Over the weekend of June 21-22-23, 2013, the Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor family gathered at its national reunion to explore the theme of "What's Your Legacy?" in the written word, health/charity and prayer. We also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first Minerd Reunion in Western Pennsylvania.
More than 70 cousins and family friends attended, representing 12 states and 22 Pennsylvania towns. Of the total, 20 guests were first-timers. Cousin Betty Jean (Minerd) Dennis brought two decorated cakes frosted in hues of yellow, green and blue, and bearing the greeting "Welcome 100th."
At the first Minerd Reunion held at Ferncliff Hotel in Ohiopyle, PA, in the summer of 1913, attendees wore red and white ribbons. Cousin Allen Edward Harbaugh -- "The Mountain Poet" -- read aloud a history of the family that he had written, giving us a window into ancient connections that otherwise would be lost to us today. A group photograph was taken showing about half of the original group of 125 attendees, which may be seen super-enlarged and with faces numbered.
We will meet again in June 2015 -- so watch for details.
~ Friday Evening Book Signing ~
On Friday evening, a reception for was held for 15 cousins and friends at the Days Inn Hotel in Donegal, PA.
Among the guests was Barbara (Minor) Adler and her husband Paul, from Florida. Their visit marked the very first time her branch of the family returned to Western Pennsylvania since her great-great grandfather Daniel Miner Sr. left as an Ohio pioneer in about 1812.
Reunion president and Minerd.com founder Mark A. Miner shared his vision for the future of the website and family archives, with the goal of someday formally establishing a permanent home for the materials to be used for research and study in a Pittsburgh regional university, museum or library.
~ Traditional Saturday Picnic ~
The traditional Saturday picnic again was held at the Indian Creek Valley Community Center near Indian Head, PA, an enclosed, air-conditioned facility. The day featured a variety of conversations, including a panel discussion on what our gifts to future generations might be in the areas of the written word, of charity and health, and of prayer.
Doris (Sands) Hawker, Connie Hawker, Sharon (Sheldon) Hershey Kern and Connie (Jagerski) Miner helped with early morning table and chair set up and organizing the buffet line. Barbara (Holly) Minerd staffed the sign-in table, and made sure everyone registered.
Each guest received a red ribbon replicating the original red ribbons worn at the original Minerd Reunion in 1913.
Guests also received a copy of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance's "Pittsburgh: Among Best Trips of the World" reprint of a 2012 National Geographic Traveler article, and the American Cancer Society's "Cancer Prevention Study-3" brochure.
Before lunch, reunion president Mark A. Miner made a short presentation about a national cancer prevention study research effort now underway, Called CPS-3 ("Cancer Prevention Study-III), it is intended to help medical science to better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that may cause or prevent cancer. Click for more details, and watch these YouTube videos: "Volunteer Today for a Cancer Free Tomorrow!" and "Cancer Prevention Study-3."
The panel discussion involved insightful comments from cousins Sandra (Alkula) Boda, Kathleen Kern and Richard A. "Rick" Minerd, who have authored books or specialize in scrapbooking and faithbooking.
~ Sandy's Remarks ~
Sandy began by described her motivation for her faithbooking: the Bible verse from the Book of Joel, Chapter 1, Verse 3: "Tell it to your children, and let our children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation."
She talked about how her great-grandmother, Armena (Cain) Miner Marshall, was a spiritual and emotional rock of the family, and who was more like a grandmother. She recalled how Armena, widowed with seven children in 1919 at the age of 37, chose to keep the family together despite requests from others to send away the younger children to live with relatives and friends.
Sandy said she uses photographs to show her own grandchildren who the people were who were important in her life. Said Sandy: "If you don't control your legacy, someone else will."
A resident of Tyrone, GA, Sandy is a veteran of the process of preserving memories and how to do that on paper and in digital form. She also is an experienced in "faithbooking" which involves journaling one's own spiritual journey and how to share that voyage of discovery. In her career, Sandy will be retiring in August 2014 as executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Mid West Georgia. She is the daughter of Margaret "Jean" Plants Alkula Vandigriff and granddaughter of the late Ollie (Miner) Plants of Ashtabula, Ohio.
~ Kathleen's Remarks ~
Kathleen described her books not so much as a "legacy" but rather more as "rants."
As a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, she edits the information releases that come in from its projects in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Palestine/West Bank, among others, and then posts them on CPTNet.org. Her subjects have focused on her characters' broken relationships and emotional fracturing, in such books as When It Hurts to Live: Devotions for Difficult Times and Where Such Unmaking Reigns.
When It Hurts was written for people who turn to the Bible when they need answers or guidance for the difficult periods of their lives, especially for those with clinical depression. In it, Kathy about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and why that arrangements often takes bizarre twists for citizens' everyday living, such as how many washing machines are allocated to certain neighborhoods, and into which trash cans can one dispose of garbage. Where Such Unmaking is a novel about when a bomb explodes in a Jerusalem hotel, propelling protagonist Tess McAdoo into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Kathy also discussed the "story behind the story" of the amazing Reuters image in which she is pictured, and which was distributed worldwide, showing her holding a white scarf of peace in front of Israeli armored personnel carriers in Hebron. (See our "Photo of the Month" in December 2011.
Kathy also gave tips on self-publishing, for those cousins interested in preserving written legacies in more durable, permanent formats. She lives in Rochester, NY and is the daughter of G. Richard Kern and step-daughter of Sharon Kern of the family of Dorothy (Stoner) Sheldon of Findlay, Ohio.
