Grieving Parents Say ‘Yes’ to God’s Plan in Response to Daughter’s Tragic Death

Jamilyn Hull – enlarge>>>

Having just returned home from a mission trip to Haiti, where she was preparing to adopt a baby girl, and with plans to work for a non-profit overseas, the 26-year-old Jamilyn Renee Hull faced a very bright future. She was a talented photographer and had traveled around the world, looking for ways to help women become more self-sufficient and capturing that in images. During one visit to Israel, she wrote, “I was walking places where Jesus walked, and getting my eyes on places I had only read about in my Bible.” She was flourishing, doing what she felt called to do, using her God-given talents to live out her faith.

But the day after her homecoming from Haiti, over the Father’s Day Weekend in 2015, while going home late at night following a visit with her father, she was killed in an automobile accident. Just like that.

At the time, her parents David and Jennifer Hull – he of the family of John Andrew and Susan (Pletcher) Miner of Somerset County, PA – were living in Humble, TX, where he was executive pastor of small groups for the 15,000-member Woodlands Church. The family’s emotional devastation wrought by this senseless death was so personal and so overwhelming that it could not be captured in any manner of words, except ultimately for just three – “We say yes.

David and Jennifer, with their deep Christian faith and trust put to a severe test, first questioned “Why?” They sought an answer in scripture and prayer. What they received in response, as unimaginable and irrational as it may sound to some, was that this tragedy was part of God’s plan for their lives, and that they must surrender their all to it and obey. On a moving and intimate video the couple later recorded, David says “If God will give you comfort at times like that, in the worst moments of your life, and when you lose a child, you have to make hard decisions and see situations that are very tough, and if God will do that for parents, what can’t God do?

The Hulls’ steadfast belief that God is in charge led them to make a move to Heartland Church, an interdenominational, multiethnic place of worship in Indianapolis, where today he is executive pastor of ministries. And in a permanent step of faith, he had a single word “Yes” tattooed on his hand, so that in moments of doubt, darkness or despair, as well as in rejoicing, he always would be brought back to his and Jennifer’s relationship with a living God whom they believe is all loving and merciful. Be sure to check out the website

Shed Younkin’s Hand-inked Family Record Fraktur


The old Pennsylvania-German art of “fraktur” — a type of folk art featuring artistic calligraphy and colorful illustration — was utilized by many early families to maintain an heirloom record their births and deaths.

This example is from the family of William “Shedrick” and Caroline (Cupp) Younkin of near Rockwood, Somerset County, PA. Lettered and illustrated in a combination of black and red inks, it records the family over a span of 100 years, from Shedrick’s birth in 1838 to the death of a daughter in 1938. Their six children listed Missouri Wingerd, Levi “Grant” Younkin, Thomas Wilbert Younkin, Ella Linda Hauger, Susan Edith Miller and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Wable. Sadly, their son Thomas is marked for the first death, at the age of three in 1873.

Shedrick was the product of two consecutive marriages between the Minerd and Younkin clans. His parents were John M. and Laura (Minerd) Younkin, and his maternal grandparents were Jacob and Catherine (Younkin) Minerd Jr., all of Somerset County. They lived quiet, paced lives as farmers, devoted to each other. When a daughter gave birth out of wedlock, in 1879, Shedrick signed a legal agreement to keep and maintain the boy at his own expense. In about 1900, they helped raise a granddaughter. Shedrick and Caroline and some of their offspring are known to have attended the very first Minerd-Miner Reunion in southwestern Pennsylvania, held in 1913 at Ohiopyle, Fayette County. View Caroline’s old family Bible, courtesy of the Rockwood Area (PA) Historical Society.

A related art form, known as “taufschein,” recording births and baptisms, was featured as the “Photo of the Month” for March 2019. The image highlights a paper record commissioned in 1851 by James and Mary (Bernhardt) Fegely of Berks County for their son David “Wilson” Fegely.

Younkin Memorial Stained Glass Windows in the Kingwood Church of God, Somerset County, PA

A few of the 9 Younkin windows at the church. View>>>

The original Kingwood Church of God in Somerset County, PA was established in 1876, with its dedication ceremony led by Rev. John Hickernell, who years before had planted the Old Bethel Church of God in the nearby community of Hexebarger.

