Minor Surnames Transcriptions

Transcription: A Letter Home-Abia Minor

Abia Minor was born in Greene County, Pennsylvania in about 1815, the son of stock drover John Pierson Minor and his first wife, Hannah McClelland. As a young man Abia (a-bye-ya) followed his family’s tradition, bought and farmed land near the town of Bridgeville in what was then western Virginia. But he had aspirations that went beyond the Appalachian Mountains. By the early 1850s, Abia had purchased land in Moultrie County, Illinois with clear intentions of resettling there. That dream was deferred a bit by the death of his first wife, Elizabeth Thompson, and his remarriage to Harriet Ballard. Before the decade turned and civil unrest upended the nation, Abia and Harriet relocated to Township 14 N Range 6 E, Moultrie County, Illinois. The family farmed this Jonathan Creek land until emigrating to Harper County, Kansas in 1878, where Abia lived until his death eleven years later.

This letter, with its long, run-on sentences, was written to Abia’s Pennsylvania parents during that Jonathan Creek period, sometime after 1858 but before his step-mother, Isabelle, died in 1863. I read ancestors’ notes out loud to my dog–hearing the words makes the distance between past and present smaller. Since Abia wrote with NO PUNCTUATION, to clue you all in I transcribed the letter with spacing matching my breath, so reading Abia’s 159 year old words is more conversational.

The first two pages have been lost, so we begin Abia’s letter to J. Pearson and Isabella Minor on

Page 3

…Tell him to go out and look not to make it all talk

it has been awful cold here this winter otherwise it has been a fine winter or we would think it so if we had our usual crop for it has been dry all winter and better roads I never saw

good sledding for 3 or 4 weeks but the snow is gone now only where it drifted I have yet 160 rods along my fence that 30 feet wide and was between 4 and 5 feet deep but it has settled down to about 3 feet

the weather has been fine winter weather ever since the cold storm was over which only lasted 2 days

you wrote that you had been in Ohio this winter I wish you could have came out to see us I would like to come to se (sic) you and Thank you for you (sic) generous offer but I canot (sic) come this winter Polk is in Woodford Co going to school and I have to stay close to home

John is of age and wants to be doing for himself talks of going away this spring

I want to put a corn crop for I think we will raise good crop next year and I am trying to make some more fence so I can keep some stack without so mutch (sic) trouble in winter

Isabel [perhaps his sister] got home on sunday after she started they were detained by not making the connection and it cost her 21 dollars and some few ctz (sic) She will write to you and send her letter with this you said you would send her saddle and some flannel for me a warm (?) 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 coming out you could put them in a trunk and they can bring them through for nothing but if you send them out by railroad direct them to

Abia Minor


Coles Co


And take a receipt from the _ldier agent for them and send it to me by mail

please write to me as soon as you get this and I would like to have 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 coppy (sic) of it it can be taken on paper or leather and sent in a letter

give my respects to all my brothers and sisters

tell them to write to me and I will answer their letters and feel very thankful beside with the above I remain yours truly

Abia Minor

*Mattoon was 15-17 miles from the Jonathan Creek property, a town created by the intersection of the Illinois Central, the Terre Haute, and the Alton Railroads.

**Per the 1860 Federal Census, Abia wrote this letter while his at-home family included: second wife, Harriet, teenage sons John C and James, teenage daughters Permilia and Margaret, young Minerva, and very young William and Mary O.


Minor, Abia (Moultrie County, Illinois) to father [J. Pearson Minor]. Letter. undated, presumed between late 1850s and 1863. Privately held by D. Kay Strickland, [address for private use] Pennsylvania. 2021.

Minor The Minor Family Album

The Minor Family Album: Mr. Chin Whiskers


Mr. Chin Whiskers

When I first became curator of the Minor Family Album, I moved swiftly to identify this man, the first face to appear in the album. I was soooo certain of my clues and my analysis.

