Surname Saturday: The Minors

This Saturday’s sun tempted me outside, but the freezing temperatures chased me back indoors after a quick filling of bird feeders.  I couldn’t let this gorgeous light go to waste, however. With the bright light filtering through my windows I placed my family heirloom on the dining room table and set my camera to capture these images.

The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments translated out of the Original Tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised, New York: American Bible Society, 1846.


Francis Marion Minor signed this Bible on the inside cover,”FM Minor, February the third, 1861.” The Bible was an 1846 copy of the American Bible Society’s translation of both Old and New Testaments, which served as both holy book and family record, as was the custom of the time.  Between the Old and the New Testament, on yellowed  pages, are entries made in a tidy, tiny hand.  The document begins with the marriage of Francis and Mary Jane:

  • Francis Marion Minor and Mary Jane Gwynn were married on the fourth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred fifty one.

A page of family births follows, and includes the dates for Francis’ parents:

  • John P Minor was born on the seventh day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred ninety one.
  • Isabella McClelland the second wife of John P was born on the thirtieth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred ninety two.
  • Francis Marion Minor was born on the twenty third of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred twenty eight.
  • Mary Jane Gwynn wife of Francis Marion was born on the ninth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred twenty nine.
  • John P Minor son of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor was born on the eighteenth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred fifty two.
  • Olfred Minor son of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor was born on the twenty third of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred fifty five.
  •  Sarah Priscilla Minor daughter of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor was born on the twenty third of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred fifty eight.
  • Leroy Minor son of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor was born on the fourth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred sixty two.
  • Robert Minor son of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor was born on the twenty ninth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred sixty nine.

The death record begins with Francis’ mother:

  • Isabella Minor wife of John P Minor departed this life on August the fourteenth day one thousand eight hundred sixty three.
  • Leroy Minor son of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Minor departed this life the fifteenth day of April one thousand eight hundred sixty four.
  • John P Minor father of Francis Marion departed this life the twelf day one thousand eight hundred seventy four.
  • Mary Jane Minor wife of FM Minor departed this life March 30 1908 Age 78 five months and 21 days.

What a treasure this book remains!

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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.

I Seat My Self To Write You A Few Lines – Samuel Minor: Amanuensis Monday

Last week I published a letter written on the 22 September of 1872 by Samuel Minor of Linn County, Iowa to his brother, John P. Minor of Greene County, Pennsylvania.  He provided updates about his sons but not his daughters; he talked about the weather and described the town’s new bridge.  THIS letter was written a year later, and Ellis has had another daughter; AJ “Jack” has moved to Adair, Illinois; Elly has been traveling; and Samuel has been butchering hogs.

Once again, I have translated the original letter, so the reader can focus on the newsy descriptions rather than the idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation of an 80 year old farmer.  You can click on each image if you would like to read the original.

December the 25, 1873                        Linn County,Iowa

Dear brother and nephew,

I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know what was the reason I did not answer yours long before.  I had a geathering on my hand that I could not write.  We are all as well as common at this time.  George Minor is married and lives on Sias’ (Josiah’s) land over in the woods.  Ely Worithington with him. They are hawling wood to town. Sam Minor’s wife has a sow. They have a turkey roast at Si’s today and Elly is gone over .  I could not go. I got my butchering done and I have one large hog for sale. He will weigh about 4 hundred live weight at this time.

Jack was here since you were and Elly went home with him and Will and his wife came back with her.  She said Will and Jack has quite a large store there in Adair on the railroad.  She was at Thomas McGee’s; he is Clerk in the express office.  Gets 75 dollars a month and his boy 10 for opening the gate in Bushnell, Illinois about 9 miles from Will’s.  And Jack’s has put him self a house, Will one and a kitchen and stable for Will. Their lots join not far off the depo. Jack’s brother-in law is Clerk and gets 65 Dollars a month.  His name John Eperson.  Jack’s wife’s folks live not far from there.

Sy got a letter from Ellis and they have another girl. It is fat and hearty like all the rest of us two month olds. When he wrote they have 6 children, 2 boys and 4 girls.  They have a school handy and the children is learning very fast.  He sold some cattle; he got 15 dollars for two year olds, 18 to 20 for 3 yearlings, from 10 to 13 for spring calves, 6 to 8 for cows,  from 12 to 18 wheat from 75 per bushel.  (no, I didn’t understand that last bit either.)

I can’t see to follow the lines but I do the best I can.  We have a very pleasant winter here not very cold nor windy as yet a good many snows not very much at a time. Our markets is pretty well supplied except potatoes. The farmers did not raise more than will do them selves and some of them will have to buy their  ? wheat .  Hay is plenty; butter and eggs plenty .  I work a little every day, as I feel better when I work than when I do nothing I find.  And cut my wood when brought to the door a foot long and make on fires.  Elly cooks and does the house work except washing.  She is much better and knits a great deal for her grandchildren and our selves.

