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Amanda (Younkin) Hechler


Amanda Hechler

Amanda (Younkin) Hechler was born on March 16, 1862 near Kingwood, Somerset County, PA, the daughter of Eli and Mary Ann (Rose) Younkin

As a girl, Amanda and her parents migrated west to Illinois for "a few years," said a newspaper, possibly for the sake of her mother's poor health. The mother did not get well. She died and was buried at Franklin Grove, IL. The mourning Younkin family then returned home to Somerset County, where Amanda's father married again. 

In March 1881, Amanda gave birth to a son, and named him "Beacher Scott Younkin." Amanda was not married at the time, and her parents did not approve of the child's father, William Engelka. The boy went to live with his grandfather and step-grandmother Younkin, and they raised him to adulthood. 

When the 1900 federal census was taken, the boy's last name was written as "Engelka" although he ultimately used the surname "Younkin."


Somerset Herald, Oct. 21, 1885

On Sept. 27, 1885, at the age of 23, Amanda married 25-year-old William Wallace Hechler (1860-1934), son of Aaron and Nancy (Scott) Hechler. 

News of their nuptials was published in the Somerset Herald, which added that G.W. Lowry performed the ceremony, held "at the residence of the bride's parents."

The Hechlers had seven children -- Charles Edward Hechler, Ross Hechler, Sadie Sterner, Mary Kreger, Corda Leslie Kesler, Maud Snyder and James Franklin Hechler. 

Daughter Maud is believed to have suffered as a child from "cancer of the bowels" and was treated at hospitals in Pittsburgh but fortunately went on to a long life including marriage and children.

Wallace was said to be "ornery." He was not a church-goer, but once tried to pull a prank on three local women who were headed to church. He hid under a footbridge, and planned to throw some stones onto the bridge to make noise, then run covered with a bedsheet to make them think he was a ghost. But just at the key moment, there was a loud mysterious noise, which scared him into ending his plan. He then came out of hiding and asked the women if they had heard the noise too. One of them replied, "You've been to the devil, now come to church with us." But he refused.

Amanda and Wallace, said a local newspaper, "lived on a small farm near Kingwood for about 50 years," where Wallace labored "farming and working in the timber, and helped to cut much of the virgin timber in the surrounding territory. He was a robust man and an expert axman, strictly temperate, a stalwart Republican, always exercising his right to vote." 

Amanda's "crazy quilt" handed down in the family and featured in our Online Quilt Museum



Amanda, date unknown

At the Second Annual Hechler Reunion, held on June 16, 1928 at Rockwood Park, Wallace assisted with the adult activities. A small card from that reunion (partially seen above) states that "A game of Horseshoe Pitching at 3:30. Captains -- W.W. Hechler, C.M. Sanner, Wm. Hechler, Willis Singo. Distance 40 feet."

Amanda was a member of the inaugural organized adult Bible class of the Kingwood Church of God, where she was a 40-year member.  A certificate with her name (among others) has hung in the church in recent years. She also was an expert quiltmaker, and is known for making colorful "crazy quilts," among others.

In 1931, Amanda became ill, suffering from a combination of bronchial asthma, kidney disease and heart valve problems ("interstitial regurgitation"). She was treated by Dr. Frank W. White of Rockwood. After 15 months of enduring these ailments, she died on June 19, 1932, at age 70. 

A newspaper eulogized that:


Rockwood IOOF Cemetery

Amid all her suffering she was faithful to God, and was waiting His coming for her, realizing that all had been done for her that medical skill could do. She told her loved ones that she wanted to go home to God.  Mrs. Hechler was a model wife, a kind and loving mother, a friend and neighbor to all who came in contact with her, always willing to help anyone in need or afflicted.

A year later, Wallace's health began to go downhill, suffering from heart and kidney failure. He died on Nov. 8, 1934, at the age of 75. His obituary said that "Six of his near neighbors were the pallbearers -- William and Harry Kreger, Fred Ream, Harvey Henry, Ross Younkin and Roy Stoner." Interment was beside his wife in the Kingwood IOOF Cemetery

Wallace and Amanda are mentioned in the 1939 manuscript history, The Family of Jacob Hechler, found at the Somerset (PA) Historical Center. 

~ Son Beacher Scott Younkin ~


Beacher Younkin

Son Beacher Scott Younkin (1881-1957) was born on March 22, 1881, in Kingwood, Somerset County, to Amanda Younkin and William Engelka, who were not married. 

As the son of a single mother, he resided with his mother's parents, and they raised him to adulthood. 

In the 1900 federal census, when he was age 19, Beacher's last name was written as "Engelka," but ultimately he went by the "Younkin" surname. 

At the age of 37, Beacher married 19-year-old Vallie Ethel Knox (1899-1928), the daughter of Mahlon and Minnie Ann (Frazee) Knox, on April 13, 1918. He was 18 years older than his bride. 

They had five children, Wreatha Mary Hager, Harold Scott Younkin, Frances Ruth Garrison, Ida "Mae" Peck, Junior Eugenine Younkin, who died in infancy, and an unnamed still born son.

Vallie "joined the Methodist Episcopal Church at Harnedsville in 1918," said a local newspaper. "She was a devoted wife and mother and kind neighbor." In 1923, when their infant son died at birth, their home was in Somerfield, Henry Clay Township, Fayette County, PA. Circa 1928, the Younkins were in Akron, Summit County, OH, where their daughter Mae was born. 


Beacher Younkin

But sadly, Vallie contracted an auto-immune disease called "pemphigus" about a month after giving birth to their youngest child. Her health declined and, added to heart problems called "endocarditis," she died five months later at age 28 on Sept. 28, 1928, in Johnstown Memorial Hospital. 

