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Martha (Minerd) Imel Harbaugh


Indian Creek Baptist Church

Martha (Minerd) Harbaugh was the daughter of Western PA pioneers Jacob and Maria (Nein) Minerd Sr.  Her memories in late life, told to grandson Allen Edward Harbaugh, form the basis of his 1913 landmark history of our family which provides a vital framework for understanding the clan's pioneer days.

Martha's grave marker, dated Jan. 11, 1878, is one of two stones of the pioneers' children known to exist in Western Pennsylvania.

At last count, she and her two husbands together produced 15 children and step-children, 45 grandchildren and 159 great-grandchildren, virtually all born before the year 1900.

Martha was born on March 10, 1789 during the Minerds' brief era of residence in Emmitsburg, MD. As a two-year-old, she then traveled with her parents to their new home at Maple Summit, PA, along the mountainous Fayette-Somerset border.

As an old woman, she would retell stories of her childhood to her adoring grandson Allen Edward Harbaugh, the famed "Mountain Poet" of Mill Run, PA. Allen later wrote:

[Her father Jacob Minerd Sr.] pitched his camp under a large tree until he built a cabin.  He labored rearing a home and clearing land.  He also boiled salt at Victoria [along the Youghiogheny River].  Grandmother, while yet a girl carried provisions to him at the Saltspring bottom.

Martha first married Jacob Imel (1785-1816) when she was but a young teenager.

Together, the Imels bore a daughter, Susanna "Susie" Knight. They may also have produced a son Henry Imel, but this is conjecture and not yet confirmed.

Sadly, Jacob died an untimely death in 1816, of causes unknown.  He is described in the book, Immel and Imel Families in America by Velma Byrum Keller (Schlechter's, Allentown, PA, 1974). Martha was thus rendered a widow at age 17, with two young children.


Martha's birthplace, Emmitsburg, MD, as seen during the Civil War



In about 1819, after three years as a single mother, Martha married widower Leonard Harbaugh Sr. (1780-1867), the son of Casper and Mary (Cramer) Harbaugh. Casper is said to have been a civilian teamster in the French and Indian War and was present when General Edward Braddock was mortally wounded in battle near present-day Pittsburgh, and also observed Braddock's secret burial at what is now Chalk Hill near Uniontown, PA. (Click for other family connections with the famed Braddock's Grave historic site.)

Leonard's father Casper, along with the Weimer and Pritts families, emigrated to Somerset County in about 1790 from York and Lancaster Counties, PA. These clans settled between Somerset and New Centreville. 

Leonard and his first wife, Elizabeth (Pritts) Harbaugh, were the parents of eight children -- Joseph Harbaugh, Mary Harbaugh, Catherine "Kate" Rowan, Sarah "Sally" Leonard, Rebecca Bacom, Samuel Harbaugh, Nancy Harbaugh and Jonathan Harbaugh.

Sadly, Elizabeth died on Sept. 20, 1819, at the age of 36, leaving her widower with eight mouths to feed.


Pastoral scene of grazing livestock in the rugged Allegheny Mountains, a type of view with which Martha and Leonard would have been very familiar



Church magazine
naming the Harbaughs

Martha and Leonard settled near what is now Clairton Lake near Scullton, Somerset County, PA. They went on to have five more children of their own -- Elizabeth Harbaugh, Isaac Harbaugh, Leonard Harbaugh Jr., Adaline Minerd and David Harbaugh. Leonard also became the legal guardian for stepdaughter Susie. 

Circa 1804, when he was 29 years of age, Leonard served in the "first military company of Somerset ... the Somerset Rifles, commanded by Captain James Wilson," recalled grandson Allen Harbaugh in a Somerset newspaper article many years later. "Their uniforms consisted of soft hats with buck-tail plumes, black hunting shirts, orange-colored pantaloons and black boots."

