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Rebecca 'Becky' (Birch)
McElfish Miller


Rebecca "Becky" (Birch) McElfish Miller was born on Sept. 5, 1883, in West Finley, Washington County, PA, the daughter of Samuel and Susan (Miner) Birch

In 1900, when the census was taken, 16-year-old Becky and her parents made their home in Prosperity in rural Morris Township, Washington County. Living next door was the family of Sylvester and Jane (Moore) McElfish, whose 33-year-old son John Averil McElfish (May 31, 1867-1937) was widowed and living under their roof as a day laborer. John's father was an immigrant from Scotland, arriving in the United States in 1835, and the mother was from Ohio.

Three years later, in February 1903, Becky and John eloped to Cumberland, MD to be married. The wedding took place when John was age 38, and she was age 20. The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier published news of the marriage.

They couple went on to produce one daughter, Madalyn Hall. 

John's occupation in 1910 was as a wagon maker. The federal census of 1920 shows the family living on Jefferson Street in Washington, where the 49-year-old John was employed in "decorating - inside." By 1930, the census shows his occupation as house carpenter. That year, the McElfishes resided on Seminole Avenue in Washington, Washington County. His final occupation was as a painting contractor.

Maintaining family connections, Rebecca, John and Madalyn attended a party in September 1921 celebrating the 15th wedding anniversary of her first cousin Norton Miner Bedillion and his wife Mary Margaret (Fisher) in West Washington.  

~ The Henry Miner Family Reunion ~

Washington Reporter, 1928
Courtesy Google Books
In September 1928, Rebecca helped to create a reunion of her grandparents' offspring at Washington Park, organizing it in partnership with his first cousins William R. Bedillion, Golie Cephas Bedillion and William Allen Miner. That first event was billed erroneously as a gathering of the "Henry and Elizabeth Yonkon Miner" family, with the Washington Reporter saying:

Members of this family connection are distributed pretty well over the southwest part of the state, and an effort is to be made to form a family organization and make the reunion a regular event. Heretofore family meetings have been held at Confluence, in Somerset county. Mrs. J.A. McElfish, of 46 Seminole avenue, is actively pushing the reunion meeting this year, and she urges every person who is connected in any way with this family group to attend this meeting and help effect a formal organization. Several families, resident in Greene county, are of the Miner descent, and their presence is desired on this occasion. 

That first reunion drew 10 families and a total of 40 people. Said the Reporter, "After partaking of a bountiful supper, plans were made for an annual reunion. It was decided the reunions would be more successful if held earlier in the year, and the executive committee for the next year is to name the date and place of the 1929 reunion." Cousin W.A. Miner read aloud a history of the family that he had commissioned and was elected president of that first gathering, with cousins W.R. Bedillion as vice president, Odger Miner as secretary and cousin G.C. Bedillion as treasurer. The historical report disclosed that the family name had once been spelled "Minerd" with the "d," and that it was of "Pennsylvania Dutch" (German) origin. 

The 1929 reunion was held at Wheeling Park in West Virginia. A Reporter article on Aug. 5, 1929 said that the event had "a large attendance" with guests coming from Aliquippa, Charleroi, Washington and Martins Ferry, OH. The slate of elected officers were president W.R. Bedillion of Charleroi, vice president Orlan Lloyd Miner of Washington, secretary Odger Miner of Aliquippa and treasurer G.C. Bedillion of Washington. 

Then on Aug. 9, 1930, "there was "a good attendance," said the Reporter. "The afternoon was taken up with games and conversation. At 6 o'clock a picnic dinner was served." In that year's election, Rebecca became treasurer with W.R. Bedillion re-elected president, Orlan Miner vice president and first cousin Lucy (Bedillion) Martin as treasurer.

All that's known of the 1931 reunion -- as the nation slipped deeper into the morass of the Great Depression -- was that it was scheduled to be held on August 8 and the Reporter said that "All members of the family are invited to asked to take a cup, fork and spoon."

~ Rebecca's Remaining Years ~

Reflecting her father's Union Army service in the Civil War, Rebecca was active with the Daughters of Union Veterans and the Central Presbyterian Church Sunday School class.

In October 1934, Rebecca and John made news when they drove to Cleveland, "where they expect to spend the winter with their daughter, Mrs. John F. Hall, and family," reported the Washington Daily Reporter. 

John stopped working in about 1932 and may not have had an occupation for his last five years. He was burdened with arthritis and hardening of the arteries in later life. In 1932, he is known to have been involved with the finance committee of the Brotherhood Sunday School class of the Central Presbyterian Church. 

Cleveland's public square in the early 1900s.

Washington Daily Reporter, 1934 
Sadly, at the age of 65, John suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died on Aug. 13, 1937. Interment of the remains was in Prosperity.

While in Cleveland, she met and married Robert Miller ( ? - ? ). She was named in the 1949 Washington Reporter obituary of her brother Andrew Jackson Birch, and at the time she was living in Cleveland.

After being twice widowed, Rebecca died in the Cleveland Hospital on Nov. 14, 1962, at the age of 79. Her remains were laid to rest in the city's Lake View Cemetery, but the grave may not be marked. Her obituary in the Washington Observer incorrectly names her first husband as "A.V." McElfish. 

~ Daughter Madalyn (McElfish) Hall ~

Daughter Madalyn McElfish (1905-1996) was born on Nov. 21, 1905.    

She was an alumna of Washington High School. In early adulthood, she was employed as a teacher in Washington.

On Dec. 28, 1926, at age 21, she married 27-year-old John Taylor Hall Jr. (1899-1977), son of William David and Wilhelmina (Quinn) Hall of McDonald, Allegheny County, PA. The nuptials were performed by Rev. Walter P.  McConkey of the Central Presbyterian Church. In announcing the wedding, the Washington Reporter said that theirs' had been "a prettily appointed home wedding" and that "Mildred Ruckert, of Washington, and Harry H. Hall, American consul, located at Riga, Latvia, a brother of the bridegroom, were the only attendants... The bride was gowned in tan georgette trimmed in tan velvet and carried a shower bouquet of red roses.. The bride's only ornament was a topaz pin which had been worn by the brides of four generations in the Hall family." 

John was a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. At the time of marriage, he worked as a dispatcher in the railroad mail service in Cleveland. The newlyweds established their first home in Cleveland and stayed for good. Their address in 1940 was on LaVerne Avenue. Census records for 1950 show his occupation continuing as a transportation postal clerk, and Madalyn's as a primary school teacher.

The couple bore one son, John T. Hall Jr.

At the age of 77, John passed away in Cleveland on Jan. 30, 1977. 

Madalyn survived her spouse by 19-plus years. She surrendered to the angel of death in Cleveland on July 27, 1996. Interment was next to John in Sunset Memorial Park of North Olmsted.

Son John Taylor Hall Jr. (1929-2006) was born on June 10, 1929 in Cleveland. He is known to have served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and to have attained the rank of staff sergeant. He is said to have entered into marriage with Julia Weaver. The Halls put down roots in Medina, OH, with their residence along Chippewa Lake. John died at the age of 77 on Dec. 19, 2006. His cremains were placed into repose in Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. Research is underway to confirm John's marriage to Julia and, if so, that their daughter Linda wed her high school boyfriend, Russell Mark Hiatt (1956-2021) in Virginia on Nov. 7, 1986. Linda was diagnosed with cancer and died within a year of marriage.

Copyright 2001, 2008, 2023 Mark A. Miner