As one of our cousins says of Minerd.com, "More than anything, I am always amazed at the reach of one family into so many pieces of important American history."
And so nearing the completion of its 13th year online, and unlike any other known freely accessible source, the award-winning Minerd.com continues to grow and uniquely capture the sweep of Americana. It does so by chronicling the collective experience of an estimated 50,000 branches of a single Pennsylvania German family, with its ancient roots dating to the 1790s in regional Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania.
In January 2012, the site received its 2 millionth visitor, and by year-end, it had surpassed its 1,400th biography and 10,000th image. The site now has 1,435 individual biographies and 10,700 rare, historic images, an encyclopedic collection of material about one pioneer family available nowhere else.
More than 800 images and some 48 biographies were added to Minerd.com in 2012 in addition to many new feature pages and hundreds of revised or expanded pages. Text and images from the site have been re-used or promoted on radio, television and in newsprint, as well as freely shared for use by other cousins on their sponsored pages on Ancestry.com and Find-A-Grave websites. Through the Minerd.com monthly e-newsletter and regular postings on Facebook and LinkedIn, the site reaches many hundreds if not thousands of cousins and friends on a regular basis.
The site received 242,854 visits in 2012, up a remarkable 12.2 percent from the year before, and averaged 20,238 visits per month, demonstrating continuing public popularity. Overall, since its launch on May 7, 2000, the site has received a grand total of 2.23 million visits.
~Most Popular Pages ~
The most popular pages on Minerd.com in 2012 were Custer Family Photo Album, In Lasting Memory, What’s New, Favorite Links, Photo of the Month, In the News, Reunions, Interconnectedness and Honor Roll. Other popular features included Coal, Coke & Steel, War on Terror Prayer Page, Pittsburgh 150, Patricia Walker's "Erase Me O’Lord" poem, National Road, Laura (Brown) Barnum's "Run of 1889" memoir, Wartime Military Casualties, Early Minerd-Miner Reunions and Younkin Reunion Archives of the 1930s.
Of the site’s 1,400-plus biographies, the most visited ones were the following: Thomas C. Custer, Jacob Minerd Sr., Rebecca Behme Kearnes, Friedrich Meinert Sr., Orlan Lloyd Miner, Andrew Minerd, Rev. William Mullen Minerd, Ephraim Miner and William Henry "Squire" Miner.
A number of new or expanded features during the year included Israel B. Murdock and the 2nd West Virginia Cavalry in the Civil War – West Penn Power and Railways: Steady Employer for Many Branches of Our Family – Early Minerd Reunions of Western Pennsylvania - 1913-1932 – Cousin Voices – Tom Custer's Legacy in American Pop Culture – Online Quilt Museum – Annette Hanshaw: Paper Artifacts of Her Singing Career – Christian Church of Turkeyfoot – The Much Married Minerd-Miner and Mayle-Male Families – Annabelle Nabors Buchanan: "A Survivor's Story of Childhood Tragedy" – 115 Civil War Soldiers in the Family – and much, much more.
Not all of the content is happy or positive. New material added to Minerd.com in 2012 includes stories of moonshiners, bigamists, thieves and even suicides and killers. Above all, we seek to balance the need to chronicle accurate family history information with the sensitivities and privacy protection of the living generations.
~ Relentless Pursuit of New Research ~
As always, Minerd.com would not maintain its relevance without continuing exhaustive research and contributions from many scores of cousins at large. Online research sites such as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, FindAGrave.com, Google News, Google Books, GenealogyBank.com and ChroniclingAmerica.loc.gov provided truly vast, almost limitless sources of original, primary material. Discoveries on these sites opened all new avenues of learning about the thousands of branches in our clan. Ancestry.com is an especially phenomenal tool.
The year also included research trips to the National Archives and Library of Congress in Washington, DC and to West Virginia University's West Virginia Collection. Unfortunately, due to illness, cousins Eugene Podraza and Mark Miner did not make their 21st annual research trip, planned for Iowa, but hope to do so this year.
Sadly, since we began tracking on July 1, 2000, the family has lost some 979 cousins, with many more not yet identified, all recorded as known on our special webpage, "In Lasting Memory." Revised estimates are that we lose a cousin or spouse once every 4.18 days on average.
~ Public Outreach and News Media Coverage ~
Thanks in part to publication of the book Well At This Time: the Civil War Diaries of Ephraim Miner (Minerd.com Publishing, LLC, 2011), the Minerd.com website received a significant amount of public and community exposure the past year. As well, Minerd.com continued its ongoing promotional joint venture with VisitPittsburgh.com to remind our extended cousins around the globe that their ancient roots run deep in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
To more proactively share Minerd.com's story to our cousins and the public, I completed a third year of emailing the "Photo of the Month" as a newsletter to a growing number of cousins. Also included in this monthly distribution are leading museums, research libraries, news journalists, economic development officials and business colleagues. If you would like to be added to (or removed from) this newsletter list, please contact me.
~ Family Reunion Focus: "What's Your Legacy?" ~
Over the weekend of June 22-23, 2013, our National Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor Reunion theme will ask the question, "What's your legacy?" We'll explore what our gifts to future generations might be in the areas of the written word, of charity and health, and of prayer.
The traditional Saturday picnic will be held at the Indian Creek Valley Community Center near Indian Head, PA. It's just a few miles' drive from the Donegal Exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Exit 91), and a two-hour drive from the Pittsburgh International Airport. It's also just a few miles from the mountainous farm where our pioneer-Revolutionary War ancestors Jacob and Maria (Nein) Minerd Sr. settled in 1791.
This gathering will be the 100th anniversary of the first Minerd Reunion held nearby in Ohiopyle in August 1913. More details to come.
~ A Look Ahead, and a Heart-felt Thank You! ~
Now into Minerd.com's 13th year online, this work continues to be fascinating, surprising, eye-opening and never ever dull. Thank you again to everyone who has contributed your special part from your own family's trove of family treasures. This site is for you, and would not be possible without you.
Mark A. Miner,