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William M. Miner
(1878?-1941)

William M. Miner (1878- ? ) was born on July 7, 1878 (or 1879 or 1880) in Hardin County, OH, the son of Joseph and Mary Jane (Courtney) Miner.

William was a teenager when his father died in the early 1890s. He and his widowed mother and siblings endured a hard life eking out a living in Lafayette, Hardin County, just over the Allen County border line. 

The mid-to-late 1890s were especially difficult for the family. Neighbor William Rumbaugh apparently had lent a stove to the Miners. But when he said he would come to reclaim it, and take it away, William and his mother and older brother Simon spoiled for a fight. When Rumbaugh appeared at their home in early November 1895, Simon told Rumbaugh that he wasn't going to get the stove, and that they would kill him. William pulled a revolver from his coat and said, "We intend to kill you and now is as good a time as any other." Neighbor William Stell took the gun away from William, but in the scuffle that ensued, Mary Jane was knocked to the ground. Simon jumped on Rumbaugh, and beat him senseless, inflicting a fatal brain hemorrhage. Said the Republican, "After Rumbaugh had received his death blow at the hands of Simon Miner, the mother and other son [William] sprang upon his almost lifeless body and beat him with clubs and a hoe handle."

Simon then escaped and was at large for several weeks. William and his mother were arrested, and refused to tell authorities where Simon might be hiding out. They also claimed that he did the killing, not they, and that once he was captured, said the Kenton Democrat, "the name of being a murderer will be entirely erased against them from the books of justice." A jury acquitted William, but his mother and brother were found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor. 

As a young man of 22, in 1900, William worked as a laborer and resided in Kalida, Putnam County, OH. He was of medium height and build, with blue eyes and dark hair.

When the federal census was taken in 1900, William resided with his remarried mother Mary Jane Vining in Franklin Township, Shelby County, OH. Also in the household were his brother Charles Harrison "Harry" Miner and 15-year-old married sister Lillie Sheets. Next door were his married sister and brother in law, Martha and Charles Conner. William and his brother in law Conner worked that year as "jukes," an outdated term. 

~ First Marriage to Mary "Eliza" Smith ~

William's first wife was 15-year-old Mary "Eliza" Smith (1886-1961), the daughter of Phillip and Alice (Mull) Smith of Continental, Putnam County. Justice of the peace I.F. Stauffer performed the ceremony on Oct. 29, 1900 in Putnam County. A note on their marriage license reads: "Said Eliza Smith, being under age and not having had a former husband, consent of her Father Phillip Smith was given to the marriage of his Daughter, in Open Court." 

They had three known children -- Leon Phelps Miner, Joseph Norman Miner and Lucille Gladys Miner. 

In 1908, while she was still married to William, Eliza and John Gregg are believed to have produced a son, Virgil Phillip Gregg. The boy was born in Kalida, and was raised by his mother's parents.

The Miners relocated during the 1900s to Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, MI, where William earned a living as a laborer performing odd jobs. The census of 1910 shows the family in Kalamazoo, with William's mother Mary and brother Simon Henry Miner living under their roof. 

Eliza's three-year-old son, Virgil, using the surname "Gregg," was living away in the 1910 year, as a boy of three, in his Smith grandparents' home in Kalida.

Sometime before 1913, the Miners' marriage ended in divorce. 

Former wife Eliza married again, at the age of 36, to 36-year-old Vern Struble of Kalamazoo. He was the son of Frank and Elizabeth (Wright) Struble, and was employed as a box maker in Marcellus, MI. In an unusual twist, Eliza and Vern were married on March 8, 1924, the same day as her son Joseph Norman Miner wed Stella Wardenger, also in Kalamazoo. But the weddings were held in different locations, as the Struble ceremony was conducted by Probate Judge John L. Hollander. When the federal census was taken in 1930, Vern, Eliza and son Virgil P. Miner made their home on Mount Olivet Road in Kalamazoo. Vern was employed as a stock man in a paper mill, while Virgil worked as a laborer at the mill. To make extra money, Mary worked as a laundress.

She died in Comstock, Kalamazoo County, on July 31, 1961, and is buried beside her first husband William Miner in Kalamazoo's Riverside Cemetery.

