The Minor Family Album: Continuing The Search for Mr. Chin Whisker’s Identity

Mr. Chin WhiskersMy last post contained a LOT of information about the face that greets me when I open the Minor Family Album.  Mr. Chin Whiskers was originally thought to be our family patriarch, John Pearson (Pierson) Minor, but that hypothesis was thrown out when a cousin shared copy of a labeled tintype of John P. Minor.  My image and his image were NOT of the same person.  Continuing my search within the Minor family tree, I compared my image to another image of a known Minor, Samuel Minor, who was John P’s brother.  These two images were not of the same person.  I left the post dangling the idea that perhaps my image is of a third brother, Asa.

Is this bearded man Asa Minor?

Among my family artifacts are documents and letters found in an old leather satchel, retrieved from the Minor Home Farm long ago by my mother.  Included in this treasure trove are letters from Asa Minor to his brother, John P.  (You can read more about this exchange here.) These papers establish that the brothers kept in touch, and presumably John’s children would have known of their uncle.

The 1860 US Federal Mortality Schedule tells us that Asa died in January of that year, succumbing to consumption from which he had suffered for nine months.  His wife continued to live on the farm in Deerfield Township, Warren County, Ohio.

So, Asa kept in touch with John.  Asa was alive in the 1850s when everybody with a bit of money could get a photograph made.

That is all we really know.

Could this photograph be Asa?  If I can confirm that the TW Rogers took a photo of a photo and if I can confirm that the man’s clothing is typical of the late 1850s, then I could feel a wee bit of confidence in that identification hypothesis.

For now…

I turn to the blogosphere, to photo detectives, to descendants of Asa Minor–what do YOU think?

  • What timeframe does the jacket, vest and beard suggest to you?
  • Are there other copies of this photograph out there, LABELED?
  • Are there other photographs of Asa out there?

Of course there are other possibilities…

What if this is a member of Mary Jane Gwynne’s family?  I don’t have much research to document her family, other than her father, Alfred, died in 1835.  And until I can narrow down the timeframe for the photograph, original or copied, then I can’t really narrow down which male family members this might be!!

And so I conclude this post as mystified as I began.  The whiskered man begs to tell a story.  For now, the story will have to remain untold.

Mr. Chin Whiskers





And You Thought OUR Roads Were Bad: 1918 Christmas Roadtrip

Chasing family tales is what gets all genealogists hooked, and when we get help from previously unknown circles, it feels like Christmas.  To receive such collaboration AT Christmastime is just too wonderful for words. I want to thank cousin, Linda Bell, for her  holiday energy and sharing.  Family lore has become another GREAT family story. 

Minor Home, Orlando, FloridaEvery once in a while as I was growing up, Minor family reunions would include some reminiscing, and tantalizing bits of information would drift about. Like…Robert and May Laura Minor, my great-grandparents,  had a home in Florida. Sometime. Somewhere. For some reason. Years passed. THEN came an email exchange between genea-cousins, which connected my memories and photos with her memories and documents, and whoosh!! we have a Christmas STORY!


The Minor Farm on Ceylon Lane, Greene County, PennsylvaniaIt is December 23, in southwestern Pennsylvania, 1918.  Two years have passed since President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Aid Road Act, the first comprehensive commitment to the establishment of a nationwide highway system.  America has entered the age of the automobile, BUT would-be travelers have no AAA to call, no to click, no system of vacation organization whatever.  America has 2.5 million miles of public roads,  but only 11% are paved.  Let’s go on a Christmas roadtrip!  To Florida! By auto! SAY WHAT?


And Robert and May, Donald (16), Helen (24) and Alonzo Bell,  were headed out, off the farm! Onward to Florida! But first to cross the Monongahela River! As told by Helen Minor Bell, my great-grandaunt, the trek proved to be eventful.

Minor Automobile with Helen at the wheel

On Dec. 23rd 1918, Father, mother, brother, my husband and myself left the farm for Florida by auto.  On reaching Carmichaels, we learned we could not cross the river at Crucible as the river was so high, but they were still crossing at Masontown so went back to Masontown and crossed that was we did not strike a good road until we almost to Uniontown.  

The first day we only got as far as Flintstone Md. A very small hotel and no conveniences whatever.  Sec. day ate dinner at HamiltonHotel, Hagerstown, Md, stayed that night at Berkley Hotel Martinsburg, W. Va.  Christmas Dinner Edinburgh Hotel at Edinburgh Va. and stayed at Beverly Hotel at Staunton Va.  Here we saw Pres. Wilson’s birth-place, also the Staunton Military Academy.  There, next day after Xmas had dinner at Natural Bridge Hotel, Natural B Va.  Here the natural bridge was one of the wonders of the world.  

