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Gertrude (Minerd) Thomas

Gertrude and daughter Dorothy
Gertrude A. (Minerd) Thomas
was born in 1882 in Dunbar, Fayette County, PA, the daughter of Charles B. and Ada (Tressler) Minerd.

Gertrude entered into marriage with Harry John Thomas (Oct. 1, 1873-1949), son of Jacob Thomas of Markleysburg, PA. 

They together produced a family of eight known children -- Mary Elizabeth Lewis, Dorothy Mae Wilson, Ira Ross "Harry" Thomas, Thurman H. Thomas, Maud Ada Thomas, Clarence William "Pete" Thomas, Ray Thomas and Ephraim F. Thomas. Dr. John D. Sturgeon is known to have assisted in the birth of daughter Maud in 1910.

The Thomases lived in the Fayette County area, where Harry earned a living for years as a coal miner. At one time they resided in Hopwood, near Uniontown, and later moved to Masontown. 

The Grim Reaper visited the young family thrice during the decade of the 1910s. On Nov. 10, 1910, four-month-old daughter Maud died of exhaustion caused by lack of nutrition. Then, on April 16, 1917 son Ray, age 15 days, died instantly of heart failure. On July 5, 1918, one-month-old son Ephraim passed away following a case of croup and pneumonia. Burial for all three was in Hopwood.

Circa 1930, Gertrude worked as a dishwasher in a Uniontown-area hotel. They dwelled at the Provance Works near Masontown in the late 1940s. 

During Harry's last years, he endured heart disease and brain seizures which a physician labeled as "idiopathic" epilepsy.

At the age of 76, burdened with heart failure, he was admitted to Uniontown Hospital. He passed three days later on Dec. 7, 1949. 

Gertrude outlived him by 21 years and moved into the city of Uniontown, sharing a residence with her son Thurman. She earned a living in 1950 as a hotel dishwasher. 

She passed away on July 31, 1970.  Her funeral arrangements were handled by the Edward E. Minerd Funeral Home of Uniontown, PA. At the time of her death, she had 16 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren. She and Harry are buried in the Greendale Cemetery, Masontown.

~ Daughter Mary Elizabeth (Thomas) Lewis ~

Daughter Mary Elizabeth Thomas (1904- ? ) was born in about 1904.

She married (?) Lewis.

Mary made her home in Uniontown in 1974-1986 and was named in the obituaries of her sister Dorothy (1974) and Harry (1977).

Her paper trail has gone cold.

~ Daughter Dorothy Mae (Thomas) Wilson ~

Daughter Dorothy Mae Thomas (1906-1974) was born on May 18, 1906 in Uniontown.

She entered into marriage with Lindsay D. Wilson Sr. (1906-1972), a laborer in a coal and coke yard circa 1930.

Eight children were born to this couple -- Thelma Shipley, Lindsay Wilson Jr., Mary Ritenour, Mildred Schroyer, Hugh Wilson, Phyllis Crise, Norman J. Wilson and John Wilson.  

When the federal censuses were made in 1940 and 1950, the Wilsons dwelled near Masontown in Nicholson Township, with Lindsay employed as a driver in the Provance coal mine. 

Sadness blanketed the family when Lindsay died in 1972. Burial was in Greendale Cemetery, Masontown.

Dorothy survived her spouse by two years, remaining in Masontown.

She was gathered away by the angels at the age of 68 on Nov. 21, 1974. Interment was at Greendale. An obituary was published in the Uniontown Evening Standard. She was survived by 21 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Daughter Thelma Wilson (1927-2017) was born in about 1927. Unmarried at the age of 23 in 1950, she dwelled at home in Nicholson Township. She married widower Forrest "Wayne" Shipley (1920-1997), son of Ethel Shipley of Masontown. Wayne's first wife, Daisy Leona (Townsend) Shipley, had died at Leckrone in Aug. 1950. He thus brought at least three stepchildren into his union with Thelma -- twins Bruce Wayne Shipley and Lenard Dwayne Shipley and Darla Jeanne Purcel. Circa 1950-1966, Wayne was employed at the Nemacolin mine of Buckeye Coal Company, operating coal loading equipment. He escaped injury in a May 1952 fall of slate that killed one co-worker. Thelma and Wayne made their home in 1958 in Masontown and in 1966-1974 in Mount Sterling, PA and later back in Masontown. Six offspring borne by this couple were Edwin R. Shipley, Bruce Shipley, Leonard Shipley, Erwin Shipley, Darla Purcel and Dorothy Tanner. Sadly, Wayne died in 1997. His remains were laid to rest in Masontown Cemetery. Thelma outlived her spouse by two decades and in 1996 lived in Nemacolin, PA. In 2006, she endured the death of her son Edwin. She passed away on March 11, 2017.

