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William G. Miner

See "Lessons from the Hobo Express" and "The Raspberry Patch"


Will and Hattie Miner

G. Wilbur Miner, better known as "William G. Miner," was born on May 24, 1878 in Bearfield Township, Perry County, OH, the son of Thomas M. and Maletha (Ogburn) Miner.

At a young age, Will moved with his parents to nearby McLuney Station in Harrison Township, Perry County. Then, in about 1899, when he was age 21, Will and his parents and brothers Fred and Charles relocated eastward to Gallitzin Township, Cambria County, PA, where his sister Lizzie and her family were already living. Will settled in the town of Coupon, and worked there as a coal miner.

Will Miner

Seen here is a photograph of Will as a young, bearded man, wearing a stylish derby hat and enjoying a favorite stogie cigar.

On Oct. 31, 1899, the same year that he migrated to Pennsylvania, Will married Hattie F. Gaines (1880-1970), the daughter of John and Catherine (Shomo) Gaines, and a native of Page County, VA. The ceremony took place in Coupon or Delaney, Gallitzin Township, Cambria County. 

They had seven children -- Lillian M. Streton Richards, John W. Miner, Thomas M. Miner II, Esther K. Erb, Mabel Ann O'Donnell Hewitt, Elizabeth Mansell and Ruth Plank. 

When the federal census was taken in June 1900, the newlywed Miners lived in Gallitzin Township. Will's occupation was listed as "coal miner." Later, they resided in Bakers, Cambria County. 

In 1910, Will and his family resided in Altoona, Blair County.

Will later became a conductor with the Pittsburgh Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, a position which he held for many years.

Will, seated, with brother Charles, year unknown

By 1920, the Miners were living on a farm in nearby Logan Township.

Asbury Church Cemetery

Said an Altoona newspaper, Will "retired in 1942 as a conductor with the Pittsburgh Division of the PRR. He was a member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen."

In March 1945, when his brother Fred died, the Johnstown (PA) Tribune said Will was living in Altoona. 

Will and Hattie celebrated their golden wedding anniversary with their large family of offspring on Oct. 31, 1949. In all, they were married for 69 years, until the separation of death. 

In 1956, Will enjoyed a family reunion with his sister Lizzie and brother Charles, of New York. Sadly, Charles passed away the following year.

Above, Will (left) with his sister Lizzie Lytle and brother Charles, 1956. Below: Will and Hattie, circa 1966, just three years before his death

Will passed away on May 28, 1969 at Altoona Hospital, "after a brief illness" at the age of 90. He was laid to rest at the Asbury United Methodist Church cemetery in Logan Township, Blair County, PA. At the time, he and Hattie had 26 grandchildren and 61 great-grandchildren.

Hattie died a year later, and was buried beside Will. A newspaper headline trumpeted that she was a "Matriarch of a Large Family." The article reported that she had been residing in Homers Gap and that her "descendants number more than 100..." 

She was buried beside her husband at her longtime church, Asbury United Methodist. 

~ Daughter Lillian (Miner) Stratton Richards ~

Daughter Lillian Miner (1900-1974) was born in 1900 in Cambria County, PA. 

She was married twice, first to Charles C. Stratton and then to William H. Richards ( ? -1962). 

She had one daughter, Doris Miller of Chester, Delaware County, PA.

Circa 1970, Lillian resided in the Masonic Home in Elizabethtown, PA. She "was a member of the Order of Eastern Star, Philadelphia," said an Altoona newspaper. 

She passed away on Aug. 6, 1974, at the age of 74.

Will and Hattie and children, 1956. Front, l-r: Ruth Hawbecker Plank, Elizabeth Mansel, Lillian Stratton Richards, Hattie Miner. Middle: Mabel O'Donnell Hewitt, Esther Erb. Back: Will Miner, Thomas Miner, John Miner, cousin Earnest Alger. The old hen house is in the background.

~ Son John Wesley Miner ~

Son John Wesley Miner (1902-1973) was born in 1902. He married Esther G. Sell (1904-1999). 

