Jessie (Thurston) Piper was born on Dec. 2, 1884 in Alverton near Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA, the daughter of Charles and Emma (Minerd) Thurston. She had an eighth grade education.
On Jan. 8, 1915, the 30-year-old Jessie married 39-year-old farmer Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Piper (Oct. 28, 1876-1961), son of Robert and Kate (Shunk) Piper of Ligonier, Westmoreland County. The nuptials were officiated by Alexander Peebles Kelso in Mount Pleasant. The bride and groom were about eight years apart in age.
Frank was a widower who had three sons to his first marriage to Ivy Myers ( ? -1907) -- George Myers Piper, Earl R. Piper and Joseph Marshall Piper.
The Pipers produced these known offspring of their own -- Mary "Jane" Brant, Robert W. Piper and Catherine Piper. Two other children died young -- Thomas P. Piper (at age five days on Aug. 23, 1923) and an unnamed infant son (1925). The children rest in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
On April 2, 1913, Jessie at age 29 sent a penny postcard to her cousin Lula (Stairs) Swift. The card is seen here and today is preserved in the Minerd.com Archives. In the card, Jessie wrote:
I got home O.K. I have not yet begun to clean house yet but want to start this week. Ruby is going to help me do some papering. Will try and come up [to Greensburg] soon as I get through a little.
In 1919, the family resided near Mount Pleasant. The federal census of 1930 shows them living on a farm along Morewood Road in East Huntington Township.
The Pipers made their home in 1941 at Bessemer, North Huntingdon Township, halfway between Mount Pleasant and Scottdale.
Suffering from valvular heart disease and kidney problems, she passed away at the age of 57 on Aug. 29, 1941, at Frick Memorial Hospital. She was laid to rest in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Frank married for a third time to Florence (Holdsworth) Metz (Sept. 26, 1883-1961), a native of Dellmer, PA. They were members of the First Methodist Church and its J.O.C. Sunday School class and the Women's Society of Christian Service.
They made a residence at 13 East Main Street in Mount Pleasant. belonged to the Moss Rose Lodge of the International Order of Odd Fellows and was a board director of the Mount Pleasant Building and Loan Association and of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Association.
At the age of 84, on the fateful day of Aug. 4, 1961, Frank was gathering hay on a farm near Mount Pleasant when he collapsed and died of a heart attack. Rev. Seth P. Bower officiated at the funeral, with Odd Fellows members providing additional rites, followed by interment in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The Connellsville Daily Courier published an obituary, which noted that in addition to his brother R. Denny Piper, he was survived by 19 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Not quite four months later, on Nov. 26, 1961, the widowed Florence was admitted to Frick Community Hospital. She died there at the age of 78 on Dec. 29, 1961. Burial followed in Mount Joy Cemetery, with Rev. Seth P. Bower preaching the funeral sermon. Her obituary in the Connellsville Daily Courier named her Piper stepsons and stepdaughters as well as her own siblings Mrs. Clarence Myers, Beatrice Ross, Mabel Kelley, Mrs. Norman Miller, Thomas Holdsworth and Nelson Holdsworth.
~ Stepson George Myers Piper ~
Stepson George Myers Piper (1900-1976) was born on March 19, 1900 in Scottdale. He was age 14 when his father married Jessie Thurston.
Evidence suggests that he married Helen Galley (1901-1989), daughter of Orrin C. and Mary Jane (Landis) Galley of Mount Pleasant.
They were the parents of Sarah Catherine Piper, Margaret "Peg" Fouser Hames, Helen "Louise" Piper, Eleanor P. Nicholson and William G. Piper. Heartache enveloped the young family when daughter Sarah, unable to nurse, died at the age of one week on May 25, 1926, in North Versailles.
George was employed for many years by Westinghouse Electric Company. In the community, he was a member of the First United Methodist Church of East McKeesport, the Arlington Volunteer Fire Department in North Versailles and the Masons lodge in East McKeesport.
The family bore the sadness of the loss of their 15-year-old daughter Louise in September 1945. See more below.
In 1961, he lived in East McKeesport near Pittsburgh, and in 1976 at 311 Arlington Avenue in North Versailles Township.
