Amanuensis Monday: We Are Off To The Races

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.

Map_Greene Township_Greene County_Pennsylvania. Caldwell Atlas. 1876. edited.zip

You can read the text of the deed below:

Continue reading

Brother John P. Minor

 

 

John Pierson Minor, (1852-1922),

Photograph by Thomas W. Rogers, 1888-1890. From the Minor Family Album, archives of the author.

Page fifteen of the Minor Family Album holds this photograph of a middle-aged man.  Shot sometime between 1888 and 1890, this portrait is yet one more mystery.  An 1874 family photograph, however, has a person that is eerily similar to this guy, and on that bit of evidence I advance the likely identification of John Pierson Minor.

John was born seventeen years before my great-grandfather, Robert, in 1852, to Marion and Mary Jane Guynn Minor, just outside the village of Garards Fort (Pennsylvania).  Folks in the surrounding hills admired and respected the stock driving, enterprising man for whom he was named–grandpa John Pierson Minor.  And by the time this photograph was taken, young John had established his own reputation as a cattle dealer and farmer.  What is most fascinating about this artifact is what is NOT there…his wife and baby.

John P. had married Elizabeth “Lizzie” Garard (1852-1922) in 1876 and the couple remained in the Minor corridor of Ceylon Road.  Nine years passed before a son, Ary L., was born.  Perhaps this photograph is just one of a series, and the portraits of Lizzie and Ary were not included in this collection.  Or maybe those faces await me in the final pages of the Minor Album…

Windows To My Past

Vintage photographs lead to vintage family.  Folks that shared an historical context and proximity, whose connections of love and sorrow shaped decisions that are even now rippling through my time.

I love looking at these eyes, windows to my past, staring back into my present.

Family Portrait taken by T W Rogers, Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, circa 1874.  Standing: Sarah, John P., Olfred Minor.  Seated: Mary Jane Gwynn and Francis Marion Minor.  Standing front: Robert Minor (b. 1869) Photo recovered from Minor Home Farm circa 1965

Family Portrait taken by T W Rogers, Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, circa 1874. Standing: Sarah, John P., Olfred Minor. Seated: Mary Jane Gwynn and Francis Marion Minor. Standing front: Robert Minor (b. 1869) Photo recovered from Minor Home Farm circa 1965

Thomas W Rogers of Carmichaels, Pennsylvania took this portrait of my great-grandfather’s birth family in the mid-1870s, when Robert Minor was about six years old.  The faces of his parents bear distinctive features, which I make use of as I sleuth through other photographs.

Like now, when we turn to pages eight and nine of the Minor Family Album.

page 8 blog

Marion Minor (1828-1913) His Roman nose was a strong facial feature. His right eyelid drooped noticeably.

 

page 9 blog

Mary Jane Gwynne Minor (1829-1908) Her most striking feature were her startingly light, and probably blue, eyes.

 

The photographs are mounted on heavy cardstock, with a metallic coating–silver or gold–on the beveled, scalloped edges, a product commonly used from 1880-the early 1890s. The two appear to be in their early sixties, suggesting a portrait sitting after 1888.  The puffy fullness at the shoulder of Mary Jane’s dress narrows the timeframe to between 1889-1892.

I imagine Mary Jane and Marion starting their day with the usual farm chores, milking cows, gathering egges, lighting the stove and fixing breakfast.  Instructions would be given to Robert and the farmhands for the rest of the day’s chores, before the couple changed into their best clothes.  A horse was hitched up to the buggy and they drove out onto the “red dog” surface, heading up the hill of Ceylon Road, past the homes of siblings and children, nieces and nephews, on their seven mile trip to Carmichaels.

What was the occasion for the photographs?  A sixtieth birthday acknowledged?  Their fortieth wedding anniversary celebrated?

Whatever prompted the impulse, I am grateful that the studio appointment was kept, and that I have these eyes gazing from my past.

The Adventures Of A Photo Sleuth: The Minor Family Album

Featured

Minor Photo Album Latch

The leather is cracking, and the gold flecking off of its pages. The images inside are time capsules.  Staring at their faces I search for some resemblance that reappears in my mother or my brothers or me or my children.  Someone on Ceylon Lane, Post Office Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, bought this richly tooled leather album in the late 1800s.  Its heavy card stock pages were cut precisely to hold 4½ by 6½ cabinet card photographs. She–and I only say she because it is this she who constructs family albums today–she did not do me the favor of identifying these people.  I just have clues in the photographers’ names and studio locations.  Hairstyles and jewelry, the cut of a bodice, the width of a lapel, all hint at a timeframe.  Then, like a sleuthhound, I pick up the scent, looking through all the shoots and roots and leaves of my family tree.  Because I do believe that these men, women and children are my family.

Continue reading

Church Record Sunday: Goshen Baptist Church 1843

“Church Record Sunday – describe a specific church record or a set of records held by a church or denomination and how they can assist genealogists. This is an ongoing series developed by Gena Philibert Ortega at Gena’s Genealogy.”

Trolling through the records of Greene County, Pennsylvania, I came across a transcription of the Goshen (John Corbly) Baptist Church minutes, 1773-1857, in which appear the names of several Minor ancestors.

Abia Minor and his wife, Margaret Pearson, became members shortly after bringing their young family to the wilds of southwestern Pennsylvania.

3/30/1798

Met at Thomas Wrights and after singing and prayer proceeded to business. When Abia and Margaret Minor were received by a letter of dismission from Highestown, New Jersey.

John Pearson Minor (1791-1874), their eldest son, remained in the vicinity of Big Whiteley Creek and, as noted by local historian, William Hanna, in the 1888 History of Greene County,  was among the prominent members of this congregation, “fervent in spirit” and”diligent in business, being extensively engaged in droving, and one of the active participants in the affairs of the Farmers and Drovers Bank of Waynesburg.”

This religiosity and business acumen would account for the inclusion of this handcut and bound booklet among the documents of the Minor Satchel.

A Copy

We the undersigned do agree to pay the sum assigned to our names.  To John Long, Corbly Garard, jonathan Garard, JP Minor, Vinson Long, Jeremiah Stewart and Abner Morris.  A building committee for the benevolent purpose of building a meeting-house for the regular baptist church on big Whiteley, called Goshen.  To be built of brick 43 feet by 55 feet, one story 14 feet high.  To be built at or near the place where the old house now stands.  The money subscribed to be paid, one half when the house is covered, and the balance when the house is completed.  For the faithful performance of the above we here unto set our names and sum.  This 12 day of December 1842. 

The names and sums pledged are then duly recorded: you can review the entire document at flickr.com. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/31479748@N03/sets/72157629979227291/)

The addendum to this 1843 record states indicates that this brick building was completed by February of 1844:

Settled up all borrowed money and A Minor is to lift a note in the xxxxxxx for $220 and give up to John P. Minor xxxx.  my hand this 19th day of February 1844.

 

Goshen Baptist Church was renamed John Corbly Baptist Church