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Oliver Clyde Minerd


Oliver and Florence Minerd

Oliver Clyde Minerd was born on Feb. 20, 1881 in Dunbar Township, Fayette County, PA, the son of Isaac F. and Frances Caroline (Jordan) Minerd. 

His mother died when he was 10. As a motherless boy, Oliver went with his father to Virginia, which he loved.  Later, when he was about 14, they went to North Dakota, which he hatedOliver recalled that their  North Dakota home featured a rope along a walkway leading to the outhouse for nighttime use, and also a cellar in case of dust storms or tornadoes.

They went on to Montreal and Elmington, VA, returning to Dunbar for good in January 1908.

Oliver worked as a cold roller at a tin plate mill in Connellsville, PA in 1900.

In about 1910, Oliver moved to Aliquippa, Beaver County, to work at the Jones & Laughlin steel mill.  He was the youngest man on his crew, and was nicknamed "Babe."  Sickened by contaminated drinking water, he returned to Connellsville. 

Circa November 1917, he is known to have worked as a butcher in South Connellsville. But that did not last long, and he found permanent employment with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad within its Pittsburgh Division.

On June 19, 1912, at the age of 31, Oliver was joined in the bonds of wedlock with Ella Florence Dawson ( ? -1974), daughter of James and Mary Moses Dawson and possibly stepdaughter of Noah Beeman. Their wedding ceremony took place at Cumberland, Allegheny County, MD, with Rev. William M. Tinker presiding over their exchange of vows.

The three daughters they bore together were Eleanor Nevada Brooks, Mary Ada Durst and Virginia Hart.

Their longtime address in Connellsville, from 1919 to 1969, was 411 Stephens Street, a timespan of half a century. They are known to have hosted Connellsville Mission "cottage prayer meetings" in their home circa 1927, in the charge of Rev. Howard Harden.

The Minerds' marriage certificate, 1912


Over the Labor Day holiday in 1937, Oliver and Florence and their daughters, along with Florence's brother Irvin Beeman, traveled to Buffalo, NY to visit with Florence's brother Elmer Beeman. They also visited Niagara Falls and drove into Canada. The trip was reported in the Connellsville Daily Courier.

Oliver stayed with the B&O for a grand total of 56 years, ending his career as a water station foreman. He held memberships in the General Worth Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Junior Order of the United American Mechanics. He retired from the company in 1947 and joined the Baltimore & Ohio Veterans Association.

At the start of the new year 1948, Oliver and Florence appear to have vacationed in Hawaii, sailing from San Francisco to the islands aboard the Matsonia. The voyage was especially notable because among the other passengers was Senator Guy Cordon (R-Oregon), chair of the Subcommittee on Territories who was investigating whether Hawaii should be considered for statehood. 

B&O yards at Connellsville with the Youghiogheny River in the foreground

Oliver spent his final three years in northern California in the home of his married daughter Virginia Hart in Fair Oaks. He died at the age of 90 on June 30, 1971.  His remains were transported back t his native Connellsville for interment in Green Ridge Memorial Park. Rev. Dr. Elmer A.R. Schultz led the funeral services, with additional rites provided by the General Worth Lodge.

Florence outlived him by three years. She passed away in 1974 in Economy, Beaver County, where daughter Eleanor and her husband Paul Brooks had resided for several decades previously. Rev. Elmer A. Schultz officiated the funeral service. Oliver and Florence are buried together at Green Ridge Memorial Park in Connellsville.

~ Daughter Virginia (Minerd) Hart ~

Daughter Virginia Minerd (1915- ? ) was born in about 1915.

As a teen, she made news in August 1930 when visiting the Clyde Inks family of cousins in Waynesburg, Greene County. 

She was a 1932 graduate of Connellsville High School and an alumna of Franklin Business College. She earned a living in 1946 in the billing department of West Penn Power Company in Connellsville, one of many in the extended family to work there over the years. She held a membership in the Junior Woman's Culture Club.   

On July 20, 1946, in a ceremony in Oklahoma City, OK, she entered into marriage with John Edward "Jack" Hart Jr. ( ? - ? ).