After 44 years, the Kingwood building was renovated in 1920, including a two-story addition and a vestibule with a bell tower. New stained glass windows were installed throughout the sanctuary, and nine sets of cousins of the extended Younkin family made donations to dedicate windows in honor and memory of loved ones.

The church burned to the ground in early January 1934. Somehow, the windows miraculously survived. Having served the community for 57 years, and with a current membership of about 160, the structure was rebuilt. A Building Committee of four church members oversaw the process, of whom three were of the Younkin family. The committee’s names are inscribed in stone and mounted today on the face of the brick structure.

Thanks to an array of wonderful photographs by Younkin cousin Linda Marker, generously shared, a new page has been created on as a guide to all the Younkin family stained glass windows at the Kingwood Church of God in Somerset County, PA. More>>>

Chew, Wilcocks and the Ingersoll Brothers: Prominent Philadelphia Landowners Who Sold Southwestern Pennsylvania Farmland to the Minerd/Younkin Family

Justice Chew, J.E. Ingersoll, C.J. Ingersoll, B.C. Wilcocks

“Chew and Wilcocks” are familiar names to many researchers of early southwestern Pennsylvania land ownership records, and for good reason.  Together, Benjamin Chew Sr. and his son-in-law Alexander Wilcocks owned 43 tracts totaling nearly 12,000 acres in Somerset and Fayette Counties in the late 1700s. These lands were held by the family for some six-plus decades.

As residents of Philadelphia, 240 miles away, Chew and Wilcocks were absentee owners. In fact, they may never have actually laid eyes on the lands they owned. Chew (1722-1810) was active and influential in state politics and, in addition to serving as Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, was the attorney for the family of Pennsylvania’s founder, William Penn. Wilcocks (1741-1801), who married Chew’s daughter Mary, was his law partner, judge and recorder of deeds in Philadelphia.

In 1837, the Wilcocks’ heirs sold one of their tracts to local farmer Jacob and Catherine (Younkin) Minerd Jr. and their eldest son John Minerd.

Documents in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania show that Chew and Wilcocks played important roles in developing the largely uncultivated lands of Somerset and Fayette Counties. With the help of on-the-scene agents, these influential Philadelphians touched the lives of any common farming families.

Philadelphians Owning Faraway Property – As did many foresighted government officials of that era, Chew and Wilcocks could envision the investment potential of their thousands of acres of virgin timber and river lands. Their holdings were acquired from the Penns during the American Revolution, when the Penns’ ownership rights, granted by British royal charter, became null and void. Less than a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed, March 21, 1777, the partners received a detailed description of each of their tracts in a document compiled by Henry Rhodes.

Chew and Wilcocks jointly held their Somerset/Fayette properties for about 14 years, until November 1790, when they divided their holdings. Chew was allocated 5,947 acres and Wilcocks 6,011 acres.

Many of the tracts had fancy names, such as Death of the Fawn, White’s Little Mill Seat, and Hunting Lot, and were often rented to farmers for cultivation. Hunting Lot — the tract that was sold to the Minerds — contained 318 acres and was located in what is now locally called Hexebarger in Upper Turkeyfoot Township, near the Old Bethel Church. Chew admired Hunting Lot and once wrote about its “excellent upland-meadow.”

The Minerds Take Occupancy – Tax records suggest that Jacob may have begun occupying Hunting Lot as early as 1829. Then after eight years, he was in a position to own the property. It sat to the west of the village of Kingwood, in a hills-and-valleys section known locally as “Hexebarger” — German for “witch mountain.”

How Minerd, an unlettered farmer, came into contact with the faraway Wilcocks and Ingersoll heirs is not known, though probably their communications were made through an intermediary. As absentee owners, Chew, Wilcocks and the Ingersolls utilized agents to handle day-to-day administration of the properties.

