Fourth of July 1910 Parade in Kingwood, WV


FOURTH OF JULY 1910 — While schoolboys in knickers watch with reverence, a parade believed to include Civil War veterans makes its way through the unpaved streets of Kingwood, Preston County, WV. One of the old soldiers likely was James Eyster Murdock (1842-1915), who rose from private to brevet captain during the war, saw action in 28 battles and was wounded four times.

James served with the 7th West Virginia Infantry, also known as the “Preston Guards.” He received wounds in action at the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor. At Cold Harbor, he was struck on the top of his head by a sharpshooter’s bullet. At Gettysburg, he was in the thickest of the battle defending Little Round Top. And at Williamsburg, he was wounded in the foot, with his name appearing in the May 10, 1862 edition of the Confederate newspaper, The Petersburg Daily Express, Extra edition, reprinted from the Lynchburg Republican.

After his wartime service ended, James returned to Kingwood, where he was a teacher and a blacksmith, and married school teacher Martha Ann Basnett (1845-1913). Due to poor health, however, he gave up the physical work and for many years was a clerk in Kingwood dry goods, drug and hardware esbablishments. In the decade before the turn of the 20th century, he helped organize the Soldiers Reunion of Preston County, with one of these gatherings held at Kingwood in August 1891. As a charter member of local Knights of Pythias, he led summer ceremonies of an “imposing procession,” reported the Preston County Journal, which “wended its way to the beautiful Kingwood cemetery and remembered the brothers gone before.” For several years, James held the office of Adjutant of the local post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a veterans’ organization. He also was township treasurer, postmaster under the first administration of President Grover Cleveland and secretary of the Board of Education of Kingwood for 15 years.

James passed away on April 19, 1915. The Journal reported that “Only a short time before [his death], possibly less than an hour, he had been on the street conversing with friends. He had gone home and had lain down on the sofa to rest and about ten minutes before he was found dead he had conversed with members of his family. Shortly before six o’clock his son, James E., Jr., came in and went into the room where he was and spoke to him, and upon getting no response he went to the sofa and discovered that his father was dead.” His death was top headline news in the Journal‘s April 22, 1915 edition.

John was the son of John Smart and Rebecca (Miner) Murdock of Kingwood and grandson of Preston County pioneers and flour millers Burket and Frances (Skinner) Minerd who had migrated there at the end of the War of 1812. Enlarge>>>


Death of a Pope and American Tourists Gordon and Marjean (Miner) Jones


It’s Aug. 12, 1978, and American tourists Gordon and Marjean (Miner) Jones — of the family of Odger and Monalea (Ullom) Miner — arrive in Rome for a long-awaited vacation. With anticipation, they look forward to the opportunity to visit the grand sites and, especially, see the famed ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo. Marjean, a fifth grade teacher at Margaret Ross Elementary School in the Hopewell School District in Aliquippa, PA, plans to use their travel photographs as an educational tool with her students.

But fate intervenes. Just six days before Gordon and Marjean arrive in Rome, Pope Paul VI dies of a heart attack. To the Joneses’ dismay, just about everything in Rome shuts down — museums, restaurants, even hotel bookings — in homage to the late Holy Father. Even tours of the Sistine Chapel are canceled. The American travelers are able to keep their hotel reservation but are faced with few options on how to spend their time. Fortunately, they decide to pay their respects at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Illuminated only by faint light from candles and windows, Gordon takes this historic image of the Pope lying in state, wearing his crimson cassock and surrounded by Vatican Swiss guards clad in yellow and purple uniforms.

Within a short weeks, John Paul I (Albino Luciani) is elected Pope, but he is not long for this world. He too suffers a heart attack and dies on Sept. 28, 1978 after just 33 days in office, one of the shortest terms in all of papal history. The selection process begins again, and Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła is elected Pope — the first non-Italian and first Pole in 455 years to achieve this distinction — and chooses the name “John Paul II” to honor his ill-fated predecessor. For the next 26 years, John Paul II presides over the Roman Catholic Church and is widely credited with helping to end Communist domination in his native Poland, the Soviet Union and eventually all of Europe.