"She will be greatly missed by her husband and family, besides by a large circle of neighbors and friends," said the newspaper. Her remains were returned to Somerset County to be laid to rest at the Church of God Cemetery in Kingwood, adjacent to the plot where her husband's grandparents are buried. The children were sent to live with relatives, and on the 1930 census, two-year-old daughter Ida Mae made her home with her Knox grandparents in Somerset County. 

Beacher survived his wife by nearly three decades. In the 1930s, the National Younkin Home-Coming Reunions were held at the Kingwood I.O.O.F. Picnic Grove, just a mile or so from where Beacher grew up and was living at the time. He was named on a July 1935 list of local relatives who had been sent an invitation that year by reunion secretary Charles Arthur Younkin -- click to see Beacher's name on the handwritten list. In 1940, he lived under the roof of his married daughter Wreatha Hager in Addison and earned a living as a laborer.

Later, in about 1943, with World War II raging in the Pacific and Europe, Beacher and the Hagers moved to Versailles, near Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA, and resided at 715 High Street. He spent the remaining 14 years of his life in Versailles and was employed as a steel mill laborer.

Beacher inherited the old family Bible of his grandparents, Eli and Sarah Younkin. In the 1930s, the National Younkin Home-Coming Reunions were held at the Kingwood I.O.O.F. Picnic Grove, just a mile or two from where Beacher lived. In about 1934, reunion president Otto Roosevelt Younkin personally examined the Bible, and copied the family birth, marriage and death entries by hand. Click here to view the Bible pages at a larger size. Beacher was included on a July 1935 list of local relatives who recieved an invitation that year by reunion secretary Charles Arthur Younkin -- click to see Beacher's name on the handwritten list. Over the years, he is known to have attended the annual Kingwood Picnic.

He died in Versailles on April 25, 1957, and his remains were returned to Kingwood to rest for eternity beside his wife.

Beacher and Vallie's grave in Kingwood



Hager Chronicles booklet

Daughter Wreatha Mary Younkin (1919-2002) was born on May 1, 1919 in Ursina, Somerset County. Her name also has been given as "Oretha." On Dec. 10, 1936, at the age of 17, Wreatha wed 25-year-old Sheldon McCartney Hager (1911-1986). They were the parents of Ralph Hager, Louise Jacobs, Sharon Sturkie and Vallie Novalis. They also raised a cousin, Judy Knox Datig. Circa 1940, when the census count was made, they resided in Addison, Somerset County, with Sheldon working as a laborer. Later, they relocated to Glassport, Allegheny County, PA, and were members of the Jehovah's Witness Church of McKeesport. Sheldon died in Pittsburgh on April 30, 1986. Burial was in the Round Hill Cemetery in Elizabeth Township, Allegheny County. Sadly, daughter Vallie, of New Kensington, PA died on March 9, 2002. Just 36 days later, Wreatha passed away at home, on April 15, 2002, at age 82. She was survived by 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Sheldon is pictured, and the family summarized, in a Hager family booklet, The Hager Chronicles, shown to the founder of this website by local historian Delbert Hager during the 2015 Junghen-Younkin Reunion cemetery tour in Farmington, PA.

  • Grandson Ralph Hager (1938- ? ) was born in about 1938. In 2002, he lived in North Huntingdon, Westmoreland County, PA.
  • Granddaughter Louise Hager married (?) Jacobs and dwelled in Glassport.
  • Granddaughter Sharon Hager wed (?) Sturkle and resided in Elizabeth Township.

Son Harold Scott Younkin (1921-1984) was born on Dec. 6, 1921 in Somerset County. As an 18-year-old, he lived with his married sister Wreatha Hager in Addison, Somerset County and worked as a postal mail carrier. Later, in the 1940s, he moved to McKeesport where he made his home 1957. He was a member of the Lions and Elks Clubs. Harold married Ella (1924-1991). He died in September 1984, and his remains were placed into repose in Penn Lincoln Memorial Park in North Huntington Township, Westmoreland County. Ella survived her spouse by seven years. She passed into eternity in January 1991.


Ruth Garrison, 2015

Daughter Frances "Ruth" Younkin (1926-2016) was born on Jan. 23, 1926 at Fort Hill, Somerset County. She was but the age of three when her mother died. She went to live with her married sister Wreatha Hager in Addison, Somerset County, and was there in 1940 when the U.S. Census was made. She later relocated to Greenock, Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh. At the age of 18, Ruth married 27-year-old James A. Garrison (April 5, 1909-1988), son of William and Ida (Stevens) Garrison, and was a native of Shickshinny, Luzerne County, PA. At the time of marriage James made his homein McKeesport, and was employed locally as a laborer. The couple produced at least one son, William Garrison. Over the years, he worked in anthracite coal mines and labored for Marris Hannon Amusements as a ride foreman. Later, he obtained employment as a bridge painter for Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad structures until falling 68 feet and becoming injured. He then started working as a rigger with U.S. Steel's National Tube works in McKeesport. Their address circa 1988 was 733 Sixth Street in McKeesport. Suffering from severe lung disease, emphysema and bronchial pneumonia, James passed away at the age of 79 on Aug. 25, 1988. Ruth survived her husband by 28 years, remaining in their home in McKeesport. Sadly, Ruth passed away at home on Nov. 15, 2016, at the age of 90.


  • Grandson William Garrison (1944-living) was born on Nov. 17, 1944 in McKeesport. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War as a member of the India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. His tour of duty took him to the Northern Provinces in I Corps area, primarily Khe Sahn, Quang Tri, Cam Lo, Hue and Phu Bai (March 1966 to April 1967). He married Joanne, and they have a family of three grown children. Bill and Joanne make their home in Jeannette, Westmoreland County, PA.


