Bertha O. (Minerd) Reese was born in October 1889 at Stauffer near Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA, the daughter of Charles Marion and Sabina (Pierce) Minerd.
She and her husband faced almost indescribable sufferings, outliving three of their children and two grandchildren, including two who were killed in wartime military service, and another who was seriously wounded in war.
Bertha at age 16 gave birth to a baby daughter named Elvira in October 1905. The child's father was a German immigrant named "Boyer," but he and Bertha were not married. Nothing more about Boyer is known.
In November 1907, at the age of 17, Bertha married 31-year-old Richard C. "Dick" Reese (1876-1970), a resident of Stauffer, Westmoreland County. Richard was 13 years older than his bride, and was a naturalized American citizen, having emigrated from Germany as a boy in 1882.
The portrait of Bertha seen here was taken around the time of her marriage. At the time they were wed, Richard worked as a railroad brakeman.
Richard adopted Elvira as a little girl and considered her as his own. In all the Reeses had 10 children -- Elvira May Kantorik, Charles Richard Reese, Clara Agnes Reese, Sabina Matilda Borza, Gladys Pearl Balcerek, Richard Nathan Reese, William Edward Reese, Alice Jane Balestrieri, Erma Jean Miller, Donald Henry Reese and James Arthur Reese.
When the federal census was taken in 1910, Richard, Bertha and children Elvira and Charles lived together in Bessemer, Westmoreland County. Their residence was next-door to Bertha's brother and sister, Rev. William Mullen and Violet Pearl (Johnson) Minerd, along Buckeye Road. Richard's occupation at the time was coal miner, while his brother in law Will Minerd was a tipple man in the mine.
Richard was a member of a safety team at Standard which, in 1918, won the 4th National Mine Safety contest, held at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Other members were William Gefsky, master mechanic and team captain Curtis Spence, hoisting engineer "Rube" Spence, blacksmith Oscar L. Armstrong and hoisting engineer Milton Anderson. In 1921, he was captain of the Standard First Aid team in competition with other Frick Coke Company plants.
In 1920, the family lived on High Street in Mount Pleasant, with Richard working as a driver in the mines.
Ten years later, in 1930, when the census again was taken, the Reeses made their home in Standard (also known as Spring Garden), Westmoreland County. That year, Richard continued his longtime occupation as coal miner.
Tragedy stocked this family over and over for many years. Daughter Clara Agnes, a, 18-year-old glass worker, died from a "trench mouth" infection on Oct. 13, 1940 and was buried at Greenlick Cemetery.
Then on March 29, 1944, son William died at home at the age of 22 years, 10 months, having succumbed from the effects of grand mal seizures. An obituary in the Greensburg Daily Tribune noted that funeral services were to be held in the family home, led by Rev. Ralph Singer, pastor of the First Brethren Church.
During World War II, son Richard and grandson in law Jack Barr both joined the armed services. Tragedy rocked the family when both men were killed in action within a three-and-a-half-month time-span. While Richard was unmarried, Jack left behind a widow and young son.
In the 1940s and '50s, the Reeses' home was at 137 High Street in Standard.
Exhausted by the overwhelming struggles of life, Bertha passed away at the age of 63 on Nov. 18, 1952.
Richard survived her by 18 years, and spent his final years in the home of his son James at 23 Penn Street in Mount Pleasant. He died at the age of 94 on Feb. 28, 1970. At his death, said the Daily Courier, he was survived by 20 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. He and Bertha are buried together at Greenlick Cemetery.
Richard and his 1918 National Mine Safety team are pictured in the book, A Town That Grew at the Crossroad: Borough of Mount Pleasant 1828-1978 Sesquicentennial.
~ Daughter Elvira May (Reese) Kantorik ~
Daughter Elvira May Reese (1905-1973) was born on Oct. 10, 1905 in Bridgeport, Westmoreland County. She was adopted as a young girl by her step-father Richard C. Reese.
She married Charles Leo Kantorik ( ? - ? ). They had one daughter, Nadine Barr.
Elvira was a longtime member of the Wesley United Methodist Church in Mount Pleasant. Her home circa 1973 was at 248 East Main Street in Mount Pleasant.
