Minor Surnames

An 1865 Greene County Greenback: Thursday’s Treasure

I open my wallet, finger a $20 bill, pull it out and hand it to the farmer.  In return I load my bag with fresh apples and pears, or beets and squash.  The paper note is lightweight, compact, easily folded and stored.  It is accepted anywhere in the country, for any purchase, any time.  This reliable currency did not always exist.

Between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, most people preferred carrying gold and silver coins for transactions.  The paper money was locally printed by banks, merchants, states, and cities; one never knew if it would hold its value or if it would be accepted by folks in the next town over.  In 1861, the federal government began its efforts to convert the country to a uniform currency.  On demand notes were issued in $5, $10, and $20 denominations, and could be redeemed for the equivalent in gold “on demand”.  In 1862, the first $1 bill was issued as Legal Tender.

The National Banking Act of 1863 established a national banking system, and with it a uniform national currency.  Under this act local banks could apply for a national charter.  The institution could then purchase United States bonds which were stored with the U.S. Treasury, and have a corresponding amount of paper currency issued.  This worked to both parties’ advantage: the federal government could fund its war against the Confederacy and the banks could continue issuing their own unique currency.

Until 1877, these national bank notes were printed by private bank note companies under contract to the federal government.  The overall look of the notes was uniform, but each bank could choose designs from the engraver’s catalog to create a unique national note.  The bills were shipped in sheets to the bank, where they were signed by the bank’s president and register, cut and put into circulation.

The greenbacks were lightweight, compact, easily folded and stored.  AND they were accepted anywhere in the country.

The Farmers and Drovers Bank of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania was first chartered as a state institution in 1835.  Known as a conservatively managed, dependable financial fixture of the Waynesburg area, it was granted national bank status in January of 1865, just three months before the fall of the Confederacy.  

This National Bank Note, #259/453127, was secured by bonds of the United States deposited with the U.S. Treasury, Washington as attested to by J.B. Colby, Register of the Treasury, and Francis E. Spinner, Treasurer of the United States. The Farmers and Drovers Bank of Waynesburg, State of Pennsylvania would pay on demand to the Bearer ONE DOLLAR. The note was printed by federal contractor the American Bank Note Company of New York as part of the series issued on July 1, 1865, on plate C. The note sheets were then sent to the bank where each note was signed by D. Crawford, Cashier, and Charles A. Black, President, and stamped with the red Treasury Seal before being cut and put into circulation.

This greenback, #259/453127, was issued in July of that summer, when the nation was struggling to reestablish its identity.  The bill has but one fold and has no pin holes from being pinned to someone’s pocket or tacked on a bankers’ spike.  The corners are slightly bent, but all four are complete.  The bankers’ signatures are clear and only slightly faded.  Someone on Ceylon Lane, Greene County kept this note out of circulation.  Either 64 year old John P. Minor, Sr., or his 13 year old namesake, or John Junior‘s parents, Francis and Mary Jane Gwynn Minor, deliberately saved this 3″ by 7″ paper, and it was carefully stored for 50 years before being locked away and forgotten in the F.M. Minor Satchel.  That is where I found it, another 96 years later, pressed between the pages of an old ledger.  I marvel at its beauty, and at the audacity of this country’s hopes.  In the midst of civil unrest and throughout the lurching reconstruction, our federal government successfully led an economic integration by guaranteeing the value of a national currency for this one nation, the United States of America

Click on the images below to learn more about this national bank note.




Minor Photographs and Memories Surnames

Wordless Wednesday: Waynesburg M. E. Church 1907

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing blog-prompt hosted at Geneabloggers.  The author frequently uses the opportunity to share the vintage postcard collection of her grandfather, Donald C. Minor.

Today’s visitor to 112 North Richhill Street, Waynesburg, Pennyslvania would come upon this beautiful old church:

accessed August 10, 2011:


One hundred years ago the corner looked like this:

From the postcard collection of Donald C. Minor

How many differences can you spot!

  • The NAME:  In or around 1968 the Waynesburg Methodist Episcopal Church became affiliated with the newly created United Methodist Church, and was afterward known as the First Methodist Church of Waynesburg.
  • The parsonage porch is brown.
  • There is no ramp leading through the front arches.
  • There is no stop sign at the corner.
  • The trees are different.
  • There are no electrical lines.

This second image is an artochrome postcard from the Donald C. Minor Postcard Collection, a treasure trove of images and notes sent to my grandfather from 1907-1910.  The card was printed in Germany, as were most of the postcards of that era.  The publisher, however, was more local.  Olmstead Brothers Company Publishers were located in nearby Wheeling, West Virginia.  Either the printer or the publisher identified the card as being #1035, one of a set that showed scenes of the region.*  Unfortunately for Minor genealogists, no note explains why Walter sent this card to five year old Donald on October 21, 1908.

*You can find more photo postcards of the Wheeling, West Virginia region at


Maps Minor Photographs and Memories Surnames

Wordless Wednesday: 1909 Artochrome Postcard of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing blog-prompt hosted at Geneabloggers.  The author frequently uses the opportunity to share the vintage postcard collection of her grandfather, Donald C. Minor.

My branch of the Minor Family lived in Greene County, Pennsylvania for over 16 decades.  Most of that time my ancestors lived on a farm outside Gerard’s Fort, on a tiny back road called Ceylon Lane.  The closest large town was also the county seat — Waynesburg.  It was the political, economic, social, and educational hub for generations of Minors.

In this artochrome postcard from my grandfather’s collection, a German printer has lithographically processed a half tone photograph to create a full color photocard of west Waynesburg.

The Waynesburg of my childhood family reunions didn’t look like this.  Donald and my grandmother, Kerma Bradford Minor, had moved from the farm in the 1950s, and lived in a brick house on a hill, with a huge side yard and a carport covered by grapevines.  I remember Waynesburg as blocks and blocks of homes surrounding the Waynesburg College campus, with a main street that ultimately led to an ice cream parlor, the only building that really counted for anything, in my opinion.

When I look at this 1909 view I am puzzled by the smokestacks and large rectangular buildings.  From what angle was the photographer observing the town?

Accessed from Historic Map Works, July 26, 2011

While trolling the internet I happened upon Historic Map Works, a site that sent my heart a twitter.  This 1897 bird’s eye image of Waynesburg was among the Greene County collection.  I spotted a building that appears on both this image and on my granddaddy’s postcard.

Accessed from Historic Map Works, July 26, 2011

This bird’s eye image gives a greater sense — though mightily flattened out — of how large Waynesburg was at the turn of the 20th century.  The 1909 autochrome reduces Waynesburg’s scope, but stays true to the topography of its land.  Taken together the images provide a framework for my family stories that I find just fascinating.  My eye turns inward, images now combined, and I soar like a crow over town; imagining my family walking these streets,  wandering through shops, attending weddings in churches, drinking lemonade with school chums on shaded porches.  What stories can my family heirlooms now tell me?

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