Bill Garrison in Vietnam -- Right: eating monkey and rice with a South Viet officer and radio man


Daughter Ida Mae Younkin (1928-2007) was born on March 21, 1928 in Akron, Stark County, OH. After her mother's untimely death, Ida moved back to her parents' home region of Confluence, Somerset County, where she was raised by her Knox grandparents. She wed Warren Elroy Peck (1927-1987), son of Harvey and Florence (Phillippi) Peck, on Aug. 16, 1948, in a ceremony in Confluence led by justice of the peace D.H. Pore. They had two children -- Carl Peck and Gary Peck. Warren served in World War II and was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7250. They were members of Kingdom Hall Jehovah's Witnesses in Markleysburg, Somerset County. Warren died at the age of 60 on Sept. 20, 1987 in Somerset Community Hospital. He was laid to rest in the Younkin Cemetery. Ida outlived her husband by two decades. She passed away at Golden Living Center in Meyersdale, Somerset County on Nov. 23, 2007, at age 79. At the time, she was survived by four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 


Charles and Mae Hechler, 1960s

~ Son Charles Hechler ~

Son Charles E. Hechler (1901- ? ) was born in 1901 in or near Kingwood. His surname also has been spelled "Heckler" over the years.

He married Mae Harriett McGuire (1906-1978), daughter of Calvin and Eliza (Baer) McGuire.

They had six children -- Merle Hechler, Ray Calvin Hechler, Oscar Hechler, Thelma Silbaugh, Pearl Fike and Robert Hechler.

Charles and Mae resided in Kingwood for many years. The portrait of them here was taken on their farm, in the back yard of their home, in the 1960s. The trees in the background run beside what is now Route 281, with the Odd Fellows Cemetery nearby but out of view. 

When the federal census was enumerated in 1930, the Hechlers lived in Kingwood, where Charles was a laborer in a local saw mill. Among their neighbors in the immediate community were cousins Lawrence and Mary Hall, and Melvin and Hazel (Rose) Cameron.


Kingwood Odd Fellows Cemetery

In April 1965, the Hechlers hosted their adult children and families over the Easter weekend. The gossip columns of the Somerset Daily American reported that the guests included the Silbaughs, Oscar Hechlers, Merle Hechlers, Ray Fikes and Ray Hechlers as well as married niece and husband, Hazel and Charles Koontz of Rockwood.

Mae died at age 72 on Jan. 8, 1978 in the Fazio Nursing Home. The Daily American noted that she was survived by 13 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. 


Daily American, 1978

Her remains were placed into eternal rest in the Kingwood IOOF Cemetery, with Rev. Gerald Deffenbaugh officiating at her funeral.

Son Ray Calvin Hechler (1929-1990) was born on June 22, 1929. He married Treecy Elsie Pletcher (1933-1996), daughter of Amos and Elsie (Gary) Pletcher. Ray was age 23 and the time, and Treecy was 19. The nuptials were performed by Rev. Walter F. Berkebile on Nov. 22, 1952. Ray was a school bus driver, employed with the Guy Sechler Bus Company. He was a member of the Kingwood Odd Fellows Lodge, and they belonged to the Church of the Brethren in Middlcreek Township. Ray and Treecy produced six children -- Clifford Hechler, Amos Hechler, Jeanette Warrick, Loretta Tannehill, Tracey Hechler and a baby daughter who died in infancy. Ray passed away at age 61 on July 1, 1990 in Meyersdale Community Hospital. Following a funeral led by Rev. William Hay, he was buried in Fairview Cemetery near Rockwood. Treecy outlived him by six years and kept company with Richard Sanner of Rockwood. She died on April 3, 1996, at home, with Younkin cousin Rev. Jay Christner officiating at her funeral and burial at Fairview Cemetery.

  • Grandson Clifford Hechler married Colleen Ogline and lived in Rockwood.
  • Grandson Amos Hechler was wed to Theresa Wilber and dwelled in Rockwood.
  • Granddaughter Jeanette Hechler -- in about 1978, she was united in matrimony with 22-year-old Donald Alvin Warrick (1956-2016), son of Melvin and Sarah (Nicholson) Warrick. They made their home in Rockwood and produced these children -- Maria Peck, Christina Romesburg, Jessica Bonus, Kayla Beeman and Brandon Warrick. They also took in many foster children over the years. They family were members of the Rockwood Church of the Brethren. Donald once served as Mayor of Rockwood and at the time of his death was president of borough council. He worked at Sheetz stores in the Somerset area from 2013 to 2016. Actively involved in the community, his interests ranged from the Rockwood Historical Society and Somerset Borough Association to Monday Night Church Bowling League and the Somerset County Fair Board. Donald died at the age of 59 on Feb. 6, 2016. Rev. Craig Breegle and Rev. Jay Christner officiated at the funeral followed by burial in the Jersey Baptist Church Cemetery.
  • Granddaughter Loretta Hechler married Paul Tannehill and lived in Rockwood.
  • Granddaughter Tracey Hechler resided in Rockwood.