They had five children -- David Edward Miner; William E. Miner of Antis, PA; Juanita Lee of Grandview (Altoona), PA; Richard Miner of Bainbridge, PA; Mary Catherine Bickel of Charlottesville, VA.

Tragedy struck in 1952 when 20-year-old son David Edward Miner (1932-1952) was killed in an automobile accident. While employed by Ford Motor Co. in Buffalo, NY, he returned home for a visit with his parents, just a few days before he was to be inducted into the US Army. He and a companion were killed "in a collision of two automobiles on route 36, a short distance south of the main entrance to the Hollidaysburg State Hospital," said the Altoona Mirror

Pennsylvania Railroad yard and shops in Altoona

He "retired in 1967 as a welder in the PRR boiler shop," said an Altoona newspaper. Esther "was a homemaker who enjoyed cooking and sewing." They resided at Homers Gap, PA, and were members of the Asbury United Methodist Church, where Esther was treasurer of the Women's Society. 

John died on July 18, 1973, after suffering a heart attack. 

Son William E. Miner (1925-2002) was born in 1925. He was a Navy veteran of World War II. On Dec. 29, 1945, at the age of 20, William married V. Irene Halbritter ( ? -2014), daughter of Frank K. and Madge Catherine (Purgitt) Halbritter of Fuoss Mills, Antis Township, near Altoona. They had three children -- Linda L. Bryan, William E. Bryan and Donna L. Brunner. William was a longtime letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service in Tyrone, PA, while Irene worked at the local Sears store. Irene was a life member of the Asbury United Methodist Church and also attended the Tipton United Methodist Church. She "enjoyed gardening and reading," said the Altoona Mirror, and was active with the United Methodist Women. He died on Oct. 24, 2002, at the age of 77. Irene survived her husband by nearly a dozen years and spent her final time in her home on Graystone Court in Bellemead. She died at the age of 86 on July 24, 2014 in UPMC Altoona. She was laid to rest in Logan Valley Cemetery in Bellwood following a funeral led by Rev. Robert Stump.


Linda Miner Bryan and her story in Hospital News

  • Granddaughter Linda (Miner) Bryan married Gilbert "Gib" Bryan. After being widowed at a young age, she built a career as an executive assistant to the chief operating officer with the DuBois Regional Medical Center -- later renamed Penn Highlands Healthcare -- in DuBois, Clearfield County, PA. A creative writer and poet, Linda authored a literary poem, "The Raspberry Patch," published in Pennsylvania English, inspired by her Miner ancestors. She also is the author of "Lessons from the Hobo Express." In February 2011, Linda was pictured on the front page of Western Pennsylvania Hospital News & More under a headline reading "Artists Among Us -- Linda Bryan Translates Life and Family into Poetry." [link]  She also authored "Turning a Bad Time in My Life into a Positive," in Pittsburgh Better Times, describing how she coped as a young widow and single mother. [link]

~ Son Thomas M. Miner, II ~

Son Thomas M. Miner, II (1907-1980) was born in 1907. He married Edna L. Biser (1914-1991). They resided at Homers Gap, and had four children -- Charles M. "Charlie" Miner, Gladys Stengel, Grace Burns and Thomas W. Miner. 

Said an Altoona newspaper, "Known as Col. Sanders, Mr. Miner retired from the E&M shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1959, after 30 years' service." Edna worked for 19 years as head seamstress at Altoona Hospital, retiring in February 1978. 

Altoona newspaper

 When Thomas died in 1980, and and Edna were survived 16 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. He died on Aug. 5, 1980, and his newspaper obituary is seen here. 

Edna outlived him by 11 years, and passed away on Aug. 25, 1991.

Son Charles M. Miner (1930-1984) was born in 1930. He married Joan T. Moser in Bellwood, PA, in 1950. They had six children -- Charles M. "Chuck" Miner Jr., Joni T. Reismeier, Mark T. Miner, Andrew D. Miner, Yvonne L. Miner and Pamela L. Miner. Said a newspaper, he "retired as a tractor operator from Conrail in November 1983, after 33 years' service." They resided in Riggles Gap, PA,and were members of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Bellwood. He died on Nov. 6, 1984. 