One of Chew’s agents was attorney Abraham Morrison, who has been dubbed “the patriarch of the Somerset County bar.” Morrison lived across the street from the county courthouse and in his career served as the first county commissioners’ clerk, county treasurer, prothonotary and clerk of courts, register of wills and register of deeds.

Morrison kept in touch with Chew by writing letters containing details of developments and asking opinions of certain matters. One was penned from Somerset on Feb. 13, 1808, and contains nuggets of information of interest to genealogists, historical researchers and archeologists. In it, Morrison summarized leases with Jacob Streight, Peter Kendle, Mr. Shunk, Frederick Zufalt, Jacob Neffe, George Arnold, Joseph Mattick, John Lighty and Daniel Miller. Morrison also mentioned the names Shapthat Dwire, William Tissue, Mr. Ringer, Mr. Wood, Mr. Biggs and Adam Faidley.

The letters describe terms and conditions of the leases, which required labor in return for low rental rates. For instance, Jacob Neffe rented “Turkey Bottom” (today part of Casselman) for a three-year term, for a penny a year. In return, Neffe agreed to build a barn and stable measuring 20 by 24 feet, plant 30 apple trees, make all the outside fences “good and sufficient,” and pay all taxes.

The Minerd 1837 acquisition enlarged their Hexebarger farm to 500 acres, which played an important role in the family’s growth and development. Four generations lived there until 1867, when the final section was sold out of the family. Minerd and his wife Catherine Younkin raised nine children there, and four sons — John Minerd, Henry Minerd, Jacob Minerd III and Charles Minerd — bought portions after their father’s death.

In 1851, at the heyday of the Minerd habitation, about 35 family members lived in various dwellings within the farm’sborders. One of the Minerd grandsons, the six-year-old Andrew Jackson Miner, was the great-great grandfather of the founder of this website. Another, Daniel Martin Younkin, referred to the Minerds as “early settlers in what was known as the ‘Hexebarger’ community, which is a provincialism that is still frequently applied to that locality…. The topography is unusually rugged and the primitive inhabitants were themselves a rugged, sturdy people.” When grandson Martin Miner returned for a visit in 1905, he remarked that the “old ear marks of boyhood days are about all obliterated.” Many of the grandchildren gathered for a first-ever family reunion in 1913, and could say that they or their parents had once  lived on the farm.

Chew’s Son-in-Law Alexander Wilcocks (1741-1801) – On May 18, 1768, Alexander wedded Mary Chew ( ? -1794). A man of public affairs, he served as a justice for the County of Philadelphia and was a member of the Committee of Safety, in addition to his role as recorder of deeds after the end of the American Revolution.

Mary died on Aug. 22, 1794. Alexander followed her to the grave 11 years later, on July 22, 1801.

At his death, the Wilcocks’ lands were inherited by these of their children: Benjamin Chew Wilcocks, Elizabeth Wilcocks, Samuel Wilcocks, Ann Wilcocks (wife of attorney Joseph Reed Ingersoll) and Mary Wilcocks (wife of lawyer Charles Jared Ingersoll). These parcels remained in the possession of the Wilcocks heirs for nearly four decades.

The Nation’s Financial Panic of 1837 – The 1830s were an era of change and financial uncertainty. Digby Baltzell’s book, Philadelphia Gentlemen, noted that during the decade, Americans embarked on “an era of ‘wild cat'” spending. As President Andrew Jackson began to dismantle the controversial Bank of the United States, the economy became increasingly “speculative and unsound,” wrote historian Arthur Schlesinger. “Crop failures in 1835 toppled the first domino. Farmers could not pay merchants and speculators, who in turn could not pay banks.” In New Orleans, the price of cotton plunged, triggering the collapse of several financial firms which led to multi-million-dollar losses by major banks in Boston and New York.

By 1837, the nation was in a full-blown financial panic. The value of the Wilcocks real estate declined, at a time when two of the husbands of the Wilcocks daughters — Charles Jared Ingersoll and Joseph Reed Ingersoll — were running for political office. It’s likely that their decision to sell was driven by a need to raise cash, at discounted prices more affordable to farmers like the Minerds.

