James L. Minerd was born on or about Nov. 28, 1859 in Ironton, Lawrence County, OH, the son of John Vernon Smith and Elizabeth (Livingston) Minerd. While his grave marker states his birth year as 1864, and his death certificate as 1866, it's thought he "fudged" a little so he would appear younger.
When he was about seven years old, his family moved back to Fayette County, PA, for good.
James was a longtime coal miner. Circa 1889, he labored in Dunbar, Fayette County, where many of his uncles, aunts and cousins resided over the years, dating back to the 1850s.
On Dec. 2, 1889, 28-year-old James was united in matrimony with 22-year-old Catherine "Kate" Whalen (1869-1917). She was a native of Pittsburgh but a resident at the time of Dawson, Fayette County and the daughter of Irish immigrants Peter and Margaret (Gordan) Whalen.
The wedding ceremony was conducted at Dunbar by justice of the peace Daniel K. Cameron. A copy of their marriage license is on microfilm today at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in nearby Greensburg.
The family of eight children they produced were Clyde Bernard Minerd, Wilbert Regis "Patsy" Minerd, Edna Wilson Johnson, Marie Edwards, Hazel E. Johnson, Margaret Pocci, Catherine Hughes and James Whalen Minerd.
The Minerds later resided at Republic, Redstone Township, Fayette County, which was a community built around a coal mining operation. James was said to be "widely known in Republic and this district," said the Uniontown (PA) Standard.
He converted to the Roman Catholic faith for his wife.
When the federal census was taken in 1910, the Minerds and their children made their home at the Mitchell Works in Redstone Township, Fayette County. James' occupation is listed as "fireman" in the "shafts." Son Clyde, age 19, was a teamster in the shafts.
Sadly, in the summer of 1917, at the age of 47, Kate was afflicted with chronic gastric catarrh, otherwise known as an infection and inflammation of the stomach. She became gravely ill "due to a complication of diseases," reported a newspaper. She went to stay with her sister, Mrs. Ray L. Sharps of Republic, where she finally died on Aug. 6 of that year. She left behind her husband and eight children, ranging in age from 27 (son Clyde) to 9 (son James).
James outlived his wife by more than two decades. He retired from mining in 1926.
When the federal census was taken in 1930, the 71-year-old James made his home in Republic under the roof of his married daughter and son in law, Hazel and John Johnson. Also living in the household was James' 21-year-old unmarried son James Whalen Minerd, a coal miner.
For the last three years of his life, James suffered with prostate cancer, as well as hardening of the arteries and a type of senile psychosis. He underwent surgery for the cancer in January 1937..
James died at the age of 72 on Aug. 6, 1938 in the Johnson home in Republic. His passing generated headlines in the Uniontown Evening Standard, and his remains were lowered into repose beside his wife at Park Place Cemetery in Uniontown. His son Clyde was the informant for the official Pennsylvania certificate of death, but was unable to furnish his grandmother Minerd's maiden name.