Mark your calendar — Our next national reunion of the Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor family — devoted to “SELFIES” — will be held the weekend of June 23-25 at Donegal, PA. Everyone will be engaged in creative selfie-taking and being part of our first-ever, historic national broadcast via Facebook Live. Your best selfie will be uploaded to a reunion selfie collage on award-winning for posterity. You’ll have more than your 15 seconds of fame — your legacy photo will live forever! Depending on the turnout, it may be our last reunion

VisitPITTSBURGH – is the promotional sponsor of the Photo of the Month. Be sure to get your copy of the Greater Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Official Visitor’s Guide, a 25-page workbook to help event organizers stay on track, no matter what type of reunion or meeting they are planning to hold. The booklet features a page of ideas by the founder of this website, headlined “Take It from a Professional.” Full text>>>

Portrait Photographer Clarence ‘Edward’ Grove of Uhrichsville, Ohio

grovestudiouhrichsvilleoh06 Photo of the Month for February 2017 – Continuing in our occasional series featuring photographers in the family — Clarence “Edward” Grove (1877-1949), who married Sarah Margaret Ferrell (1877-1939) of the family of John William and Catherine (Gillespie) Miner — was a professional photographer who operated his own studio in Uhrichsville, Ohio in the late 1910s. It’s not known how much longer the business remained open.

An example of his work is seen here, showing a subject named William on his first day of school. The embossed stamp reading “GROVE, UHRICHSVILLE, O.” appears centered at the bottom, but not perfectly horizontally aligned. On the back is a handwritten note by “Laura” (presumably the boy’s mother), addressed to Mrs. Karl Bratschi of R.F.D. #2, Alliance, OH, and postmarked Sept. 30, 1918.


The couple dwelled in Dutchtown, Mill Township, Tuscarawas County and were members of the Methodist Church. The Groves produced three daughters — Hazel Ellwood, Flora Belle Fowler and Lulu Marie Grove. The family endured heartbreak with the death of three-year-old daughter Lula from acute meningitis on Oct. 31, 1909. Later, they lived in Big Bend, OH.

After contracting cancer of the left breast, Sarah endured the illness for three years and passed away at the age of 61 on Aug. 13, 1939. Burial was in Union Cemetery, following a funeral sermon by Rev. J. Lloyd McQueen. An obituary was printed in the New Philadelphia Daily Times.

Edward outlived his wife by 10 years. Burdened with senile psychosis, he was admitted to Massillon State Hospital in Stark County, where he remained for the 22 months of his life. He suffered a stroke and succumbed on Aug. 30, 1949 at the age of 72. Rev. L.L. Kollar officiated at the funeral and burial in Union Cemetery. An obituary in the Daily Times said that his survivors included five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Other cousin-photographers whose work has been featured as a “Photo of the Month” have included Ward C. Miner of Louisville, CO (November 2005), Harold S. Fawcett of Grafton, WV (September 2006), Charles Henry Rose of Normalville, PA (November 2006) and Harry G. Bowman of Hartford City, IN (April 2012). 2016 Annual Review


Now in its 17th year online, continued to attract visits and publish the stories of thousands of forgotten lives in 2016 involving a frenetic pace of research, travel and writing. Not a week went by that meaningful content of some type was not added to the site.

Among the indicators are the number of biographies added or expanded during the year – the number of archival images posted – the number of cousin deaths recorded – and the number and variety of blog posts.

Last year, 17 new biographies were added – many so lengthy that they will be subdivided into new ones in 2017 – and many hundreds more bios expanded with new findings – bringing the total on the site to 1,610. Some 1, 034 images were added as illustrations, bringing the overall site-wide count to 14,541.

