Many members of the Minerd-Miner-Minor family, though not working directly in coal, coke and steel, nonetheless came into contact with these industries on a regular basis at home, at play, and in their communities. The following stories provide interesting examples.
~ Nurturing the Souls of the Living ~
Rev. Isaac Herschel Minerd was an unordained Methodist preacher who, during his career, lived in Mount Pleasant, Connellsville, Uniontown and Pittsburgh, PA. Among other accomplishments, he was founding President of the first annual Minerd Reunion in 1913. While living in Uniontown, he conducted revivals in mining towns, as the following undated newspaper article attests:
A protracted meeting is going on at Revere. About or eight or ten already confessed and a great interest is manifested. Rev. I.H. Minard is carrying it on and is working hard for its success. Bro. Minard has others besides himself to also preach and help him in that work. Mr. Minard is to be complimented on its success and his labors are always given freely and without grudging.
~ Death At Play ~
Children were not exempt from the harsh life of the coal region. In fact, four of our young cousins died at mine-related facilities near their homes -- Elizabeth Miner (daughter of John Ross and Mary [Moody] Miner) at the Davidson Coke Works; James W. Minerd (son of Thomas Watt and Theresa [Dowling] Minerd) at the Helen Works reservoir; John Williams (son of Joseph G. and Emma [Inks] Williams), also at the Helen Works reservoir; and Harry R. Hiles (son of Josiah and Daisy [Minerd] Hiles Sr.) at the Hope Works. Their tragic stories follow.
~ Burying the Dead ~
Rev. David Ewing Minerd -- the famed "Blacksmith Preacher" of Fayette County, PA, spent six decades as a preacher in Dunbar, Connellsville and Uniontown. He was founding pastor of the Calvary Methodist Church in Uniontown (1894) and the Greenwood Methodist Church in Connellsville (1921) and helped rebuild churches at White Rock and Dunbar. In all, he oversaw 10,000 weddings and funerals.
A May 10, 1894 article in the Uniontown Daily News Standard reported that "Mr. Minerd is a very useful man especially among the poor and working classes, and he enjoys the respect of everybody in the community.” One of his grimmer duties was ministering to the families of husbands, fathers and sons killed in the mines throughout the coal region. This included work in the aftermath of the Mather Mine Disaster of May 1928, which killed 195 miners, as reported in local newspapers.
~ Chronicling a Deadly Explosion ~
In June 1890, an explosion ripped through the Hill Farm Mine in Dunbar, PA, trapping and killing 31 miners. Minerd cousin and artist Allen Edward Harbaugh (1849-1916) was in Dunbar at the time, and he joined worried crowds to watch smoke spewing out the mouth of the mine. For days and weeks, rescue teams removed tons of coal, slate and rock, trying unsuccessfully to reach the doomed men. The region waited in suspense for the gruesome outcome. In his day and age, Harbaugh knew that a drawing, and not just words, could convey the horror. He set up an easel and began sketching in oil, crayon and ink.
The Uniontown Herald noted that "Crowds gather around his canvass and praise his efforts.” One sketch showed the mine's entrance the day after the explosion, billowing out clouds of smoke. Another sketch depicted the huge fan at the nearby Mahoning Mine, blowing out poisonous fumes. Photo prints were made and sold at Porter's Art Store in Connellsville, and have turned up today in people's collections. A slightly different version of the Hill Farm sketch was used nearly 100 years later, in 1983, in the book Dunbar: The Furnace Town.
As young parents, Thomas Michael and Anna (DZiak) Minerd resided in the patch town of Helen, Fayette County. The patches were built as inexpensive worker-housing by coal companies, and often their construction was of poor quality. Thomas is seen here, standing in front of the house which appears to be on a foundation made of field stones.
One day the Minerds' house began to collapse. Daughter Theresa (Minerd) Charnovich, writing in our 1999 Coal, Coke & Steel reunion booklet, said:
What I was told, by my parents, is that my Dad was at work in the mine when the house we lived in began shifting and caving in on one corner. When my Mom realized what was happening, she got me (an infant) out of the baby crib then tried to open the door to get out but it wouldn't budge. She then went to the window and fortunately men were doing road work nearby so she yelled and pounded on the window to get their attention. They came running and got us out. I don't know how many houses caved in or if they were torn down. I guess coal had been removed under the houses and then Helen, Pa., was gone. Most everyone then moved just over the hill to Keisterville; my Dad worked there until it finished...
~ Security of Owning Mineral Rights ~
A number of members of the Minerd-Miner-Minor family were farmers who owned the rights to the coal and clay below their properties. This advantage provided them with a source of energy resouces as well as income if they chose to lease or sell the mineral rights. One notable example of this was Civil War veteran Charles Rose (1819-1909), who with his wife Catherine (Minerd) Rose (1829-1922) owned a large farm near Ursina, PA. Over the years, as their children became adults and began families of their own, the farm was subdivided among a number of them. They included Jackson Grant Rose, Jennie (Rose) Burgess and William Rose, as well as Charles and Catherine's nephew John Ross Miner (see his entry) and his wife Mary (Moody) Miner. Many of these deeds were held in Catherine's name, perhaps to protect the property for her and her husband. In these deeds, she retained the mineral rights and extraction privileges, perhaps as a guarantee of income in her and her husband's old age. These rights and privileges consisted of:
...excavating, searching for, digging, mining and carrying away all the ... bituminous coal and other coals and iron ore and minerals, limestone [and] fire clay ... with the right to dig, shaft, drive drifts and tunnels and use and occupy so much of the surface of said branch ... as may be necessary for the purpose of taking out, preparing for market and removing the minerals ... and the right to locate, construct, use and operate one or more railroads upon, over and through said premises with such sidings, dumps, kilns, weigh scales and buildings as may be necessary to successfully operate said railroad, mine, prepare [and] carry away from said premises the minerals ...