  • Step-grandson Bruce Wayne Shipley (1943-2022) was born on June 23, 1943 in Uniontown, a twin with his brother Leonard. He joined the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and was shipped to Vietnam in January 1966 for the first of two tours of duty.  He entered into marriage with Emily ( ? - ? ). They resided in El Paso, TX in 2006-2022.
  • Step-grandson Lenard Dwayne "Lenny" Shipley (1943-2022) was born on June 23, 1943 in Uniontown, a twin with his brother Bruce. During the Vietnam War, circa 1961, he left high school to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps and trained at Camp Lejeune, NC. Then in 1965, deployed to Vietnam, he received gifts and letters from Uniontown friends and sent a letter of gratitude to the Uniontown Evening Standard. Over the years, as a Marine, until discharge in 1970, he made a home in Hawaii and Washington, DC. Circa 1978, Leonard tied the marital knot with Gwendolyn R. Mundt ( ? -living). Their union endured for 44 years. The Shipleys lived in Jonesboro, GA.  He went to work for Delta Airlines in 1978 and spent 19 years there until retiring in 1997. He then took a job with Walmart as a greeter and evening cashier, retiring once more in 2013. He hld memberships in the Elks Club and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Said an obituary, "Lenard was an avid golfer and liked bowling on a league. When he would relax at home, he enjoyed watching movies and football. He always cheered for his two favorite teams Penn State and the Atlanta Falcons." Their final home together was in Lorain, OH. Sadly, Lenard died at the age of 79 in Mercy New Life Hospice Center of St. Joseph on June 13, 2022. His cremains were placed into honored rest at Arlington National Cemetery. In an obituary, the family requested that any memorial donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.
  • Step-granddaughter Darla Jeanne Shipley (1946- ? ) was born in about 1946. In early 1967, in nuptials held in Christ Methodist Church of Cleveland, she was joined in wedlock with David Purcel (Aug. 31, 1943-2013), a Cleveland native. The marriage was announced with Darla's bridal portrait in the Uniontown Evening Standard. Their union endured for 46 years until the separation of death. David was a 1961 graduate of John Marshall High School. The newlyweds first resided at Lakewood, OH. Their only son was David E. Purcel. For 41 years, from about 1962 to retirement in 2003, he was employed by Midland Steel Products in Cleveland. Circa 2006-2013, they dwelled in Elyria, OH. David liked to play cards, draw, bowl and golf, as well as to attend his grandchildren's sports and theatre/musical performances. Sadness blanketed the family when, at the age of 69, David died at Pomerene Hospital in Millersburg, OH on April 25, 2013. Rev. Robert Gross, of the Lake Avenue United Church of Christ, presided over the funeral rites, followed by interment in Brookdale Cemetery. An obituary was published in the Morning Journal. The widowed Darla was in Lorain in 2022.

    Great-grandson David E. Purcel married Lynn and the pair have resided in Amherst, OH. Two children of this family were David R. Purcel and Rachael N. Purcel.

  • Grandson Edwin R. Shipley (1958-2006) was born on April 28, 1958 in Uniontown Hospital, a twin with a brother. He never married. Said an obituary, he liked to listen to country music. Edwin passed away six days shy of his 48th birthday on April 22, 2006 as a patient in the Cherry Tree Nursing Center of Uniontown. Burial was in Masontown Cemetery, with Rev. Gary McFadden leading the funeral service.
  • Grandson Erwin Shipley wed Sharon Frederick, daughter of Paul and Edith (George) Frederick. The pair put down roots in Masontown and were there in 2006-2022.
  • Granddaughter Dorothy Shipley (1953-2011) was born on Aug. 10, 1953 in Uniontown. She married (?) Tanner ( ? - ? ). They are believed to have borne a daughter, Sherry Tanner. Dorothy was employed by Columbia Gas as a customer service representative. Said an obituary, "She was a modest, caring woman who was simply amazing. From her constant selfless acts to her undying love, she was hard to describe in words entirely. She touched the lives of many people." Dorothy resided in Carmichaels, PA in 2006 and was engaged to Dennis Ervin, who may have been the father of Denise Ervin. At the age of 57, Dorothy died on Jan. 12, 2011, with an obituary appearing in the Greene County Messenger.

Son Lindsey Wilson Jr. (1929- ? ) was born in about 1929. He relocated to Wisconsin and settled in Racine.