Wilcocks’ Son Benjamin Chew Wilcocks (1776-1845) – Married Sarah Waln ( ? – ? ), daughter of William Waln. The couple bore two daughters, Mary Waln Campbell and Helen Julia Robbins.

In 1795, when the teenage Benjamin was traveling to Holland on business, John Adams wrote to his son John Quincy Adams, asking that “you will Shew him as much Civility as you can. He will be able to tell you all the news we have.” He went to China in 1799 as an agent of his father-in-law. There, he w as a merchant trading in fabrics, porcelains and fineware. He also is said to have been a pioneer in smuggling opium from China and Turkey into the United States, with some critics today referring to him as a drug lord. The New York Times described Benjamin many years later as “a man so tall the Chinese called him the ”high devil,” whose flamboyant life style led him far from his Quaker heritage.” His father-in-law’s business failed during a financial panic in 1819, and Benjamin became saddled with a $72,000 debt to a merchant named Wu Bingjian.

With business in shambles, Benjamin was named in 1820 as the United States Consul to China, with is base of operation in Canton. He held this post for the rest of his years in the country. He left Canton for good in 1827, although the amount of his indebtedness was forgiven in return for his many years of service “helping Chinese merchants collect debts in Philadelphia,” said the book The Chinese Cornerstone of Modern Banking.

Benjamin was a patron of the miniature portrait painter Benjamin Trott. He also commissioned a set of eight large bells to be mounted in the historic St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia, at the corner of Pine and Third Streets, where George Washington had once attended.

His nephew Sidney George Fisher Sr. wrote this in his book A Philadelphia Perspective, “For some weeks  before I left town he had sunk into a state of profound depression, similar to that with which he was once before affected, which lasted for 12 years during which he never left his house and from which he was roused some 3 or 4 years ago. When he was roused, he compensated by extraordinary activity for his long seclusion and apathy.”

Wilcocks’ Son-in-Law Charles Jared Ingersoll Sr. (1782-1862) –

On Oct. 18, 1804, Charles Jared was united in marriage with Mary Wilcocks (1784-1862). Their nine offspring were Charles Jared Ingersoll Jr., Alexander Wilcocks Ingersoll, Harry Ingersoll, John Ingersoll, Benjamin Wilcocks Ingersoll, Elizabeth Fisher, Edward Ingersoll, Ann Meigs and Samuel Ingersoll.

A lawyer by training, his political career began with election to the U.S. House of Representatives circa 1813. From 1825 to 1829, he was United States Attorney, but was fired upon the election of President Andrew Jackson. His next elected post was to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1830. Then in 1837, the year in which the heirs sold their farmland to the Minerds, he was a delegate to the Pennsylvania State Constitutional Convention, secretary of the Legation to Prussia and made an unsuccessful attempt at a seat back in the House. He was elected to Congress in 1840 and served as chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

As a Congressman, Charles Jared was friends with former Presidents James Madison and James Monroe. But he regularly was in conflict with the policies of Secretary of State Daniel Webster and President Andrew Jackson. He and Webster clashed as the senator launched an investigation into Charles Jared’s alleged receipt of a bribe. The Foreign Relations perch gave Charles Jared an opportunity to launch a strong counter-attack, charging misconduct on Webster’s mis-handling of a Canadian border matter some years earlier. Webster responded viciously, saying his opponent’s “mind is so grotesque, so bizarre — it is rather the caricature of a mind, than a mind. When we see a man of some knowledge, and some talent, who is yet incapable of producing any thing true, or useful, we sometimes apply to him a phrase borrowed from the mechanics. We say, there is a screw loose, somewhere. In this case, the screws are loose all over.”

Robert V. Remini’s book Daniel Webster said that Webster’s “harangue was as thorough a job of demolition as ever heard in the Senate. He squelched Ingersoll.” Charles Jared then fired back another salvo, starting an official investigation of his own, alleging embezzlement and corruption. Watching all of this unfold on the Senate floor, John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary about their “malicious personal enmities.” Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederacy, earned Charles Jared’s anger when preparing a pro-Webster summary for publication.

