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Interview with Armena 
(Cain) Miner Marshall

At Her Home in Washington, PA, Dec. 26, 1971

Listen to Her Voice as Recorded by Her Grandson 
Odger "Wayne" Miner - First and Second Parts


Note: 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 transcript.

Wayne: I wanted to ask. Do you remember how old you are?

Armena: Yes.

Wayne: Thirty-nine? 

Armena: Yes.

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 Virginia hills.

Jessie: What was your mother's name?

Armena: White.

Jessie: What was her first name?


Armena's parents, James C. and Margaret  Ellen Cain, in a tintype image ca. 1890

Armena: Jim

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?

Armena: Ellen.

Jessie:  There was another one. The one before Ellen -- what about "Margaret" Ellen?

Armena: I forgot that. 

Jessie: You forgot that, did you?

Wayne: Do you remember what your father did?

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 certificate.

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 sisters.

Jessie: 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 going.

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 brothers].

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.


Hundred, WV, nestled in Wetzel County

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 house.

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.

Old family log cabin in West Virginia

Wayne: Did your father ever own a car?

Armena: No, didn't have cars then.

Jessie: I think your dad had the first car I knew.

Wayne: My dad?


Armena's in-laws, Andrew Jackson 
and Mary Louise (Johnston) Miner

Armena: I think he did -- in the family.

Jessie: What was Grandma and Grandpa Miner's name?

Armena: It was Johnston before they was married.

Jessie: What was their first name?

Armena: Grandma Miner, to us, was Mary.

Jessie: Mary Louise. Mary Louise Johnston Miner. She told me these things years ago. I've got them written down.

Wayne: Must have memorized it, too. You must study it.

Armena: I'm awful glad somebody's taken it over and knows what they're doing. I straightened the papers all up once.


Armena's parents

Jessie: The children was looking for some old family names, so I went through these papers I have. They was about to name Deanna's baby Louise, but Dick [Meloy] wanted Rebecca, so she got Dawn Rebecca instead of Dawn Louise. What was Grandpa Miner's name?

Armena: Andy.

Jessie: Andrew J. Miner. I never knew what the "J" stood for.

Armena: That was my husband's father. I don't have much relations with the Miners. I just married the Miner boy. Well they're nearly gone now.

Jessie: Mark, up there behind you is a picture of your great-great grandfather and mother.

Armena: My mother and father.

Jessie: Did you get their names? That's James Cain and Margaret Ellen White Cain.

Armena: Sitting there looking at that picture so much, kind of reminds me of myself.

Connie: You look very much like your mother.

Armena: Think I do? I knew she had a little bit of hair.

[Tape ends. Another tape is inserted.]

Jessie: Her name was White. Outside that, I don't know any more.

Wayne: Her husband was killed in the Revolutionary War?


Armena's grandmother, Eliza (Miller) 
White, whose husband, Alexander 
White, was killed in the Civil War.

Jessie: His name was Alexander William White. I did get that out of her one day. Aunt Anna's been thinking of going and looking it up, but she never has.

Wayne: That's what you call a tintype, Mark. That metal picture.

Jessie: That was my father, at the age of 12. I've coached my kids on those pictures.

Armena: I had an awful time getting them together. I think I'm the only one who has any of those pictures. The rest of them, some are older yet than I am, and they're gone. They worked on a farm. That's all they ever done. Raised corn, wheat, hay, raised cattle. We didn't have any boys. Papa married twice and he didn't have any boys to his last wife. It was just five girls. He had two boys and two girls with his first wife. I was afraid when they moved me in here that they'd lose some of those papers, but I guess Jessie has that down.

[Tape ends.]


Copyright 1971, 2003, 2011, 2021 Odger "Wayne" Miner and Mark A. Miner