No more at this time but remain your loving Brother and uncle to John P and Samuel Minor

Samuel Minor

PS You can let any of the friends see this.

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I Remain Your Loving Brother – Samuel Minor to John P. Minor: Amanuensis Monday

On Mondays, many geneabloggers don the hat of amanuensis, to record and transcribe primary sources within our care.  Today I begin sharing the records of Samuel and Elly Lowery Minor found among the papers of Samuel’s brother, my great³ grandfather, John Pearson Minor.  

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On the 22 September 1872, Samuel Minor of Cedar Rapids, Iowa sat down to write his older brother, John Pearson Minor of Whiteley, Greene County, Pennsylvania.  The letter lacks basic punctuation and words are imprecisely spelled.  I have taken the liberty of translating the newsy note, rather than transcribing Samuel’s words verbatim .  Click on the images below to read the letter yourself!  

Cedar Rapids, Iowa  September the 22 1872

Dear Brother,  I take this opportunity of writing to you.  We’re all well as usual. I hope this will find you all the same.  We have had very rainy weather here since the first of August so it is very difficult to save grain and make hay.  Our wheat was very good.  We have thrashed and have 26 bushels to the acre.  Our corn is very good.  Oats and hay not so good.  I got a letter from Ellis not long since and they were all well.  He brags very much of the health of their county and has 200 acres of land and 64 head of cattle, 40 milk cows.  He said they need not lay up any wintering and their cattle is fat in the spring.  They have plenty of fruit of all kinds.  His nearest neighbor had 500 bushels of peaches.  They have no winter of any account; ice not thicker than a knife blade.  Apples will keep all the time in any old house without freezing.  AJ (Andrew Jackson) is going to move to Illinois to Idair on the railroad.  He has been living with one but says he can’t farm as his complaint hurts him to plow.  

Sam has bought another farm and he has worked himself down til he looks almost as old as I do.  John lives close to western.  They have had some sickness on their family but are nearly well again.  If Jack leaves I can’t tell how Elly and me will do.  Sias (Josiah?) and Samuel says they live close by and they can see if we want any thing and Elly has got so she cooks for her and me all this last year nearly and we are getting along very well but we know not what a day may bring forth.  I sometimes think my time short and people tells me I am good for 10 years.  Yet god has spared my life til a good old age and I have a very good relish for my victuals yet.  Elly and me was up at town the other day and had our likeness taken 12 of them and I send you one.  We have a fine iron bridge over the river and you would hardly know our town now.  This bridge is ??? our bridge that I had a sho? is gone the new one is lower down cross the plane.  No more but remain your loving brother. 

Samuel Minor to John P Minor

Write soon.
















Family Secrets Lurking 2.0 – Wordless Wednesday

Family Secrets Lurking 1.0

Family Secrets Lurking 2.0

Serendipity Surrounds the Secret

Robert and May Stephenson Minor were reported to travel extensively, and I have always presumed it was due to wanderlust and adventure. The Donald Minor Postcard Collection (1906-1910) contained examples of photo cards from Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Charleston, West Virginia and Markleton, Pennsylvania; postmark ink lent support to the family recollections. The notes from these same cards offer a different explanation, however, particularly when read after the 1941 exchange between Robert and son Donald.

In a card postmarked from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on 24 March 1910, Robert writes:

Arived here all right – feeling fairly well to day can’t tell you just where to write yet or less you write to the saint Charles hotel.  I would be there.  On my pill every day. R. M. 

Robert writes again on 5 April 1910:

 Donald are you well and enjoying yourself. Is rover all right.  I would like to have you over here to be with me for company.  we might go a hunting with rover.  I am not feeling very good I have the headaches prety bad to day.  What are the folks doing.  Could you wright to me.  From Papa

Donald was just shy of his eighth birthday when his forty year old father sent this card, inviting the boy and his dog, Rover, to come hunting. Robert’s headaches must have been a debilitating, chronic fact of life which even a young child would have known about.  I am not sensing adventure in the travels of 1910; Robert, it seems, suffered from migraines that took him on a search for relief, not a journey of adventure.   The card’s postmark reveals the clue about where he sought relief that spring of 1910 – Markleton, Pennsylvania.  Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, this town was home to a grand health resort.

Robert Minor traveled a lot in 1910; Donald’s postcards indicate that Robert was in Pittsburgh in February and March; Markleton in April; Buffalo in May and June; Pittsburgh in September; and  Markleton in October – with Donald.

This card was sent to Donald by his uncle John P. Minor, Robert’s eldest brother.

Donald how are you geting a long ar you having a nise time dont you get lost in the mountans from Uncle John P Minor

Don’t get lost in the mountains, like the secret of Robert’s condition.

I wonder how long Robert suffered from headaches.  Was Robert hospitalized in 1941 for the same chronic condition?  When did his headaches start? What events precipitated his incapacitating condition? And how did these absences affect little Donald?

The secret lurking in my work room is become sharper, easier to imagine and envision.