The drive this after noon from Natural Bridge to Lynchburg was the most dangerous and very risky trip in any afternoon.  Part of the way we followed a road just wide enough for the car along an old canal, finally we came to a place which seemed to us we were driving up to some ones barn yard, we thought this as far as the road went, but asked the woman and she said you’re on the right road go straight ahead.  We drove on up around the barn among the cows and up a steep hill which looked like nothing more than a rocky trail this we kept up all afternoon crossing one ridge after another of the Blue Ridge Mts.  Just one steady pull and only wide enough for the car, down below hundreds of feet was the James river and not more than a foot away from the edge at any time.  When we had crossed several ridges we came to a creek which we had to ford and right in the middle of it the car stopped and we were there for at least 3/4 of an hr before we got the car started, then when the car started we were wedged in between two rocks and could not go forward or backwards.  

This wonderful account ends abruptly, but it is enough to get my heart racing.   I have wandered among the Blue Ridge back roads, which even today are not much more than a car and half wide.  I can easily imagine the cliff-hugging view.  I suppose once they got through that creek they figured they could do anything, and managed on, day after day, until they crossed the state line into Florida.

Which they did reach.  So wonderful was the destination, that Robert purchased a home. In Orlando. And yet another family story begins.

Minor Orlando HomeMinor Home, Orlando, FloridaMake sure you check out this google map of the 1918 Christmas Roadtrip.

I’m a Big Boy: Donald Corbly Minor circa 1905


Donald Minor, putting his best foot forward for photographer T.W. Rogers of Carmichaels, Pennsylvania

Donald Minor, putting his best foot forward for photographer T.W. Rogers of Carmichaels, Pennsylvania

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. 

Follow Up Friday: Even Ancestors Had Their Senior Moments

A couple of weeks ago I posted a bit of my family’s story, which explored the  life of John Pearson Minor between the time he was a child of the Western Pennsylvania frontier and the time he became Pearson Minor, husband, father and Garard’s Fort community leader.  In particular I wanted to know more about this ancestor’s military service during the War of 1812.  Among the Minor documents in my possession is the 1871 Pension notification for Pearson, a corporal in Captain Seeley’s regiment.  My request for a copy of this pension file was quickly filled by the folks at the National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Honestly, I had hoped for a few details that could fill out the sketchy family lore, and I wasn’t disappointed.  As I pored over the contents, I sighed with delight; then I sucked in my breath and held it for as long as it took to read this genea-bomb.

War of 1812


to be executed before Judge or Clerk of Court


State of Pennsylvania

County of Greene

On this twenty sixth day of June , AD one thousand eight hundred and seventy one, personally appeared before me, H. H. Lindsey, Clerk of the Court of Common Please, a Court of Record within and for the county and State aforesaid, Pearson Minor aged seventy nine years, a resident of Greene Township , County of Greene State of Pennsylvania, who, being duly sworn according to law, declares that he is married; that his wife’s name was Isabella McClelland, to whom he was married at Greene Township, Greene Co. PA , on the 25 day of September, 1813. . . . . . . . .


Shaking my head, I read this statement again.  And again.

I have spent little time pondering John Pearson’s married life; the details have just been very hard to obtain.  I rolled along, telling the story of his life with the information others had gathered before me, including the family register held at the Thomas Minor Society and family trees from  All of these sources listed two wives for John Pearson, one Hannah McClelland who died in 1817 shortly after the birth of the second son, Robert, and an Isabella McClelland, whom he married in 1817 and with whom he had nine children. This 1871 document, completed with the sworn testimony of the John Pearson Minor, left me doubting my assumptions, and the sources I have trusted for the past three years.


The woman who is known in my family documents as Isabella McClelland Minor is often listed in family trees and registers as Huldah Isabella McClelland Minor.  I have no primary source to offer an explanation for the first name.  With this new genea-bomb I have had to wonder if  Huldah was Hannah, poorly transcribed, making Hannah and Isabella McClelland but one person.  But how did folks ever think that John Pearson had two wives?  What records might exist to put this to rest once and for all?  And if there were two McClelland girls who married John Pearson Minor, how were they related?

I started my triangulation of the truth with a pretty thorough, and fruitless, search for primary source documentation on the family trees and registers that I have gathered. I then returned to the documents within my possession, with greater success.