~ Second Marriage to Fanny Dole ~

William wed again to Fanny Dole in Kalamazoo ( ? - ? ), daughter of Cornelius and Dena Dole on Feb. 11, 1913. They lived in his residence "near the old sled factory on Winslow Avenue," said the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The couple adopted two sons, William Henry Miner and Ervin Jack Miner.

This second marriage generated quite a bit of news notoriety and legal run-ins. Neighbors filed complaints in the sheriff's office, alleging that Fanny was not divorced from her first husband, and thus that her marriage with William constituted bigamy. Just a month into the marriage, the Gazette reported that "It is probable that a warrant for the arrest to the two will be asked today of the prosecutor's office." The outcome of the case is not known. 

Smoky paper mill in Kalamazoo, Michigan

The following year, in June 1914, William was in the news again for assaulting Joseph White in Kalamazoo. The act took place "in the rear of the William Overholt saloon on North Burdick street," said the Gazette. The reporter covering the incident noted that William "is a brother of Simon Miner, convicted last September for an assault on White. Trouble between White and William Miner last Saturday is said to have grown out of an argument over the incarceration of Simon Miner."

With World War I raging in Europe, William was required to register for the military draft. He disclosed to a registration officer that he was 38 years of age, resided at 203 Lincoln Avenue in Kalamazoo, was employed in "contracting" and that his next of kin was "Mrs. Fannie Miner" of the same address. 

In 1921, William and Fanny resided in Kalamazoo at the time of death of her mother, Dena Dole. They remained there for the rest of their lives.

William died in Kalamazoo at the age of 63 on May 2, 1941. He was buried in Kalamazoo's Riverside Cemetery.

~ Son Leon Phelps "Leo" Miner ~

Son Leon Phelps "Leo" Miner (1901-1988) was born on Nov. 30, 1901 in Putnam County, OH. 

In about 1926, he married Bessie S. Kelly (1903- ? ), daughter of John E. Kelly. They had one known sons, Leo William Miner. Leo headed a household in 1930 that included his widowed father in law, single sister in law Helen L. Kelly, and married brother and sister in law, Joseph N. and Letha B. Miner. Leo's aunt and uncle, Martha and Charles Conner, were next door neighbors that year. 

Leo was employed circa 1930 as a papermaker in a Kalamazoo paper mill, while his father in law was a tender in a foundry, his sister in law Helen Kelly was a press feeder in a carton plant, and his brother Joseph as a finisher in a paper mill. 

He died on Aug. 3, 1988, in Portage, MI, at the age of 86. He is buried in Kalamazoo's Riverside Cemetery, in section SS, lot 105.

Grandson Leo William Miner died on Oct. 15, 1945. He rests for eternity in Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo.

~ Son Joseph Norman "Norm" Miner ~

Son Joseph Norman "Norm" Miner (1903-1965) was born in 1903 in Kalida, Putnam County, OH. (Another source gives his birthplace as Clyde, Sandusky County, OH, but he may have mis-pronounced "Kalida" as "Clyde" when giving the information.)

He migrated with his parents and siblings to Kalamazoo, MI later in the 1900s. While in Kalamazoo, he worked as a paper maker. 

At the age of 22, Joseph married 28-year-old Stella Wardenger (1896- ? ) of Kalamazoo. The marriage took place on March 6, 1924, with Rev. Joseph B. Peatling leading the nuptials. Witnesses were Miss Ruth Pulver and Joseph's brother Virgil P. Miner. 

By 1929, the marriage had ended, and Joseph wed again, to 18-year-old Letha Belle Haynes (1911-1990), a native of Michigan. The nuptials took place on Jan. 12, 1929, in Parchment, Kalamazoo County. She was the daughter of Frank and Lucinda (Buell) Haynes.

Joseph and Letha had 10 children: Phyllis Jean Miner, Beverly Ann Miner, William Frank "Bill" Miner, Mary Lou Miner, Arlo Rodell Miner, Terry Lee Miner, Paul Lamont "Mike" Miner, Patrick Lynn Miner, Bonnie Miner and Rose Marie Miner. Heartache rocked the family in 1940 when one-year-old son Arlo died.

Joseph and Letha resided in 1930 with his married brother Leo and extended family on East Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo. That year, Joseph was employed as a finisher in a paper-manufacturing plant. They appear to have remained in Kalamazoo for the rest of their lives.

