Heinrich Schanckweiler: Jailed on Orders of President Adams


The Child’s History of the United States,1849


America’s presidential election this month — perhaps the most contentious in memory — underscores the influence of the nation’s chief executive in determining the extent of citizens’ personal liberties. In March 1799, our outspoken cousin Heinrich “Henry” Schanckweiler, husband of Elisabetha Gaumer, was arrested at the order of President John Adams for speaking out on what he believed to be his legal rights as a taxpayer.

Heinrich opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts, commonly known as the “Gag Law,” considered by some as Adams’ “reign of terror.” The Acts gave Congress the power to deport immigrants and made it more difficult for aliens to vote, and they spelled out disciplinary measures for citizens who would “write, print, utter or publish” comments that the government considered “false, scandalous and malicious.”

In March 1799, federal marshals arrested the German-speaking Heinrich at his log house in Millerstown, Lehigh (formerly Northampton) County, PA, for comments against legislation which he claimed deprived him of his rights. He and other similar offenders were marched to the nearby town of Bethlehem and held as prisoners even as law enforcement officials went into the local Sun Inn to drink beer. A group of Heinrich’s friends, led by John Fries, who was running an armed rebellion against government oppression, surrounded the inn and rescued Henry and the others.

For his role in inciting and supporting the broad insurgence, Fries was sentenced to death by hanging. As Fries had 10 children, one just a newborn, friends circulated a petitioned signed by thousands, asking Adams for a pardon. Popular history suggests that Fries’ wife traveled to Philadelphia to present the document to the president. Apparently Adams was merciful, or politically astute, and signed the reprieve. This woodcut image, from Charles A. Goodrich’s 1849 book The Child’s History of the United States, shows the meeting between Adams, Mrs. Fries and her offspring.

Our Heinrich eventually was tried and convicted for his outspokenness and spent a year in jail in Philadelphia, paying a fine of $150.

Later, the Schanckweilers relocated to New York State on a farm near the town of Fayette. Heinrich was profiled in the 1890 book Centennial Historical Sketch of the Town of Fayette, Seneca County, New York (Geneva, NY – prepared by Diedrich Willers), which said that he had:

…purchased a fine farm near the center of the town in May, 1813, where he resided until his death. The interest he took in the management of public affairs in his native State, soon induced him in his new home, to familiarize himself with the local government of his town and he was early chosen one of its commissioners of highways and overseer of the poor. In 1823, and again in 1824, he was elected supervisor of Fayette, one of the first of the sturdy Pennsylvania Germans who served the town in that capacity. 


Ebenezer Bell Polen’s Farm Sale Poster


In October 1944, having sold his farm near Cadiz, Harrison County, OH, Ebenezer Bell “E.B.” Polen (1882-1947) held a public auction, offering for bidding his cattle, hogs, chickens, hay, grain, farm implements and household goods. To advertise the sale, he had this poster printed on orange paper.

He was the son of Nathaniel “Lewis” and Ida (Welsh) Polen of Hopedale, Harrison County.

Ebenezer married our Ella (Miner) Pritts, a widow who had spent 27 months alone following her first marriage. They united themselves in marriage in Uniontown, Fayette County, PA on Jan. 2, 1906, after first securing a marriage license. Ella was age 31, and Ebenezer age 23. Hebrought young a son to the marriage, Carl Polen.

The couple relocated into Ebenezer’s home in or near Hopedale, about 18 miles to the west and slightly south of the city of Steubenville. The United States census of 1910 shows “Ebinezer” and “Ella” Polen living as farmers in Green Township, Harrison County. At the time of the census, they had been married for four years, but had no children. 

Ella and Ebenezer were mentioned by name in a Minerd family history written in August 1913 by cousin Allen Edward Harbaugh (“The Mountain Poet”), and read aloud at the clan’s first-ever reunion at Ohio Pyle, Fayette County.

After the outbreak of World War I, Ebenezer was required to register for the military draft. Age 36 at the time, he disclosed that he resided in Bloomingdale, Jefferson County, and was a self-employed farmer. He named his nearest relative as “Ella Rogers Polen.” The registration clerk listed him as of medium height and build, with brown eyes and black hair.

By 1920, the Polens migrated a short distance away to Wayne Township, Jefferson County, OH. That year, Ebenezer was a brakeman in a local coal mine. Ebenezer’s 17-year-old son, Carl Polen, also made his home with them that year, with Carl working as a yardman on the section railroad.

