Donald was the youngest of the youngest, born in 1902 to a family of Minors that spread through the hills of Greene County, Pennsylvania. The dark-haired toddler had a teenage sister, Helen, and cousins all busy with their high school work or farm chores or wedding plans. His father, Robert, was the youngest by ten years, and his elder siblings, John Pierson, Olfred and Sarah, all had nearly grown children by the time Donald came along. Baby of the baby of the family, Don was a cherished, doted upon child.
In 1861, Vincent Guynn (Gwynn) and wife Hannah set out from Greene County, Pennsylvania with their first born son to land in Illinois; and eventually emigrated on to Henry County, Missouri, where the growing family settled on farmland in Bear Creek Township in 1867. The couple had seven children: Reuben Alfred, b. 1861; Melissa Jane “Jennie” Sagesser, b. 1862; Annie E. Walker, b. 1865; Priscilla Valinda (Linnie) Williams, b. 1868; John Vincent, b. 1869; Mae (May), b. 1873; and Richard Noble, b. 1877.
My gggrandmother, Mary Jane Gwynn Minor, stayed in touch with this brother’s family, and received a set of photographs of the Missouri kin sometime between 1897 and 1901. What remains in the family possession are these three portraits, sent by an unknown niece or nephew.
Reuben was a successful business man in Montrose, Missouri, owning a drugstore with his brother, Richard, before turning to banking. He was also a prosperous farmer.
John died at the early age of 31, in 1901.
May died in 1897.
Have you ever wondered if anybody ever reads what you have so passionately researched and diligently recorded? Just as I despair that my family storytelling has NO audience, I got a comment, followed by a description, followed by an email with PHOTOGRAPHS. This post was originally published two years ago, and today, because of curious reader, I have additional descriptions of land purchased 170 years ago by John Pearson Minor.
Drawn on thin paper discolored to a light blue, the survey map described a distinct parcel of land with corners marked by Black Oak, Water Beech, Limestones, fence posts, stakes, and Hickories. Lines connected the corners and were labeled with surveying code–S37 W 151/2 poles and the like. Unnamed squiggly lines posed as small streams crossing the land, emptying into an unnamed creek boundary. Lines cut the map into pieces; within one rectangle was the name A. Minor, within another the name R. Minor. The outside bore a cryptic “plot of Virginia land 575.”
Five hundred and seventy-five was the amount of land that John P. Minor purchased from James P. Wilson in 1841 and 1842. As I reread those deeds I traced my finger along the lines of this map, and with great excitement realized that I did indeed have a map which depicted the Minor land acquisition of 1841 and 1842 in Harrison County, (West) Virginia!
With that confirmed I could with great certainty know that the bigger stream indicated Simpson’s Creek, and the smaller streams were Limestone Run and Stout’s Run. However, I still didn’t know when this map was created or where this parcel of land was on a current map.
unto the said Abia and Robert Minor their heirs and assigns for ever all that tract or parcel of land situate lying and being in the county of Harrison in the state of Virginia and bounded as follows
The 1849 document transferring a piece of this property to Abia and Robert Minor was never executed. It was as if the boys had given John P. some reason to pause before deeding title. BUT the document gives a surveyor’s description of the considered transaction, and that plot is only the piece labeled R. Minor in this map–a clue that this map was created sometime AFTER 1849. Other documents related to this land include John P. Minor deeding the tract of land labeled here A. Minor to Abia Minor in 1854. Therefore, I conclude that my surveyor’s map was created sometime between the years 1849 and 1854.
The when of the map was closer to being settled at this point, however I was left no closer to understanding where these 575 acres were located. For that I consulted the Federal Census data hoping to track the residences of the young men. My hunch was rewarded with an interesting trail.1840 Abia has a child and wife in Greene County, PA Robert is not listed anywhere 1850 Can’t find either Abia or Robert 1860 Abia is in Moultrie County,Illinois Robert is in Harrison County, Virginia 1870 Abia is in Moultrie County, Illinois Robert is in Harrison County, West Virginia 1880 Abia is in Harper County, Kansas Robert is in Harrison County, West Virginia
If Robert was on that land so long then searching for a map of that 1860-1880 era might yield some clues.
At Historic Map Works I did indeed find such a map–An Atlas of West Virginia, published by D. J. Lake and Company in 1886. This map labeled not just towns and streams, but homes and businesses. I found Robert Minor’s name by a square that sat on a small stream, presumably Stout’s Run, that emptied into Simpson’s Creek north of Bridgeport. Limestone Run had been renamed Barnet’s Run by 1886. With these facts I could look at a Google map with new eyes and locate the ‘Plot Virginia Land 575′.
A mystery is solved, and leaves me with mixed emotions. Now I know where my ancestor once walked; where, finding coal and water and good land for farming, John P. Minor expected to give his sons a great leg up in life.
Phillip Wilson stopped by my blog, and read through this post, recognizing immediately that he grew up on Robert Minor’s farm. His parents, Robert and Helen Wilson, purchased the land in 1962. Their home, built around 1940, sat close to the “cellar house”, the basement of the original home. Phillip played for hours down by the creek while his mother kept a watchful eye from the patio, til they paved paradise and put up an exit ramp.
**With sixteen passes of the Flip Pal I had successfully scanned the map before me and stitched it together into a seamless jpeg file with the built in Stitch Tool. Flip Pal. LOVE. IT. Check it out here.
This is the way we iron our clothes
Iron our clothes, iron our clothes.
This is the way we iron our clothes,
So early Tuesday morning.
This postcard was found among my grandfather’s collection and is hand postmarked 1907. Five year old Donald C. Minor received this note from his teenage cousin, Flossie McClure.
The J.I Austen Company of Chicago was but one entity capitalizing on the popularity of Bertha L. Corbett’s “Sunbonnet Babies”. An accomplished illustrator, Miss Corbett had first drawn the babies, faces hidden, to demonstrate to peers that plenty of expression could be conveyed by a figure alone. Leaving the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts, Bertha Corbett studied under the great illustrator, Howard Pyle, at the Drexel Academy in Philadelphia. While perfecting her drawings of children, she was approached by Eulalie Oswood Grover to illustrate her popular primers for children, and in 1902 the Sunbonnet Babies Primer was published to great acclaim. Soon Bertha Corbett’s babies were being sought by commercial entities to sell all sorts of products. The images were also used on postcards and quilt patterns as well.
This card is signed by the artist on the far right.
1. Radner, Joan Newlon. Feminist Messages: Coding in Women’s Folk Culture. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1993. 99-100. Google EBooks. Web. May 2, 2012.
2. Woman’s Who’s Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women, 1914-1915. Ed. John W. Leonard. New York: American Commonwealth, 1915. 554. Google EBooks. Web. 2 May 2012.
3. Buckley, James M., ed. “The Mother of the Sun-bonnet Babies.” The Christian Advocate 82 (1907): 1582-583. Google Ebooks. Web. 2 May 2012.
Sheets of rain draped my house as I set about sorting a stack of old books. The family treasures frequently double as time capsules, their margin scribbles hinting at ancestors’ personalities and thoughts. Every so often a careful gleaning reveals tucked newspaper clippings, forgotten photographs and hidden notes. A Spanish American Life, my mother’s college reader, rewarded my page flipping with a postcard!
My grandfather, Donald Minor, mailed this note in mid-May, 1951, to arrange for my mother’s return from Houghton College at month’s end. The family schedule sounds remarkably similar to plans I made with my own college kids. And his observations of the weather could have been made on just this day:
“My how it rains — We don’t have thing in the garden and no corn ground plowed.”