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James Whalen Minerd


James W. Minerd

James Whalen Minerd was born on Aug. 16, 1908 in Republic, Luzerne Township, Fayette County, PA, the son of James L. and Catherine (Whalen) Minerd

He was only age nine when his mother died. Early in adult life, James continued to reside in Republic.. 

When the federal census was taken in 1930, James made his home with his married sister and brother in law Hazel and John Johnson in Republic. His occupation was listed as coal miner. Their 71-year-old father also lived in the Johnson household that year.

James stood 5 feet, 9½ inches tall and weighed 150 lbs. He had blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion.


Betty (2nd from left) and family, New York City

By 1933, with his sister Margaret Minerd working in New York on the Brooklyn Times newspaper, he abandoned the coal mining life and moved there to seek a new opportunity.

On Nov. 25, 1933, when he was 25 years of age, James wed Clarine Elizabeth "Betty" Hartman ( ? - ? ) at the St. Thomas Roman Catholic Church of Brooklyn. He was age 25 at the time of marriage.

The newlyweds returned to Fayette County to establish their home. First living in Republic and Tower Hill, they moved to Grindstone in mid-June 1934, as reported by the Uniontown News-Standard.

They later returned to Uniontown and together produced a family of two children -- Betty Jean Dennis and James Edward Minerd.

Circa 1936, the Minerds made their home near Tower Hill No. 1 mine. In January of that year, James' sisters Marie Edwards of Brownsville, and Margaret and Kathryn Minerd of New York City, visited at their residence, with a short article published about the event in the Uniontown Morning Herald.

When the federal census enumeration was made in 1940, James and Betty and family dwelled in the mining community of Republic in Redstone Township. They lived next door to James' married sister and brother-in-law, Hazel and John Johnson.


Park Place Cemetery

James at age 32 was required to register for the military draft during World War II. In doing so, he disclosed that he and Betty lived in Republic, at Box 311, and that he was self-employed and had a "lame left foot."

The Minerds later divorced, following repeated instances of domestic abuse, circa August 1950.

James' postal address in 1952 was P.O. Box 311 in Republic.

He later resided for many years in New York City.

James passed away in New York at the age of 53 on May 2, 1961. His remains were returned to Uniontown, where he was laid to rest beside his parents at the Park Place Cemetery in Uniontown.


~ Daughter Betty Jean (Minerd) Dennis ~


Wedding day for Betty Jean Minerd and Gerald E. Dennis (center)
Courtesy Sandra (Dennis) Riley



Betty and Gerald

Daughter Betty Jean Minerd (1934-2020) was born on March 2, 1934 in the coal mining patch town of Tower Hill near Uniontown.

Betty Jean was united in wedlock with Gerald E. Dennis ( ? -living).

The couple produced a brood of four children -- Vaughn Edward Dennis, Sandra Riley, Gerald A. Dennis and Cynthia Kachel.

Gerald served in the U.S. Army in the early 1950s and was posted to Fort Sill, OK.

The Dennises lived in Hopwood near Uniontown.

Said the Uniontown Herald-Standard, Betty Jean enjoyed playing in the "ladies golfing league, bowling league and card club for many years and Friday nights friend’s dinner group. She loved reading the daily newspaper and novels."

She and her daughter Sandra attended the 2013 national Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor Reunion and brought a decorated cake to mark the 100th anniversary of the first Minerd Reunion.

Sadly, the 86-year-old Betty Jean passed into eternity as a patient in Uniontown Hospital on March 8, 2020. Interment was in Thomas Cemetery. An obituary in the Herald-Standard noted that her survivors included five grandchilren and three great-grandchildren and asked that any memorial gifts be made to New Life Covenant Church in Markleysburg.


Left: Gerald stands at left with a crashed helicopter at Fort Sill, early 1950s. Right: Gerald in an aircraft cockpit. Courtesy Sandra (Dennis) Riley.


Son Vaughn Edward Dennis (1954-2021) was born on Nov. 12, 1954 in Uniontown. He did not reproduce and resided for years in Hopwood. The Uniontown Herald-Standard said that Vaughn "was employed in the family business, Hi-Way Trailer Company, and spent many years as a well known disc jockey in the Uniontown area in the 1970’s-1980’s. He enjoyed building and flying remote controlled airplanes and was a member of Walley’s Squadron in Summerville, WV." Sadly, he surrendered to death in his home at the age of 66 on Sept. 3, 2021. The Herald-Standard ran an obituary, and the remains were interred in Thomas Cemetery.

Daughter Sandra Riley served in the U.S. Navy. Today she resides in Hopwood. She has a son, Gavin Riley Jr.

Son Gerald A. Dennis has made a home in Hopwood.

Daughter Cynthia Dennis married Thomas "Tom" Kachel. They dwell in Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, PA.


~ Son James Edward Minerd ~

Son James Edward Minerd (1935-living) was born in about 1935.

As a young man, circa 1956, he began employment with Westinghouse. He remained with the company for 24 years. 

He received a business degree in 1978 from California University of Pennsylvania.

James married Barbara C. ( ? -living). They resided in Jeannette and North Huntingdon, Westmoreland County, PA where they raised their family.

The couple bore three children, among them Laurie K. Minerd, Pamela Squitiro and James E. Minerd.

James retired, and the couple spent the balance of their lives together in Seminole, FL. They endured the heartache of outliving two of their three adult children.

Sadly, Barbara was gathered away by the spirit of death at the age of 85 on Jan. 7, 2024. A brief notice of her passing was printed in the Tampa Bay Times

Daughter Laurie Kay Minerd (1960-2002) was born in 1960 in Jeannette, Westmoreland County, PA. She joined her parents in a relocation to Florida in about 1982. Over the years, she was employed by Florida Power and as a sales representative for KTL Trucking Company. Sadly, at the age of 42, she passed away on Dec. 30, 2002 while in Hospice House Woodside in Pinellas Park, FL. Her obituary was printed in the St. Petersburg Times.

Daughter Pamela Minerd married San Squitiro. They made a home in 2002 in Palm Harbor, FL and are the parents of three offspring -- Max Squitiro, Mia Squitiro and Eli Squitiro.

  • Grandson Max Squitiro
  • Granddaughter Mia Squitiro 
  • Grandson Eli Squitiro 

Son James E. Minerd (1961-2019) was born on April 17, 1961 in Greensburg, Westmoreland County. He moved to Florida with his parents and graduated from the University of South Florida. As an adult, he dwelled in St. Petersburg. He is said to have been "a very independent and resourceful person." Grief wracked the family when Jim died at the age of 59 on Oct. 22, 2019. His obituary appeared in the Tampa Bay Times.


Copyright 2007-2008, 2020-2021, 2023 Mark A. Miner