Charles Ray Minor was born on Aug. 1, 1884, at Pursley Creek near Waynesburg, Greene County, PA, the eldest of five sons of Elias and Elizabeth (King) Minor.
He and his next-youngest brother William were especially close. As young men, they worked hard to support their family and keep it together, even as their parents endured a rocky marriage. During that time, their mother was sickly, so they hired a housekeeper to do house chores. Fortunately, their mother recovered and resumed her role in the home.
As the eldest sons, Charley and Bill had a friction-filled relationship with their father. When they were in their early 20s, at their mother's request, they asked their father to leave home for good. Charley never spoke to his own children about his father.
Charley was a farmer. He also learned how to repair oil and gas drilling rigs, and acquired his own specialty tools. Later, he and Bill expanded this work into the actual operation of rigs, and went into partnership together, under the name "Minor Brothers."
Seen here is a rare old photograph postcard showing what was billed as the "largest gas pumping station in the world," near the village of Brave in Greene County.
Unfortunately, due to very difficult economic times, the company went out of business during the Great Depression, and the brothers had to file for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy papers are still on file with the National Archives branch in Philadelphia. They have not yet been examined by family researchers, though an unsuccessful effort was made to see them in 1993. Bill's biography has more details about their firm.
Though possessing a strong temper, Charley made a habit of not using curse words. The strongest language he used were terms such as "dod drottit" and "jeemsus criminy ned."
Charley was married five times. His first wife was 23-year-old Bertha Chess (1888-1916), the daughter of Peter T. and Perthenia (Mundell) Chess, and a resident of Harvey's, Greene County. They were married on Aug. 1, 1911, when he was age 27 and she 23.
A color-tinted photograph of Bertha and her parasol, circa 1910, is seen here.
The Minors produced one son, Albert "Ray" Minor.
In the mid-1910s, Charley's mother Elizabeth moved to Missouri to care for an ailing sister. When the sister died, Elizabeth married her brother in law, James W. Harker, and remained there to live. Charley and Bill would pay for her train fare so she could return home every so often.
Double tragedy rocked the family in the early months of 1916. On Feb. 12, brother Bill's wife Elizabeth died in childbirth. She was only age 23.
A little over a month later, Charley's wife Bertha, who had spent three to four months suffering from tuberculosis of the intestines, succumbed to the illness, on March 23, 1916. They had only been married for five years, and their son Ray was but a few months old. She was laid to rest at the quiet Mt. Zion Cemetery near Bluff, Greene County.
While Charley went on to marry again four times, he never got over Bertha's passing, and carried a photograph of her in his wallet for the rest of his life.
Charley and Bill, already very close as brothers, were further bonded in grief, having lost their wives within a six-week span of time.
Needing a major change, Charley moved to Akron, OH, where he obtained employment as a laborer with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. It was one of the largest rubber factories in the world, employing thousands of people, with an annual payroll of more than $43 million at that time. Charley hated the work, although it paid a steady wage. He quit and went to work for B.F. Goodrich Company, under the alias "Charles Ray," so his former employer would not find out.
While in Akron, Charley met an attractive redhead, Evelyn Hogue, and it's believed they were married there. Thinking she would be a good mother to his young son, Charley brought her back to Pursley Creek to live in the old Minor homeplace. Evelyn (wearing a headcap) and Charley are seen in the photo during a visit from brother Harold from Cleveland. Also posed in the photo are Harold's wife Esther and their young son Don.
Evelyn, although of the Irish Catholic faith, was willing to be converted to the Baptist faith and be baptized outdoors in a stream in the middle of winter.
They are seen here in the mid-1920s. She really loved Charley, said observers, but he did not share the feeling. "She was lost there," one relative recalled. They had no children together, and divorced on Nov. 7, 1927.
Bertha's younger half-sister, Letha Chess (1905-2001) became Charley's third wife. She was the daughter of Peter and Mary Elizabeth (Russell) Chess. They went on to have two sons, James Robert Minor and Glenn Richard Minor. Sadly, Glenn died at the tender age of three days, in 1931. He was buried in the Minor family plot at Mt. Zion Cemetery.
