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Come Home to Pennsylvania

A Memoir of the 2002 Minerd-Miner-Minor Reunion

By Melinda (Swope) Brooksher, Pittsburg, Kansas
Descendant of a 19th Century Kansas 
Pioneer

The author visits the ruins of the old Fayette Springs, still producing iron-rich waters after more than 130 years since her great-great grandfather, Samuel Minerd, operated the popular mountain resort near Uniontown, PA

Come home to Pennsylvania! Indeed I did. Thanks to the wonderful web site Minerd.com and all who have shared their family history, I truly felt a overwhelming sense of belonging to a part of a very unique family. My trip to Pennsylvania for the Minerd Reunion in 2002 will be a memory I will treasure forever.

My great-great-grandparents, Samuel and Rebecca (Smalley) Minerd, at one time were proprietors of the old Fayette Springs resort in Chalk Hill. They left Uniontown in 1886 and became pioneer settlers of Kansas, where the majority of our family still lives today.

Thanks to family history preserved by one of my cousins, now deceased, of Wichita, Kansas, we have always known that our roots were in Uniontown. But the thought of ever going to Pennsylvania had never crossed my mind. And now I hold the honor of being the first of my branch of the family to return to Pennsylvania in 116 years.

Like a lot of researchers I thought I would find little snippets of family history, one cousin even told me he thought we were the last of the Minerd line! Little did I know six years ago while starting my research on my Minerd's that I would find you, the Minerd web site, and so many wonderful people willing to share family history. The stories of our family's history is what makes it so unique, and gives it its character. As far back as I can remember I have always had a need to feel connected to my family history, a need to know where I've come from and just how I fit in. But I only had the skeleton of the family, dates and places and a few names.

Ruins of the old Fayette Springs, today, with iron-laden mountain waters still staining the earth red

The Minerd web site gave me all the information I needed to make my trip to Fayette County meaningful and real. Real in the sense that I could feel my Samuel and Rebecca, arms open, saying "welcome home." "This is where we started, struggled and survived." "Here we made memories, and learned hard-earned lessons, here we made choices that led us to Kansas." And somehow I think they know the great pride I feel in seeing that they DID survive the good and the bad, and they made some right decisions along the way.

[Editor's note -- seen here, Melinda places flowers on the Uniontown-area grave of her great-grandfather's brother, Jonathan Smalley Minerd, who died at age three in 1852, and whose parents later migrated to Kansas. She took a small capsule of earth from this grave back home and sprinkled it on the grave of the boy's mother in Pittsburg, Crawford County, KS.]

My trip to Pennsylvania? It was too overwhelming for words. Such a spiritual experience for me that I cannot find the words to express just how much it meant to me. I walked where they walked, experienced the same sunlight at the same time of day that they might have been working, loving, struggling, and all the great day to day stuff that makes us all unique.

I know that sharing our family life stories will always be a tradition on Minerd.com. And time has shown there will always be someone to pick up where we left off. Our job is to tell the stories the best we can and leave enough information so the next generation will have something to work with.

From an old Irish headstone..........

I hear ethereal whispers, persuasive, soft and still.
Daughter, if you don't remember us, who will?

I can't wait to come home again!

Melinda Swope Brooksher
Pittsburg, Kansas

Copyright 2002 Melinda (Swope) Brooksher. Published with permission.