During the early 1830s, the Harbaughs were part of a pioneering church movement known as the Second Great Awakening led by Alexander Campbell which later became known as the Church of Christ or Christian Church. Martha's brother Jacob Minerd Jr. also was a convert around this time. Campbell's disciple Chauncey Forward, a lawyer and Congressman from Somerset, established a church in late 1831 or early 1832 about four miles southwest of New Centreville, known as Turkey-Foot or Spruce Creek. Martha and Leonard, and eldest son Joseph, were charter members, along with Dr. and Mrs. Jonas Younkin, Mr. and Mrs. John Prinkey, Mr. and Mrs. Shaphat Dwire, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob N. Hartzell, Mr. and Mrs. Steward Rowen, Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Baldwin, Mr. and Mrs. Harmon Husband and Mr. and Mrs. John Graham, among many others. According to an 1886 article in The Disciple: A Monthly Magazine of Christian Literature, "They met for awhile in a shabby log school-house on the Turkey-Foot road. Afterwards they built a log meeting-house, which is now occupied by the German Baptists (Dunkards)... Dr. Jonas Younkin and Harmon Husband were the first elders. They could preach pretty well." 


Family Bible inscription

The Church of Christ movement continued for about 25 years. Says The Disciple: "But emigration thinned them rapidly, the reaper Death claimed his share, 'the beggarly elements of the world devoured others, and drink got [one of them], and so, in the latter part of the fifties, the candlestick was removed."

In the 1840s, perhaps as a Christmas gift, Leonard received a large family Bible, published by the Methodist Episcopal Church. Inside, inscriptions were written of family births, marriages and deaths covering three generations. Seen here is the record of his and Martha's births. The Bible has survived the ravages of time and fire, and its pages may be viewed here.

All told, Martha and Leonard had 15 children and step-children, and 54+ grandchildren and step-grandchildren. 

When the federal census was taken in 1860, Leonard and Martha resided on their old farm, with him working as a farmer and her as a "spinster." Their sons Joseph and David lived in adjacent dwellings.


Hand-drawn family tree

Of Martha's children and their spouses, at least two served in the Civil War, while at least four step-grandsons served as well. Three step-grandsons -- Jonas, Josiah and Leonard Rowan all died from the effects of their military service. Another step-grandson, veteran David Rowan, was killed in a railroad accident.

Leonard died on March 2, 1867 at the age of 87 years, in Lower Turkeyfoot Twp.  His burial site is unknown. His original estate administration papers are on file at the Somerset County courthouse. In February 2006, the Laurel Messenger quarterly newsletter of the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County published excerpts from Leonard's estate file, and show that his executors were sons Joseph and Leonard Jr. 

A hand-drawn family tree chart of Casper's descendants is seen here. Dated 1927, the artist's identity is not known.

In her widowed years, Martha made a home with her married step-daughter Catherine (Harbaugh) Rowan and as a close neighbor to her married daughter and son in law, Adaline and Charles Minerd, and step-son Joseph Harbaugh and his wife Jane.


The U.S. census of 1870 shows her in the Rowan household, with Martha shown as 81 years of age. Granddaughter Lucinda Minerd, age 21, also lived under the Rowan roof that year and worked as a housekeeper. Marked in Martha's census listing is that her father and mother were of foreign birth, and that she could neither read nor write.

Martha died on Jan. 15, 1878 at the age of nearly 90. She was laid to rest at the Indian Creek Baptist Church Cemetery at Mill Run, PA, in the near vicinity of her stepson Joseph Harbaugh, stepson in law James Rowan, and other of her Rowan step-grandchildren. No obituary is known to have been published in the Connellsville or Somerset newspapers.

Grandson Allen E. Harbaugh read his history -- Sketch of Minerd Families - Historical and Traditional -- at the clan's first reunion, in 1913, at Ohiopyle. The history, he said, was "an immortal tribute to the memory of his dearly beloved grandmother." 

Martha and Leonard and some of their children are mentioned in a 2011 book about their granddaughter Rosetta who married a Civil War veteran -- entitled Well At This Time: the Civil War Diaries and Army Convalescence Saga of Farmboy Ephraim Miner. The book is authored by the founder of this website. [More


Copyright 2000, 2002, 2008-2009, 2017, 2021 Mark A. Miner

The Disciple title page courtesy of Google Books