At the age of 62, Joseph died in Kalamazoo on March 15, 1965. 

Letha outlived her husband by a quarter of a century. She married again, in 1969, to William Tyler Rice. Her death occurred in Kalamazoo on June 12, 1990, at the age of 78. Her remains were laid to eternal rest in East Cooper Cemetery in Kalamazoo.

Granddaughter Phyllis Jean Miner (1930-1998) was born on Aug. 17, 1930 in Michigan. She passed away on Jan. 28, 1998 at the age of 68, in Genoa, Ottawa County, OH.

Granddaughter Beverly Ann Miner (1932-2005) was born on Aug. 22, 1932. She died on Oct. 5, 2005 at the age of 73, in Woodville, Sandusky County, OH.

Grandson William Frank "Bill" Miner (1935-1981) was born on July 16, 1935 in Kalamazoo. His first wife was Marianne Sivits, whom he married on Aug. 1, 1959 at Gernsey Lake, Cloverdale County, MI. He was age 18 at the time. They had two sons and two daughters, among them Joseph Norman Miner II. After a divorce, Bill at the age of 35 married again to Viva Mae Kendall (1943-1999), the daughter of Daniel Merrit and Dorothy Mae (Basart) Kendall, and a native of Dorrence, Russell County, KS. Their marriage took place in Otsego County, MI, or in Gernsey Lake, Cloverdale County, MI. Bill and Viva had five daughters of their own, and resided for many years in East Jordan, Charlevoix County, MI. Bill died on Oct. 8, 1981 at the age of 46, in East Jordan. Viva outlived him by 18 years. She passed away in Charlevoix Area Hospital on March 11, 1999. Tragically, Bill's grandson, Joseph Norman Miner III, died on Sept. 27, 2006 following an automobile accident. Children from Bill's first marriage reside in the area of Otsego, Allegan, MI, while the daughters from the second marriage make their homes in East Jordan, Charlevoix County, MI.

Granddaughter Mary Lou Miner (1938-1994) was born in 1938. She passed away in 1994 at the age of 56.

Grandson Terry Lee Miner (1943-1966) was born in 1943. In 1966, at the age of 23, he passed away.

Grandson Paul Lamont "Mike" Miner (1950-2001) was born in 1950. He died in Portage, MI on Oct. 16, 2001 at the age of 51.

Grandson Patrick Lynn Miner (1953-2008) was born on Oct. 21, 1953, the youngest of the family. He died in Plainwell, MI at the age of 54 on Sept. 23, 2008.

~ Daughter Lucille Gladys Miner ~

Daughter Lucille Gladys Miner (1905-1977) was born on Sept. 9, 1905. 

She died at Kalamazoo's Bronson Hospital at the age of 71 on March 13, 1977.

~ Son Virgil Phillip Miner, a.k.a. Gregg ~

Son Virgil Phillip Miner (1908-1979) was born on March 5, 1908 in Kalida, Putnam County. His father was not William M. Miner, but rather "John Gregg." Virgil at age three did not live with his mother but rather with her parents in Kalida, as shown by the 1910 federal census, using the name "Virgil Gregg."

At the age of 16, on May 21, 1924, using the name "Miner," he was married. His bride was 20-year-old Josephine Ruth Pulver, daughter of Jared "Jerry" and Grace (Sackett) Pulver of Pine Grove, MI. On his marriage license, Virgil gave his age as 18 and his father's name as "John Gregg" which needs to be sorted out. At the time, he was a papermaker in Kalamazoo, and she a factory worker. 

The marriage apparently ended during the 1920s. In 1930, the census shows that as a 22-year-old, he lived with his mother and step-father in Kalamazoo County, MI. 

Virgil died on March 13, 1979, at the age of 71, in Kalamazoo.

~ Son William Henry Miner ~

Son William Henry Miner (1918-1957) was born on Nov. 18, 1918 in Kalamazoo, and was adopted by the Miners.

He died on July 30, 1957, at the age of 39.

~ Son Ervin Jack Miner ~

Son Ervin Jack Miner was born on July 26, 1923 in Kalamazoo County, and was adopted by the Miners. 

As an adult, he moved to Bradenton, FL. He died in Bradenton's Manatee Hospital on Jan. 5, 1984.

Copyright 2011-2012 Mark A. Miner