Martha Jane "Mattie" (Minerd) Stairs was born on Nov. 6, 1863 in Bridgeport, near Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA, the daughter of Eli and Mary Ann (Baer) Minerd.
In about 1879, when Mattie was age 16, she married 20-year-old Lehman Garner Stairs (Aug. 1860-1930), the son of Jacob Stairs and a native of Somerset County, PA.
They established their residence near Mount Pleasant.
Their nine children were Clarence Garner Stairs, Lula Swift, Clyde L. Stairs, Ray Clayton Stairs, Bessie Mae Hanson Brady Wierbacki, Charles M. Stairs, Pearl Nora Hence Sines Sonavec, Earl Norman Stairs and one whose identity is unknown but died in childhood.
Sadly, son Charles also died as as a three-year-old, sometime before the year 1900.
When the federal census was taken in 1900, Lehman and Mattie and their eldest five children -- ranging in age from one to 13 -- were enumerated in Ward 2 of Mount Pleasant. Lehman's occupation that year was listed as "teamster" -- and early term for wagon driver.
In 1910, the census shows the Stairses making their home in Diamond Street in Mount Pleasant, with Lehman working as a driver for a local flour mill. Newlywed daughter and son in law Lula and Samuel Swift lived under their roof at that time.
Daughter Bess sent a penny postcard in 1911 to her sister Lula, reporting news about their father's uncertain work-hours of driving: "Papa has been working all week since Wed. Thursday night he didn't get home till 12 o'clock. He went away to stay all night but changed his mind."
The census of 1920 shows the family continuing to reside on Mount Pleasant's Diamond Street. Lehman's driving work that year was for an oil wagon.
Tragedy rocked the family in March 1924, when son Ray, who was married and had two young sons, died of burns suffered in a gasoline explosion at an oil facility near Mt. Pleasant. Son Earl, also caught in the blast, fortunately recovered.
When the census-taker visited the Stairs home in early April 1930, the 69-year-old Lehman was retired. In failing health for the final four months of his life, due to heart and liver ailments, Leahman died in Mount Pleasant on April 26, 1930.
A little less than a year later, on March 27, 1931, Mattie died at home on North Diamond Street, having suffered for a week after enduring a stroke. She was buried with her husband at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Son Earl, who was the informant for the official Pennsylvania certificate of death, was unable to provide his grandmother Minerd's maiden name.
Copyright © 2000-2001, 2010, 2018, 2023 Mark A. Miner