In 2016, some 48 deaths were recorded for the year, and scores of deaths back-filled our records for earlier years. Since we began counting in earnest on July 1, 2000, the known number of deaths of cousins and spouses is 1,629, or one every 3.7 days. While many of these are related to old age or illness, some are in fact due to domestic violence and heroin addiction. In some periods of our heaviest losses, such as in the 2002-2003 timeframe, we lost a cousin/spouse once every 2.94 days. Future research will identify even more deaths which have occurred in 2000-2016.

All of this material has some connection with the Pennsylvania pioneer Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor clan and its heavily interrelated German families of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

TravelAs always, the core focus of content is research-driven writing and sharing. During the year, I traveled to 10 destinations to pursue that objective — Washington, DC (2); Morgantown, Wheeling and Elizabeth in West Virginia; Wellersburg, Kingwood and New Brighton in Pennsylvania; and Columbus and Cutler, Ohio.

Writing and Publishing – Other major research was conducted and published on a wide variety of topics. Perhaps the most emotionally moving new content added to the site was a collage of photographs and essay by cousin Linda Marker of Rockwood, PA, “A Mother’s Lamentation Over the Heroin Overdose of a Beloved Step-son.”

During the year, scores of cousins reached out to me to share knowledge and rare images of their immediate families. Eight in particular unselfishly provided extensive, detailed and encyclopedic material and need to be recognized here – Richard Rosswurm (branch of Emanuel and Elizabeth [Minerd] Krick) – Brent Lowell ( branches of Josiah J. Dull and John Dull) –Donald Kuhns Jr. (Annabelle [Trout] Hower) – Yvonne Bonnie (Blair) Morgan (Unknown Shelkey Faces album) — Linda Marker (Jacob and Salome [Weimer] Younkin Jr.) — Denny Shirer (Barbara [Minerd] Firestone) — Mark Terry Youngkin (John Harrison and Eliza Jane [Coble] Youngkin) — and Barb Nelson (Jacob and Ruth Ann [Adams] Minerd Sr.).


Recommended News Stories – 2016


See my full compilation on

Here’s my list of my favorite news articles and blog posts from 2016, posted on my award-winning website, These stories, written by [generally] objective, knowledgeable experts who have examined their subjects in detail, reflect my belief that we are living in a time of unprecedented cultural upheaval.

In our chaotic world filled with fakes, frauds, copies and charlatans, our need is greater than ever for things that are “really real” and for understanding highly complex issues involving the human condition and what unites and divides us as people.

The stories cover a wide sweep of Americana from media coverage of the presidential election to the lingering impact of slavery to historic preservation. Enjoy.

