Azaniah "Melvin" Minerd was born in May 1855 in Farmington, Fayette County, PA, the son of Samuel and Rebecca (Smalley) Minerd. He and his wife Harriet were pioneer settlers of Kansas.
While in Fayette County, Melvin married Harriett Jane Baldwin (1860-1949). She was born on April 19, 1860 in Fayette County.
Melvin's occupation in Fayette County is not known. However, the June 13, 1878 edition of the Uniontown Genius of Liberty reported that an "A.M. Minerd, Bullskin Twp." had been granted a hotel license a few days earlier.Since Melvin's father also had been a hotel-keeper, and as Melvin's brother Levi Springer Minerd also resided in Bullskin, the reference to "A.M." surely refers to Melvin.
In 1886, when Melvin was 31, he and Harriett and their one-year-old son, with an entourage including his aged parents and adult siblings, ventured westward, leaving their longtime homes and becoming pioneer settlers of Pittsburg, Crawford County, KS.
Melvin purchased a town lot in Pittsburg in March 1893 from couples Sylvester W. and Lucy Baxter and Frank and Minnie (Hawley) Playter. In September 1897, he and his brother Robert "Walker" Minerd purchased half of lot 14 in north Pittsburg for $800, with G.F. and Elmira J. Burkdall as the sellers.
After becoming firmly established in Pittsburg, Melvin and his brothers continued using the mining skills they had honed in Pennsylvania. Together, they "removed the first coal by using a slope mine, in what is now Lincoln Park in Pittsburg...," a nephew later recalled.
During his years in Pittsburg, Melvin worked as a coal dealer and as a meat cutter, but went on to become a police officer during Dr. Charles Hunter's administration as Mayor of Pittsburg. Law enforcement service became a tradition in this family, and, following in his footsteps, son Sylvester (in Bloomington, IN), grandson Donald Ethen Minerd, grandson in law Frank Swope, great-grandson Mike Minerd and great-great grandson Tracey Repp have all served the public in this role.
In June 1899, a passerby named John Ramsey, on his way overland from Missouri to Kansas, recorded this story about Melvin in his diary. It was reprinted in the Winter 1996 edition of the White River Valley Historical Quarterly:
…We camped in Cherokee County, Kansas, eleven miles east of Columbus. A Mr. Minerd and two of his boys stayed with us. He lived at Pittsburg Kansas. He happened up with us Saturday night and his boys wanted to come in with us to Spring River to fish. Plenty of timber along the river. Spent nothing. (I remember this Mr. Minerd had his boys out for weekend outing. He was very much worried about his horses. Said there was a gang that made practice of stealing horses from campers along the river. It was raining some too, and we kept more than the usual vigilance, based on his caution. In the night I hear my father calling me for help and to bring a knife quick. I knew from his tone of voice he was in a strain out among the horses and I supposed he was mixed up with a horsethief. I jumped up and grabbed a dagger knive we kept handy and clambered out as fast as I could. It developed that one of the horses has someway got tangled up in his halter rope and was about to choke to death. Father just wanted a knife to cut the rope before too late.
In August 1906, Melvin and Harriet acquired three town lots (20, 21 and 22) in Pittsburg's Kansas City Southern Annex from the Acme Investment Company. They paid $400 for the lots. The names of Acme Investment's T.J. Moore (president) and James B. Smith (secretary) are on the deed.
The R.L. Polk Pittsburg City Directory of 1910-1911 lists Melvin as a laborer, residing with Harriet at 1011 North Fairview. Living under their roof that year were daughter Olive and son Orville, working as a plumber.
In about 1919, Melvin became sick, and two years later he died, on July 5, 1921. He was laid to eternal rest at the Mt. Olive Cemetery in Pittsburg.
Harriet survived her husband by nearly three decades, making her residence at 606 North Olive Street and 114 West Madison Street. She remained close with her Minerd in-laws, especially her husband's sister, Margaret Hester (Minerd) Jackson. Together, they helped raise a motherless grandson, Donald Ethen Minerd.
Harriet endured years of back pain and sought relief with Doan's Kidney Pills. The medication helped, and at one point she provided a testimonial for a Doan's advertisement in the local newspaper. She wrote:
I value Doan's Kidney Pills just as highly as I did in 1901 when I first recommended them. At that time I was suffering from a backache and lameness across the loins, also other symptoms of kidney trouble. When I learned of Doan's Kidney Pills, I procured a box and they promptly relieved me. I did not have a return of the trouble until about two years after and I did not suffer long, as I promptly resorted to Doan's Kidney Pills and was again relieved. Other members of my family have also used this valuable remedy, and the results have been just as satisfactory in each case.
Harriet died at the home of her daughter Olive Shelton on March 18, 1949, at the age of 89, after residing in Pittsburg for more than six decades. She joined her husband in repose at the Mt. Olive Cemetery. In an obituary, the Pittsburg Daily Headlight noted Harriet's birthplace of Fayette County, PA and said she had suffered her final illness for two years, but "had been seriously ill three days." She was survived by six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Great-granddaughter Melinda (Swope) Brooksher graciously has furnished substantial amounts of material for this biography.
Copyright © 2000, 2006-2007, 2012, 2018 Mark A. Miner