and fairs and still performs today with newer members. Then in 1972, he joined “Frank DeWitt and the Drifters” which later regrouped as “The Royal Tones.” He enjoyed mentoring his young daughter Lisa in singing and performing and incorporated her into some of their shows. When a new venue was built in 1974 at Appalachia Lake near Brandonville, The Royal Tones were the opening act for a variety of well-known Nashville stars. Sadly, Jack passed away on Aug. 8, 2005 at the age of 74.

Jack’s wife and Lisa’s mother, Doris (Sands) Hawker, has served as treasurer of our national reunion from 2001 to 2019. The daughter of Robert “Cricket” and Alma (Ream) Sands, she has been a valuable advisor and worker on our reunion committee and very knowledgeable about the Ream-Harbaugh branch of our clan. At our June 2019 reunion, after 18 years of service, Doris handed over the reins of the treasurer position to Joseph McKnight of the family of William Stewart McKnight. We are deeply grateful for everything Doris has meant to the reunion, research and website.

Big Band Singer Alice Lucille Wydman, a.k.a. “Alice Mann”


Corning, New York native Alice Lucille Wydman — daughter of Frank Errold and Alice “Allie” (Agett) Wydman — was a well-known professional big band singer of the 1930s, ’40s and early ’50s. She got her break during the depths of the Great Depression when hired as a vocalist by WESG-AM Radio in Elmira.

She then was recruited to join a big band led by William Bissett. A native of St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada, he went by “Bissett” in Europe but in the United States used the stage name “Billy Bishop.” She traveled to Toronto’s Royal York Hotel to join Bishop and the band in the summer of 1934 and then made plans to accept an engagement in London. English labor regulations forbade her from performing, so while Billy performed in London’s Savoy Hotel, she toured with Jack Hylton in Paris and Berlin and throughout the European continent. She also toured with Freddy Gardner.

Alice and Billy fell in love in London, were married in Corning in August 1937, and then sailed back to London. Over the next 15 years, they “traveled the world,” said the Elmira (NY) Star Gazette. Among their top hits were Never in a Million Years, In a Little French Casino and There’s a Lull in My Life. Dennis Day also sang with the band at one time.

The couple was contracted to play in the Café de Paris for the month of August 1939. Once the month closed out, their plan was to return to the United States to care for their aging parents. But World War II broke out in Europe with the German invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, and overseas travel bans forced them to change plans. More >>>

D-Day Memorial – June 6, 2019


More than 10 cousins in the extended Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor clan took part in the D-Day invasion of France on June 6, 1944 and in following days. One was a nurse in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Corps. Two were brothers. One was captured and held as a POW. One died of his wounds. One was shot down and killed 4 days later.

We seek on this page to identify their names and honor their memory on a permanent page on the website so they will not be forgotten and so that more names can be added in the future when additional research is done.

Lorraine (McKnight) Barrows – family of Frank Trevor McKnight of Fayette County, PA – joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Corps (WAAC) and shipped overseas to England. Her first assignment was in a telephone switchboard operation in six underground floors of the Selfridges department store in London, working with a team of operators for Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s London headquarters. She was part of the D-Day invasion and among 36 women who landed on Utah Beach. After arriving in Normandy, France, she and her fellow WAACs slept in tents for three weeks.

George DeLong – family of Mary Jane (Pring) McCollough of Shawnee, OK – landed in France on D-day plus eight. Was one of the first Americans to enter Cherbourg where more than 6,000 Germans were held as prisoners of war.

Blair Eugene King – family of Bertha (Ream) Conn of Confluence, PA – served with the 325th Glider Infantry as part of the 82nd Airborne Division, and took part in the D-Day invasion.

Howard Philip Lepley – family of Elizabeth (Sturtz) Comp of Buffalo Mills, PA – crew member of the B-24 bomber “Little Sheppard,”of the 714th Bomber Squadron, 448th Bomber Group, shot down over Evreux, France on June 10, 1944, just four days after D-Day. Howard and four other crewmen were killed in the action. His body was recovered and buried in Europe.

