Minerd.com’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, Minerd.com.

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

LYNCHED! The Double-Fatal Encounter Between Convicted Horse Thief Charles Pierce and Jailer Henry Frank

Charles Pierce’s corpse – enlarge

The lives of convicted horse thief Charles Pierce and deputy sheriff Henry B. “Teddy” Frank of Bloomington, IL collided and ended savagely on the evening of Oct. 1, 1881.

The son of Jacob and Catharine (Weyand) Frank of Somerset, PA and Bloomington, Henry one of four brothers who had served in the Civil War. At the time of his murder, he worked as McLean County jailkeeper and was considered a “well-known, well-liked and respected public servant,” said the loomington Pantagraph. On the fateful day, he was directed to escort Pierce from the courtroom to his jail cell. As they walked, Pierce grabbed Teddy’s .44 Smith & Wesson pistol and fired. His first shot hit Henry in the shoulder; the second struck directly in the chest, killing him instantly. Pierce quickly was apprehended and placed in his cell.

Word swept through the town, and a mob of outraged citizens formed within the hour, calling for frontier justice. A number of public officials, including future Illinois Governor Joseph W. Fifer, tried to calm the mob. But the townspeople would not be assuaged and continued to grow to several thousand in number. At some point they used telegraph poles to batter down the doors of the prison and then haul Pierce outside. Even though he asked for time to pray, a three-quarter inch thick rope was wrapped around the prisoner’s neck, and he was struck up on a tree limb across the street. One spectator climbed the tree and pulled the noose even higher, and then dropped it again, to amplify the suffocation process.

A Chicago newspaper reported that as he gasped for breath, Pierce was “subjected to the grossest insult not becoming the most brutal savage. The pants were ripped from the body, and a lighted cigar stuck in the gaping mouth. One plug-ugly, more atrocious than the rest, slid down the rope with great force to the shoulders of the struggling victim. Small boys hooted, yelled, and taunted [Pierce], calling him all manner of vile names.” It was “the county’s only documented lynching” in its history, said the Pantagraph.

The corpse was cut down and then displayed in the windows of the local funeral parlor for hundreds to see, and a photograph was taken. A scanned copy of the image graciously has been provided to Minerd.com by the McLean County History Museum.

Clues to Our German Roots in the Tide Pools of the Longswamp

Historic Longswamp Church of Christ near Mertztown, PA, where the dusts of scores of our cousins of the Gaumer branch rest for eternity

This blog actually has nothing to do with marine biology, except in the inspiration.

Rather, it’s about a September 2019 genealogy research trip I made to Longswamp Township and other communities in the Reading-to-Allentown corridor of Pennsylvania. My objective was to find and photograph grave markers of early generations of our Pennsylvania German cousins of the Gaumer surname, who did not migrate westward, especially those in the old German gothic script. I also wanted to document the extent to which generations of cousins continued to use the German language over many decades.

With stops at 10 cemetery sites, I came home from the weekend with digital, high resolution photographs of more than 280 grave markers and the church buildings, some ancient, where the burying grounds are located. These graves represent 21 different branches of offspring of Maria Elizabeth Meinert and her husband, Revolutionary War veteran Johan Dietrich “Dieter” Gaumer, of near Alburtis, Lehigh County, primarily their children Johann “Heinrich” and Anna Margaretha (Meitzler) Gaumer and Heinrich “Henry” and Maria Gertrude (Gaumer) Meitzler.

It took several weeks to process and name all of the digital image files; color-correct, crop, resize and add each to its respective biography on the Minerd.com website; and then sort and place all of them into permanent digital folders for easy access in the future.

Steinbeck’s book

The trip was inspired by John Steinbeck’s non-fiction book, The Log from the Sea of Cortez, which I first read in 1991 and have consumed several more times since then. It’s a recap of a trawler boat trip which he and marine biologist Ed Ricketts made in 1940, on the eve of World War II, down the California and Mexico coastline and then up into the Mexican Gulf of California. Their goal was to make frequent stops and go ashore to explore the vast diversity of rich marine life – sea cucumbers, starfish, mollusks – found teeming in the coastal tide pools, rocks and sand. They took specimens and recorded color, size and shape characteristics and noted their geographic distribution as compared with other parts of the region.

The offbeat, often-philosophical book reinforced to me that, if I were to truly shoot the moon and learn about the totality of our Meinert/Minerd family within Americana, I’d need to regularly travel and find and excavate the paper trail of the nooks and crannies where they lived their lives – their “tide pools.” Since then, often in company with cousin-researcher Eugene Podraza, I’ve made annual summertime treks to Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, as well as to the National Archives in Washington, DC.