John also was a Connellsville High graduate and at the time of marriage was employed at Hickman Field in Honolulu. The newlyweds made their first dwelling-place in Honolulu. 

The couple's only daughter was Sharon Kathleen Radonich. 

The Harts later made their residence in Mobile, AL in 1950 and in 1957-1971 in Fair Oaks, CA. Their address in Fair Oaks was 7624 Palisade Way. 

Virginia's aged father moved into their home in 1969 and remained until his death in 1971 at the age of 90.

Virginia is known to have attended her high school class reunions in 1957 and 1977, both held at the Pleasant Valley Country Club. She received the furthest traveled award at the 1957 gathering.

As of 1991, Virginia dwelled in Carmichael, CA, at the address of 4671 Oak Twig Way. She was deceased by 2007. 

Daughter Sharon Kathleen Hart ( ? - ? ) was born on (?). She was a graduate of Del Campo High School and then attended American River College before earning a degree at California State University at Sacramento. In Feb. 1976, at the age of about 21, she wed 26-year-old Stephen George Radonich ( ? - ? ) of Fair Oaks, CA and the son of Vince Stephen and Ione Dorothy (Wood) Radonich. Their nuptials were conducted at St. John the Evangelist Church. Stephen also was an alumnus of Del Campo High. They did not reproduce. Circa 2014, they dwelled in Citrus Heights in Sacramento County, CA. The pair has been involved in developing property in the Sacramento area for subdivision into condominium units.

Eleanor and Paul Brooks, 1991 
~ Daughter Eleanor (Minerd) Brooks ~

Daughter Eleanor Nevada Minerd (1919-2007) was born on Aug. 15, 1919 in Connellsville.

She grew up in Connellsville in a home about two streets away from Hill Grove Cemetery. She was a 1937 graduate of Connellsville High School in the same class as a distant cousin, Alene (Miller) Cavanaugh of the family of Lloyd and Agnes (Miner) Miller

On May 4, 1941, at the age of 21, Eleanor was united in wedlock with Paul Leroy Brooks (June 24, 1917-1996), son of William C. and Winifred (Weaver) Brooks of Normalville, Fayette County. Their wedding ceremony was held in Oakland, MD at St. Paul's Methodist Church, by the hand of Rev. Minor Sprague. It was marked with "quiet simplicity," reported the Uniontown Evening Standard, which reported that the bride "chose a becoming royal blue crepe dress, a picture hat and navy blue and white accessories."  

Eleanor recalled that "I waited a long time to get married because I wanted to find a man who was just like my father. After Paul proposed for the third time, I realized that I would never find anyone like my father, but someone just about as nice."

The Brookses bore one daughter, Deborah Widek.  

At the time of their marriage, Paul earned a living at the Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation plant in South Connellsville. In mid-March 1942, they relocated to Economy Borough, Beaver County, PA after he obtained employment with the American Bridge Division of United States Steel Corporation. He was a member of the United Steelworkers of America and remained with American Bridge until retirement.

Above: early view of Ambridge its smokestakcs. Below: fabricating steel at the Ambridge plant of American Bridge. Library of Congress 

Brooks Family History 
Their longtime home was in the Springer Plan in Freedom/Economy Borough. Eleanor held a membership in the Economy United Methodist Church, while Paul belonged to the Clover Lodge, Economy Senior Citizens, American Association of Retired Persons.

Eleanor's widowed mother came to live with them in about 1971 and remained to her passing in 1974. 

The Brookses opened their home in May 1991 for a visit from the founder of this website. Although not particularly interested in family history -- "We live for the day," she said -- she was very gracious in sharing valuable content for this biography. Her husband, on the other hand, did have a curiosity about genealogy and owned a copy of the Brooks Family History..

Beaver County Times 
Paul suffered a stroke and passed away on Jan. 29, 1996 as a patient in the Medical Center of Beaver. An obituary was printed in the Beaver County Times. Burial was in Sylvania Hills Memorial Park. 

Eleanor survived her spouse for another nearly 11 years. The last time she and this website's founder were together was at the high school graduation of her grandson. Her final residence was at Cranberry Place Nursing Home.

She died there at the age of 87 on Jan. 12, 2007. 