Charles Jared left the House of Representatives in 1847 and returned to Philadelphia, where he died in 1862.

Son-in-law Sidney George Fisher Sr. wrote that Charles Jared’s “conversational powers, & his gentlemanlike manners make him exceedingly agreeable…. He was in many respects a remarkable person and during a long life held a conspicuous position as a public man, having been twice in Congress and for many years district attorney in this city when the place was far more respectable than it has since become…. His intellect was not of a high order, but he wrote & spoke with east, animation, and earnestness & was witty at times, generally sarcastic, clever, pointed, odd, never eloquent or profound.”

 Wilcocks’ Son-in-Law Joseph Reed Ingersoll (1786-1868) – Was of medium height, light complexion, bright blue eyes and auburn hair. On Sept. 22, 1813, he married Ann Wilcocks (1781-1831). They were the parents of three — James Ingersoll, Mary Wilcocks Ingersoll and Joseph Ingersoll. Sadly, Ann died in 1831, and was eulogized as “a woman of great personal attractions, an amiable temper, and most refined and accomplished manners.”

As with his brother Charles Jared, Joseph was a lawyer. Circa 1810, he had the rare opportunity for a young man to argue a case before the United States Supreme Court, presided by Chief Justice John Marshall.

Joseph was elected to Congress in 1812 but defeated in a re-election bid two years later. President James Madison appointed him as a United States Attorney, a post which he held until 1829, when he was removed from office after the election of President Andrew Jackson. Then in 1840, on a ticket opposed to Jackson, he was again elected to Congress. He supported tariffs on imported products by which to protect American producers and opposed to the annexation of Texas.

Eulogist David Paul Brown wrote that Joseph was “the Cicero of the American Bar, and he may be truly said to be one of Plutarch’s men, nay, if I have read his annals rightly, one of the noblest of them. He was a man of geneal alacrity, of systematic and untiring industry, of refined manners, of a frank and urbane spirit, exemplary integrity, and a most signal example of benevolence.”

As a lawyer in private practice, Joseph in 1844 argued a trial involving the city’s bloody anti-Catholic protests known as the “church riots” – “Orange riots” and “Kensington riots.” For a year, appointed by President Fillmore, Joseph served as Minister to the United Kingdom, also known as the Court of St. James. Others who have held this ambassadorship over the years have been Robert Todd Lincoln, Andrew W. Mellon and Joseph P. Kennedy, among others. Joseph was a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts and Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

His nephew Sidney George Fisher Sr. wrote that Joseph’s “mind was decidedly commonplace, his range of knowledge narrow. He possessed however that sort of ability which produces success, fluency of speech, agreeable manners, great power of labor, & determined will. He had a large practice at the bar, but he was a jury-lawyer; he had a respectable position in Congress, because he worked well on Committees & was known to be upright & honorable, but he was not distinguished & never made a speech that excited public attention.”


Visualizing the Generations


Visual representation of 4 generations of Minerd offspring

As of today, the total known headcount of children, grandchildren, gr-grandchildren and gr-gr grandchildren of southwestern Pennsylvania pioneers Jacob and Maria (Nein) Minerd Sr. is 2,342.

Virtually all were born by the year 1900.

Here’s a visual representation of what that big number looks like — blue figures represent each male and pink each female. In my case, one of the blue figures in Generation 4 symbolizes my great-grandfather Harry Orlan Miner of Washington, PA.

I’m of the 7th generation. Some of those alive today belong to the 8th or 9th. Some have asked how many of us are “out there.” At one time years ago I thought the number could be 50,000. Perhaps it is approaching 100,000. We’ll never truly know a precise number.

The headcounts used for this graphic include natural-born, step, foster and adopted children, including infants who died at birth where the gender was known.

First Time Author Michele Miner and Her Novel ‘Their Moon Was Cardboard’

Michele and her new novel – enlarge>>>

First-time author and long-time theatrical manager Mary “Michele” Miner — granddaughter of Clyde Calvin and Bertha (Smith) Miner of St. Louis — signs copies of her new novel, Their Moon Was Cardboard, published earlier this year. Michele’s plot revolves around the fictional Southern California character Matthey Cole, a “successful freelance production stage manager, currently working at the Parkinson Hopkins Theatre on a world premiere, [who] becomes involved in murder, the NSA, sex and maybe drug trafficking while trying to get her show open,.” she writes. “Just part of the job for a stage manager in Los Angeles.”