I assembled all the original and photocopied primary sources within my possession that contained the surname McClelland.  This collection included:

  •  An 1823 deed conveying title from Robert McClelland and wife, Isabella, to John P. Minor for a piece of the land patented to Robert McClelland in 1793 and 1794 from Stephen Davis.  This document provides a hint that Isabella was a family name.
  • An announcement from the Orphans Court of Greene County that all stakeholders in the estate of Robert McClelland, deceased, should appear in June 1834.
  • An undated document indicating that John Pearson had purchased the remainder of the McClelland Farm and needed to straighten out how payment was to be finalized.
  • An 1835 deed conveying title from Cephas McClelland to John Pearson for land patented to Robert McClelland from Stephen Davis in 1793 and 1794.  This deed established that Robert was the father of Cephas, and, with the phrase “the land is defended from all claims except those from Abia and Robert Minor, and (John Pearson’s) present wife”, indicated that Cephas and Isabella were brother and sister, and sibling to the mother of Abia and Robert.
  • An 1855 deed in which John and Isabella Minor conveyed title to land in Harrison County, (West) Virginia to the two oldest children, Abia and Robert; and for which payment was to include land,in lieu of cash, in Greene County, Pennsylvania that the boys had inherited from Robert McClelland.
  • Abia Minor, son of John Pearson Minor, married Harriet Ballard in 1855 after his first wife, Elizabeth Thompson, died in 1853.  This Harrison County, West Virginia marriage record states that Abia’s father was John P. and his mother was Hannah.
  • Francis Marion, oldest son of John Pearson and Isabella Minor, and Mary Jane Gwynne Minor’s family bible bears this inscription:  Isabella McClelland, second wife of John P. Minor,  was born on the thirtieth day of September 1792.
  • A recent Glade Cemetery index, Carmicheals, Pennsylvania,submitted online by the D.A.R. Chapter of Greene County, includes the inscription for one Hannah Minor, first wife of John P, who died at age twenty two, 28 April 1817.
  •  Howard Leckey’s highly regarded history of Greene County pioneer families, Ten Mile Country and its Pioneer Families,  lists Cephas and Isabella as the children of Robert McClelland and wife unknown.


By pulling threads from all of these sources, I can weave today the following conclusion:  John Pearson Minor was married on September 25, 1813 to Hannah McClelland, who bore two sons – Abia and Robert – before dying on April 28, 1817.  John Pearson Minor then married Hannah’s sister, Isabella McClelland in the fall of 1817.  The couple had another nine children, together.

It would seem then that seventy-nine year old John Pearson Minor was a bit fuzzy with his family history on that summer day in 1871, evidence that even ancestors had senior moments.


As is often the case, genea-sleuthing leads family historians to unexpected places.  As I gathered evidence for the existence and identity of two wives, I also wove a record of John Pearson and Isabella Minor purchasing the McClelland Farm bit by bit over the course of their lives, from Robert; his son, Cephas; and his grandsons, Abia and Robert.  Or looked at from another perspective, Isabella McClelland Minor bought her homeplace from her father, her brother and her nephews.

As it turns out the adjacent farm belonged to Jacob Myers, and John Pearson Minor purchased that farm in 1828, refurbishing the solid brick home for his family in 1831.  Their eleven children grew up running through the hills of Isabella’s childhood. The McClelland Farm was given to Pearson and Isabella’s youngest son, Samuel.  And that brick house on the Myers Farm – that was the same home in which John Pearson resided as a widower; the same home in which Francis and Mary Jane raised their family; and their son, Robert, raised his Helen and Donald; and the same brick home in which Donald raised my mom and her siblings.

.. . . . . his wife’s name was Isabella McClelland, to whom he was married at Greene Township, Greene Co. PA , on the 25 day of September, 1813. . . . 

How grateful I am for John Pearson’s senior moment!


Follow Up Friday: how did these little piggies get to market?

WRITE ON!  The Family History Writing Challenge has given me permission to write and write and write, even if only a few dozen words a day.  Last week I had woven research and lore into a story exploring John Pearson Minor’s service record during the War of 1812.  This week I explored the contents of a ledger book found among the Minor Satchel.

November  1826

Hogs bought by Lot Lantz for the use of the Drove

wherein Lantz and Minor are in Co are as follows:

I fell into the rabbit hole of 1820s, a decade in which John Pearson and Isabella Minor added five children to their brood of three, and John Pearson began to make a name for himself as a livestock drover.  Below those words John P. had recorded transactions, creating a table, detailing the number of hogs purchased from each farmer and the cash paid.


