The branch of the Minor family from which I spring left New Jersey in the late 1790s and settled along Big Whitely Creek, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Abia and Margaret (Pearson) did not homestead in isolation, and may well have lived within the fortified structures that uncles John and William Minor had built in the area. By 1803, Abia and Margaret aspired to their own farm along the waters of Big Whitely, and on 2 February Uncle William Minor and his wife, Hannah, conveyed title to 150 acres of “Race Ground”, for the sum of $1,700 “of lawful money of the United States”. The oak studded hills had been conveyed or patented to William from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1789. In 1803 the creek-side land became the childhood home of my patriarch–John Pearson (Pierson) Minor.
On this anniversary of Robert Minor’s death, I am seeking cousin-ly review. Robert is shown here in front of his home on Ceylon Lane. With confidence I can identify his wife, May, and his two children, Helen and Donald. But who are the rest of the folks? What say you, descendants of John P. and Isabella Minor?
Minor Family Group Shot circa 1915. Back row (l-r): unknown, Robert Minor, May Minor, unknown. Middle: unknown. Front row: Helen Minor, Donald Minor, unknown, unknown.
For reasons that defy human comprehension, my dog adores snow in the face. Here he waits patiently for me to put the camera away, and pick up the shovel stashed nearby. The crazy boy will hold the pose while I scoop a mound of flakes, then hurl himself into the freshly tossed crystals, fur flying behind his air-borne torso.
Back in the day, when I was several years younger, my weekends were book-ended by sports and church. In between these equally sacred southern traditions, I gathered with youth group buddies, in living rooms and back porches. We called ourselves the Sonrise Singers, and our tireless devotion to guitar strings and vocal harmonies led us into nursing homes and church sanctuaries where we shared our zany sense of the spiritual. We were one in the spirit.
My camera is three and a half pounds of image-capturing magic. Mary Jane Minor’s mouth would round in wonder at its 1295 frames. My great-great-grandma and I are alike in this regard–we collect faces, without identifying the occasion or relation or special qualities that make those eyes so admired, so treasured. Nonetheless, the portraits, now and then, are at an edge, where private lives meet public spaces, revealing a good bit about who we are, what technologies shape our present, what kinds of people add value to our days.
I can confidently put names to only a few faces. So what? This Victorian album is evidence of the sweeping movements of people and machines that transformed my ancestors’ communities in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. More than faces, these portraits are portals to history.