And over the past few years, I’ve immersed myself more deeply into early cousins’ Pennsylvania-German lifestyles and customs, even reading further back about Martin Luther, Goethe and the Thirty Years War to try to figure out what our forefathers brought with them from the old country. From their life stories, we can learn the German folkways of our cousins which were otherwise lost over time.

Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from Steinbeck’s book:

A number of times we were asked, Why do you do this thing, this picking up and pickling of little animals? To our own people we could have said any one of a number of meaningless things, which by sanction have been accepted as meaningful. We could have said, ‘We wish to  fill in certain gaps in the knowledge of the Gulf fauna.’… The lies we tell about our duty and our purposes, the meaningless words of science and philosophy, are walls that topple before a bewildered little ‘why.’ … [W]e did these things because it was pleasant to do them.

10 Findings from the Longswamp ‘Tide Pools:’

1. The Pennsylvania German language can be viewed in three perspectives, as spoken, written and read. The grave markers certainly reflect the latter two as inscribed on stones throughout the 1700s, 1800s and even into the 1900s. Surprisingly, in researching the lives of these families, it’s clear that the spoken version remained in the common speech well into the 20th century. I’ve found one story in 1914 where four-year-old cousin Herbert Acker, who accidentally wandered onto trolley tracks 60 feet above ground in Allentown, was warned by a panicked vehicle operator in both English and German to “stand still” so he would not fall.

Johan Dietrich Gaumer’s grave

2. The German language had looooong staying power. It was humbling to stand at the grave of Elizabeth Meinert’s husband, Revolutionary War veteran Johannes “Dietrich” Gaumer (1722-1794), in Zions Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery in Alburtis, Lehigh County. At least five generations of their descendants, over the span of some 200 years in Pennsylvania, used German as their primary tongue. In his day, Benjamin Franklin was so afraid of the strength of German culture that he wrote the following:

Why should the Palatine boors be suffered to swarm into our settlements and, by herding together, establish their language and manners to the exclusion of ours?  Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us, instead of our Anglifying them?”

The Gaumers’ great-great grandson Henry S. Miller (1872-1949), of the Heimbach branch, was a talented stone cutter who inscribed hundreds of grave markers over the years in the Allentown area. Reported the Allentown Morning Call dryly in 1945, after Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War II, “Mr. Miller specializes in raised lettering. In former years he also worked much on German script for monuments. He did the last one five years ago. There is no longer a demand for it.”

Zum Undenten an — “For the time being”

3. These families held strong Christian beliefs. Across the top of many of the markers is carved the phrase “Zum Undenten An,” which in English roughly means “For the moment” … here lies the body of, which reflects their belief in the Christian Resurrection of the dead. At the base of many of the markers also is inscribed a brief Bible reference. One example is the grave of Leah Lovina (Conrad) Wetzel — of the family of Johan “George Wetzel — in Longswamp Cemetery, Berks County. The text reads “Psalm 73:23, 24, 25.” One has to actually look up the passage. The King James Version reads: “Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.”

Husband/wife’s graves, Fuchs and Fox, 49 years apart

4. Cousins of the 1800s and early 1900s were fluent in both German and English. As they evolved to English over time, names and spellings changed, potentially creating confusion for future generations and genealogy researchers like me. One example was the couple William and Caroline (Gaumer) Fuchs. William and two of their daughters became deathly ill in 1861. On Oct. 23, he succumbed at the age of 37, and the daughters followed him to the grave shortly after. All three were buried in Huff’s Union Church Cemetery, Berks County, with their grave markers inscribed in the old German script, their surnames written as “Fuchs.” Caroline outlived her husband and daughters by nearly a half-century. In June 1910, she died at the age of 79 after a stroke. Her name as inscribed on the grave marker was spelled the English way, “Fox,” on a stone located many rows away from his.

Nathan Leibensperger’s baptismal certificate, in English, 1886, and his grave marker in German, 4+ years later, Huffs Church

The pattern of language evolution was uneven. An example was the story of Nathan Alfred Leibensperger, of the family of Sarah “Sally” (Wetzel) Heimbach. At the age of 12, in 1886, he was confirmed in the family house of worship, Huff’s Reformed Church. In joining the congregation, as had his brothers David and William Henry in previous years, he received a confirmation schein (certificate), signed by the church pastor, Rev. Eli Keller. Unlike his brothers’ German certificates, his was printed entirely in English. But sadly, when he died in 1891 at the age of 16, his grave marker was inscribed in German.

In English, at Huffs Church: “Sarah Heimbach, born Wetzel, wife of Nathan Heimbach”

5. Pennsylvania Germans placed an importance on maiden names. Many of the married women’s grave markers included such a reference. One example is the aforementioned “Sarah Heimbach, geborn Wetzel” found in the Huff’s Church Cemetery. It translates to “Sarah Heimbach, born Wetzel.” This practice continued even after stones began to be cut in English.