Daughter Mary "Gertrude" Wilson (1931-2004) was born on April 17, 1931 in West Virginia. Circa 1958, she wed Robert Dale Ritenour (July 13, 1935-2022), a resident of Smithfield and the son of George and Clara (Thompson) Ritenour. News of their marriage license was published in the Connellsville Daily Courier. Together, they produced a family of four -- Lenora Turner, Robert Ritenour, Norman Griffith and Mary Baker. Robert was a longtime member of the United Mine Workers of America. Circa 1974, they dwelled in Masontown. Sadly, Gertrude passed away on Feb. 22, 2004. Robert remained in Masontown to the end. Death swept him away at home at the age of 87 on Aug. 5, 2022. Burial was in Greendale Cemetery in Masontown, following rites led by Rev. Norman Walk.

  • Granddaughter Lenora Ritenour married Kenneth Turner.
  • Grandson Robert Ritenour wed Tammy.
  • Granddaughter Norma Ritenour was joined in wedlock with John Griffith.
  • Granddaughter Mary Ritenour was united in matrimony with James Baker.

Daughter Mildred M. Wilson (1933-2016) was born in about 1933 in West Virginia. She was joined in wedlock with Jack Schroyer ( ? - ? ). They lived in Masontown in the mid-1970s-2010s. Sadly, Mildred died at the age of 83, in Uniontown Hospital, on Oct. 4, 2016. Nothing more is known.

Hugh and Carol, with a newborn grandbaby (right). Courtesy Crystal DeHart

Hugh and Carol
Courtesy Crystal DeHart
Son Hugh Franklin Wilson Sr. (1935-2022) was born on July 7, 1935 in Masontown, Fayette County, PA. At the age of 17, he joined the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and was stationed for four years in France. After his term of military service ended, he returned to Fayette County and then found work in Racine, WI with Racine Steel Casting Company. On Sept. 29, 1961, in Cumberland, MD, after knowing each other for seven months, he entered into marriage with Carol Lee Warman ( ? - ? ). Their union endured for an extraordinary 61 years. Two offspring born to the couple were Tammy Lynn Bronson and Hugh Franklin Wilson Jr. The newlyweds made their first home in Racine, with Hugh continuing his career with Racine Steel Casting until retirement in 1998, for a total of 39 years. When time allowed, he liked to camp, fish, sit on his front porch and feed squirrels. Their dwelling was in Sturtevant, near Racine, at 3409 90th Street. Said an obituary, "He was interested in fast cars, i.e., GTO, Mustang, and Camaro, to name a few. Hugh was humorous and like to be a prankster. He loved spending time with his grandchildren [and] appreciated his wife's cooking and her desserts..." He is known to have been named in the Sadly, as a patient at the Villa at Lincoln Park, he died at the age of 86 on Feb. 15, 2022. He was pictured in his obituary in the Racine Journal Times.  Interment of the remains took place  with full military honors in West Lawn Memorial Park.

  • Granddaughter Tammy Lynn Wilson (1962-living) was born in 1962. Circa Sept. 1982, she wed William "Bill" Bronson ( ? - ? ), son of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Katzer. They became the parents of Melissa Bronson and Eric Bronson.

    Great-granddaughter Melissa Bronson (1986-living)

    Great-grandson Eric Bronson (1990-living)

  • Grandson Hugh Franklin Wilson Jr  (1964-living) was born in 1964. He was employed in young manhood as a laborer at his father's workplace, Racine Steel Castings. On Sept. 15, 1984, he was joined in wedlock with Lisa Clark ( ? -living), daughter of Daniel and Dolores (Hardel) Clark. Their wedding was officiated by Rev. George L. Goepfert in the Faith Lutheran Church of Sturtevant, and their wedding portrait was published in the Racine Journal Times. At the time, Lisa earned a living as a cleaning lady with Unique Cleanign Service of Sturtevant. Together, they bore a family of four -- Crystal DeHart, Brandon Wilson, Brittany Wilson and Bradley Wilson. Their residence has been in Sturtevant near Racine, just down the road from his parents.

    Great-granddaughter Crystal Wilson (1985-living) was born in 1985. She was united in matrimony with Paul DeHart Sr. ( ? -living). Their trio of children are Paul DeHart Jr., Leanna DeHart and Carissa DeHart. Crystal generously has contributed valuable content for this biography. 

    Great-grandson Brandon Wilson (1989-living) was born in 1989. He served in the U.S. Armed Forces and has since dwelled in North Carolina and Madison, WI.

    Great-granddaughter Brittany Wilson (1993-living) was born in 1993. She was joined in wedlock with Ryan Schuk ( ? -living). They relocated to Greenfield near Milwaukee and have a brood of three -- Adalyn "Addie," Leo and Braelyn.

