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Charles B. Minerd
(1861-1952)

 

Charles and Ada

Charles B. Minerd was born on Sept. 3, 1861 in Lawrence County, OH, the son of John V.S. and Elizabeth (Livingston) Minerd. He and his wife lived a long life of heartache.

Charles was born in or around Ironton, Lawrence County, where his father worked in the mines. The place was just across the Ohio River from Kentucky, where Charles later claimed to have been born. After his father's return from the Civil War, the family moved back to Dunbar, Fayette County, PA, when the boy was about five or six years of age.

In 1881, when he was 20 years of age, Charles was united in holy wedlock with 19-year-old Ada Althea Tressler (March 20, 1862-1951), a native of Milford Township, Somerset County, PA and the daughter of Jake Tressler. Their marriage endured for an extraordinary 69 years until cleaved apart by death.

 

With youngest son Harry

The Minerds went on to produce a large family of 10 children -- Gertrude Thomas, Bertha May Pringle, Frank Minerd, Daisy Hiles Predilla, George Minerd, Grant Minerd, Arthur Ralph "Buck" Minerd, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Rankin Rice, Ross Minerd and Harry Russell Minerd.

Grief blanketed the family in 1895 when sons George (age 3) and Grant (age 1) died of whooping cough within a week of each other.

As with many of his uncles, siblings, nephews and extended cousins, Charles worked as a coal mine laborer for decades -- from the 1870s to the 1930s, including in Fairchance, Fayette County; Hawkeye, Westmoreland County (1887); Atlas Coke Works and Searights (1912). Daughter Bertha is known to have been born in Fairchance in 1884.

The federal census enumeration of 1900 shows the family in or near Fairchance. There were four children living under their roof, ranging in age from infancy to 14, with another two offspring residing elsewhere.

By 1910, the family had relocated to Nicholson Township, with Charles employed as a coal hauler. By that time, 10 children had been born, with eight living. Son Frank and his newlywed bride Margaret were in the household, with Frank also working in local mines that year.

In an August 1912 letter from daughter Bertha Pringle to her brother Frank, she wrote that "Papa and Arthur is a still a diggin coal."

Always pursuing new work, Charles and Ada pulled up stakes and moved their brood again during the 1910s to a coal mining town in German Township, Fayette County, as shown in the 1920 census. That year, son Ross, age 17, earned income for the family as a driver in the mines.

 

Above: With sons Ross and Harry and grandson Homer Pringle. Below: Fairchance's unpaved Church Street, looking west  from Main Street

 

By 1930, early in the Great Depression, the Minerds were back in Nicholson Township, with Charles and 22-year-old son Harry laboring in the mines.

The Minerds eventually settled at Rocks Works near Masontown, Fayette County, where they spent the remaining years of their lives. By 1940, Charles appears to have been retired at the age of 78.

During their lifetimes, the Minerds endured more than their share of tragedy and heartache, losing at least nine children or grandchildren of unusual, often violent deaths. 

These included:

  • With grandson John Hiles and a shiny aotomobile

    1895 - Sons George (age 3) and Grant (age 1) died of whooping cough within a week of each other.
  • 1912 - Daughter Bertha died of heart and kidney disease after divorcing her husband, following years of suffering violent domestic abuse.
  • 1917 - Son in law Josiah Hiles Sr. was killed when he broke his neck at the Plumer Coke Works near McClellandtown.
  • 1917 - Grandson Homer Pringle drowned in an unidentified location in Fayette County.
  • 1919 - Charles' brother Andrew was crushed to death in the Allison Mine near Brownsville.
  • 1928 - Grandson Harry Rebock Hiles drowned at Hope Works, near Masontown.
  • 1930 - Grandson Josiah Hiles Jr. was crushed to death in the Provance Mine near Masontown.
  • 1946 - Grandson in law Robert Nugent was killed in a fall of slate at the Robena Mine in Greene County, PA.

 

Ada at home circa 1942.  Charles stands in the shadows on the porch.

 

 

Masontown Cemetery

For the last two years of her life, Ada was stricken with cancer of the stomach. Unable to rally, she passed away at age 87 years and 10 months on Jan. 20, 1951 at home at Rocks Works. Interment of the remains was in Masontown Cemetery. Her pallbearers were James Predilla, Robert Shipley, Barney Shields, William Rhodes, Carlus Satini and Thomas Ralston. Daughter Elizabeth Rankin signed the official Pennsylvania certificate of death.

Charles outlived Ada by only about a year. On Jan. 10, 1952, he died at Rocks Works at age 90.  He was survived by seven children, 41 grandchildren, 48 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren. A very brief obituary, comprised of one sentence, was published in the Connellsville Daily Courier newspaper.

They are buried together at the Masontown Cemetery. Their grave marker, decorated with flowers when photographed here in 1994, is inscribed "Dad & Mother" at the top.

 

Copyright 2000, 2002-2005, 2008, 2010, 2020 Mark A. Miner