Merle Heckler
Courtesy Melanie Heckler

Son Merle E. Heckler (1927-2014) was born on March 28, 1927 near Kingwood. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army. He was a self-employed carpenter and lived in Jeffersonville and Paoli, IN. In November 1946, at the age of 19, he was united in matrimony with Betty Hurl ( ? -1970). Sadly, Betty passed away in 1970. After seven years as a widower, he married again in 1977 to Bernice "Bea" Andry ( ? -2000). In all, he had six children -- Michael Andry, Marc Andry, Jeraldine Isgrigg, Krystal Funk, Karen Shade and Connie Ellison. Merle was a member of the Masons in Jeffersonville, IN. Sadly, Merle became widowed for a second time when Bea died in New Albany on Oct. 6, 2000. Merle lived for another 14 years. At the age of 87, he died in Floyd Memorial Hospital on Dec. 21, 2014. His remains were lowered into eternal rest in Kraft Graceland Memorial Park in New Albany, IN. He was survived by 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Son Oscar D. Hechler (1930-2000) was born on Nov. 23, 1930 near Kingwood. He was united in marriage with Doris Vivian Evans (Nov. 25, 1930-2017), daughter of Joseph Dayton and Lena (Schnopp) Evans of Terra Alta, Preston County, WV. Doris grew up in the Hazelton community of Bruceton Mills, Preston County, where her father owned and operated the Hazelton Milling Company originally purchased by his father in the early 1930s and which remained in business until 2014. Oscar and Doris made their home in Pittsburgh. They had one daughter, Kathie L. Johnston. Oscar was a carpenter and worked for many years for United States Steel Corporation at its works in Homestead, near Pittsburgh. Following retirement, they resided in Bruceton Mills/Hazelton, Preston County, WV. Suffering from cancer, he died at the age of 69 in Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV on April 15, 2000. His remains were interred in Parnell Cemetery, Cuzzart, Bruceton Mills, with Rev. Vicki Sheppard preaching the funeral sermon. An obituary published in the Preston County Journal. In widowhood, Doris survived her husband by 17 years and remained in Hazelton. There, said the Somerset (PA) Daily American, she "attended her class reunion almost every year. She valued the friendship of her fellow classmates. She enjoyed gardening and maintaining her beautiful flowers, and she loved her two cats, chickens, and guineas. As a member of the North Preston Senior Center, Doris looked forward to the meetings, club functions, and trips." At the age of 86, on May 20, 2017, Doris succumbed in her home. Burial was in the Parnell Cemetery in Bruceton Mills (Cuzzart), with Rev. Vicki D. Sheppard officiating. The Daily American printed an obituary.

  • Granddaughter Kathie L. Hechler married Douglas Johnston. Their three offspring are Douglas Johnston, Dale Johnston and Amanda Waddey. The Johnstons made their home circa 2000-2017 in Dunnellon, FL.

Daughter Thelma Hechler (1934-1997) was born on March 13, 1934. She wed Woodrow A. Silbaugh (1912-1983), a veteran of World War II. They were 22 years apart in their ages. During the war, Woodrow served as a T/5 in the 9th Armored Division of the U.S. Army. They resided circa 1965-1978 in the Braddock section of Pittsburgh. Sadly, Woodrow died on March 19, 1983. Thelma outlived him by 14 years. She passed at the age of 63 on June 15, 1997. Interment was in the Church Hill Cemetery in Wilkins Township, Allegheny County. Their daughter Sandee Kerlin came to the rain-drenched 2015 National Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor Reunion held at Donegal, PA.

Daughter Pearl Hechler married Raymond Fike. She lived in Ohio in 1965 and in Markleysburg, PA in 1978. 

Son Robert Heckler made his home in Dunnellon and Morriston, FL.


Sadie & Russell and children 

~ Daughter Sadie (Hechler) Sterner ~

Daughter Sadie Hechler (1886-1979) was born on Feb. 25, 1886 in or near Kingwood. 

At the age of 16, on Feb. 10, 1903, she married 23-year-old Russell Levi Sterner (1880- ? ). Rev. J.C. Cunningham led the nuptials at her home near Kingwood. Because Sadie was underage, her parents signed their consents to the union. She was six years younger than her husband.

The names of Russell's parents are unknown. He did not list them on his marriage certificate, which otherwise would have been a mandatory disclosure.

The Hechlers had seven children in all -- Oscar Ellwood Sterner, Ralph Alton Sterner, Hazel Florence Koontz, Floyd Milburn Sterner, Verda Dunmeyer Philippi, Owen Russell Sterner, Vernon Leon Sterner and Winona Dolly Sterner. Sadly, son Owen died in 1920, at about one year of age, and daughter Winona died in 1923, at age 24 days.

At the time of marriage, Russell was employed locally as a coal miner. 

In early March 1934, Sadie called her son Ralph and his son Warren to her home to show them an early blooming plant. "Come down here and I'll show you this dirty d*mn rose bush," she said. "That's a sign of death in the family, when a flower blooms out of season."

Sadly, just a month or so afterward, on April 18, 1934, Russell died at age 53. He was said by a local newspaper to have been a "well known resident of South Rockwood." He was buried in the Rockwood IOOF Cemetery. His mother claimed she had been forewarned by the premature rose bloom.

She was known to use herbal medicine and superstitions to help heal sickness. If one had warts, for instance, you were to cut slices of a raw potato, rub it over the affected area, and bury it in a place where rainwater would fall, and the warts would go away. Another time, one of her rose bushes bloomed in winter, and she feared that it was a "token" -- sign that that there would be a death in the family. Within a month or two later, her own husband was dead. She also could take away the pain of a flesh burn by "blowing fire" -- putting salve on a burn, circling it with her finger, and saying certain words, which invariably took away the burning sensation.

Sadie outlived all but two of her children and several of her grandchildren. She  entered eternal rest with her death at age 93 on June 5, 1979. She was buried in the Rockwood IOOF Cemetery, with Rev. Dewayne Johnson leading the funeral. A short obituary was published in the Somerset Daily American

Son Oscar Ellwood Sterner (1905-1973) was born on Dec. 7, 1905 in Black Township near Rockwood. On Sept. 27, 1929, he married Evalene L. Weimer ( ? - ? ). They had seven children -- Donald Sterner, Zola Borosky, Dean Richard Sterner, Leon Sterner, Paul Sterner, Gary Sterner and Lois Bogardus. They resided in Reading Mine and Jerome, Somerset County, where they were members of the Church of the Nazarene. Oscar was a longtime coal miner and a member of the United Mine Workers of America local union #1742 of Jenners, Somerset County. Oscar died at age 68, in Lee Hospital in Johnstown, Cambria County, PA, on June 18, 1973. 