At the age of 67, Elvira passed away in the Frick Community Hospital in Mount Pleasant, on Feb. 28, 1973. Following a funeral service led by Rev. H. Wayne Beam, she was interred in the Greenlick Cemetery. In an obituary, The Connellsville Daily Courier said she was survived by two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Daughter Nadine Kantorik married Jack Barr. They had two children -- Jack L. Barr and Joyce Francis. Jack, a native of United, Westmoreland County, was a high school football player for the Hurst High School Scarlet Hurricanes. During World War II, he joined the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of sergeant. Jack saw action in the Pacific Theatre and was killed in New Guinea on April 16, 1944. A memorial service was held at St. Paul's Evangelical and Reformed Church at Trauger, officiated by Rev. A.K. Horshaver and Dr. Lloyd F. Rumbaugh, superintendent of schools in Mount Pleasant Township. In April 1945, his name was included in an alumni honor roll at Hurst High School, among 15 former students who had given their lives in wartime.
Great-grandson Jeffrey Lee Barr made headlines in 1999 after he died in a mountain bike race in Ohiopyle, Fayette County. In his memory, the state of Pennsylvania dedicated a trail at Forbes State Park along Route 31, named the "Jeff Barr Memorial Trail." The story received extensive feature coverage in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspapers.
~ Son Charles Richard Reese ~
Son Charles Richard Reese (1909-1975) was born on Aug. 2, 1909 in Bridgeport, Westmoreland County.
He married Mary Martha Kuniec ( ? -1964).
They had one son, Charles Reese Jr.
Charles and Mary Martha lived in South Everson, Fayette County. He was employed by Robertshaw Controls Company of New Stanton, and retired from the company.
Sadly, Mary Martha died in November 1964.
Charles Sr. outlived his wife by 11 years. He passed away in H.C. Frick Community Hospital in Mount Pleasant on July 17, 1975, at the age of 65. Rev. C. Smith Hixson preached the funeral service, with burial following in Greenlick Cemetery.
Son Charles Reese Jr. has attended our reunions over the years.
~ Daughter Clara Agnes Reese~
Daughter Clara Agnes Reese (1912-1930) was born on July 29, 1912.
At the age of 18, living at 137 High Street in Mt. Pleasant, she was employed circa 1940 as a glass worker.
Clara suffered for four weeks from "quincy," also known in more precise medical terms as "Vincent's Angina" or more simply "trench mouth" -- a major type of infection of the gums due to buildup of bacteria.
Unable to regain her health, she died on Oct. 13, 1940, at the age of 18, and was buried at Greenlick Cemetery.
~ Daughter Sabina Matilda (Reese) Borza ~
Daughter Sabina Matilda Reese (1915- ? ) was born in about 1915.
She married Andrew Borza ( ? - ? ).
The Borzas' home in 1944 was in Washington, DC.
Circa 1970-1973, they lived in Hillcrest Heights, MD.
~ Daughter Gladys Pearl (Reese) Balcerek ~
Daughter Gladys Pearl Reese (1917-2008) was born on June 19, 1917 in Mt. Pleasant.
She married Alexander J. Balcerek (1912-1992).
They produced three children -- Sylvia Elsbury, Sandra Shaffer and John Balcerek.
The Balcereks' home in 1970-2008 was in Mount Pleasant.
Sadly, Alex passed away in 1992, at the age of 80.
Gladys outlived her husband by 16 years. She died at the age of 91 in Excela Health Frick Hospital in Mount Pleasant on Sept. 21, 2008. She was laid to rest in Mt. Joy Cemetery, following a funeral led by Rev. Mark Peachey. At her death, reported the Greensburg Tribune-Review, she was survived by six grandchildren.
Daughter Sylvia Balcereek married Donald Elsbury.
Daughter Sandra Balcerek wed Lawrence Shaffer.
Son John Balcerek married Marlene.
~ Son Richard Nathan Reese ~
Son Richard Nathan Reese (1920-1944) was born in 1920.
During World War II, he was a member of the 3160 O.B.A. and F.C. Company, 6100 B.A.M. Battalion.
He lost his life in an attack in Dorchester, England, on Aug. 1, 1944, at the age of 24.
His remains were not returned home for burial until July 1948, after an interval of nearly four years. He rests in the family plot at Greenlick Cemetery.
He is one of far too many cousins in the extended family to give his life for the supreme sacrifice in United States military service during wartime.