The Polens’ marriage dissolved by the mid-1920s. Details and dates are not known.

Ebenezer married again in about 1926, to Anna Lisle (1886- ? ), daughter of Elizabeth M. Lisle. In 1930, census records showing them living in Archer, Harrison County, with Anna’s aged mother under their roof, presumably on the farm of Anna’s parents. It was located one quarter mile east of the Gilmore schoolhouse, six miles northwest of Cadiz.

This original poster was found in a rare book store in Columbus, Ohio in October 2016. It is now safely preserved in the Minerd.com Archives.

Green Thumbs Frank and Mary Enos


Frank and Mary Enos at home


Having seen horrific fighting with the U.S. Marines in the South Pacific during World War II, Frank “Buddy” Enos and his wife Mary Louise settled in the middle of Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA, where their home was widely known and admired for its beautiful hanging flowers.

The son of James M. and Elizabeth (Eberhart Sargent) Enos, Frank was employed for 30 years by Fisher Body and General Motors and for three decades was a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard.” Said the Greensburg Tribune-Review, “He was known by all who traveled Main Street, Mt. Pleasant, for his Easter display and also for his beautiful spring and summer flowers which grew in front of his home.” He received the Mt. Pleasant Rotary Club’s Community Above Self Award, and was featured and pictured in a feature story in the Aug. 9, 2001 edition of the Mt. Pleasant Journal, headlined, “Enos, Example of Service Above Self.”

In the spring of 1992, Frank and Mary graciously opened their home to the founder of this website, accompanied by their nephew Jack Campbell, for a visit to talk about family history. More>>>

Frank’s father, James M. Enos, worked as a pumper in the coal mines, and later was a maintenance worker of the Pennsylvania Department of Highways (now PennDOT). As with many Western Pennsylvanians of German descent, James often talked of seeing “ghosts and tokens”” mysterious lights in the night sky. He told of driving to Indian Head, Fayette County, in 1932 to visit his ailing mother. There was a bright flash of light behind his vehicle, nearly blinding him with its reflection off the rear-view mirror. Then the light went away. He looked at his wristwatch, and it was 8 p.m. When he arrived, he found that his mother had died while he was en route. When he asked when exactly she had died, he was told “8 o’clock.”

Civil War Veteran Cyrus Lindley’s 15 Minutes of Fame

Cyrus Lindley, far right [enlarge]

Civil War veteran and wagon-maker Cyrus Lindley (standing, far right) achieved his 15 minutes of fame when, on Nov. 12, 1900, following construction of the new Washington County Courthouse in Pennsylvania, he was named to sit with its first-ever grand jury.

A resident of Amwell, Washington County, he was recognized for this quirk of fate in the 1902 book, Courts of Justice: Bench and Bar of Washington County, authored by Boyd Crumrine. Wrote Crumrine, the jury “appeared in session in court-room No. 1, to join in the first act of judicial business ever transacted in the new court-house.” A group photograph was made by (?) Hallam, and the halftone for the book by (?) Bragdon.

During the war, Cyrus served as a member of the 140th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, which suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Gettysburg. Cyrus was married three times and produced a total of 17 children. His third and final wife was Elizabeth “Lizzie” Minor, daughter of Catherine (Minor) Bedillion of Greene County, PA.

During the Civil War, Cyrus enlisted in the Union Army on Aug. 9, 1962. He was assigned to Company D of the 140th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. In a cruel twist of fate, his first wife Lucinda gave birth while he “was absent serving in the Army,” but she and the baby died in childbirth. In his own words, Cyrus “did not get home even to attend the funeral.”

With the 140th Pennsylvania, Cyrus and his fellow soldiers were bloodied in some of the fiercest action known during the war. During the Battle of Chancellorsville, on May 3, 1863, he “received a shell wound of the left hip [or back] while supporting battery” of cannon. A loud shell explosion also caused him some deafness. While in the Battle of Gettysburg just two months later, he was wounded again during the fighting at the Wheat Field and on Little Round Top. He received a bayonet wound in the right leg “while charging on enemy” during the final day’s action on July 3, 1863.

Cyrus’ name appears on the Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg, along with the names of all the other members of the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry and other Pennsylvania regiments who served in action at the bloody battle.