Confessions of a Columnist” – by Ross Douthat, New York Times, Dec. 31, 2016
It’s nearly 2017! Can we finally retire the current year as an argument for social change?” – Washington Post, Dec. 30, 2016
Original Portrait of Charles Dickens’ Wife Found Beneath Cover-Up” – Fine Books & Collections, Dec. 27, 2016
Duchess of Roxburghe Bequeaths ‘Extraordinary’ Book Collection to Wren Library” – Fine Books & Collections, Dec. 22, 2016
‘We Couldn’t Believe Our Eyes’: A Lost World of Shipwrecks Is Found” – New York Times, Nov. 12, 2016
Disruption Will Rule, and Obama’s Legacy Will Wash Away As If Written on Water” – by George Will, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 10, 2016
News Media Yet Again Misreads America’s Complex Pulse” – New York Times, Nov. 9, 2016
Channeling Ida Tarbell: An Unlikely Muckraker” – by Tom O’Boyle, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 6, 2016
New Looks at Laurel Hill” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 5, 2016
New Exhibition at the Morgan Library Explores the World of Martin Luther” – Fine Books & Collections, Sept. 20, 2016
Jerusalem as a Place of Desire and Death, at the Metropolitan Museum” – New York Times, Sept. 22, 2016
Scanning Software Deciphers Ancient Biblical Scroll” – Associated Press, Sept. 21, 2016
Through the Place” – Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation documentary, September 2016
How a Dutch Businessman Fulfilled His Dream to Open a ‘World-Class’ Museum” – New York Times, Sept. 14, 2016
Heinz Awards Recognize Inspiring Ideas That Address Global Issues” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 14, 2016
Landmark Labor Ruling Rooted in Beaver County” – Washington Times, Sept. 10, 2016
Almost 50 Years Later, Lawsuit Seeks to Fix Blame for Farmington Mine Disaster” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 4, 2016
Public Permitted to Peruse State Library’s Rare Books” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 4, 2016
Georgetown University Plans Steps to Atone for Slave Past” – New York Times, Sept. 1, 2016
Ken Lopez Updates His Views on Modern Book Collecting Trends” – Rare Book Hub, September 2016
Wreck of Sloop Built in Erie Found Deep in Lake Ontario” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 20, 2016
Why John Oliver Loves Newspapers” – by Kathleen Parker, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 11, 2016
In Frank Lloyd Wright Country, Architecture and Apple Pie” – New York Times, July 27, 2016
Huntington Announces Crowdsourcing Project to Transcribe, Decode Civil War Telegrams” – Fine Books & Collections, June 22, 2016
American Death Rate Increases, Reverses Trend” – Washington Post, June 3, 2016
Stolen Columbus Letter Found at the Library of Congress Returned” – Rare Book Hub, June 2016
Archaeologists Closing in on Finding Captain Cook’s Ship, the Endeavour” – Rare Book Hub, June 2016
‘Roots’ for a New Era” – New York Times – May 22, 2016
Folk Art Starts Here” – New York Times, May 20, 2016
Unearthing the Secrets of New York’s Mass Graves” – New York Times, May 16, 2016
One of Florence’s Oldest Families and Its 600-Year Archive” – New York Times, May 11, 2016
Civil War Museum Transfers Collection to Gettysburg with Constitution Center Exhibit Planned” –, May 5, 2016
A Foundation and a Museum Battle Over Maurice Sendak’s Estate” – by Michael Stillman, Fine Books & Collections, May 1, 2016
Why More Suicides?” – by Ambassador Dan Simpson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 27, 2016
An Ambitious Renovation of August Wilson’s Boyhood Home Will Be Good for Pittsburgh and the Arts” – by Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 24, 2016
Letter from Albert Gallatin Donated to Friendship Hill Historic Site” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 23, 2016
Top Court Rejects Challenge to Google Book-Scanning Project” – Reuters, via, April 18, 2016
Georgetown Confronts a Haunting Sale of Slaves” – New York Times via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 17, 2016
Amateur Snapshots Provide Window to American Culture” – Fine Books & Collections, April 15, 2016
Pope Francis Urges Compassion for All in Landmark Statement on Family Values” – The Guardian, April 9, 2016
Supreme Court Finally Puts an End to Long Running Apple-Amazon Price-Fixing Case” – by Michael Stillman, Rare Book HUB, April 2016
Bob Dylan’s Archive to Be Housed in Oklahoma” – Rare Book HUB, April 2016

Guard Duty at the Execution of Lincoln’s Assassination Conspirators


Alexander Gardner’s famed photo of the public hanging

One of the newly discovered Civil War soldiers in the extended family was Andrew Jacob Sturtz — of the family of Susanna (Gaumer) Sturtz Baughman — who served in 6th U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry, Company A. He was a carpenter who had migrated from Adamsville, OH to Hazel Dell, IL, and stood 5 feet, 8½ inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair

Andrew and his fellow soldiers of the 6th U.S. Infantry were assigned to guard duty at the the Washington Arsenal on the excessively hot July 7, 1865, the fateful day when the four co-conspirators convicted in President Lincoln’s assassination were executed by hanging — Mary Surratt, George Atzerodt, David Herold and Lewis Powell.