    Great-grandson Bradley Wilson (1999-living) was born in 1999. He has lived in the Racine area.

Daughter Phyllis J. Wilson (1938- ? ) was born in about 1938. She was united in matrimony with Clarence "Ray" Crise (June 4, 1935-2007). The couple moved to Aliquippa, PA and were there in 1974. The four offspring of this couple were Robert R. Crise, Barry Crise, Debbie Rykaczewski and Tammy Vrana. Sadly, Ray died at the age of 72 on July 22, 2007. The remains were lowered under the sod of Sylvania Hills Memorial Park. As a widow, Phyllis relocated to North Carolina. In 2008, she endured the heartbreak of the auto-accident death of her son Robert.

  • Grandson Robert R. Crise (1956-2008) was born on June 4, 1956 in Uniontown. He grew up in Aliquippa and served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, with a posting in Korea. Later, he made his residence in New Brighton. Robert was the father of Alicia Crise and Alexa Crise. For 25 years, he was a companion of Beth A. Cunnard ( ? - ? ). Robert liked to fish and admire classic cars. After becoming injured in an automobile accident, he was admitted to Pittsburgh's UPMC Presbyterian Hospital where he died at the age of 52 on Sept. 14, 2008. His obituary was published in the Beaver County Times. Funeral services were led by Rev. Colene Carney of the Dutch Ridge Community Church of Brighton Township in Beaver, with interment in Beaver Cemetery.
  • Grandson Barry Crise ( ? - ? )
  • Granddaughter Debbie Crise ( ? - ? ) wed Joseph Rykaczewski. They are the parents of Joseph Rykaczewski Jr.
  • Granddaughter Tammy Crise ( ? - ? ) married Greg Vrana. 

Son Norman J. Wilson Sr. (1940-1996) was born on April 13, 1940. He too made the move to Racine, WI, following his elder brothers Lindsay and Hugh. Norman was united in matrimony with Edna Mae Swaney Rice (1943-2022), the adopted daughter of John and Elizabeth (Minerd Rankin) Rice. See the Rice biography for more.

Son John Wilson (1945- ? ) was born in about 1945. He entered into the rite of marriage with Sharon. They resided in South Carolina in 1974-1996. Nothing more is known.

~ Son Ira Ross "Harry" Thomas ~

Son Ira Ross "Harry" Thomas (1908-1977) was born on April 6, 1908 in Hopwood near Uniontown. Dr. John D. Sturgeon assisted in the birth.

Harry was united in the bonds of holy matrimony with Elizabeth (1914- ? ).

They were the parents of Ray F. Thomas.

Harry and Elizabeth made a residence for years in Uniontown. The 1940 federal census enumeration of Iowa Street shows that both worked in a local hotel, with him employed as a busboy and her as a waitress.

Harry Thomas' workplace, the famed Summit Hotel 

The Thomases' marriage ended during the 1940s. Harry was employed during that era as a bartender at the famed Summit Hotel near Uniontown and lived under the roof of his married brother Thurman in Uniontown in 1950. His brother Pete also was a bartender at the Summit.

Circa 1951, he is believed to have wed again at the age of 42 to 20-year-old Betty Bryner (1931- ? ), with whom he had been sharing a home at his brother Thurman's. News of their marriage license was printed in the Connellsville Daily Courier. But whether or not they tied the knot is unknown.

Sadly, at the age of 69, Harry surrendered to the spirit of death in Uniontown Hospital on July 28, 1977. Funeral services were conducted by the hand of Major Burton Johnson, with burial in Greendale Cemetery, Masontown. An obituary appeared in the Uniontown Evening Standard

Son Ray F. Thomas (1931-1986) was born on May 25, 1931. He wed Irene E. (1924- ? ). They dwelled in Masontown, PA in 1977. He died in Masontown in March 1986 at the age of 54. His remains sleep for all time in Greendale Cemetery, Masontown. Inscribed on the face of their grave marker is the first line of the Lord's Prayer -- "Our father which art in Heaven."

~ Son Thurman Harry Thomas ~

Son Thurman Harry Thomas (1912-1970) was born on Sept. 21, 1912 in Hopwood, Fayette County.

In young manhood he stood 5 feet, 5 inches tall, weighed 162 lbs. and bore a scar on his right leg. 

As of 1940, he was unemployed and lived with his mother at 35 Iowa Street, Uniontown. Thurman was a World War II veteran, serving from Sept. 29, 1942 to Oct. 29, 1943, receiving his discharge at Sheppard Field, TX. He later worked as a crackerman for Wholesale Biscuit Company (circa 1950) and at U.S. Powder Company, from which he retired. 

