A remarkable conversation took place the day after Christmas 1971, more than a half-century ago, featuring the
reminiscences of 89-year-old Armena (Cain)
Miner-Marshall at her home in Washington, Washington County, PA. It was the last Christmas she
was alive. Also involved in the interview were Armena's daughter Jessie
(Miner) Schultz, grandson Odger "Wayne" Miner and his wife Connie, and the
Miners' three sons. Wayne had purchased a cassette tape recorder for
Christmas, brought it to his grandmother's home, quietly placed it beside her
rocking chair, pressed "Record" and began asking her questions. The dialogue planted the seeds for
what evolved into the development of this website. The following is a
Wayne: I wanted to ask. Do you
remember how old you are?
Wayne: You're 39?
Armena: Uh-huh [chuckles].
Jessie: How old are you?
Armena: I was 89 the sixth of September.
Jessie: What year was you born?
Armena: I can't remember. I had it wrote down
someplace, but I don't know where it's at.
Connie: Where were you born?
Armena: Way down in the West
Jessie: What was your mother's name?
Jessie: What was her first name?
parents, James C. and Margaret Ellen Cain, in a tintype image ca. 1890
Jessie: No, that was your dad's
first name. What was your mother's first name?
Armena: Oh. I forget now. White,
it was White.
Jessie: Yes, what was her first
name? What was her name?
Jessie: There was another
one. The one before Ellen -- what about "Margaret" Ellen?
Armena: I forgot that.
Jessie: You forgot that, did
Wayne: Do you remember what your
Armena: Yes. I'll never forget that. He had a big farm,
and we had to work on it. We used to hoe corn and rake wheat and pitch hay and
do everything like that.
Wayne: Dairy farming?
Armena: Yes. cows and chickens and horses and hogs.
Wayne: In West Virginia?
Armena: That's where we was born and raised, way down
there in West Virginia.
Jessie: What county?
Armena: We was in Marshall County for most of the time
and in Wetzel County for a little while. We was in both of them counties. We
moved from one county to the other.
Jessie: She was born in Wetzel. That's on her birth
Connie: Any specific town?
Jessie: Hundred was their mailbox address.
|Armena, standing, right, with
her sisters. Standing L-R: Susan J., Osta
Arminta. Seated, L-R: Jessie "Maud," Eliza Ann
Connie: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
Armena: I had two half brothers and four or five
You had two half sisters and two half brothers.
Connie: You had quite a family then.
Wayne: You had to have a big family to keep the farm
Armena: Yes. We worked on a farm. We was just little
boys and girls. We didn't have enough boys. We had to do it, as along as we
stayed on the farm.
[Tape ends. A new tape is inserted.]
Armena: Yes, James Edward and John Edwin [were my
Jessie: What was the two half sisters' names?
Armena: Their name was Cain. Pap's name was Cain. their
name was Josephine and Idy.
Jessie: What was your sisters' names?
Armena: We all growed up together. And we all separated
and we've been separated, and we hardly see one another.
Wayne: Did your dad come from West Virginia?
Armena: Yes. He was from West Virginia. He was away
back down ... toward ... do you know where Hundred and Bellton was?
Wayne: I think I do.
Armena: We lived on a hill above Bellton for a long
time. I was practically raised there and I was married there, in the old farm
Wayne: Do you remember your grandparents? Did they come
from West Virginia?
Armena: I think they did, but I don't remember very
much, because we was in one part and they were in another part and we didn't get
to see them very much. Pop had a big farm out there. We had a lot of hay, a big
farm field, we had a little pond.
Wayne: Those were the good ole days.
Armena: Those were the good ole days.
Wayne: Is that where you learned to sew?
Armena: We all could sew. As we grew up and got big
enough to thread a needle, we had to learn to sew.