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Bess V. (Minerd) Beck

Bess and Anton Beck
Bess V. (Minerd) Beck
was born in Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA on May 16, 1889, the daughter of Rev. Isaac H. and Margaret Jane (Sheppard) Minerd.

As a young girl, Bess would have moved with her parents and family to the New Haven section of Connellsville, and thence to Uniontown, both in Fayette County, PA.

She seems to have been social and outgoing. In May 1907, the Hopwood Chronicle, a small newspaper from the Uniontown outskirts, reported that Bess, “who has been away for some time, is making her home with Mrs. Deborah Semans for the present.” The following year, in June, the Chronicle said she “was visiting friends here recently.”

Where Bess published articles
Bess followed in the footsteps of her elder brother Roy when she enrolled in the California Normal School (now California University of Pennsylvania).  She studied to become a teacher, and served as an associate editor of The Normal Review. She wrote stories for the Review about Washington’s Birthday celebration and “Tree Day,” when the senior class planted a tree on campus. She graduated in 1912.

Bess’s first teaching assignment was at East End School in Uniontown, PA. She remained there until 1915, when she is believed to have moved to Pittsburgh with her parents.

In 1917 to at least 1919, Bess taught in the Wilkins Township schools, with E.E. Boyd and William Young successively serving as her supervising principal. She is listed in the typescript One Hundred and Sixteen Years of the Free Common School System in Wilkins Township, prepared in 1951 by John A. Bendot. She also was a volunteer with the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Red Cross in the late 1910s and/or early 1920s.

Bess, right, with Jenne and Ethel
She doted over her nieces and nephews. She once was photographed seated on porch steps with her sister Jenne Baily and sister in law Ethel (Buchanan) Minerd, who in turn was holding newborn Margaret "Peg" Minerd.

When nephew Penn Minerd was born in Philadelphia in 1915, Bess crocheted him a jacket. At Penn’s first Christmas, she gave him a hood, plate, cup and saucer. Then at his first birthday, she presented him with a toy ball. She also gave him candy eggs at Easter.

Bess suffered the loss of her father in 1919. Later that year, on Oct. 29, 1919, she married World War I veteran Anton C. Beck (Dec. 17, 1894-1956). He had been born in Aurora, NY, the son of Martin and Alice (Stridiron) Beck of the West Indies. 

Bess and Anton shared a residence with her widowed mother at 7017 Susquehanna Street in Pittsburgh. For 19 years, he  was employed as a clerk in the downtown Pittsburgh main office of the U.S. Post Office. He belonged to the Homewood post of the American Legion. The pair held a membership in the Homewood Avenue Methodist Church.

Sadly, Bess miscarried their first child, and was never able to conceive after that. 

Bess and Anton (right) with Minerds
Bess endured congestive heart failure and heartbeat fibrillation in her later years.

At the age of 63, on May 1, 1953, Bess was stricken by a cerebral embolism and died instantly. The remains were interred in Sunset View Memorial Park in Penn Township. A notice of her passing was published in the Pittsburgh Press.

About four months after Bess's death, Anton got married again, to Helen M. (Crabtree) Dickinson (July 13, 1893-1957). Bess’s brother Albert was infuriated, and is said to have called the Homewood Avenue Methodist Church and “read the riot act” to the minister who performed the ceremony. 

The couple's address was 9238 Talley Street in Pittsburgh. Having contracted cancer of the stomach, pancreas and lungs, Anton died at age 62 on Oct. 17, 1956. Burial was in Sunset View. His obituary appeared in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph.

Copyright © 2001, 2010, 2022 Mark A. Miner