  1. This whiskered gent is the first photograph displayed in a Minor Family album created in the latter part of the 19th century. He must be an important family member. A patriarch.
  2. Thomas W. Rogers, the photographer, opened a studio in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, in 1864 that remained in existence through the turn of the century. Thomas took the photograph of this ancestor.
  3. The cabinet photo’s cardstock is an ivory color, with round corners, and medium weight.  According to internet sources, this description dates the card to between 1869-1875.
Digging into the family’s tree, I determined that the one Minor living near Carmichaels, Pennsylvania in the early 1870s old enough to present this image was none other than our patriarch, John Pearson (Pierson) Minor, 1791-1874.  I proudly announced my conclusion to the world in this blog.*


Time has passed, my skill set has expanded, newly discovered cousins have shared their treasures, and I have eaten a very, VERY large piece of humble pie.  In other words, I MUST retract my earlier identification.

Starting over I apply the procedures learned from THE photo detective, Maureen A. Taylor, author of Family Photo Detective, Fashionable Folks Bonnets and Hats, Fashionable Folks Hairstyles, as well as, a wonderful blog on the subject.

This photograph is a paper print on a 4½ x 6½ inch ivory colored cardstock, with rounded corners.  The photographer’s name and studio location–Thomas W. Rogers, Carmichaels, Pennsylvania–appear only at the bottom of the photo.  There is no design or notation on the back.  This portrait is an example of a cabinet card, most like created between 1869-1875.

Next I view the print with an eye for internal clues.  The man is seated in front of a dark backdrop.  White dots indicate that this photograph may be a photo of a photo–that the original photograph was on a surface like glass or tin, and that the photo’s chemicals flecked off with time.  In the upper left hand corner there appears to be a curvature of the backdrop, as if the original photograph was in an oval shape.

Snag it of Mr. Chin Whiskers.


The man is sporting a full beard, trimmed tight about his ears and mouth.  Beards were not popular until the mid-late 1850s, and were worn by a generation of men until the late 1800s.  The man has a full head of gray hair, worn long over his ears, and parted on the side.  It does not appear to be greased down.

The shot captures the fellow from the chest up, and his beard hides the neckline.  But the coat appears to be loose fitting, with a fairly wide lapel.  The vest is of a different material and the top button is at the height of the coat’s top button, mid-chest.

These internal clues indicate a timeframe between the late 1850s and the late 1860s.

The man himself appears to be between 55 and 70 years old. And sick.


Back to the stories, the roots, shoots, and leaves of this Minor Family tree.  And let’s just suppose that I am looking for a male family member who would have been between 55-70 years of age in the late 1850s to the mid 1860s.

So, patriarch Abia was dead by 1834. Francis Marion and his brothers would have been too young to be the photographed dude. That leaves a closer examination of John P., Samuel, and Asa, all of whom would have been alive in the late 1850s and at least 60 years old.


Cousin Ron Minor has generously shared a digital image, a photograph of a tintype, which was annotated with identification.

Minor Elders Collage

The man  identified as John P. Minor (shown here on the left) has a higher forehead, and a thinner face.  The eyebrows are not the same shape, and the hair appears to be thinner.  Mr. Chin Whiskers is not John P. Minor.

A photograph of Samuel Minor found on the website bears a strong resemblance to John P., a high forehead, with gray hair thinning at the brow. Samuel’s eyes are deeper set than those of my Mr. Chin Whiskers.

Is this ASA?

More clues to come…


*I have since removed that original post because of the improper identification, AND because people were taking the misidentified photograph and posting to without my permission.  If you see something that you would like to share, please ask me about it.  

Minor Surnames

Follow Up Friday: documenting the military service of John Pearson Minor

I took up the Family History Writing Challenge.

Each day in February I have sat at my computer and clattered away.  I have watched the word count grow and have finally reckoned that The Life and Times of John Pearson Minor is indeed going to get written, 250 words at a time.  My manuscript is not worthy of an editor’s time, but at least I am getting through my perfectionism and assembling my data into a story line.