Sadly, George passed away at home at the age of 76 on Dec. 2, 1976. An obituary was printed in the Connellsville Daily Courier. [Find-a-Grave]
Helen survived as a widow for another baker's dozen of years. She joined George in death in 1989.
Daughter Margaret Jane "Peg" Piper (1927-2017) was born on May 12, 1927 in McKeesport. She was twice married, Her first husband was Wilbur C. Fouser (Sept. 19, 1924-1991). During World War II, Wilbur served as a gunner's mate in the U.S. Navy. They produced an only son, Richard C. Fouser. In the mid-1960s, the Fousers are believed to have relocated to North Miami, FL, where she was employed in the clerical department of Heart and Cooley Manufacturing Company. She retired in 1995 after more than three decades of work. In her spare time, she enjoyed craft making. Sadly, Wilbur passed away on New Year's Day 1991. Peg later wedded her second spouse, Donald Hames ( ? - ? ). She returned to the Pittsburgh area later in life and was a member of Union Presbyterian Church of Murrysville. On Feb. 28, 2017, at the age of 89, she passed away in Monroeville in the city's eastern suburbs. Burial was in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, following funeral services in her church led by Rev. Derek Campbell.
Daughter Eleanor M. Piper ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). She wedded Harry W. Nicholson Jr. (1936-1985), son of Nora Nicholson. The couple produced two daughters, Louise Oplinger and Nancy Coking. They resided in 1976 in Apollo, Armstrong County, PA. Harry was an entrepreurial businessman and founded H.W. Nicholson Welding and Manufacturing in Washington Township, Westmoreland County. He also established Harel Manufacturing Inc. in Apollo. Tragedy visited the family on Sept. 18, 1985, while Harry was at home building a roof on a corn crib. The scaffolding collapsed and he suffered severe head injuries, only living a short time afterward. His obituary in the Pittsburgh Press noted that he was a member of the Strongland Chamber of Commerce and the American Trap Shooting Association and was a deacon and elder at the Union Presbyterian Church. He also was a sponsor of Washington Township Baseball Association. His remains were placed into rest in Twin Valley Memorial Park in Delmont, following funeral services held at Union Presbyterian Church at Camp Joann. Eleanor survived her husband by decades. Her home in 2017 was in Washington Township, Westmoreland County.
Daughter Helen "Louise" Piper (1929-1945) was born on Nov. 28, 1929 in East McKeesport, where she grew into a teenager. At the age of 14, she was stricken with a deadly form of cancer known as sarcoma. The cancer spread to her chest, and she was cut away by the Grim Reaper after a year of suffering at the age of 15 years, 10 months on Sept. 26, 1945. Her remains were transported to Mount Pleasant Cemetery for burial. An obituary was printed in the Connellsville Daily Courier.
Son William George "Bill" Piper (1940-1987) was born on March 30, 1940. He dwelled in North Huntingdon Township in the mid-1970s. William passed into eternity at the age of 46 on Jan. 23, 1987. Burial was in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
~ Stepson Earl R. Piper ~
Stepson Earl R. Piper (1903-1989) was born in about 1903. He was four years of age when his mother died and 11 years old when her father married Jessie Thurston.
His home circa 1961-1976 was in East Pittsburgh.
In about 1928, Earl married Dorothy A. Blacksmith (1910-1989). News of their engagement was printed in the Pittsburgh Press, announced by her sibling Mr. and Mrs. William J. Wintrer of Turtle Creek.
Both of them died in 1989, with burial in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
~ Stepson Joseph Marshall Piper ~
Stepson Joseph Marshall Piper (1904-1989) was born on June 2, 1904 in Mount Pleasant Township. Age three when his mother died, he was 10 years old when Jessie Thurston became his step-mother.
On Feb. 27, 1927, when he was about age 21, Joseph was united in holy matrimony with Leona Beatrice Johnson (Oct. 22, 1904-1975), daughter of Jessie S. and Clara Olive (Murtland) Johnson of Buckeye near Mount Pleasant. The nuptials were held in the parsonage of the Middle Presbyterian Churches, officiated by Rev. Harry B. Clawson. In an interesting twist, Leona's sister Violet Pearl Johnson was married to Joseph's step-cousin, Rev. William Mullen Minerd.