Michele has spent years as a freelance theatrical production stage manager, logging such Broadway credits as Division Street (1980) and Burn This (1987, starring John Malkovich). From there she became a production manager at Pomona College where she also taught for six years. Today she and her husband are involved with Parson’s Nose Theater in Pasadena, a company known for performing professional, 90 minute adaptations of classics. She first made contact with the founder of this website in early 2004, and has remained interested in her pioneer Ohio roots of more than two centuries ago.

Michele’s better half, Paul Perri, is a noted Broadway, Off Broadway, film and television actor. His Wikipedia page says he is “best known for portraying Edwards and Skinless Parker in Hellraiser: Bloodline, Harry Hume from Chaos, and as Dr. Sidney Bloom from Manhunter.” He’s also played parts in episodes of Seinfeld, ER, Frasier, NYPD Blue, The West Wing and Grey’s Anatomy. Paul’s Broadway credits include Burn This, A View From the Bridge, Macbeth and The Bacchae. His Los Angeles regional credits range from God’s Man In Texas, True West and Hitler’s Head to Ivanov, Golden Boy, Hurlyburly, Counselor-At-Law, Day and Nights Within, Much Ado About Nothing and Love’s Labours Lost. Paul has performed for the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Yale Repertory and Cohoes Music Hall. His film credits include The Insider, Freeway, Gathering Evidence, Demolition Man, Memoirs of An Invisible Man and Delta Force II, while his TV credits include Battlestar Gallactica, Killer Instinct, CSI: New York, Smallville, Dark Angel, The Twilight Zone.

See other cousin-authors and their books as the “Photo of the Month” in December 2017December 2016 – and March 2016.

The ‘Blacksmith Preacher’ and a Legacy of Public Service

Family of Rev. David E. and Sarah Catherine (Williams) Minerd. Enlarge>>>

Among the more well-known branches of our family in southwestern Pennsylvania was the Rev. David Ewing and Sarah Catherine (Williams) Minerd clan of Dunbar, Fayette County. Nicknamed the “Blacksmith Preacher,” David spent 60 years as a Methodist minister, overseeing 6,500 funerals and 3,500 weddings and planting several churches which still exist today. Enjoying tremendously positive press coverage, he once was praised by the Connellsville Daily Courier as “a very useful man, especially among the poor and working classes, and he enjoys the respect of everybody in the community.” He is is one of the very few of our cousins living outside of the New York City area to have an obituary published in the New York Times.

In a tragic twist of irony, David’s first marriage to Emma Speer ended in heartbreak when she and their two young children died within just nine months. His second marriage, to Sarah, resulted in the large family seen in this portrait. Their brood’s collective record of providing public service is remarkable.

David and Catherine are seated at center. The standing adults, left to right: Dr. Harold “Daniel” Minerd, a popular dentist and World War I veteran who served two terms as Mayor of Connellsville and one as Fayette County Treasurer and whose classmate Dr. John Bain “Jock” Sutherland coached the University of Pittsburgh football team to five national championships — Ewing David Minerd, World War I veteran and postmaster of the town of Dunbar — Bess (Minerd) Lemon, postmistress of the town of Youngwood, Westmoreland County, PA and Westmoreland County Institution District official — Edward Eugene Minerd, World War I veteran and founder of the Minerd Funeral Home of Uniontown — Edna (Minerd) WagnerWilliam Alfred Minerd, Assistant Fayette County Treasurer and Connellsville Airport timekeeper — and Marybelle (Minerd) and John Scott Riley holding baby Virginia, he a longtime conductor with the Pennsylvania Railroad. The other children, left to right: Boydell Lemon, Catherine Driscoll, Mary Lou Lloyd and Markle Riley.

See pages from David’s prayer book and Bible artifacts and the Hart Moore poem, “Looking Backward.”