  • Grandson Charles M. "Chuck" Miner Jr. married Janet Marie Greene (1954-2014), daughter of William C. and Cora (Williamson) Greene of Altoona. They made their home in Bellwood. Sadly, Janet died at the age of 60, on Nov. 1, 2014, in UPMC Shadyside. An obituary was printed in the Altoona Mirror.

Son Thomas W. Miner (1932-1997) married Kay L. Miller. They were members of the Trinity Assembly of God Church in Huntingdon, PA. Said a newspaper, "He retired from J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital, Huntingdon, in 1978. He had previously worked as a painter for Robert Leidy Painting, Alexandria." He died on July 31, 1997, at the age of 65.

Adam and Esther Erb

~ Daughter Esther (Miner) Erb ~

Daughter Esther Miner (1910-2001) married Adam John Erb (1910-1993). 

Esther and Adam had four children -- Richard E. Erb, Joann Imler, Nancy Schreiner and Judith Seltzer. 

Esther was "a homemaker ... [who] enjoyed spending time with her family, reading the Bible and gardening." Adam, "known as 'Buck'," said a newspaper, "retired as a pipefitter from Pennsylvania Railroad in 1962, after 32 years' service. 

After his retirement, Adam was employed at Imler's Poultry for 23 years. They were members of Grace Brethren Church, Juniata, PA. They resided in Greenwood, PA in 1970 and in Florida in 1973. 

Adam died at age 83 on June 4, 1993. 

Esther outlived her husband by 18 years. She passed away on July 30, 2001, at age 91. At her death, she and Adam had produced 15 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

Daughter Joanna R. (Erb) Imler was born on Oct. 9, 1933 in Altoona. She wed Fred Imler ( ? - ? ) of the Imler Poultry Farm in Hollidaysburg, Blair County. Joann died at home, surrounded by her family, at the age of 81 on Oct. 26, 2014. An obituary was printed in the Altoona Mirror.

The famed 'Horseshoe Curve" of the Pennsylvania Railroad, a landmark which the family of railroaders would have known well.

~ Daughter Mabel (Miner) O'Connell Hewitt ~

Daughter Mabel Miner  (1913-2004) was married to Eugene O'Donnell and Samuel Hewitt. She lived in Altoona, PA. 

They had three children -- Dolores Oppel, David "Rusty" O'Donnell and James E. O'Donnell. 

Said a newspaper, she "was a licensed practical nurse at the former Hollidaysburg State Hospital psychiatric ward. She attended Calvary Baptist Church. She enjoyed making fudge and giving it away, planting flowers and crocheting." 

Mabel passed away on Nov. 6, 2004, and is buried in Grandview Cemetery.

~ Daughter Ruth (Miner) Hawbecker Plank ~

Daughter Ruth Miner (1919-2012) was born on Aug. 2, 1919 in Altoona. She was twice married, first to Alton L. Hawbecker and then to James D. Plank II. The Altoona Mirror said she "had the honor of being a Navy wife for 30 years."

Ruth had five children -- Gwendolyn H. Stace, Catherine C. Hayslett, James D. Plank III, Cathy Sartor and Moletha Plank. 

During World War II, Ruth served as a junior mechanic at Fort Indiantown Gap. 

Ruth lived in Hawaii circa 1969, and resided for more than two decades in Ocean View, VA. She enjoyed traveling. In 2010-2012, she made her home in Clare Bridge, VA. 

Ruth passed away on Feb. 16, 2012, the last of her siblings. She was survived by 13 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. 

Will and Hattie's adult children, 1956

~ Daughter Elizabeth (Miner) Mansell ~

Daughter Elizabeth Miner (1915-1994) wed (?) Mansell. 

She resided in the Bronx, New York City in 1969. 

She passed away in 1994.

~ For More ~

For more information, contact John Wesley Miner's granddaughter, Donna (Miner) Bruner. As well, a distant cousin, Craig Adams, is leading the research effort on this family.

Copyright 2002-2005, 2011-2012, 2014 Mark A. Miner and Craig Adams