The Pipers lived in Mount Pleasant and were the parents of six children -- Sara Belle Suter, James Edward Piper, Joseph M. Piper Jr., Benjamin Franklin Piper, Robert "Denny" Piper, Curtis G. Piper and Rebekah Stants. The family grieved when son James died at birth on Nov. 2, 1943.
In addition to his labors as a farmer, Joseph owned and managed the John Deere dealership in Connellsville, operating under the name J.M. Piper Equipment Company. He also was a member of the Odd Fellows lodge in Mount Pleasant, the Pleasant Valley Grange and Trinity United Methodist Church of Scottdale. He served on the boards of directors of the Bullskin Township Fair Association and, following in his father's legacy, the Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Two momentous events occurred in 1952 which greatly impacted the family. At the time, they lived a mile from a barn and farm acreage they leased from Irwin Sherbondy, known as the old Bennett farm in Bessemer. On Jan. 22, fire broke out in the barn and not only destroyed the building but claimed the lives of 21 cattle with a market value of $4,000 plus 2,000 bushels of oats, 1,500 bushels of corn, 200 bushels of barley and the grain elevator. Reported the Connellsville Daily Courier, "Flames brightened the sky like a giant torch and were seen for several miles around the countryside and as far as Scottdale and Mount Pleasant.... Origin of the blaze is unknown. Piper said 'I don't have any idea how it could have started unless it was the wiring'." Joseph and Julia were away attending an Odd Felows meeting, but hundreds of neighbors rushed to the scene to help. More than 100 vehicles "lined the nearly two-mile stretch of dirt road to the barn from the Scottdale-Mount Pleasant road, badly hampereing traffic facilities."
Then in February 1952, the Pipers celebrated their silver wedding anniversary. They renewed their marital vows, again in the presence of Rev. Clawson. Mrs. Frank Mullin of Mount Pleasant served as the bridesmaid and Joseph's brother Earl was best man, "taking his original part again," said the Daily Courier. "A lunch was served buffet style with a wedding cake trimmed in silver centering the table and tapers in crystal holders at either end of it. Many gives were received, amnog them silver dollars." In addition to Joseph's father, stepmother and siblings, guests included Flora J. Koontz, Mrs. Milton Crosby, Mrs. C.A. Lonsberry, Mr. and Mrs. William Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Johnson, Marie Boardman, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Mullin, Mr. and Mrs. D. Curt North, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wagner, Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Sherbondy, Mr. and Mrs. Clayton Miller, Martha Bair and Joanne Lankey.
Over the years, Leona was active with the Rebekah Circle of the Trinity United Methodist Church of Scottdale, the Iron Bridge Ladies Club and the Julia Rebekah Lodge of Mount Pleasant, where she held the office of noble grand.
On Feb. 22, 1969, when he was about to reach retirement age of 65, Joseph held a public auction to dispose of Deere tractors and equipment still in his inventory. The sale was held at 2621 West Crawford Avenue in Connellsvile, with H.L. Frye serving as auctioneer. Additional items advertised for sale ranged from plows, harrows and feed grinders to corn shellers, hay crimpers and chuck wagons. They also included manure spreaders, hay balers, backhoes and rotary mowers.
They resided in West Overton in the 1970s and enjoyed attending the Rev. William Mullen Minerd family reunions. At their 45th anniversary in 1972, they were pictured in the Daily Courier and held a family party at their home.
Sadly, as her health failed, Leona was admitted to Frick Community Hospital in Mount Pleasant. She died there at the age of 70 on June 20, 1975, with an obituary appearing in the Daily Courier.
Joseph outlived his wife by 14 years. Toward the end of his life, Joseph was admitted as a patient at Harmon House in Mount Pleasant. He died there on Nov. 8, 1989. Burial was in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, with Rev. Dr. William R. Large officiating at the funeral service. The Latrobe Bulletin published an obituary.