  • Grandson Dean Richard Sterner married Elaine Mardelle Zeeg in August 1955. Dean was a veteran of the Korean War, serving in the European and Far East Theatres. After the war, he enrolled at the Johnstown Trade School for Veterans. Elaine was a secretary to Dr. George W. Katter of Johnstown.


Ralph & Fern's 50th anniversary

Son Ralph Alton Sterner (1907-1982) was born on June 20, 1907 in rural Black Township near Rockwood. On May 14, 1928, when Russell was age 20, he married 18-year-old Fern Knopsnyder (1909-1998). They went on to produce eight children, two of whom died under tragic circumstances -- the children were Alton Glen Sterner, Lloyd Sterner, Rev. Warren Sterner, Ray Sterner, Lee Sterner, Ruth Bailey, Otis Lowell Sterner and Loraine Boden. The Sterner and Knopsnyder families were close, and Ralph's brother Vernon Sterner (1921-1970) married Bernice Knopsnyder ( ? -1970). They were members of the Church of the Brethren in Rockwood, where a cousin, Rev. William Mullen Minerd, was pastor for some 15 years. (In fact, an original newspaper clipping of Rev. Minerd's obituary may be found today in a Sterner family Bible in Rockwood.) Ralph was a longtime trackman for the Western Maryland Railway, a job from which he eventually retired. The family mourned in 1953 when son Alton was killed as a member of the United States Army in North Vietnam. They wept again in 1969 when son Lloyd was killed in a freak sawmill accident. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on May 14, 1977, with a family dinner. Ralph died at age 74 in Somerset Community Hospital on Feb. 19, 1982. His remains were laid to rest in the Rockwood IOOF Cemetery. Fern is believed to have outlived her husband by 16 years. She passed away on Oct. 19, 1998. 

  • Grandson Alton Glen Sterner married Alma Patton. They had one daughter, Carolyn Sue Fisher. During the Korean War, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served with the Fifth Regimental Combat Team, Company L. Tragically, he was killed in action in Korea in 1953. His body was returned home for burial, and he was laid to rest in the Rockwood Odd Fellows (IOOF) Cemetery. His widow, Alma, was quoted in the Sept. 28, 1953 edition of Time Magazine, saying her "bad heart" kept her from attending the funeral. In reality she had eloped with the military officer who had escorted her husband's body home, and then quickly moved with him to Waterbury Center, VT. (Click here to see the article in full.) In 1998, our reunion theme honored Alton and the other cousin-soldiers in our extended family who have given their lives in the ultimate sacrifice of defending our nation's freedom. Click to view our Honor Roll of all known cousins who have given their lives in the military service of our nation.



Alton Glen Sterner in Korea, left, and his grave at Rockwood IOOF Cemetery


  • Lloyd R. Sterner

    Grandson Lloyd Ruben Sterner (1934-1969) was born on April 1, 1934 in Black Township. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Lloyd married a distant cousin, Nola M. Gary (1939-2013), daughter of Harry R. and Cora (Sanner) Gary. They had a family of children -- Lloyd W. Sterner, Tammy Rohrs Berkey and Greg W. Sterner. Sterner, Tragedy struck on June 11, 1969 when Lloyd died in a workplace accident at the age of 35. While laboring at the Ankeny Bros. Lumber Co., said a newspaper, he was "struck in the abdomen by and end of a six-by-eight inch timber that was kicked back by a gang edger he was operating... The 14-foot timber was being fed through the machine under heavy air pressure when the accident occurred." Nola later married again, on Oct. 22, 1971, to Darwin "Tom" Hoover of Rockwood. They had one child of their own, Amy Lee Hoover. Lloyd and Nola's daughter in law Margo Miller, an accomplished amateur photographer, exhibits her body of work at the "Margo Miller Fine Art" website.
  • Grandson Warren Sterner ( ? -living) was born in (?). He was first married to (?) Ackerman, daughter of Stewart Ackerman. Circa 1953, the Sterners produced a daughter, Nancy Jean Hay. Later, circa 1957, he was joined in holy matrimony with Bernadette Roddy (May 19, 1936-2018), daughter of Morris and Mora (Myers) Roddy. They remained together for 60 years until the separation of death. Warren has been a lay speaker in Rockwood-area churches for many years. He was featured in a front-page article in the Somerset Daily American, which called him "a self-taught artist," adding that he "enjoys painting beloved scenes of his youth, as well as building clocks and woodworking... His paintings have been displayed at the Meyersdale Train Station and at Laurel Arts in Somerset." The Daily American said of Bernadette that she "worked at the Somerset County Home and Hospital, and later, at the Rockwood Area School District in the cafeteria. She was a member of Christ United Methodist Church for 58 years, where she taught Sunday School and VBS as well as serving on various boards. She was also a member of the Rockwood Historical Society for several years." On July 22, 2006, Warren said prayers at a special ceremony at the Younkin Reunion, during which a tree was planted at the Kingwood Odd Fellows Picnic Grove in memory of reunion founder and publisher Donna (Younkin) Logan. He was featured in our "Photo of the Month" for October 2008, posed with four of his railroad paintings on display at the historic Mt. Union Church in Somerset County. Sadly, Bernadette died at the age of 81 in Somerset Hospital on April 6, 2018. Rev. Scott Ream officiated at her funeral service, followed by interment in the Rockwood Odd Fellows Cemetery. An obituary appeared in the Daily American.

