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Photo of the Month
November 2010
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places

Podcast Summary (MP3 file, 1.8 MB, 3:45 minutes)


Separated by a distance of 1,000 miles, but remaining close over more than 50 years apart, sisters Clara (Barnhouse) Huston (standing) of Olathe, KS and Esther (Barnhouse) Freed of Vanderbilt, PA pose with their husbands for a studio portrait during a reunion in the early 1900s. 

Married in Fayette County, PA in 1871, the Hustons soonafter bade farewell to family and friends and migrated to Kansas as pioneer settlers. The newlyweds and their belongings boarded a boat in Pittsburgh, PA, floated the entire length of the 981-mile Ohio River to Cairo, IL, and turned right into the Mississippi, heading against the current toward St. Louis. Their boat then maneuvered west into the Missouri River at St. Louis, and made its way the entire width of Missouri for another 240-plus miles, arriving in Kansas City, where the exhausted couple finally dis-embarked and headed for land that Boyd had scouted the previous year.

The Hustons eventually settled in Olathe, Johnson County, in what today is the southwest suburbs of Kansas City. They raised a family of five adult children, buried another two young children, and established a life as farmers of the flat prairie soil. Their farm today is a housing subdivision.

Clara and Boyd and four other cousin-pioneer families were the focus of our 19th annual research trip in September-October 2010 to eastern Kansas. The trip built upon one of the great differentiating strengths of Minerd.com -- a relentless commitment to original, on-site, proprietary research on a national scale. 

The four other family groups we researched were Nathan W. Minard and wives of Richland and Topeka, Shawnee County; David and Mahala (Miner) Johnson of Concordia, Cloud County; John Edgar and Lottie (Overfield) Born of Lebo, Coffey County; and Samuel and Rebecca (Smalley) Minerd of Pittsburg, Crawford County. Using our time-tested brand of proprietary research methods to draw out details of these ancient, forgotten lives, we visited county courthouses seeking legal records, visited libraries to find old newspaper obituaries and rare book mentions, and photographed the graves of the pioneers and their children and grandchildren in a variety of cemeteries. 

~ Highlights of the Research Findings ~

Among the highlights was finding obscure newspaper accounts of how these hardy pioneers traveled to Kansas originally. 

  • The Johnsons came from Somerset, Ohio to Hanover, Kansas by train in 1876, and made the remainder of their journey to Concordia in a wagon. 
  • John Henry Minerd, of Scottdale, Westmoreland County, PA, came to Kansas on a fact-finding mission in 1885, the year before he brought his entire family there of aged parents and adult siblings.


Graves of Our Cousin Pioneers of Eastern Kansas

Boyd & Clara Barnhouse Huston - Olathe -
Nathan W. Minerd & wives Phoebe & Eliza - Topeka -
David R. & Mahala (Miner) Johnson - Concordia -
John Edgar & Lottie (Overfield) Born - Lebo -
Samuel & Rebecca (Smalley) Minerd - Pittsburg -


Another highlight was learning more about the lives of the pioneers' offspring and their contributions to Americana.

  • In Lebo, KS, Minerd.com founder Mark Miner spoke by phone with an elderly cousin still living on the original Born farm, although our schedule did not permit us to pay a visit on such short notice. 
  • Thanks to the exceptional interest and energy of the librarian of the Coffey County Library in Lebo, we examined a rare book mentioning the Borns, Simply Astounding!, of which only 1,000 copies were printed. 
  • We had dinner and worked together in the county courthouse with other cousins who have lived in Pittsburg, KS ever since the family arrived there, some 125 years ago. 
  • The Hustons' grandson, R.W. "Bert" Hemphill, moved to Los Angeles and made a name for himself as the "Dean of Travel" as a pioneer in luxury airline travel and tourism, as international president of the American Society of Travel Agents, and eventually with his induction into the Travel Hall of Fame. Bert is mentioned in numerous news and magazine articles and books.


Eugene Podraza at the Huston grave

Seen here, cousin-researcher Eugene Podraza pays his respects at the grave of Clara and Boyd Huston at Pleasant Valley Cemetery near Stanley, KS. 

We returned home with a five-inch thick stack of copies of important documents, plus some 200 digital photographs of farms, towns and old grave markers. Follow-up searching on Google Books identified that Sylvester Georgia, married to Laveria Minerd of Crawford County, was an old Civil War soldier who had served in an Iowa regiment. Sylvester is now the 107th known cousin or spouse to have served in the War Between the States -- a group of men we will honor at our 2011 national family reunion in Indian Head, PA. 

Once all of this material was synthesized, written and uploaded to Minerd.com, the search engine spiders of Google and Yahoo! began combing the site. This invaluable service will help drive traffic to just the right page when long-lost, curious cousins inevitably google a family name. One of the underlying themes that Minerd.com promotes to all cousins everywhere, regardless of where they live today, is that their ancient family roots are right here in Pittsburgh, PA.


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Copyright 2010 Mark A. Miner