Daniel Martin Younkin was born in 1853 near Kingwood, Somerset County, PA, the son of John M. and Laura (Minerd) Younkin. A longtime railroader, he was interested in family ties, and helped organize the 1918 Minerd-Miner Reunion at Rockwood, Somerset County.
Daniel left school at age 14 to work for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In about 1869, he relocated to Bridgeport, near Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA to construct boats, perhaps at the suggestion of his uncle Eli Minerd, who also had migrated there from Kingwood.
In 1880, at the age of 27, Daniel resided in Mt. Pleasant just three doors away from his first cousin, Emma (Minerd) Thurston.
After 14 years in Mt. Pleasant, Daniel returned to Rockwood in about 1883, and rejoined the B&O, working as a car knocker and track section foreman until retirement. In the photo seen here, he and his second wife and daughter stand at his place of work -- a small tool shed along the B&O tracks near Rockwood. Click to see an enlarged version of this image, our "Photo of the Month" for October 2005.
Daniel's first wife was Elmira Miranda Zimmerman (1853-1908), the daughter of William and Mary (Yates) Zimmerman
Sadly, three of the Younkins' daughters died very young -- Catherine (in 1876, age two), Mary Eliza (1880, age nine months) and Lulu (1892, age five years).
Daniel faced further heartache in 1908 when Elmira was afflicted with an incurable case of tuberculosis and acute bronchitis. She passed away, on Oct. 15, 1908, at the young age of 53 years, 10 months.
She is buried at the Rockwood IOOF Cemetery. Her badly faded grave marker is seen here, as photographed in October 1991.
Daniel's second wife was Susan (Mongold) Swick (Jan. 31, 1871-1957), the widow of Noah Mongold and the daughter of John Swick of Keyser, Mineral County, WV. They were wed in early July 1909 in the Somerset County Courthouse by Orphans Court Clerk Frank Harrah. Said the Connellsville Daily Courier, "Mr. and Mrs. Younkin will reside in the old home on West Broadway."
Susan had been married once before. Susan brought several children to the marriage. She and Daniel had one child together, Alice Gary.
The 1889 book, History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, by Waterman & Watkins, gives this description of the town of Rockwood in the late 1880s when the Younkins resided there:
Rockwood, situated at the junction of the Baltimore & Ohio and the Somerset & Cambria railroads, is one of the most enterprising, thrifty and fast growing villages in southern Pennsylvania. The place is still young, and its business interests are constantly increasing in extent and importance. Rockwood now contains four general stores, two groceries, four hotels, three blacksmithshops, one tannery, one gristmill, one planning-mill, one tinshop, one shoemakershop, two carpentershops, one tailor-shop, three churches and one graded school
Daniel was "highly respected in the community" and in 1906 was profiled in a chapter in the book, History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania, by E. Howard Blackburn and William H. Welfley, and edited by the Hon. William H. Koontz (Lewis Publishing Company). He also was mentioned in the 1957 booklet, Rockwood Centennial.
Daniel and Susan are seated with their combined family of children in the photo seen here.
In 1913, Daniel and son Emery, daughter-in-law Mary and granddaughters Georgia and Gertrude attended the first annual Minerd-Miner Reunion at Ohiopyle. Daniel helped organize the 1918 reunion at Rockwood, and he and Susan and daughter Alice were at the 1920 reunion at Ohiopyle. In August 1923, Daniel attended the reunion held at Confluence, and was named in a Meyersdale Republican article as "the oldest of the clan present." He also was named to the "committee on reunion" with Joseph M. Luckey. In August 1924, he and daughter Alice went to the reunion, held at the Lincoln's Grove near the Western Maryland Railroad Station, although his name was misspelled as "David Younkin" in the newspaper. For the August 1925 reunion, he was named to the executive committee which also included Otis "Freed" Minerd, Ross Hyatt, Lloyd L. Mountain and Joseph M. Luckey,
Daniel retired in 1918, after 32 years of service with the B&O, and began receiving a pension which continued for 11 years. Said the Somerset County Leader, "Shortly after he was pensioned he also received a gold medal, from the railroad company, in acknowledgement of their appreciation for his many years of successful service."