Daughter Sara Belle Piper (1927-2016) was born on Nov. 28, 1927 in Mount Pleasant. She married Quinton L. Suter Jr. ( ? -2009). They lived in Mount Pleasant and were the parents of Roger A. Suter, V. Dale Suter, Linda Beveridge and Terry L. Suter. Sara attended Penn State University and worked for two decades as a switchboard operator at Excela Health Frick Hospital. She was a longtime member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Mount Pleasant. In her free time, she liked to raise flowers, read and listen to country music. Sadly, Quentin died on Feb. 13, 2009. Sara outlived him by seven years. Her final years were spent in Ruffsdale, Westmoreland County. She died at the age of 88 on April 27, 2016. Interment was in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in Tarrs, following funeral services led by Rev. Karen Thompson.
Son Joseph Myers Piper Jr. ( ? - ? ) married Martha and dwelled in Greenville, PA in 1989-2016.
Son Benjamin Franklin Piper ( ? - ? ) wedded Joanne. They live in Mount Pleasant circa 1989-2016.
Son Robert "Denny" Piper ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). As a young man, he joined his father's farm equipment company of Mount Pleasant. He was twice married. His first bride was Dee Alison Northey (Nov. 28, 1940-1999), daughter of W. Charles and Louise A. Northey of Dubois, Clearfield County. The wedding was held on Dec. 3, 1960, at Lakeside Methodist Church of Dubois, presided by Rev. Dwight Jack. Dee was a graduate of Westmoreland Hospital School of Nursing and at the time of marriage was a nurse at Maple Avenue Hospital of Dubois. Their offspring were Robert Denny Piper Jr., Alison L. Piper, Joseph "Charles" Piper, Timothy A. Piper and David S. Piper. The couple eventually divorced. Dee married again to Robert B. Smith, moved to Las Vegas in about 1979 and passed away in January 1999. Circa 1980, Denny earned a living through employment at Modulus Corporation in Mount Pleasant. In July 1980, in nuptials held at the Latrobe United Methodist Church, he was joined in marriage with his second spouse, Ellen Catherine French ( ? - ? ), daughter of William D. French of Latrobe. Rev. Dr. Paul M. Easter officiated, and the couple was pictured in the Latrobe Bulletin. At the time, she was a music teacher in the Greater Latrobe School District. The Pipers have made a home in Latrobe and are thought to be the parents of Janice L. Piper.
Son Curtis G. Piper (1945-2017) was born on Christmas Day 1945 in Mount Pleasant. At the age of six, in January 1952, he alerted his older brother Denny that fire had broken out in the family barn. As an adult, he married Carolyn Lee "Carol" Copeland (Sept. 20, 1946-2011). They produced two children -- George C. Piper and Jamie D. Piper. Curtis served during the Vietnam War as a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard. A skilled carpenter, Curtis worked for Laurel Interiors and Vestige of Latrobe and in Connellsville for Tri-State Interiors. He enjoyed farming, John Deere tractors and tractor pull events and belonged to the Sons of Italy in Scottdale. Carol was a longtime registered nurse. The couple eventually divorced. Sadly, she died on March 18, 2011, with burial in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Curtis passed away at home in Scottdale on June 30, 2017. Rev. Bob Huber officiated at the funeral, with burial also in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Daughter Rebekah Piper ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). Her first husband was Dennis Rossey ( ? - ? ). Circa 1972-1975, the couple lived in Scottdale. Later, she wedded Nelson "Skip" Stants ( ? - ? ). They have dwelled in Mount Pleasant.
~ Daughter Mary "Jane" (Piper) Brant ~
Daughter Mary "Jane" Piper (1918-2003) was born on Oct. 29, 1918 in Mount Pleasant. She attended the Old West Overton Grade School.
On May 10, 1941, she was joined in marriage with Gilbert K. Brant (1914-2003), son of McKendra F. and Edithe M. (Shirey) Brant of Hunker, Westmorelandd County. At the time of marriage, Gilbert had attended the University of Pittsburgh and worked for Robertshaw Thermostat company in Youngwood.
Their children were Lynn Brant, Dianne Bowser, Geary Brant and Kevin Brant.