In the postwar years, as he aged, Cyrus began to feel the effects of his wartime illnesses. He applied for and began receiving a pension from the federal government as compensation. Circa 1900, he was receiving $6 per month through the pension agency in Pittsburgh. During an 1892 medical examination, required to maintain his pension, he stood 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighed 122 lbs., and had a pulse rate of 72. In 1898, a physician wrote: “[His] nutrition is good, muscular development fair, his palms show evidence of hard labor done in the past, at present quite soft.” Cyrus’s original pension file is held today at the National Archives in Washington, DC, with a copy in the Minerd.com Archives.

Death finally took Cyrus at age 69 at their Amwell Township home, on Jan. 17, 1908. The Washington Reporter said he was “an old soldier” and that his “death was sudden, as he had been sick only about eight hours.” Burial was in Washington Cemetery.

Younkin National Home-coming Reunions of the Great Depression


Younkin Reunion, circa 1940

Of the many reunions of various branches of our Pennsylvania German family, none was as large in size and scope as the Younkin National Home-Coming Reunion of the 1930s and early ’40s. Held at the IOOF Picnic Grove in Kingwood, Somerset County, PA (the same place as the Minerd-Miner reunions from 1986-2005), these gatherings drew more than 1,000 people a year during the heart of the Great Depression.

In 1937, to support the reunion effort, co-founder and secretary Charles Arthur Younkin of Charleroi, PA launched a major publishing outreach with the printing of a national family newspaper, the Younkin Family News Bulletin. Eight issues were produced between 1937 and 1941, providing remarkable insights into this massive, sprawling clan and the latest research available at that time.

This image is thought to be from the reunion of 1940. A bus is visible in the background with the word “Lines” on the side, while a sign advertising “White … Vinegar” also is in view.

A newspaper article noted that “Near 1,000 members and friends present at the seventh annual national reunion held at Kingwood, Pa., Sunday, August 18th, 1940. A beautiful day, ideal for a gathering of this nature. A representative of many branches, from many states and places and at the place where once each year all Younkins gather and make merry. States represented are as follows: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Michigan and Puerto Rico, many old members present whose ages totaled 260 years, Colwell, 87 years; Henry, 87 Years; Freemont, 86 years.”

In 1937, to support the Younkin effort, Charley launched a major publishing outreach with the printing of a national family newspaper, the Younkin Family News Bulletin. Eight issues were produced between 1937 and 1941, providing remarkable insights into this massive, sprawling clan and the latest research available at that time. In 1938, cousin Horton Younkin of Ashville, OH, showed a copy to newspaper columnist Clyde Mitchell of the Pickaway County News.  Mitchell later devoted an entire column to the reunion and family newspaper, and wrote:

[Horton] showed me what I believe to be the only newspaper whose news is devoted entirely to one family and which is written and published as a family newspaper….  [He] told me when he gave me this paper that he attended the reunion in 1935 and 1936…

In 1940, just before the possibly last reunion was held, the Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier published an editorial praising the reunion’s size and national reach:

Of the numerous family reunions which run through the summer season in ever increasing numbers, that of the Younkins is one of the few which take on a national scale.. According to Attorney Fred E. Younkin of this city who has been vice-president since the organization was formed, they come all the way from California and Maine. The association has a national printed bulletin… The usual big gathering is anticipated for the reunion August 18.

America’s entry into World War II, in addition to waning interest, was the death knell for the original Younkin reunions. In 1991, after 50 years of inactivity, they were revived by Donna (Younkin) Logan of Frederick, MD and again held at the Kingwood Picnic Grove. The tireless Donna hosted a Younkin website; published her own version of the Younkin Family News Bulletin; traveled to Germany to make connections with current-day cousins; and launched a DNA research project to determine precise Younkin bloodlines. In about 1996, cousin Diana (Younkin) Egan of Salem, OR, formed the Younkin Reunion-West in Oregon to benefit West Coast kin who could not make the long trip east to Pennsylvania. Sadly, both Donna and Diana passed away in 2006, but their legacies still live on the Minerd.com and Younkin websites, Donna’s 2004-2005 travel diary, and through the Younkin Reunions in Kingwood each July.

Mike McVay: 40 Years in Radio Programming


Michael Alvin McVay, born in Mount Pleasant and raised in Youngwood, Westmoreland County, PA, is senior vice president of content and programming for Cumulus Media and Westwood One Radio Networks, known for combining high-quality local programming with iconic, nationally syndicated media, sports and entertainment brands.