During the summer of 1918, as World War I raged in Europe, the Younkins learned that Susan's son, William Alvin "Elborn" Mongold, of Grant County, WV, had been drafted into the American Expeditionary Forces. He received basic training and then was sent abroad. Tragically, in August 1918, the family received word that he had been killed in action in France. Under the terms of his life insurance policy, his married sister Grace (Mongold) Judy and half sister Alice Younkin were to receive a benefit payment of $190.55 each. The matter became complicated by the fact that the soldier's estate was administered in his native West Virginia, and so Roscoe B. Shanks, cashier of the Farmers' & Merchants Bank of Rockwood, was named as Alice's guardian in the matter. Daniel signed a sworn statement testifying to these facts in the Orphans' Court of Somerset County, signing his name with an "X." In 1933, a brief profile of Mongold was published in the book World War Veterans of Somerset County, a work authorized by the commissioners of Somerset County.
Daniel's wife Susan suffered from epilepsy and most likely never recovered from the shock of her son's wartime death. She grew progressively ill in the late 1910s. A photograph of her at the 1920 Minerd Reunion shows a prominent streak of grey in her otherwise dark head of hair. She was admitted to the Someset State Hospital in about 1923 and became a permanent invalid, living there for the remaining 34 years of her life.
Daniel is seen here sharing a tender moment with his young granddaughter Betty (Gary) Herchelroath, in the back yard of his Broadway Street home in Rockwood, circa 1930.
Daniel and his daughter and son in law, Mallzena and Harry Shaffer, went to the Minerd Reunion in August 1932, held at Lake Forest Park near Scottdale, Westmoreland County. Writing in the Huntingdon (PA) Daily News, his cousin Laura Jane (Minerd) Williams reported: "Everyone seemed to enjoy the fine fellowship that existed among all the reunionists and the innumerable baskets that provided dinner and supper for the party were bottomless."
In October 1934, just several months before his death, Daniel was interviewed during a Sunday visit by distant cousins Otto Roosevelt Younkin and Charles Arthur Younkin, who were gathering family history notes in connection with the Younkin clan's new national home-coming reunion. The discussion provided Otto with valuable genealogy insights that otherwise would have been lost. Daughter Alice is thought to have been present and listened as her father told stories of his parents, grandparents and extended kin, and when asked, she said the old family Bible was in possession of her sister Missouri Shumaker. Daniel also asked his guests if they knew or were closely related to "to the Younkins that used to butcher in the neighborhood of Scottdale [PA]," Charles later wrote. "I believe if I am not mistaken that he asked me if it was my father. If we are able to see this Daniel may may find out more about these folks." Daniel also told the researchers that one of his uncles was William Younkin, and that a first cousin, John X. Younkin, "married a sister of Charles Rose."
Otto Younkin took extensive handwritten notes of the interview, and later had them carefully retyped and organized, and a copy today is in the Minerd-Miner-Minor Archives. Click here to see these handwritten and typed notes from the visit. In February 1935, Charles wrote to Otto: "We should have a meeting point ... I believe by doing so we would be able to draw much out of these old heads by our regular conversation than any other way. As you remember we did this with Caldwell and Daniel on our visit with them." In March 1937, Charles again wrote to Otto: "Since you were here to see me have had more sad news, the death of ... Mr. Shaffer who was married to Gertrude, daughter of our old now dead friend Daniel Younkin of Rockwood, Pa." Click to see these letters dated Oct. 17, 1934; Feb. 10, 1935; and March 7, 1937.
At the age of 76, suffering from influenza, Daniel suffered a stroke at the home of married daughter Alice Gary in Somerset Borough. He lingered for nine days and succumbed on Feb. 10, 1935. The funeral was held in Rockwood at the home of son Emery, with the service performed by cousin Rev. William Mullen Minerd. He was buried at the International Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery in Rockwood beside his first wife, Elmira.
Susan outlived Daniel by 22 years. Remaining a patient at Somerset State Hospital, she continued to suffer from hypertension and what physicians described as "psychotic reactions." Sadly, she suffered bleeding of the brain and passed away on Sept. 17, 1957 at the age of 86. Her tired remains were laid to rest beside her husband, but under her own marker.
This biography is adapted from one that originally appeared in the article, "Whispers of the Silence and the Slow Time," in the April, May, June 1996 edition of the Younkin Family News Bulletin.
Copyright © 1996, 2000, 2002-2008, 2016 Mark A. Miner