Daughter Deborah Lynn Brooks ( ? - ? ) was born on (?) and grew up in Freedom, PA. Circa 1975, she married David Frank Widek ( ? - ? ), son of Lillian Kisiday  of Ambridge. Their two children are Paul David Widek and Heather Lynn DiNorfrio. Early in the marriage, they dwelled in Alexandria, VA but eventually returned to the Pittsburgh area. He was a certfied lay speaker of the Economy United Methodist Church and left in 190 to be a student pastor of Emory Chapel United Methodist Church of Sarver, PA. He returned to the Economy congregation in 1995 while studying computer science at Community College of Beaver County and working at Three Rivers Aluminum Company (Traco) in Warrendale, PA. The couple divorced.

  • Grandson Paul David Widek (1978- ? ) was born in 1978 in Sewickley Valley Hospital. His birth was announced on the pages of the Beaver County Times. He tied the knot with Melinda. 
  • Granddaughter Heather Lynn Widek (1982- ? ) was born in 1982. She wed Joseph DiNorfrio. 

~ Daughter Mary Ada (Minerd) Durst ~

Daughter Mary Ada (Minerd) Durst (1924-2017) was born on Sept. 18, 1924 in Connellsville.

She was a 1943 graduate of Connellsville High School and then moved to Washington, DC, where she worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of the Navy. 

James was a 1938 Connellsville High graduate and had served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was deployed to the European Theatre for 30 months 

James was a 1938 Connellsville High graduate and had served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was deployed to the European Theatre for 30 months. While in Italy he was promoted to lieutenant of the infantry for the ordnance department, posted to the 34th Infantry Division and eventually the 88th Infantry Division. After completing his military service he returned home and was welcomed back to his employer, the East Pittsburgh plant of Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

The couple dwelled on Clay Pike in Irwin near Greensburg, Westmoreland County, PA and produced three children -- James Carl "Jim" Durst Jr., John R. Durst and Darlene Hagan.

She was a member of Circleville United Methodist Church in North Huntingdon Township..

Grief blanketed the family when James died on Oct. 23, 1979. His death occurred just six days after the Pittsburgh Pirates had won the World Series. His funeral mass was sung in the Immaculate Conception Church of Irwin, with a notice of his passing published in the Pittsburgh Press.

Mary met with the founder of this website at a visit in the home of her sister Eleanor Brooks in August 1991. 

As her health waned, Mary was admitted as a patient to Walnut Ridge in Greensburg. She passed away there at the age of 92 on June 27, 2017. Burial was in Penn Lincoln Memorial Park, with an obituary published in the Greensburg Tribune-Review. The family asked that any memorial contributions be made to the family church or to the Norwin Public Library.

Son James Carl "Jim" Durst Jr. entered into marriage with Cindy. Their one known son is Nathan Carl Durst. In 1979, he resided in North Huntingdon Township. Later, in 2017, his companion/fiancee was Donna Brown.

  • Grandson Nathan Carl Durst ( ? -living) - Circa 2016, he married Christina Marlane "Tina" Evans ( ? - ? ). News of their marriage license was printed in the Greensburg Tribune Review. Trained as a welder, he has been employed by Curtiss-Wright and later NCD Specialties LLC. The pair make their dwelling-place in Greensburg.

Son John Robert Durst (1955- ? ) was born in 1955 in Westmoreland Hospital, Greensburg. News of his birth was announced in the Connellsville Daily Courier. John wed Daria Mika ( ? - ? ), daughter of Frank "Turk" and Betty Jean (Pfeil) Mika. Together they produced a daughter, Alysha Nicole Durst. Circa 2002, they made a home in North Huntingdon Township. Daria is believed to have been employed as an office manager with Linear Machining Technology LLC in Irwin.

  • Granddaughter Alysha Nicole Durst wed Dan. 

Daughter Darlene Durst married Glenn Hagan, son of Glenn H. and Mary Alice (Freed) Hagan of Pittsburgh. The pair relocated to Alexandria, VA and dwelled there in 1979. By 1996 they had moved to Overland Park, KS. They did not reproduce.


Copyright 2000, 2008, 2023 Mark A. Miner