Thurman entered into marriage with Betty J. Hixon (1928-1995). 

They resided in Uniontown and had five children -- Ray Franklin Thomas, Thurman Harry "Skip" Thomas Jr., William Thomas, Sharon Henegar and Ann Forsythe. 

He was a member of the Salvation Army. In 1950, he and Betty provided lodging for his widowed mother and single brother Harry.

Thurman died on Feb. 10, 1970. Funeral services were held in the Edward E. Minerd Funeral Home of Uniontown, led by Salvation Army Brig. Myrtle A. Reynolds. The remains were laid to eternal rest in Sylvan Heights Cemetery. The Uniontown Evening Standard published an obituary. 

Son Ray Franklin Thomas (1947-2010) was born in 1947. He married Catherine Bellish ( ? - ? ). The pair became the parents of two children. A computer programmer by training, he was the owner/operator of Laurel Computer on Fayette Street in Uniontown. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 47 and American Legion Post 51. He died at the age of 62, in Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital, on April 13, 2010.

Son Thurman Harry "Skip" Thomas Jr. (1949- ? ) was born in about 1949. He dwelled in San Diego in 1970.

Son William Thomas

Daughter Sharon Thomas entered into marriage with Carl Henegar. In 1970, they were in Knoxville, TN. 

Daughter Ann Thomas wed (?) Forsythe 

Son Ray Thomas dwelled in Masontown in 1977. 

~ Son Clarence William "Pete" Thomas ~

Son Clarence William "Pete" Thomas (1915-1984) was born on Oct. 8, 1914 in Hopwood near Uniontown.

In adulthod he stood 5 feet, 2 inches tall, weighed 135 lbs and sported a scar on his left ear. During the Great Depression, in about 1935, he is known to have lived in Arizona before returning to Fayette County.

On Oct. 20, 1938, he was united in matrimony with Margaret Elaine Horwath (Jan. 3, 1917-2011), daughter of Josef and Julia Csuha Horwath of Uniontown.

Their one known daughter was Joanne Catherine Graybeal Wilson. 

Above: the German-themed Munchausen Room where Pete tended bar at the Summit Hotel. Below: the Summit's grand staircase.

Margaret is believed to have been employed at the White Swan Hotel in Uniontown as a young woman. When it became known that she was expecting a baby, her co-workers held a surprise housewarming and "stork shower" featuring games and music.

When required to register for the military draft during World War II, circa 1940, Clarence and Margaret dwelled in the rear of 28 Dunlap Street in Uniontown. At that time, he worked at the Summit Hotel and disclosed that general manager Leo Heyn was his boss. The Summit was a well-known landmark along Route 40, the National Highway, and its Munchausen room featured dancing and floor show every evening from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Circa 1942, he was employed as a bartender in the Munchausen Room -- a hoffbrau style pub -- of the famed Summit Hotel above Uniontown. His brother Harry also worked at the hotel bar.

He joined the U.S. Navy during the war, enlisting on Feb. 27, 1945 and serving until March 2, 1946. He was posted to bases at Sampson, NY and Chase Field in Beeville, TX. He was discharged at Camp Wallace, TX and returned home .

As of 1950, he resided at 333 North Gallatin Avenue in Uniontown. He is known also to have tended bar at Uniontown's Venetian Restaurant.

Their home in 1977 was in Uniontown. That year, they traveled to Akron to attend the funeral of her brother Steve Horwath, as noted in the gossip columns of the Uniontown Evening Standard. Eventually the couple moved to Maryland, where their married daughter was living.

Death enveloped Pete in Bel Air, MD on June 2, 1984. Rev. John J. Abrahams led the funeral service, with burial following in the Bel Air Memorial Gardens. Said his obituary in the Bel Air Aegis, his pallbearers were Raymon Graybeal, Kelly Ireton, Kevin Ireton and Frank Horwath. 

Margaret outlived her husband by 26 years and at the end was in Joppa, MD. She died there on Jan. 13, 2011. Her obituary also was printed in the Aegis.

Daughter Joanne Thomas (1939- ? ) was born in about 1939 in Uniontown. She married (?) Graybeal and (?) Wilson. She resided in Joppa, MD as of 2011. Her two known offspring were Karen L. Taylor and Dawn Ireton.

  • Granddaughter Karen L. Wilson married Randall Taylor. They were in Joppa, MD in 2011. 
  • Granddaughter Dawn Wilson wed Kelly Ireton. In 2011, their home was in Bel Air, MD. 

Copyright 2000, 2002, 2010, 2014, 2022-2023 Mark A. Miner