Great-granddaughter Nancy Jean Sterner wedded Dean Hay Sr. They produced two children -- Dean Hay Jr. and Kevin Hay. Dean Jr. has been a pastor for many years in the Somerset County area.



Warren Sterner prays at the 2006 Younkin Reunion  tree-planting ceremony in Kingwood in memory of reunion founder Donna Younkin Logan


  • Grandson Otis Lowell Sterner (1942-2013) was born on Jan. 18, 1942 near Rockwood. He married Bernice Mae (Miller) Leasock. She had three children from an earlier marriage, Steven W. Leasock, John Charles Leasock and Cynthia Raye Leasock Mimna Witosky. Said the Daily American, Otis was employed for "many years at both the Rockwood Insurance Co. and Rockwood Manufacturing." He was a volunteer for many years with the Rockwood Fire Department and a member of the Rockwood Sportsmen and Fraternal Order of Eagles. He died at age 71 on Sept. 5, 2013. Interment was in Rockwood Cemetery.
  • Granddaughter Ruth Sterner ( ? - ? ) married (?) Bailey and lived in Michigan.

Daughter Hazel Florence Sterner (1908-1977) was born on Christmas Eve 1908 in Black township. She wed Charles E. Koontz (1906-1983) on Oct. 2, 1935. He was the son of Jerry and Tracy (Walker) Koontz. They resided in Rockwood and had two daughters who sadly died in infancy. The Koontzes were members of the United Church of Christ in Rockwood. Charles was a longtime railroader and belonged to the Brotherhood of Railroaders as well as to the Rockwood Volunteer Fire Company. He is mentioned by name in a list of "old time railroaders" in the booklet Rockwood Centennial 1857-1957. Charles died in Somerset Community Hospital at age 77 on April 30, 1983. His remains were interred in the Rockwood IOOF Cemetery, following a funeral led by Rev. Jack Hazlett.


Floyd Sterner, 1944

Son Floyd Milburn Sterner (1913-1987) was born on Feb. 17, 1913 in Black Township near Rockwood, Somerset County. He never married, and was considered by many to have an exceptionally disagreeable personality. He was valedictorian of the Rockwood High School Class of 1931. Later, he served during World War II with the United States Army Medical Corps. After the war, he worked until retirement at the Rockwood Poultry Plant.  He died in Somerset Community Hospital at the age of 74 on Oct. 19, 1987. 

Daughter Verda Irene Sterner (1916-1951) was born on Aug. 25, 1916 in Black Township. She was married twice. Her first husband was Walter G. Dunmeyer Jr. (1918-1941), son of Walter G. and Rosie (Pletcher) Dunmyer Sr. of Milford Township, Somerset County. They united themselves in holy matrimony on Sept. 8, 1939, when Verda was age 23 and Walter 21. Walter was a farmer and laborer, and they made their residence in Rockwood. Sadly, at the age of 23, suffering from heart disease ("angina"), he was stricken by a heart attack and died on Dec. 15, 1941. Mildred Berkey of Rockwood signed the death certificate. Burial was in Pleasant Hill Cemetery. Verda's mother, who had buried apples in October to be dug up in mid-winter, later said that she suspected someone in the family would die, after digging up the apples and seeing that one of them was green, following an old family superstition. Later, Verda married Clyde R. Phillippi ( ? - ? ). She had no children to either marriage. Heartache shook the couple in about 1948 when Verda was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 32. She lived for another three years, but death swept her away on Oct. 12, 1951, at the age of 35. She was laid to rest in the Rockwood IOOF Cemetery.

Son Vernon Leon Sterner (1921-1970) was born on Aug. 28, 1921 in Black Township near Rockwood. He married Bernice Knopsnyder ( ? -1970) on Oct. 15, 1941. They had four children -- Barry L. Sterner, Donna Gail Baker, Delenna Cieman and Brenda Baker. The Sterners made their home in Rockwood. Bernice passed away on July 11, 1970. Sadly, Vernon died less than two months after his wife, at age 49, on Sept. 6, 1970. Rev. Arnold Ansell officiated at the funeral, with burial in the Rockwood IOOF Cemetery. 

  • Granddaughter Delenna Sterner married James Howard Cieman of Johnstown, Cambria County. At the time, she was a pediatric nurse at Johnstown Memorial Hospital, and he was an airman first class with the United States Air Force 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing, stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Later, they made their home in Melrose Park, IL, and in Pottstown, Montgomery County, PA.
  • Granddaughter Brenda Sterner (1945-2013) was born on Sept. 19, 1945 in Rockwood. In about 1970, she married Kenneth L. Baker. They had no children. The Bakers resided in Royersford, Montgomery County, PA, and were married for a total of 43 years. Sadly, Brenda died at the age of 67, at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, on June 4, 2013. An obituary was published in the Somerset Daily American.
  • Grandson Barry L. Sterner (1948-2005) was born on Sept. 28, 1948 in Rockwood.. He was married and had two children -- Jeffrey Sterner and Michele Miller. Barry was a military veteran, and was a member and a longtime club manager of the Rockwood American Legion Post. He enjoyed the out of doors, especially fishing and hunting. He also belonged to the Rockwood Sons of the American Legion, Confluence Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and the Rockwood Sportsmen's Club. He died at the age of 56, at the Meyersdale Medical Center, on Feb. 6, 2005.

~ Daughter Mary (Hechler) Kreger ~

Daughter Mary Hechler (1889-1961) was born on June 30, 1889 in Kingwood. 

She married James Garfield Kreger (1879-1968), son of Christian and Catherine (Schrock) Kreger. They had one son, Blair Eldon Kreger. 

Mary and James lived near Kingwood, and were members of the Kingwood Church of God. 

