Bertha May (Minerd) Van Dyke was born on Oct. 28, 1875, at Pennsville, near Connellsville, Fayette County, PA, the daughter of John V.S. and Elizabeth (Livingston) Minerd.
Prior to marriage, it's believed that Bertha resided with her sister and brother in law, Lizzie and James Kelly in Dunbar, where she assisted with cooking and housekeeping.
On Feb. 23, 1898, when she was 22 years of age, Bertha married 22-year-old Samuel Aaron Uriah Van Dyke (1875-1964), the son of Samuel A. and Carolina (Eiseman) Van Dyke of New Stanton, Westmoreland County. The ceremony was performed by F.W.E. Peschan at his residence in nearby Greensburg. They were just five days apart in age.
The Van Dykes went on to have seven children -- Vernon Cornelius "Dutch" Van Dyke, Grace Margaret Van Dyke, Anna Belle Breegle, Caroline "Bessie" Daugherty, Robert E. Lee Van Dyke, Emma Elizabeth Van Dyke and Catherine Jane Fultz.
Sadly, daughter Grace died in 1902 at the age of 10 months, and daughter Emma Elizabeth died in 1915 as she neared her third birthday. Today their graves can be found at the Stone Church Cemetery near Hunker, with small markers featuring engraved lambs.
Samuel worked as a blacksmith for many years in the coal mines of Westmoreland County, PA. In 1903, when daughter Anna Belle was born, they were in the coal town of Udell. By 1905, when daughter Bessie was born, they had moved to the mining town of Rainey (Hecla). Son Robert was born in the town of Strickler in 1906.
In 1909, the Strickler mine shut down. At about the same time, the bank which held the Van Dykes' savings closed as well. A friend named Haller, who owned a lumber yard, offered to build a new house for the Van Dykes in Foxtown, Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County. Samuel declined because he did not want to accept charity. Haller then offered to build it and let Samuel pay it back as the bank became more solvent. Samuel agreed, the house was built, and with occasional payouts from the bank, he was able to repay the debt.
The federal census of 1910 shows that Samuel worked that year as a blacksmith for a coal company. The record shows them with four children living, and one deceased, and with Bertha's widowed mother residing in their household. Their next-door neighbors were Bertha's sister and brother in law, Emma and Isaac Trout.
The family remained permanently in Foxtown, where Samuel continued his work as a blacksmith. Over the years, the Van Dykes provided lodging for several nephews who were in the area seeking employment, including Frank Minerd and Harry Minerd.
Said the Connellsville Daily Courier, Bertha was "a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church of Youngwood and the GAR of Greensburg."
In August 1930, Bertha and her sister Emma Trout and niece Anna Belle Hower attended the annual Minerd Reunion, held at Shady Grove Park in Uniontown. They gave their names to distant cousin Laura Jane (Minerd) Williams, who later wrote a lengthy account of the event for her local newspaper back home, the Huntingdon (PA) Daily News.
Sadly, at age 75, Bertha died on June At the time of her passing, she and Samuel had produced five children, 23 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren. That number today has grown to become much, much larger.
Samuel outlived his wife by 14 years. He passed away on Dec. 18, 1964, and was laid to rest beside her in the Stone Church Cemetery near Hunker.
The Van Dykes' marriage is recorded in the book Old Newspapers [of] Westmoreland County, Vol. 2, covering the years 1866-1899, compiled by Della (Reagan) Fischer of McKeesport, PA and published in 1970.