By unanimous vote of the reunion audience, Kathy was officially adopted into the clan as an "Honorary Minerd." Follow her ongoing posts on her blog, KathleenKern.net.
~ Rick's Remarks ~
Unable to attend due to a family emergency, Rick was able to participate through a telephone hookup, and shared his comments about the importance of "story." He said his book Deputy in Disguise is a compilation of real life stories drawn from unusual characters and events experienced in his decades of work in law enforcement.
He also noted that he never knew his mother kept a diary, although she occasionally would say, "I ought to write a book." Upon finding the diary after her death, he turned it into book form, entitled Honey, I Promise! The volume goes into detail about the spousal abuse suffered at the hands of her Minerd first husband.
Rick also described the importance of writing about one's legacy, even if it means just jotting down a few written notes every day on tablet paper so children and grandchildren can know your own story in your own words.
Rick is well-known in Columbus, Ohio as retired Chief of Police in the Obetz suburb and also as a former radio news, sports and talk-show broadcaster. He has been quoted in hundreds of news stories including Time Magazine and the New York Times. In 1991, he appeared on TV's America's Most Wanted with John Walsh to apprehend an escaped rapist. (See our Photo of the Month for January 2010.) He is the grandson of the late Basil A. Minerd Sr. of Athens, Ohio.
~ More Saturday Activity ~
Several cousins living out of state, unable to attend, sent written greetings and commentaries about their own legacies. These included Douglas E. Minerd of Williamsburg, VA (grandson of one of the original reunion's co-founders); Marilyn (Jenkins) Prinzing of Illinois (who leads our family's involvement with the Daughters of the American Revolution); and Paula (Scofield) Schrock of Chowchilla, CA.
Many cousins brought delicious meat and side dishes, as well as sugary desserts, for the culinary delight of all.
Among the first-time attendees were Danny and Sharon Minard of Canal Fulton, Ohio. Danny is the great-grandson of Francis D. "Frank" and Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" (Beam) Minard, of Knox County, OH, who founded their own Minard Reunion in Ohio even earlier than ours'. That first Minard gathering, of descendants of Solomon Minard Sr., was held in Mt. Vernon, OH. Danny -- who offered grace before our lunchtime meal -- brought a number of old photographs and family documents, and said some of the older papers are written in German -- additional confirmation of our ancient family connections.
The afternoon include the traditional group photograph, games, announcements, prizes and drawings, and a passing of the hat.
Sharon Kern organized a "stand-up, sit-down" game for all, intended as a fun way to get to know a little more about each other. She also created "table tent cards" imprinted with the words "Our continuing & lasting purpose is to provide a tradition of family values, wisdom, compassion, cheerfulness, faith, hope, & love to those who follow."
A freewill donation was taken afterward to offset our costs. Doris Hawker led a drawing for some keepsake prizes, including a beautiful quilts she had hand-crafted, as well as reunion magnets, and potted plants. Of the top prizes, Sharon Kern won the quilt, and Sandy Boda won a signed copy of the book Well At This Time: The Civil War Diaries of Ephraim Miner.
~ Sunday's Family-Wide Prayer Experiment ~
On Sunday morning, June 23, 2013, a small group of seven cousins attending the Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor Reunion – having traveled from Ohio, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania – gathered to pray for each other and agreed to pray for the family at large over the coming year. We were led in this conversation by Kerry Fraas, a dear friend of the family with decades of roots in The Pittsburgh Experiment.
We agreed that God calls us to regular prayer about all the things in life that matter to us, most especially our families, in good times and otherwise. This "experiment" we are trying is not about being religious or church-y but rather about an honest, authentic and personal conversation with God as you know Him, giving Him control over the things that concern you most.
~Sunday Tour of Old Minerd/Harbaugh Farms and Cemeteries ~
Following our Sunday morning prayer time, cousins of the Dorothy (Stoner) Sheldon, Ralph Miner, Lester Miner, Albert Ward Minerd and Odger Miner branches motored together to tour several old family farmsteads and cemeteries in the region.
Among the stops was the Indian Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Mill Run, where the father of us all, Jacob Minerd Sr., is buried and has a marker beside the grave of his daughter Martha (Minerd) Imel Harbaugh.
We then drove up to the mountaintop where the original Minerd farm was settled in 1791. The knob of the farm contains modern windmills which generate electricity for the region.
Afterward, we crossed into Somerset County and visited the Clairton Lake area where for three generations stood the farms of Leonard and Martha (Minerd) Harbaugh Sr., David and Mary Magdalene (Whipkey) Harbaugh and Susan (Harbaugh) Conn Strickler.
The last stop was at the steep Imel Cemetery, where many generations of descendants of David and Mary Magdalene (Whipkey) Harbaugh rest for eternity.
~ Why the Pittsburgh Region? ~
Southwestern Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh are the epicenter of our clan's founding in the United States of America following the American Revolution. In 1791, patriot and war veteran Jacob Minerd Sr. and his wife Maria (Nein) Minerd settled there near Maple Summit on the mountainous border of Fayette and Somerset Counties. They had a dozen children, who in turn spawned 87 grandchildren, 469 great-grandchildren and 1,344 great-great grandchildren, for a total of 1,912 lives, virtually all born before the year 1900. Today, their descendants and spouses number an estimated 50,000 or more, and are scattered all over the world -- but regardless of a cousin's homeplace today, their roots are here.