Mary contracted a fatal case of leukemia in the summer of 1961. She died three months later, at the age of 72, in Somerset Community Hospital, on Nov. 3, 1961. She was laid to rest in the Kingwood IOOF Cemetery. 


Kingwood IOOF Cemetery

James outlived his wife by seven years. He died at the age of 88 in Somerset Community Hospital on May 21, 1968. 

Son Blair Eldon Kreger (1924-2001) was born on Nov. 8, 1924 in or near Kingwood. He married Shirley Fullem ( ? - ? ) and had a family of two children -- Gail Kreger and Kirk Kreger. Shirley was active with the Rockwood Historical Society. Blair died on Aug. 4, 2001, at the age of 75, with burial in the Kingwood IOOF Cemetery.

~ Daughter Maude (Hechler) Snyder ~

Daughter Maude R. Hechler (1895-1986) was born on Nov. 30, 1894 in Markleton, Somerset County. 

At the age of 26, on Aug. 16, 1921, she married 32-year-old Edwin Dee Snyder (1889-1980). He was the son of A.C. and Lucy J. (Phillippi) Snyder of Rockwood, Somerset County. The ceremony was performed by Rev. W.S. Shimp of Kingwood. 

Their two children were Mary Hill and Paul Snyder.

Edwin served in the U.S. Army during World War I. He held bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. He taught in the high schools of Somerset and Johnstown, PA for 43 years and was secretary of Ferndale Borough for 28 years. They were members of the Christ United Methodist Church, where Edwin taught Sunday School.

Despite her husband's focus on education, Maud was very superstitious. When one of her great-nephews was diagnosed with asthma, she made the boy's father promise that he would stand the boy against an apple tree, drill a little hole in the tree level with the top of the boy's head, cut some of his hair, stuff it in the hole, put a plug in the hold, and as he grew up and walked past the hole, the asthma would go away. And it did. 

Edwin died in Johnstown at the age of 91 on June 16, 1980. Following a funeral led by Rev. Ralph Solida, his remains were laid to rest in the Rockwood IOOF Cemetery. 

Maude outlived her husband by eight years. She moved to Silver Spring, MD to reside with her married daughter Mary Hill. She died in Silver Spring on Sept. 10, 1986.

Son Paul Snyder lived in Monroeville, near Pittsburgh. 

Daughter Mary Snyder wed (?) Hill and made her home in Silver Spring, MD.

~ Son Ross Hechler ~


Ross's automobile with its new 
owner, nephew James E. Leslie

Son Ross Hechler  (1904-1989) was born on June 2, 1904 in or near Kingwood, Somerset County. He was a laborer and resided in Fort Hill, Somerset County, as an adult. 

On Oct. 19, 1932, Ross wed Agnes Evelyn Sechler (1910-2005), the daughter of John M. and Bertha (Snyder) Sechler of Fort Hill. Ross was age 28, and Agnes 22, at the time. Rev. Charles A. Tracey officiated. 

They had one daughter, Faye Hechler. The Hechlers were farmers and members of the Fort Hill Church of God. They resided in a mobile home in Fort Hill.

At some point, Ross became an invalid. Unable to drive, he sold his automobile to his nephew, James Earl Leslie, who is seen here with the vehicle.

Tragically, in February 1988, the Hechlers' home was broken into by three robbers, one of whom who "brutally" beat Agnes, but left Ross alone. The bandit made off with more than $10,000 "in old bills, known as gold certificates," reported the Somerset Daily American. The trio later was apprehended and sentenced to jail.

Ross died at the age of 84 on Feb. 15, 1989, in Somerset Hospital. He was laid to rest in the Kingwood IOOF Cemetery, after a funeral led by Rev. Nevin Umbel. 

Agnes survived her physical and emotional ordeal. She outlived her husband by 16 years. She died at age 94, at home, on Sept. 8, 2005.


Fort Hill, Somerset County


~ Daughter Corda (Hechler) Leslie Keslar ~

Daughter Corda Hechler (1892-1958) was born on April 6, 1892 in or near Kingwood. 

At the age of 16, in 1908, Corda wed James "Beaver" Leslie (1886-1915), son of John and Jane (Sanner) Leslie. They had four known children, Orpha Leslie, Gladys Erma Leslie, James Earl "Kes" Leslie and Leah Lytle.

Daughters Orpha and Gladys died young -- with Gladys succumbing of tuberculosis and pneumonia at the age of seven months, 25 days on April 16, 1914.

The Leslies were members of the Church of God, and James belonged to the Ursina Lodge of the Odd Fellows. He "was a young man of exceptionally fine character," said the Meyersdale Republican. "He was a devoted father and husband, a sincere Christian and on the last day of his life showed true Christian resignation to the decrees of a Higher Power." 

When the federal census was enumerated in 1910, Corda, James and daughter Orpha resided in Addison Township, Somerset County. James' 18-year-old brother Edward Leslie lived under their roof that year. James' occupation was listed as saw mill laborer, and his brother's as a farm laborer.


The sanitarium in Mont Alto, where James was treated for pneumonia


James later was employed as a watchman for the Western Maryland Railway at Fort Hill. While working outside in the winter of 1914, he "contracted a severe cold that turned to pneumonia and later into tuberculosis," reported the Meyersdale Republican. "He had been to Mont Alto for treatment where he improved; but on his return home, about a year ago he slowly and imperceptibly continued to lose his health and strength until the end came. On the Monday before his death, he was down to Confluence, but from his return home until his death he sank rapidly."

Tragically, James died on June 23, 1915, at the age of 28. His remains were laid to rest in the Kingwood Cemetery in same section as Corda's grandparents, following a funeral officiated by Rev. John Boyd. He was but 28 years, six months and nine days of age. Corda was left as a young widow with a three-year-old son.