The first big chunk of primary source information I have on J. P. is regarding his service in the War of 1812.  And I know NOTHING about that military action.  Rather, I KNEW nothing.

Back to the very beginning. . . .

The Minor family was a large component of the early settler population in Greene and Fayette counties.  The southwestern hills of Pennsylvania, where Big Whitely Creek emptied into the Monongehela River, would shelter several children and grandchildren of Stephen and Athelia Minor.  There are many trails leading the Minors into that section of the country, none of which I have adequately followed, triangulating internet sources with family stories and institutional records.  BUT it does seem likely that the first Minors in the area by the 1770s were siblings: Sarah Minor Dye, wife of Andrew Dye; John Minor, general during the Indian and Revolutionary Wars and the Father of Greene County;  and William, colonel in the Revolutionary War.  Samuel, their brother, came to Fayette county by 1809 and settled around Uniontown.  Abia, Samuel’s son, and his wife, Margaret Pearson Minor, arrived in Greene Township, Greene County, in 1798 with three little boys –  John Pearson (b. November 7, 1791), Samuel and Asa.*

John Pearson, then, was a second generation Green County resident, and would have grown up among strong family ties that both promoted opportunities for land acquisition – and the rights conferred by that ownership – and bound him to powerful responsibilities within the community.  Certainly his military service during the War of 1812 came from a strong family commitment to the defense of the land and the new country.

I once knew nothing, now I know something

The War of 1812 was an extension, by some accounts, of the Napoleonic Wars raging throughout Europe.  New England and other coastal communities were making economic gains supplying the British with goods.  The western frontier communities, however, were being severely impeded in their attempts to grow and expand by the savage confrontations with various Indian tribes; peoples that the western Americans believed were negatively influenced by the British who remained in the area.  Furthermore, there was great land speculation occurring in the western territories, and such entrepreneurs as William Henry Harrison had a great deal to gain if the British could be pushed north of the Great Lakes and cede control of the vast western frontier to the young united states.  When war was declared in June of 1812, local militias along the frontier of Pennsylvania, western Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio were of necessity well trained and armed, and these community-minded men were quite ready to join the federal fight to secure their families’ safety and financial prospects.

Among the volunteers able and willing to fight the Indians (and the British) was John Pearson Minor, age 21.  He enlisted in Captain Thomas Seely’s light cavalry unit, 15th Division, 2nd Regiment, 2nd Pennsylvania Brigade as a corporal.  From October 2 – November 26 of 1812, Seely’s Light Dragoons were temporarily assigned to the 1st Regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joel Ferree, 2nd Pennsylvania Brigade under the command of Brigadier General Richard Crooks.  The brigade was organized in Pittsburgh and left to join the Army of the Northwest on October 19,1812.  They marched and rode west to Wooster, Ohio and then on to Mansfield, Ohio.  The light dragoons companies then headed for Lebanon, Ohio to join the 2nd Regiment of United States Light Dragoons, a cavalry regiment newly created and assigned to Major James Vincent Ball. This service is documented in the War of 1812 Service Records, in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and by the war marker at his grave in Garard’s Fort Cemetary, Greene County, Pennsylvania.  **

But what happened to John and the other troopers of Captain Seely’s light dragoons; what assignments were they given and how long did these local militia members remain a part of the federal troops? This question is my follow up question of the week.  

And to answer it, I need help.  Among the items of my Minor Satchel, a cache of family heirlooms, is the pension certificate #13669 for Pearson Minor, late a corporal for Captain Thomas J. Sealey’s regiment, which awarded him an invalid pension of $8/month commencing February 14, 1871.  With this information I headed to the National Archives website.

 A complete history of John Pearson’s tour of duty should be embedded in his pension application file, and any of us genealogists can ask for copies of such files!! The order form – for a complete pension file or a pension packet – can be completed online or downloaded.  Opting for the quicker, online service, I completed the requisite form, eagerly pressing ADD TO CART.  I can expect to receive the complete pension file, # 13669, from this government repository within 42-120 days!  I can’t wait to read the contents!

