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Henry and Elizabeth Yonkon Miner Reunions
[Henry and Mary "Polly" (Younkin) Minerd/Miner]
Of Washington, PA and Wheeling, WV, 1928-1931

 

Washington Park, home of the first Henry Miner Reunion, 1928. Below, organizers, L-R: William Bedillion, Golie Bedillion, Lucy Martin and William Allen Miner
   

Several of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Henry and Mary "Polly" (Younkin) Miner came together in 1928 to organize a reunion of descendants living in the tri-state area of southwestern Pennsylvania, the northern panhandle of West Virginia and eastern Ohio. Erroneously billed at first as a gathering of offspring of "William Henry and Elizabeth Yonkon Miner," they were held for four years, from 1928 through 1931.

The principal, original organizers were William R. Bedillion, Golie Cephas BedillionRebecca (Birch) McElfish and William Allen Miner. In announcing the first reunion, the Washington Reporter said that "Members of this family connection are distributed pretty well over the southwest part of the state, and an effort is to be made to form a family organization and make the reunion a regular event. Heretofore family meetings have been held at Confluence, in Somerset county. Mrs. J.A. McElfish, of 46 Seminole avenue, is actively pushing the reunion meeting this year, and she urges every person who is connected in any way with this family group to attend this meeting and help effect a formal organization. Several families, resident in Greene county, are of the Miner descent, and their presence is desired on this occasion."

    
Above: Washington Reporter coverage of the 1928 reunion, on Sept. 21 and Oct. 2 . Courtesy Google Books. Below: Wheeling Park, site of the 1929 gathering.


1929 invitation - Courtesy Google Books
That first reunion drew 10 families and a total of 40 people. Said the Reporter, "After partaking of a bountiful supper, plans were made for an annual reunion. It was decided the reunions would be more successful if held earlier in the year, and the executive committee for the next year is to name the date and place of the 1929 reunion." W.A. Miner read aloud a history of the family that he had commissioned and was elected president of that first gathering, with W.R. Bedillion as vice president, Odger Miner as secretary and G.C. Bedillion as treasurer. The historical report -- now lost -- disclosed that the family name had once been spelled "Minerd" with the "d," and that it was of "Pennsylvania Dutch" (German) origin. W.A. promised to send a copy to his niece Jessie (Miner) Schultz, but "he never got around to it," she recalled. 

As an aside, the family history report is said to have been left behind in the Pomona house where W.A. Miner last lived. Inquiries by his grand-nieces Marilyn (Miner) Scofield and Louise (Miner) Ditch in the 1970s proved fruitless in finding its whereabouts. The founder of this website met W.A. Miner's widow Laura (Thompson) Miner in July 1978 but she had no knowledge of the document.

     

Brothers Odger and Orlan Miner 
The 1929 reunion was held at Wheeling Park in West Virginia on Aug. 3. The choice for this site, 30 miles west of Washington, is not yet known, other than perhaps to try to attract cousins living closer to that locale. An advance story in the Washington Reporter invited "All persons knowing themselves to be related" and added that "Well filled baskets should accompany all groups." An after-the-fact article, appearing on Aug. 5, 1929, said that the event had "a large attendance" with guests coming from Aliquippa, Charleroi, Washington and Martins Ferry, OH. The slate of elected officers included president W.R. Bedillion of Charleroi, Orlan Lloyd Miner of Washington, Odger Miner of Aliquippa and treasurer G.C. Bedillion of Washington. This appears to have been the only one of the reunions in the Wheeling location, and no newspapers in Wheeling are known to have run articles. It's very likely that the attendees from Martins Ferry were Odger and Orlan Miner's married sister Ollie (Miner) Plants and her young children, known to have been living there at that time.

Then on Aug. 9, 1930, the reunion was back in Washington Park. The Reporter announced that "All persons related or conected [sic] with this family are invited to attend and take well filled baskets. Election of officers is to take place." After the event was over, the Reporter and the Washington Observer both reported there was "a good attendance. The afternoon was taken up with games and conversation. At 6 o'clock a picnic dinner was served." W.R. Bedillion was re-elected president, Orlan Miner re-elected vice president, Rebecca McElfish as secretary and Lucy (Bedillion) Martin as treasurer. The Reporter concluded by saying "The miner [sic] reunion will be held in the Washington Park next year, sometime in August." 

Above: Footbridge along a leafy trail at Washington Park. Below: Washington Reporter articles of July 30 and Aug. 15, 1930. Courtesy Google Books 
      

All that's known of the 1931 reunion -- as the nation slipped deeper into the morass of the Great Depression -- was that it was scheduled to be held on August 8 at Washington Park. The Reporter said that "All members of the family are invited to asked to take a cup, fork and spoon." Another advance story in the Reporter said that "All relatives are invited to join this group taking well filled basket for a sumptious [sic] dinner. Dinner will be served at 6 o'clock." No after-the-fact news coverage of that year's event has been found.

It's likely that the economic reality of the Depression put an end to the reunions, and possibly also the fatigue and apathy that comes with organizing large events of this nature.

   
Washington Reporter, July 21, 1931 (left) and Aug. 6, 1931 -  Google Books

Younkin Family News Bulletin, 1938

Three years later, in 1934, a Younkin National Home-coming Reunion was formed in Kingwood, Somerset County, PA. Its organizers Otto Roosevelt Younkin (president) and Charles Arthur "Charleroi Charley" Younkin (secretary) tried to determine just how our "Younkin" Miners fit in to the larger brood. Writing on Feb. 19, 1935, Charles said to Otto, "It just came to my mind that i did not include in letter other day descendants of Henry Miner and Polly Younkin that lived in Washington and Greene Co. i will do so now. Eli Miner lived near Washington Pa. do not know his wife's name. Andrew Miner lived near Washington Pa., wife was Mary Johnson. Susan Miner lived near Washington Pa., married a Mr. Burch. Nancy Miner married a man by name Farabee and lived near Washington Pa. Katie Miner married John Bedillion and lived near Washington Pa. Chauncey Miner lived in Ill. I have learned of the whereabouts of several of the Farabees also Burchs and Bedillions but as yet have not come in contact in person but hope to do so in the near future."

Charles Younkin also served as editor of the Younkin Family News Bulletin, a national newspaper experiment of the Depression Era, in which he tried to document as many of the connections and stories as could be found. In the April 30, 1938 edition, he promised that "In future issues, we hope to tell you of the much inter-married families" -- including "The Younkin and Miner" -- but the material never made it into print.


Copyright 2023 Mark A. Miner