After two years in mourning, Corda married again, on Oct. 20, 1917, to widower Grover C. Keslar (May 10, 1884-1956), son of William and Emma Eunice (McClintock) Kesler. The ceremony was performed in Confluence, Somerset County by W.M. Bracken. Grover's first wife died on March 30, 1912, and he brought a young son to the marriage, Charles Keslar.

At the time of the second marriage, 25-year-old Corda was employed as a merchant, living at Fort Hill, and 32-year-old Grover as a farmer, residing in Ursina. They later made their home in Fort Hill.

The Keslars went on to have four more children of their own -- Mary E. Koontz, Elsie Chane, Morris W. Kesler and Evelyn Alma Keslar. 

Heartache rocked the family in March 1921, when daughter Evelyn died of "acute indigestion" as she neared her third birthday. "She was a bright and dear little girl and had seemed to be well and played around with the children until about 6 o'clock...," said the Meyersdale Republican, "when she became quiet, but as she did not complain nor seem to be suffering in any way, the parents did not know she was ill until about 10 o'clock, when her little cheeks began to fade. The parents then, as soon as possible, tried to obtain medical aid, which they could not get, until after death had laid its icy hand on the dear little one."

Circa 1956, Grover was employed as a railroad trackman.

Grover suffered for a decade or more with obesity and heart disease. He was felled by a heart attack and passed away on March 20, 1956, at the age of 71. Burial was in the IOOF Cemetery, following a funeral held from the Kingwood Church of God, led by Rev. David Cole. Son Morris Kesler of Confluence signed the death certificate.


James Earl Leslie

Corda died in Price Hospital at the age of 66 on June 18, 1958. Rev. H.P. Anderson preached at her funeral, which was followed by burial in the Kingwood Cemetery.

Daughter Orpha Leslie (1909- ? ) was born in 1909. Her fate is not yet known, but she is believed to have died at a young age.

Son James Earl "Kes" Leslie (1911-1984) was born on Aug. 30, 1911 in Fort Hill. He was age four when his father died, and but six when his mother remarried to Grover Keslar. James was renamed "Leslie Earl Keslar" which led to his nickname of "Kes" but in fact he later took back his birth name. James married Barbara Miller ( ? -2000) in about 1937, when he was age 26. They had eight children -- Ruth Moore, Donald Ray Leslie, Alvin Earl Leslie, Arlene Ruggerio, Wilbur Eugene Leslie, Gloria Ream, Mary Contarino and Shielda Moore. James and Barbara were farmers. James died at the age of 72, in Rockwood, on June 10, 1984. His funeral was led by Rev. Paul Tobias, with burial in the Kingwood IOOF Cemetery. At this death, said the Somerset Daily American, he was survived by 23 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. His widow Barbara visited with the founder of this website during a research trip in the mid-1990s. She passed away on March 21, 2000.

  • Grandson Alvin Earl Leslie married Iris "Pauline" Ream, daughter of George Washington and Thelma (Welsh) Ream. They produce home-cultivated A.E. Leslie Apiary Honey which is sold locally throughout Somerset and Fayette Counties. The Leslies graciously have donated jars of their honey as door prizes at our reunions. An impressive display of their alfalfa, clover, goldenrod and wildflower honey selections is displayed at right circa 2003.

Daughter Leah Leslie (1915-1981) was born on Aug. 16, 1915 in Addison Township, Somerset County. She came into this world less than two months after her father's death, and thus never knew him. She grew up with Grover C. Keslar as her step-father. Leah married Raymond Lytle (1912-1986), the son of Grant and Myrtle (Fisher) Lytle of Confluence. They made their home in Fort Hill and had six children -- Lewis Lytle, Ferne Enos, Loretta Mitchell, Dale Lytle, Carolyn Pletcher and Linda Plume. Leah died at Somerset Community Hospital on Jan. 8, 1981, at the age of 65. She was interred in the Kingwood IOOF Cemetery, with her funeral led by Rev. Roy C. Bowers. Raymond survived Leah by five years. He passed away at the age of 73 on Jan. 30, 1986. He was laid to rest beside his wife in the Kingwood IOOF Cemetery, following a funeral service preached by Rev. Nevin Umble.

  • Grandson Lewis Lytle lived in Confluence in 1981.
  • Granddaughter Fern Lytle wed (?) Enos and made her home near Confluence.
  • Granddaughter Loretta Lytle married (?) Mitchell. Circa 1981, they lived near Kingwood/Markleton.
  • Grandson Dale Lytle resided in Mineral Ridge, OH.
  • Granddaughter Carolyn Lytle married (?) Pletcher and made her home in Williamsport, MD.
  • Granddaughter Linda Lytle lived in Niles, Trumbull County, OH.


Alvin E. Leslie, clearing land at Moraine State Park in Butler County, PA


Daughter Mary E. Keslar (1919-1997) was born on Nov. 23, 1919 in Fort Hill. She married Irvin E. "Bill" Koontz (1913-1998), and they resided in Confluence, Somerset County. They had only one daughter, Mary Elizabeth Koontz, who sadly died in infancy. They were members of the Fort Hill Church of God. Mary passed away in Meyersdale Manor at the age of 77 on Sept. 1, 1997. Her newspaper obituary was printed in the Somerset Daily American. The following year, on Nov. 9, 1998, Bill died at the age of 85.

Daughter Elsie Keslar married (?) Chane. She died sometime prior to 1956.

Son Morris W. Kesler ( ? - ? ) resided in rural Confluence in 1956.


Copyright 2000, 2002-2003, 2005-2006, 2008, 2012-2013, 2016 Mark A. Miner