While standing at attention in the heat, Andrew fainted, possibly suffering a sunstroke. He “fell near me,” wrote fellow soldier R.E. Holloway. “I thought he was dead but found upon opening his collar that he was still alive.” He was carried into a tent or shack to recover and then was treated at a camp hospital. Wrote another soldier, William Ross: “I was standing near and helped to carry him into his tent and helped to take care of him afterward and after that his eye sight failed him so that he could not see to wright his Letters or Read….”

This famous image, courtesy of the Library of Congress, was made by famed photographer Alexander Gardner using wet glass collodion technology in use at the time. It shows the bodies of the conspirators dangling at the end of their nooses, having been dropped from the scaffold platform, surrounded by soldiers and spectators who are beginning to depart the scene. A crack in the glass plate is noticeable in the lower left-hand corner.

This was not Jacob’s first wartime ailment. A few months earlier, wile on duty at Camp Stoneman, MD on or about May 15, 1865, he was on the sick list but was ordered out to gather wood for a cooking fire. He was pulling a sapling out of the ground when he slipped and may have fallen. Apparently the same day, while driving a mule-drawn wagon, the team bolted and ran away, upsetting the wagon and throwing Andrew underneath, catching his leg in the hub and fracturing his leg from the knee to the foot. He was sent to a hospital, but when seeing other patients there suffering from smallpox, he panicked and crawled out. Somehow he found a crutch and “hobbled back to his company,” he said. He was treated by a Quaker physician and took on light duty as company cook.


Jeff Minerd and The Sailweaver’s Son


If you attended our 2000 National Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor Reunion, you will undoubtedly remember our guest speaker and author Jeff Minerd and his insightful, forward-looking presentation about “21st Century Families.”

Now, 16 years later, Jeff has published his first book, a fantasy adventure novel named The Sailweaver’s Son (Silver Leaf Books, 310 pages). The work has been well-reviewed and is available in hardcopy, Kindle, Nook and iPad formats. In a summary of the book, the publisher states that The Sailweaver’s Son:

…combines epic fantasy with a dash of steampunk and creates a world unlike any other – Etherium. A world where mountains rise like islands above a sea of clouds and adventurers travel the sky in sail-driven airships. When fifteen-year-old Tak rescues the survivor of an airship destroyed by one of the giant flammable gas bubbles mysteriously appearing in the sky of Etherium, the authorities react like a flock of startled grekks. Admiral Scud accuses Tak of sabotage and treason. Tak’s father grounds him for reckless airmanship. Rumors spread that the bubbles are weapons devised by the Gublins, a race of loathsome but ingenious underground creatures. The King’s advisors call for war, hoping to win much-needed Gublin coal. To prove his innocence and prevent a misguided war, Tak must do what anyone knows is suicide – visit the Gublins and find out what they know. When the wizard’s adopted daughter, an oddly beautiful and irksomely intelligent girl from the Eastern kingdoms, asks Tak to help her do just that, he can’t say no. The adventure will take Tak from the deepest underground caves to a desperate battle on Etherium’s highest mountaintop. It will force him to face his worst fears, and to grow up faster than he expected.

Jeff has spent much of his career as a science and medical writer for the National Institutes of Health, MedPage Today, The Futurist magazine, and the Scientist magazine and has had his fiction published in the prestigious North American Review. He and his parents Tim and Gerry Minerd reside in Rochester, NY. He is the grandson of William Melvin and Hannah (Guzzy) Minerd and the great-grandson of Rev. William Mullen and Violet Pearl (Johnson) Minerd of Westmoreland, Armstrong and Somerset Counties, PA.

Here, he and his family promote the book at a publication party — left to right: brother in law Chuck Ruffino, father and mother Geraldine “Gerry” and Tim Minerd, Jeff, sister Laura Ruffino and nephew Stephen Ruffino. Learn more about the book on and Goodreads.