Rules signed by Victor Fegely

6. Pennsylvania Germans’ churches evolved beyond the traditional Lutheran, reflecting some of the cultural tensions of the time in the struggle over losing their identity. Certain Lutheran factions wanted their worship services to be in English rather than German and to do away with outdated practices. Some splintered off and formed their own Reformed church congregations but, alas, could not always afford their own buildings. Thus the two would share facilities and burying grounds even with different governing bodies and pastors.

Victor Fegely’s name on the union cemetery rules

Over time, these became known as “Union” churches and, at some point, some of the Reformed congregations merged with the Church of Christ. This led to all sorts of confusion over governance issues. One example is the case of cousin Victor Franklin Fegely (1876-1941), of the family of Jesse Fegley. Circa 1923, Victor served as secretary of the joint congregations of the Longswamp Church. He also helped to formally incorporate a Union Cemetery Board, and was named in the association’s By-Laws, Rules and Regulations booklet.


7. While some of Elizabeth Meinert Gaumer’s children migrated into Ohio, many more chose to stay in Berks and Lehigh Counties. After the span of a dozen generations, their offspring are still there. In the hundreds. In the thousands. Or more, all living in the region today.

Funeral scripture text, Psalms 102:24-25, carved in the figure of an open Bible, Huffs Church

8. Despite the image of Germans as iron-willed and stoic, they were filled with emotion, especially in grief. One of the more poignant examples is shown by the grave marker for William “Henry” Leibensperger, of the Heimbach branch, who died at the age of 24 in 1885. The funeral text was based on Psalms 102: 24-25, a reference inscribed on the face of his marker. When looked up, the verse reads (King James Version): I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.

Christian Congregation Church, a.k.a. St. Pauls Union Church, Mertztown, where the tired remaines of Hiram and Katie (Miller) Fegely rest for all time.

9. Pennsylvania German cousins, like their counterparts from other cultures, suffered from anxiety, heartache and mental illnesses which seem familiar today. It was heartbreaking to research the story of Mertztown residents Hiram R. and Katie (Miller) Fegely of the Heinrich “Henry Harrison” Fegely branch after photographing their and their family’s grave markers. Sadly, infant son Henry died in 1894 and one-month-old son James in 1907. After Katie at age 33 began to show symptoms of mental/emotional depression, she was admitted to the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital in Harrisburg, diagnosed with “Melancholia recurrent exhaustion” and spent the final nine months of her life in the institution. She succumbed to her illness on Oct. 6, 1908. Hiram lived for another 19 years. On Christmas Day 1927, he used a razor to slice the common femoral artery on his left thigh, about six inches above the knee, and proceeded to bleed to death. Their markers, in English, are in the St. Pauls Union Church Cemetery in Mertztown.

10. The speed and technology of collecting have changed vastly since Steinbeck’s time. My trip depended heavily on my smartphone. On Steinbeck’s voyage, photography was an afterthought, and their attempted images and especially films were unusable. Maps were based on data which were years old. The camera on my phone was essential for instantaneous confirmation that my pictures were sharp and well-composed. When I could not find graves that I knew should be in a given cemetery, I was able to query Minerd.com and FindAGrave.com on my phone to confirm names, details, relationships and others’ research. The GPS feature on my phone also made it easy for me to easily navigate the country roads, twists and turns to arrive precisely at the desired location in the time GPS had estimated. This also allowed me to move quickly through the cemeteries in the shortest span of time possible, allowing me to complete the walking and photography in 10 burying grounds in about 24 hours (afternoon on Saturday and morning on Sunday).

Berks/Lehigh County Churchyards Visited the Weekend of Sept. 21-22, 2019:

Longswamp United Church of Christ, Clay Road, Mertztown

Christian Congregation Church, a.k.a. St. Pauls Union Church, Barclay/Chestnut Streets, Mertztown

Huff’s Union Church, Conrad Road, Alburtis

Zion Lehigh Evangelical Lutheran Church, Spring Creek Road, Alburtis

Greenwood Cemetery, West Chew Street, Allentown – drive through only

Union-West End Cemetery, North 10th Street, Allentown – drive-through

Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kings Highway, Old Zionsville

Old Zionsville United Church of Christ, Fountain Road, Old Zionsville

Upper Milford Mennonite Church, Zionsville

Solomon’s United Church of Christ, South Church Street, Macungie


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 Minerd.com 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 – Minerd.com’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 Minerd.com 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.

Minerd.com 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 Minerd.com “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.