In this role, Mike oversees the programming of nearly 500 radio stations and two radio networks, including Westwood One. A 40-year programmer with consulting, management, ownership, sales, programming and on-air experience, he has developed and launched several nationally syndicated programs. He also has programmed around the world with more than 300 stations to his credit. Stations programmed or consulted include those in America, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Grand Cayman and Puerto Rico.

The son of Richard A. and Wilma (Ferguson) McVay and grandson of James I. and Myrtle (Thurston) McVay of Mount Pleasant, Mike began his career in 1969 as an on-air announcer with WHJB-AM in Greensburg, PA. He moved to WCVI-AM in Connellsville and later to WMBS-AM in Uniontown, PA and then went on to program radio stations in Wheeling, Charleston, Louisville, Los Angeles and Cleveland. He was a general manager in Mobile, AL and Cleveland. He and his wife Doris have owned and operated radio stations in Naples, Key West, Honolulu and Flint, Michigan. A decade after his start, Michael founded McVay Media in 1979 which became a full-time avocation in 1984. He has authored several broadcast primers, writes for Radio & Records magazine and contributes to Radio Ink magazine.

Widely acknowledged as an industry leader, Mike has been nominated for Consultant of the Year from Billboard Magazine, and Radio & Records. He has captured the Ohio Media Leader of the Year Award, Broadcaster of the Year from the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters, is an inductee into the Cleveland Broadcasting Hall of Fame and has won the Radio Music Award for Broadcast Consultant of the Year during the RMA™ event in Las Vegas. For an unprecedented three years in a row, he was named the R&R Broadcast Executive of the Year (2006, 2007 and 2008) for Radio & Records magazine. Mike was elected to the board of the Country Radio Broadcasters (CRB) in October 2008. Today McVay Media is a program consultancy serving radio, TV, the Internet and digital media platforms.

He also has been president of McVay Syndication (a radio network syndicating several radio programs), is the partner of Listener Driven Radio (a New Media Platform) and co-founder of a digital consulting firm named McVay New Media. With a management and accounting degree, Doris serves as CEO of McVay Media and coordinates the main and satellite office locations. More>>>

Civil War Surgeon Dr. Ralph W. Cummings and His Wife Eunice Flora Miner


Civil War surgeon Dr. Ralph Wardlaw Cummings of Yarmouth, Maine, and his wife Eunice “Flora” Miner of Attica, Indiana probably had this photograph made at or near the time of their marriage on March 13, 1865. Wed in in Knoxville, Tennessee, they had this carte de visite image made in D.R. Clark’s Art Gallery in Lafayette, Indiana. On the back of the light cardboard mounting is the photographer’s imprint plus a 3 cent green “Proprietary” stamp with George Washington’s likeness, issued by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax on photographs during the war.

Ralph was an 1853 graduate of Bowdoin College and completed further studies at the New York Medical College. After graduation in 1856, he was named editor and publisher in 1858 of the Maine Medical and Surgical Journal.

During the Civil War, he served as a private and sergeant with the 1st Michigan Infantry from 1861 to 1862 — as first sergeant and assistant surgeon of the 23rd Michigan from July 28, 1862 to March 31, 1866 — and for three weeks in March 1864 as surgeon of the 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. The 1,700-man 1st U.S.C.H.A. had been formed in February 1864 and spent most of its time in and around Knoxville. Ralph and Flora seemed most proud of this role, as the 1st U.S.C.H.A. name was inscribed on his grave marker two-plus decades later.

Following the war, Ralph was a physician in Bay City, MI; life insurance and claim agent in Knoxville, TN (1867); a pharmacist in Minneapolis, MN (1870); and associate editor of the Minneapolis Evening Times and News (1873). In 1873, while in Minneapolis, Ralph served as a corporate member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and is mentioned in the November 1873 edition of The Missionary Herald. Sometime between 1873 and 1880, they moved to California where he is said to have edited a newspaper in Benicia, 35 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Sadly, Ralph died in San Francisco as he neared his 48th birthday on Aug. 17, 1880, of “disease of brain.” He was laid to rest in the Oakland Cemetery, with a short notice of his death published in the Oakland Tribune.

A year after Ralph’s passing, on May 31, 1881 in San Francisco, the 39-year-old Flora married her second husband, 54-year-old Judge Claudius Galon Sayle (1827-1910). Judge Sayle is profiled in the book, Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Fresno, Tulare and Kern, California, Illustrated (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company), which was also published verbatim in the History of Fresno County, California (Wallace W. Elliott & Co., 1882). More>>>