Charles William McClain – family of Margaret (Hoye) McClain of Smithfield, PA – “was wounded shortly after the first outfit of paratroopers landed in Normandy,” said a newspaper. “Returning to England, young McClain recovered in a base hospital and returned to duty. Several weeks later he was fatally wounded in the leg.” He succumbed to his wounds on Oct. 6, 1944, in Holland. His remains were not returned home for five years.

Glenn Ellsworth McKnight – family of William Stewart McKnight of Dawson, PA – was part of the Army’s assault at Omaha Beach, and later saw action at the Battle of the Bulge. Was wounded and received the Purple Heart medal.

Thomas Minerd – family of Thomas Minerd of Smithfield, PA – was a member of the 79th Infantry Division of Patch’s Seventh Army, a unit commended “for making the fastest progress (1800 yards in 72 hours) of any infantry division in warfare,” said a newspaper. “Also awarded a citation for their skill near Strasbourg, the unit was the first to cross the Seine River and the Belgium border. First stationed in England, he participated in the D-Day invasion and fought in the battle for Cherbourg. Moving on across France, he fought in several battles under General Patton.”

William Byron Minerd – family of Thomas Minerd of Smithfield, PA – was shipped overseas in February 1942 and “spent seven months at secret bases,” said a newspaper. “He later spent 19 months in Belgium Congo, Africa, after which he was sent to England until D-Day, when he participated in the invasion.”

Donald Leroy Plants – family of Ollie Margaret (Miner) Plants of Ashtabula, OH – was an “amphibious engineer” involved in the landing at Omaha Beach and the Battle of the Bulge, and was captured as a prisoner of war. Guest speaker at our 1998 national family reunion.

Charles E. Shipley – family of Mary Todd (Jennings) Shipley of Ohiopyle, PA – was a member of the 4th Signal Company, 4th Infantry Division and took part in the invasion at Normandy and in liberating Paris, for which he earned a French Jubilee of Liberty Medal.

Minor Fay White – family of Charles Minor White of Wichita, KS – “served as engineer-pilot of the C-47 veteran, ‘Nina Mae,’ which was the lead plane on a number of important missions for paratroop-drops in the European theater,” including at Normandy, France on D-Day in June 1944, said the Wichita Eagle. He also took part part in the invasions of Sicily and Italy. Killed in a crash of a C-124 airplane during the Korean War. Photo of the Month: Bobby “Uke” Henshaw, the Mimic and Ukulele Player


Born in Wheeling, WV, Charles “Robert” Henshaw grew up in Ohio and became a noted vaudeville entertainer who made a name for himself in national and international circles. The trade magazine Box Office credits him with having “introduced the ukulele to England and then toured Europe with it…”Variety once called him a “vaudevillian known for his prowess on the ukulele” and the New York Clipper dubbed him “The Human Ukulele.”

In several bit parts, Bobby appeared in some now-obscure Hollywood films between 1935 and 1950. The first, Variety,  (1935), features the trials and tribulations of running a music hall. He also appeared in Oh, You Beautiful Doll (1949), Beyond the Forest (1949), The Set Up (1949) and Return of the Frontiersman (1950).

Bobby also performed on early television broadcasts, and an effort is being made to learn more about these early performances. For example, in September 1938, he performed comedy on BBC Television in London in the half-hour program Cabaret. Also on the show were his second wife, entertainer Doris Harding. Then during World War II, he and his troupe of USO performers toured far-flung military outposts, where the “boys sure need entertainment at the bases,” he wrote in a 1943 letter in The Billboard. “Sometimes we play where they are isolated for six and eight months, and it is a pleasure to hear them laugh.”

His third wife, singer Nadeen (Andrews) Paschal, used the stage name “Deane Janis.” She starred with Columbia Records and performed with the Hal Kemp Orchestra in the early 1930s in clubs from Los Angeles to New York to Miami. Among her more popular recorded songs were “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Remember My Forgotten Man” (1933). She also was the vocalist circa 1933-1935 for the Camel Caravan Radio Show, sponsored by Camel Cigarettes, airing on CBS-Radio.

Bobby was featured in the “Photo of the Month” in December 2008 and Deane in December 2010. Be sure to see Bobby’s Online Museum of Paper Artifacts on this website.