*This presence is confirmed by the records of the Goshen Baptist Church, Garard’s Fort, and by the voting records of 1801 and 1806, as posted on the Cornerstone Genealogical Society website (accessed on February 4, 2012).

**Urwin, Gregory J.W. The United States Cavalry: An Illustrated History, 1776-1941. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1983. Print.

**Johnson, Eric E. “Re: Daniel Porter: War of 1812.” GenForum – Home. 13 Jan. 2007. Web. 08 Feb. 2012. <;.

Family Lore Minor Surnames

Amanuensis Monday: A Letter Home

Abia Minor Writes Home, 1872

Sulivan Moultrie Co Ills

June 25th 1872

Dear Father I Received your kind letter dated the 5th June in reply I will Say we are all as well as usual The last I heard from Jacksonville Harriet was improving. *(1)  I would have answered sooner But I was starting to Chicago with Some Sheep I Sold them for five cents they weghed 104 lbs Made me some money they cost me about 2 1/2 cts I have about 200 Sheep on hands my pastures is good about knee high Timothy When up I saw the Burt district *(2) and no one can discribe it nor can they discribe the improvements going on it look like anything But a City The Buildings going up are mutch better then the Old Ones We have a fine prospect for corn and oats wheat will be light grass is fine Stock is low cattle from 3 to 5 cents hogs 3 cts corn 38 cts If I could get a good lot of Sheep I would come to Pittsburg But they are hard to get what I mean by good ones are some that will weigh 120 oz upwards.  I would like to hear from you often You will find endorsed my note with Mother Millers name Dated Back to the time you got the interest from Tompkins *(3) with these lines I reamain yours as ever Abia Minor.

*(1) Harriet is Abia’s second wife.  Why she was a patient at Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane, Jacksonville, Illinois, is unknown.

*(2) Abia Minor, eldest son of John Pearson Minor and first wife Hannah McClelland, was a farmer taking his stock to Chicago.  On this trip he witnessed the recovery efforts that followed the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 started, as a the folksong would have it, by ol’ Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.  It raged from October 8 until extinguished by heavy rainfall on October 10.  Seventeen thousand buildings of Old Chicago were destroyed,  and 90,000 people were left homeless. Three hundred people lost their lives.

*(3)  John P Minor lent money to relatives and friends, charging up to 10% interest.  Each act was recorded with a note which detailed the loan and its terms.  This references one such transaction.

Family Lore

Tombstone Tuesday: John Pearson (Pierson) Minor

Veteran, War of 1812
—–John Pearson Minor was born in Middlesex, New Jersey on 7 November 1791.  He moved with his parents, Abia and Margaret Pearson Minor, to Greene County, Pennsylvania in 1796.  The War of 1812 veteran remained in the Whitely Creek area for the duration of his life, serving as a financial lender, land speculator, cattle dealer, and farmer.  He married Hannah McClelland about 1815, and had two children, Abia born 3 July 1816, and  Robert born 11 April 1817.  After her death in 28 April 1817, John married Isabella McClelland  on 24 September 1817,  and together they had 9 children:  Hannah (6 June 1818-?); Mary Ann (19 January 1820-?);   Margaret (5 November 1821- ?);   Rebecca (29 November 1823-5 July 1891);  Samuel Pierson (23 August 1825–27 August 1909);  Francis Marion (23 November 1828–4 August 1913);  Sarah Ellen (10 September 1833–21 October  1862);  Frances Caroline  (9 May 1833–21 October 1862).  Isabella died at home on 14 August 1863.
John P. Minor left the family farm to his son Francis Marion on the condition that he be allowed to remain at the farm for the duration of his life–at no cost. This Minor patriarch died at home on 12 September 1874 and was buried in the cemetery of  John Corbley Baptist Church, Garard’s Fort, Pennsylvania.

John Corbley Baptist Church, Garards Fort, Pennsylvania