Resembling the Past

I have stared at the last half of the Minor Family Album for a month now, confounded by more than one photograph.  None are annotated with given names, or family names, or even a hint of a date.  I look at the next cabinet card with a hand lens. I scan it into my hard drive, enhance the clarity and then look again, with the computer as hand lens.  The paper photo drops crumbs of information, which I collect and line up, willing a trail to appear.

tw rogers trademark back 1870 est

The photograph was produced by Thomas W. Rogers of Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, on ivory colored cardstock with rounded corners, and the simple, red-ink trademark on the back.  The photograph, whether original or a copy, was made most likely between the late 1860s and early 1870s, early in TW Rogers photographic career.

Mr. Clean-shaven is between 50-65 years old, with thick wavy hair worn in a conservative above-the-collar fashion.  The white mane sweeps from right to left above his bushy salt-and-pepper eyebrows. Puffy half-moons beneath  light-colored eyes cushion his intensity; this is a busy man with little patience for sleep.  The gaze, the wavy hair, the Roman nose, the bushy brow…features shared with other Minor family members.

My wavy-haired gentleman is wearing a starched white shirt, with a heavily starched, detachable collar. He has tied a black silk cravat into a flat bow tie at his throat.  Over this he wears a black, collarless, single-breasted vest, trimmed in braid fashionable in the late 1860s. All of the buttons are fastened, without any evidence of a watchchain. The double-breasted sack coat is also made of black wool and trimmed in braid.  The buttons and button holes go very high into the lapel, which is notched quite deeply, the lower portion much wider than the upper portion at the neck.  The fit is quite generous, particularly at the sleeves, which sit on the shoulder, a style worn in the late 1860s-early 1870s.

Crumbs…crumbs…leading me to a tentative set of conclusions. Maybe, just maybe, this is a photograph of my great-great-grandfather’s brother.  Abia (a-BYE-ya) Minor was born in 1815, and would have been about 55 at the time this photograph was taken between 1866-1873.  Like this man, Abia was a no-nonsense kind of guy, a progressive farmer first in West Virginia, then Illinois, then Kansas.  Big brother Minor had uncommon business sense, getting farm equipment patented and establishing a strong reputation as a cattle dealer.  Abia would have been the kind of man to take time to arrange a portrait, in his good suit, and share it with his far-flung family.

I gaze at these eyes as I type, and see myself, my intensity, staring back. I wonder…are there others of you who resemble this past?

Abia Minor, cabinet card 1866-1873

 

 

 

Mapping My Ancestors: An Update to the Wilson-Minor Transactions

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!

Five Hundred Seventy-five Acres along Simpsons Creek

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′.

Limestone Run was renamed Barnet’s Run by 1886, and the farms were covered by interstate and malls by 1986.

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. 

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

**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.

Are You My Cousin? : The Legacy of Migrating Minors

How many of us stand on the hopes and dreams of the pioneering Minors?  With yesterday’s publishing of the 1872 letter between brothers Samuel and John, I am reasonably certain that I have many unmet cousins in the Midlands and West Coast states of America.

Collating the data from the letter, a Thomas Minor Society register, and Federal and state census reports from 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880, I can track one piece of the Minor Migration.

Somewhere, out there, beneath the waning gibbous moon, I have cousins in Iowa, Illinois and Oregon.  If you are one of the migrated Minors, I hope you will leave a message, continuing the conversation begun almost 140 years ago between brothers Samuel and John.

“Write soon.”

An 1860s letter from Abia Minor to his father, John P. Minor: Amanuensis Monday

ABIA MINOR was a resident of Moultrie County, Illinois when he wrote this letter to his father, my great-great-grandfather, JOHN PEARSON MINOR of Greene County, Pennsylvania.

It is an undated description of the winter weather–I have yet 160 rods along my fence that was 30 feet wide and was between four and five feet deep(with snow) but it has settled down to about 3 feet–and reports about his children’s plans.  His eldest boy, John, is of age (b. 1839?) and wants to be doing for himself talks of going away this spring.  