John Hartley 13.50
6 Ausken Lucias 22.00
3 John Witherholt 13.00
7 Frum Smith 24.00
4 David Scott 17.00
7 Jonathan Morris 26.00
5 Ezekial Calvert 18.25
8 David Taylor 43.50
6 John Herod 23.00
12 John Keenen 50.00
4 Barnet Taylor 13.25
4 Zachariah Gaffen 12.00
10 Enoch South 33.00
5 Jacob Hall 18.50
6 Jonathan Garard 18.50
2 Benjamen South 7.00
10 Robert Keenen 34.50
16 John Moris 64.00
18 Abner Moris 72.00
2 George Moris Jr 8.00
10 George Moris 36.25
10 Otho M Minor 35.00
13 Disaway South  43.00
3 David Keenen 8.50
9 George Garreon 34.00
2 Benjamin Linton 6.75
5 Harry Hittibrand 15.00
3 Alexander Hanon 11.38
2 David Roberts 6.64
6 Henary Hothbrane 19.23
2 John Millburn 7.29
4 Gideon Long 15.00
2 Christian Cowd 5.50
6 Edeobn Hall 20.65
2 Stephen Baley 7.56
6 Eli Gappen 23.19
5 James Williamson 17.25
6 Joseph Vance 25.46
23 John Wright 74.16
74 Lot Lantz 312
24 Corbly Garard 78.75
5 John Myers 15.50
7 William Tribby 22.00
Total hogs purchased Total cash paid out
371 1,379.18

Cash advanced at Rudy Harris near Mobturine                  70.00

Cash to pay hands at Baltimore                                                                52.75

Cash paid stoneing for four stock hogs and left in the drove  7.00

16 bushels of corn                                                                            4.00

paid hand to expence over Duncan                                          1.50

cash to Hugh Munde                                                                      1.25

Amount of advancements made by John P Minor taken off

of his Book                                                                                          1,390.60

Cash on hand                                    $55

Lot Lantz for cash                            15

J P Minor for cash                             5.75                                       75.75    

Drove at Market cost the above sum                                      $2820.54

Hmmm…So John Pearson Minor and Lot Lantz were business partners and livestock drovers.  In late autumn in 1826 they gathered up 371 hogs, purchased from 43 neighbors and farmers from  Greene County Pennsylvania, and herded the lot to market in Baltimore. Wait a minute.

How does one HERD 371 hogs to market? 

With an image of 371 hogs, grunting and rooting and squealing down a narrow dirt road, I began  my follow up work of the week.

Southwestern Pennsylvania’s culture and economic matrix resembled that found in the Ohio frontier and in the mountains and valleys of the Allegheny- Appalachian Mountains.  In fact, many original settlers  of Greene County  made their way from those Virginia counties, and many families had members who migrated on into the eastern counties of Ohio.  Just as the genealogical branches crisscrossed the region, so too did the business paths.

John Pearson Minor took his 371 hogs from Greene Township, Pennsylvania south, to Baltimore, Maryland in late autumn, the customary season for droving.  Looking at John Melish’s 1826 map of Pennsylvania, it is easy to imagine that Minor and Lantz rounded up the animals near Greensburg and proceeded north before crossing the Monongahela and continuing east to Union, Fayette County.  At 8-15 miles a day, the drove would have found itself traveling south on the National Road in about three days.  In all likelihood, Lot Lantz and John P. Minor traveled on horseback and hired “pike boys” to walk beside the hogs, whips in hand;  each set of hands traveled a day or two on down the road before leaving the drove and heading back home, replaced by a new set of boys.  Each night the drovers, drove hands and hogs would stop at a drove stand, run by a local farmer or entrepreneur, where the collection of animals and men would find pens and forage, and food and lodging.  Minor and Lantz were not alone with their swine; at the peak of droving season there was a continuous stream of hogs and cattle sharing the 22 foot road with wagons and coaches traveling both east to Baltimore and west to Ohio.

October 11, 1825

The month long trip to Baltimore was difficult; weather was a constant concern.  The National Road from Union to Cumberland was built to the high European standards of the day, with a macadam surface that promoted proper drainage and stood up to the constant travel of animals, wagons and coaches.  This pike also had more bridges than other drover routes, making river crossings less hazardous. The trail was at times steep and treacherous. In addition, the drovers had to remain vigilant for signs of lameness, weight loss and illness among their stock.  At Cumberland, John Pearson and Lot Lantz may have put the hogs on a ship and sailed down to Baltimore, or continued along the main road, the Maryland-run pike.  In Baltimore, Minor and Lantz would have sold their “hog on hoof” at a profit, and then headed home, by the same route, collecting lame animals that had been left behind the drove and paying the drove stand owners for services previously rendered.

And that’s how those little piggies got to market!

I am grateful to these online sources:

Dunaway, Wilma. A.  The First American frontier: transition to capitalism in southern Appalachia.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2003. accessed February 15, 2012 through google books.

Hurt, R. Douglas.  The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830. Indiana University Press: Bloomington. 1998. Print. pp. 222-225. accessed February 15, 2012 through google books.

Road through the Wilderness, the Making of the National Road.  Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. accessed February 16, 2012.