~ Son William Edward Reese~
Son William Edward Reese (1922-1944) was born on May 23, 1922 in Mt. Pleasant.
When he was age nine, William was struck by a moving vehicle, and never fully recovered his health despite suffering for the next 13 years. In 1944, he resided at home with his parents at 137 High Street in Mt. Pleasant but was not employed.
In late 1943 or early 1944, he began to suffer epilepsy-type seizures, known as "grand mal convulsions." After enduring the seizures for three months, he may also have contracted tuberculosis and peritonitis.
On March 29, 1944, at the age of 22, he succumbed at home.
An obituary in the Greensburg Daily Tribune noted that funeral services were to be held in the family home, led by Rev. Ralph Singer, pastor of the First Brethren Church. Burial was in the Reese plot of graves in Greenlick Cemetery.
~ Daughter Alice Jane (Reese) Balestrieri ~
Daughter Alice Jane Reese (1924-2009) was born on Sept. 19, 1924 in Mount Pleasant.
She married Anthony R. Balestrieri ( ? - ? ).
They had two children -- Joan Tua and Anthony Balestrieri.
The Balestrieris lived in Tarrs, Westmoreland County in 1944.
In 1970, the couple made their residence in Greensburg, Westmoreland County.
Anthony is believed to have died in October 1974 in Greensburg. Alice remained in Greensburg for the rest of her life and was a member of Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.
She died on Jan. 9, 2009, at the age of 84. Interment was in Greensburg Catholic Cemetery. The Greensburg Tribune-Review noted in an obituary that she was survived by three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Daughter Joan Balestrieri married (?) Tua.
Son Anthony Balestrieri married Debra.
~ Daughter Erma "Jean" (Reese) Miller ~
Daughter Erma "Jean" Reese (1927- ? ) was born in about 1927.
She married Reid Miller.
She lived in Mount Pleasant in the early 1970s. Nothing more is known.
~ Son Donald Henry Reese ~
Son Donald Henry Reese (1929- ? ) was born in about 1929.
He married (?) Newill, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Newill of Kecksburg, Westmoreland County.
They had three known children -- Donald Henry Reese Jr., Cheryl Ann Reese and William Edward Reese.
The family resided in Mount Pleasant in 1954 and in Alverton, Westmoreland County in 1970.
Heartbreak followed this family again in June 1954, when 13-month-old son William "pulled a pot of hot coffee down over himself," reported the Connellsville Daily Courier. He suffered "burns on the back and hips" and died shortly afterward in the H.C. Frick Memorial Hospital in Mount Pleasant. The lad's tender remains were laid to rest in the Middle Presbyterian Cemetery at Middle Churches, following a federal led by Rev. George Coffman of the Kecksburg Church of God.
~ Son James Arthur Reese ~
Son James Arthur Reese (1931-2002) was born on March 31, 1931 in Mount Pleasant. With the exception of wartime military service, he spent his entire life in the community.
During the Korean War, he served in the U.S. Army as a corporal, and saw action in the Chorwan Valley. He was wounded and initially was treated at Tokyo Army Hospital.
While there, he received a visit from General John E. Hull, UN Commander, Far East, and a photographer snapped a photo of the general at James' bedside. The image was published in the Jan. 30, 1954 edition of James' hometown newspaper, the Connellsville Daily Courier.
James received further treatment at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC, and was discharged in June 1955. Upon his return home, he became a member of the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also joined the Mount Pleasant Fireman's Club.
In 1955, at the age of 24, James married Janet Ersick. They had two children, James Arthur Reese Jr. and Wendy Sue Reese.
James also was close with his widowed niece Nadine (Kantorik) Barr, and they "enjoyed making ceramics" together at Creations Unlimited, said the Daily Courier.
James and his wife and niece Nadine attended our national family reunion in July 1999, held at the Kingwood Picnic Grove in Somerset County, PA, just about a mile from the farm where his great-grandfather Eli Minerd was born in 1831. Several months later, James attended the large reunion of his uncle's family -- Rev. William Mullen Minerd -- and reconnected with his cousins.
He died at the age of 70 on March 27, 2002, in UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh. Rev. Sherry A. Miller led the funeral, followed by interment in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Copyright © 2001-2002, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2017 Mark A. Miner