Abia talks about his farming plans and how he want(s) to put a corn crop for I think we will raise good crops next year and I am trying to make some more fence so I can keep some stock without so mutch (sic) trouble in winter; before discussing arrangements for the mailing of daughter Isabel’s saddle and some much coveted flannel for himself.  You said you would send her saddle and some flannel for me a warmth that would be quite a present to me for sutch (sic) flannel is hard to get here and if you send it box them in a light box and send them from any point on the railroad or if any one was comeing out you could put them in a trunk and they can bring them through for nothing.  But, he continues, if his father wants to send them by railroad direct them to

Abia Minor

Mattoon

Coles County, Illinois 

and take a receipt from the station agent for them and send it to me by mail.  

Abia then requests his mothers likeness which you can have taken and send it in a letter and Isabel says you have yours taken on horseback I wish you would send me a copy of it it can be taken on paper or leather and sent in a letter.  

Abia Minor closes his letter with salutations to his brothers and sisters, a plea for letters from them and a pledge to answer back.

I remain yours Truly     Abia Minor

Forever Young–a letter to Abia Minor, 1837: Amanuensis Monday

The four by three inch paper appeared to be just one more scrap of Minor business.  Unfolded, the 1837 ink revealed a delightful conversation  between one Phineas R—- and my great-great grandfather’s eldest brother, twenty-two year old Abia Minor. *

Eaton Ohio, June 12th 1837

Respected Sir

I received your letters dated as afforesaid. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction. By golly I want if possible to give you a dis?nphon of the past and present times. For Instance….I am now setting here at a great Large Desk with my Noggin pretty darned well tumbled up, I tell you about matters and things.  But says i, heres what ear stands it. I now stick my penn in the ink stand, lean back in my chair, touch back my hair and study something, that I think will be pretty darned good to you. I suppose you want the truth, do ya? AYE (but I’m not so shure that you get it)

As I walked out the udder evening I went through a tolerable thick spatch of bushes and hiked my self up on a darned big stump and was setting there a studdying about old times   Behold, the first thing I new my pockets troused over and all were full of these helish big piss ants a going there dep?h, by Golly. So I began to jump Gim Crow, thats a considerable of a fact(there is a great many pis ants this year) Well now, what next my something I have no doubt.  Girls is plenty and Gentlemen is plenty . ——-is plenty. Candles scarce. Consider some are beautiful.  Some is ugly, some is large of mere size, some small but the most pretty best of all.

 But although some of mine has got the Fidgets their like a real old hip and go, constant mare.  But I think if you had put a Little stirrups of Spirtentine in your Horses (ass) and a little in yours you would both rode off in a tolerable fast canter. You would both fell big like Martin Van devil our most Honerable and not verry well respected President at this time (he’s going the hole hog, by Golly) with a Tump___hop___step___& fall.

Both you and Benjamin Evans must quit this practice of going a courting until you have some notion of marrying.

 Boys, how fast can you run.  The young men of this place is celibrated for running.  We can run a 1/4 mile in 55 seconds and repeat, that a considerable of a fact. Don’t doubt for pity sake.  This is one evenings employment I’ll try it —- tomorrow.

This is 13th day of June I will try to give a few more whats on Politicks. Lerigion Ave or the free Masons on the 24 of June walks at Richmond Ia (Iowa?) all thats in the state, I suppose. They will have a great time. I wish you was here, by Devil. I think that we would have lots of fun.  Oh, I’ll  tell you we have thespians in this town.  Such performing you never in your life. Some will come on the stage half scared to depth while others is fiercing for it.  I don’t .  Now anything else at present to write till I git an answer from you. You must write wright off. You told me to scratch of a letter some how. I think that I have —–well.  Oh. I want you to something about Mr. Van Buren, Good or Bad whither you are opposed to him or not. For my part I think they are a —?– to the middle regimes of Damnation.

With these words I remain yours   Phineas R p——–

_________________________________________________________________

* I left the spellings as I found them, but I have introduced current standard punctuation.  Otherwise the letter would have been two very long sentences.  Ha!