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Emma (Minerd) Thurston


Emma and Charles Thurston

Emma C. (Minerd) Thurston was born in 1857, the daughter of Eli and Mary Ann (Baer) Minerd. Her husband was a longtime coal miner who once survived a near-fatal mining accident.

At a young age, Emma moved with her parents to the coke oven town of Bridgeport, near Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA.

Emma married Charles W. Thurston (1852-1943), a native of Gouveneur, St. Lawrence County, NY, and the son of William and Barbara "Barbry" Thurston. He came to Western Pennsylvania as a young man, with his parents remaining behind in New York.

The Thurstons' 10 children were Annie M. Thurston, Nellie Haney, Myrtle McVay, Margaret Cramer, Jessie Piper, Alvin Perry Thurston, Homer Boyd Thurston, Viola Sullen, Ruby Faith Davis and James "Loren" Thurston. Sadly, it's thought that daughter Annie died at a young age.

In 1880, while residing at Bridgeport, the Thurstons lived just three doors away from Emma's first cousin, Daniel Martin Younkin. Years later, Daniel would help organize the 1918 Minerd-Miner Reunion in Rockwood, Somerset County, PA.

Charles worked as a "company man" in a coal mine. In May 1904, his foot was injured and his chest bruised by falling slate at the Mullen Mine, Westmoreland County. The injury was reported in the year's Report of the Pennsylvania Department of Mines, on file today in the archives and library of the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center.

Westmoreland County coal laborers emerging from the pit mouth of the mine, circa 1891.



Emma's obituary, 1919

Fortunately, Charles recovered, and lived to a ripe old age.

Emma suffered with diabetes and in late 1918 it began to cause her great difficulty. Unable to recover, she died on March 24, 1919 at home on Cemetery Avenue in Mt. Pleasant. She was just 63 years of age. Her son James was serving in France with the 110th Support Company, and likely did not get home for the funeral. The obituary was published in the Mt. Pleasant and Connellsville newspapers. Burial was in the Alverton Cemetery. On her death certificate, Charles listed the maiden name of his wife's mother as "Anna Baer."


Connellsville Courier, 1919

In his later years, Charles resided on North Diamond Street in Mt. Pleasant, near his wife's widowed sister, Martha "Mattie" (Minerd) Stairs. When the federal census was taken in 1930, he made his home with married son Loren.

In August 1932, the family held at reunion at the home of daughter Myrtle McVay on North Diamond Street in Mt. Pleasant. "A picnic dinner was served on tables under the trees on the lawn," said the Connellsville . Attendees included Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Thurston, Earl Stairs, Miss Pearl Stairs, Edward Stairs, Mrs. J.M. Miller, Miss Helen Connors, Mrs. Myrtle McVey, Dick McVey, Miss Annie McVey, Billy Hanson, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Piper and children Mary Jane, Bob and Catherine and Harry Hay of Mt. Pleasant; Mrs. Mary Ann Faith, Mr. and Mrs. John Miller and children Jack, Paul and Helen of Hecla, PA; Mr. and Mrs. Fay Dills, Mrs. J.C. Cramer and Nelda Jeanne, Junior, Grace, Dorothy and Ruby Cramer and Mr. and Mrs. George Cramer and son Harold of Scottdale, PA; Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Faith and children Emma Jean and Jimmie of Dallas, TX; Mr. and Mrs. Homer Thurston and son J.M. of Renton, PA; Mr. and Mrs. Otis Poole of Ruffsdale, PA; Mr. and Mrs. Earl Piper and children Dorothy Jane and Franklin of Wilkinsburg, PA; Mrs. Frank Sullen and daughter June of Youngwood, PA; Mrs. Frank Haney, Homer Haney and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Queer and daughter Fay of Bridgeport, PA.

After more than two decades as a widower, Charles passed away in 1943, at age 90. The Daily Courier said his death was due to "the infirmities of old age." The funeral was conducted by Emma's nephew, Rev. William Mullen Minerd.

Charles and Emma are buried at Alverton Cemetery near Mt. Pleasant.


Copyright 2000-2001, 2006, 2009-2011, 2016 Mark A. Miner

Coal mine sketch from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, April 18, 1891