Letha and Charley divorced on Nov. 7, 1943. She moved with her son to the Morrisville section of Waynesburg. She later married Floyd D. Rush ( ? - ? ). Letha was "a member of the Morrisville Methodist Church, Women Society of Christian Service and the East Franklin Grange," said the Parkersburg (WV) News and Sentinel. Later, she moved to Belpre, OH to be near their son. While there, "She was a member of the Belpre Heights United Methodist Church and taught the Friendship Sunday school class at the Belpre Putnam Howe Village. She was an avid Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers fan." In 1991, during a visit by the founder of this website, she shared a lot of information about the Minors, which has been vital to the understanding of the family. She passed away at St. Joseph Hospital, Parkersburg, on Oct. 13, 2000, and is buried in Wind Ridge Cemetery, Wind Ridge, Greene County.
At the age of 60, Charley married his fourth wife, widow Ivel "Pearl" (Fox) Snyder (1892-1978), on March 14, 1945. A resident of Mt. Morris, Greene County, she was the daughter of James P. and Smilda (Walters) Fox. She had been widowed in 1943 at the death of her husband, Albert L. Snyder. She had two children of her own, J. Walter Snyder and Evelyn Hobert. Charley and Pearl divorced at some point, and she took back her first married name of "Snyder." She passed away on July 31, 1978 at the age of 85.
After he had retired, Charley moved to a house in Waynesburg. It was on Eighth Street, near the hospital.
Later still, Charley married his fifth wife, Loreen Gray (1914- ? ). There was a 30-year difference in their age. They eloped to Virginia, where there was no three-day waiting period.
In about 1950, the family was heartbroken when Charley's beloved nephew Fred Minor died of a massive heart attack. Charley was so devastated by the untimely death that he could not attend the funeral. Instead, he asked Loreen to go in his place, and to be escorted by his son Ray. Loreen was only two years older than her stepson, and at the funeral home, when friends asked who the attractive woman was on his arm, he quipped "She's my mother."
Charley and Loreen eventually separated.
Charley suffered a stroke, and passed away just two days before Christmas, on Dec. 23, 1962 in Waynesburg. He is buried at the Mt. Zion Cemetery with his first wife Bertha and infant son Glenn. The unique marker, seen here, is shaped like the trunk of a tree. The "Dad" floral arrangement was photographed circa 1991.
~ Son Albert Ray Minor ~
Son Albert Ray Minor (1916-2008) was born in 1916.
During World War II, he "was wounded three times for which he was awarded two Purple Hearts on the Island of Blak off the coast of New Guinea," said the Tampa (FL) Tribune. "From Blak, he was returned to the hospital at Fort Storey, Va." He spent 19 years in the Army Active Reserve, and reached the rank of lieutenant colonel.
On Feb. 10, 1945, in Pittsburgh, he married Anna " Kathryn" Reichart ( ? - ? ), daughter of Herbert W. and Mabel (Reinder) Reichardt. Rev. Mark Depp officiated. He was age 29, and she 23, at the time.
He then went to work for Amoco Chemicals Corporation, retiring in 1979. Ray passed away in Sun City Center, FL, at the age of 92 on April 2, 2008.
At his death, he was survived by his wife, two sons, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Burial was at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, FL.
~ Legacies ~
In February 1979, the Cornerstone Clues newsletter of the Cornerstone Genealogical Society of Waynesburg published Bertha's name and funeral information in an article with records of local funeral homes.
On Oct. 23, 2005, the Mt. Zion church was pictured on the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It illustrated an article, "Tiny Bluff May Sit This Hand Out," about an Internet gambling company's "tempting proposition to the people of Bluff; Change the name of your town to PokerShare.com, and we'll give you $100,000."
Copyright © 2000, 2004-2005, 2008, 2017 Mark A. Miner