Alfred Arthur ‘Alf’ Younkin and the Casselman Cornet Band

Alf Younkin stands 2nd from left, back row. Enlarge>>>

YounkinAlfredArthurCasselmanPACornetBandMore than a century ago, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, many small communities across America had their own musical bands. Comprised of local citizens, they played in parades and at holiday gatherings and were a great source of hometown pride.

Cousin Alfred Arthur “Alf” Younkin, second from left, back row, played what appears to be a trombone in the Casselman Cornet Band in Casselman, Somerset County, PA. The date on this image is not yet known, but certainly it was before 1910, by which time he had migrated to North Dakota.

The faces in the photograph are: back row, left to right, Billy Scott and Alfred Younkin (trombones), Harry Weimer, Harry Heil, Charlie Pritts, Roscoe Shank (cornet); middle row, left to right, Ray Mickey, Howard Heinbaugh, Orville Heinbaugh, S. Pritts, Harry J. Hechler, Frank Wiltrout (clarinet); and front row, left to right, Raleigh Whipkey (drum), Blair Kirpatrick, (?), Cal Liphart, Roy Mickey, (?) director (base drum). This image was published in the 1985 book Down the Road of Our Past, published by the Rockwood Area Historical & Genealogical Society.

The adopted son of of Charles and Sarah (Artest) Younkin, Alfred married a cousin, Lillian Rhoads, daughter of James and Minnie (Younkin) Rhoads, also of Somerset County. Together, they eventually migrated to Washington State and became pioneer apple growers, establishing their own orchard in Wenatchee, Chelan County, continued after their deaths by their son James “Melvin” Younkin. Another son, Leland Alfred “Lee” Younkin, piloted a B-24 bomber during World War II and flew 100 missions over enemy territory. A granddaughter, Diana (Younkin) Burnell Egan, was deeply interested in her family history, edited and printed her father Mel’s wartime memoirs and founded the Younkin Reunion-West in Salem, Oregon.

Other community bands have been featured as the Photo of the Month during’s two decades online — Kansas Civil War veterans (January 2002) – Mill Run, PA (November 2012) – and Hopwood, PA (July 2018). The site marks its 20th anniversary on May 7, 2020.

Lucinda (Steyer) Minerd and Her Mother Tend the Family Chickens

Lucinda and her mother – enlarge

Lucinda (Steyer) Minerd (left) and her mother Celesta Ann (Growall) Steyer tend chickens at the family’s coop in this image from the 1910s. The 70-acre farm was located at Maple Summit near the mountainous border of Fayette and Somerset Counties, PA and a short distance from the original Jacob and Maria (Nein) Minerd Sr. pioneer farm dating to 1791. The community was so small that while at one time it had a post office by the name of “Nicolay,” it no longer exists.

Very little is known about Lucinda, not unlike many farm wives of the era who toiled in anonymity and rarely had her name printed in local newspapers. Her better-known husband Lawson F. Minerd was a longtime farmer, born at nearby Hexebarger near Kingwood, Somerset County, who moved to this mountain abode just after the Civil War. As the son of first cousins who were married to each other, Lawson was very close with both the Minerd and Harbaugh branches of the family. In fact, in the 1920s, he was elected president for several years of the annual Minerd-Miner Reunion of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Lawson served as a school director of Stewart Township, Fayette County and as an elder of the Peoples United Church of Maple Summit, also known as the Maple Summit Church of God, located just a short distance from their farm. Later, he was superintendent of the charter Sunday School of the newly built Hampton Church of God near Mill Run, and was teacher of its Bible Class.

The Minerd and Steyer families were close. Lutitia’s sister, Jennie married Lawson’s step-cousin, Marshall Ellsworth Rowan, and Lutitia’s sister Ida wedded Lawson’s and step-cousin Charles Ross Burkholder.

Lutitia and Lawson are named in several historical books. Among them are the 1912 volume by John W. Jordan and James Hadden, entitled Genealogical and Personal History of Fayette and Greene Counties, and the 1970 work A History of Mill Run, published by the History Committee of the Socialite Club.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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