Martha Jane "Mattie" (Minerd) Stairs was born on Nov. 6, 1863 in Bridgeport, near Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA, the daughter of Eli and Mary Ann (Baer) Minerd.
In about 1879, when Mattie was age 16, she married 20-year-old Lehman Garner Stairs (1860-1930), a native of Somerset County, PA. They established their residence near Mt. Pleasant.
Their nine children were Clarence Garner Stairs, Lula Swift, Clyde L. Stairs, Ray Clayton Stairs, Bessie Mae Hanson Brady Wierbacki, Charles M. Stairs, Pearl Nora Hence Sines Sonavec, Earl Norman Stairs and one whose identity is unknown but died in childhood. Sadly, son Charles also died as as a three-year-old, sometime before the year 1900.
When the federal census was taken in 1900, Lehman and Mattie and their eldest five children -- ranging in age from one to 13 -- were enumerated in Ward 2 of Mount Pleasant. Lehman's occupation that year was listed as "teamster."
Sometime in the early 1900s, Mattie went with her sister Marietta Crosby to a Crosby family reunion held in Iron Bridge, near Mt. Pleasant. The event may have been held at the home of Eli and Liz Crosby. Seen here, Mattie is at left, while Marietta (with baby) is at right.
In 1910, the census shows the Stairses making their home in Diamond Street in Mount Pleasant, with Lehman working as a driver for a local flour mill. Newlywed daughter and son in law Lula and Samuel Swift lived under their roof at that time.
Daughter Bess sent a penny postcard in 1911 to her sister Lula, reporting news of her father's uncertain hours of driving: "Papa has been working all week since Wed. Thursday night he didn't get home till 12 o'clock. He went away to stay all night but changed his mind."
The census of 1920 shows the family continuing to reside on Mount Pleasant's Diamond Street. Lehman's driving work that year was on an oil wagon.
Tragedy rocked the family in March 1924, when son Ray, who was married and had two young sons, died of burns suffered in a gasoline explosion at an oil facility near Mt. Pleasant. Son Earl, also caught in the blast, fortunately recovered.
When the census-taker visited the Stairs home in early April 1930, the 69-year-old Lehman had no occupation, and may have been retired. In failing health, Leahman died in Mt. Pleasant just a few weeks later, on April 26, 1930.
A little less than a year later, on March 27, 1931, Mattie died at home on North Diamond Street, having suffered a stroke. She was buried with her husband at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.
Copyright © 2000-2001, 2010 Mark A. Miner