Their home circa 1952 was in Hunker. Mary Jane was active with the East Huntington Township Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and the Women's Society of Christian Service of the First Methodist Church. Gilbert studied at the University of Pittsburgh and was employed for 41 years by Robertshaw Controls in Youngwood. They enjoyed square dancing, and Gilbert enjoyed activities with the Covered Bridge 4-H Horse and Pony Club.
The couple attended a party in 1952 celebrating the 25th wedding anniversary of Mary Jane's brother Joseph and his wife Julia of Mount Pleasant. In 1976, Mary Jane attended a reunion of the Old West Overton Grade School and was pictured in a group photograph in the Connellsville Daily Courier.
The Brants resided in Mount Pleasant circa 1976 and then lived in Osceola and St. Cloud, FL in the 1980s and early 1990s. They moved to Oxford, NC and eventually returned to Greensburg in the '90s. While in Osceola, from 1981 to 1991, Mary Jane was chair for a decade of the Reach to Recovery program of the American Cancer Society.
Jane and Gilbert both died in 2003, she on Feb. 22, and he 10 months later on Dec. 16, 2003. Burial was in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Obituaries were printed in the Greensburg Tribune-Review.
Son Lynn Piper attended Penn State University in 1959, studying geology. He wedded Betsy and resided in Cedar Falls, IA in 2003.
Daughter Dianne Piper married Allen Bowser. They dwelled in Clearfield, PA in the early 2000s.
Son Geary Brant was joined in matrimony with Nancy. Their home in 2003 was Riverview, FL.
Son Kevin Piper was united in wedlock with Margaret. They resided in Port Matilda, PA.
~ Son Robert W. Piper ~
Son Robert W. Piper (1921-1992) was born on Christmas Eve 1921. He grew up as a farmer near Mount Pleasant and underwent throat surgery in August 1940.
During World War II, Robert served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was deployed to the South Pacific Theatre. He attained the rank of technical sergeant, returned stateside and was stationed at Quantico, VA in 1944.
On May 7, 1944, at the age of about 22, he married Evangeline Koloran (July 9, 1920-1960), daughter of Mrs. J. Beatty Owens of Greensburg. The nuptials were held in the First Christian Church of Greensburg, officiated by Rev. Glenn Carpenter. At the time, Evangeline worked at Walworth Company in Greensburg.
The couple had two known sons, Tyler Robert Piper and Joel W. Piper.
Heartache rocked the family when Evangeline died on Aug. 31, 1960. Her remains were placed into eternal repose in Westmoreland County Memorial Park.
The widowed Robert made a home in Greensburg in 1961.
In about 1962, Robert married a second time to 27-year-old Johnny Gay Adams (June 30, 1935-2014), daughter of Tillman G. and Mabel Adams. Their union lasted for 28 years until the separation of death.
By 1976, they relocated to Oklahoma City, OK. Robert was employed by Central Bank of Oklahoma City, rising to the position of senior vie president, from which he retired.
Said The Oklahoman newspaper, Johnny "was an energetic business trainee after graduating from Classen High School and began a long and successful career working at Central National and then Friendly National Bank. She retired from Friendly after more than 30 years of service and began her second career as a retiree (which she very much enjoyed).... She liked to bowl and play golf, but her passion was reading. She would spend hours on end reading into the late hours of night."
At the death of his half-brother Joseph in 1989, Robert and Johnnie lived in Eagle Nest, NM. He passed away in Sebring, FL on April 27, 1992. A death notice in the Daily Oklahoman noted that interment was in Resthaven Memory Gardens.
Johnny lived for another 22 years after Robert's death and maintained a home in Edmond, OK. She passed away in Oklahoma City at the age of 78 on May 6, 2014. Burial was in Resthaven Gardens Cemetery.
Son Tyler Robert Piper (1948-2012) was born on May 20, 1948 in Greensburg. He was but a boy of 12 when his mother died. Then at age 14, Johnny Gay Adams became his step-mother and treated him as her own. Tyler grew into manhood in Oklahoma. He wedded Marilyn ( ? - ? ). They had three children, Travis R. Piper, Stephanie Howell and Don Price. He served in the U.S. Army and attended the University of Oklahoma. A talented musician, he helped found the Greater Oklahoma Bluegrass Music Association and Imperial Banjos. By 1992, Tyler and Marilyn were in Durango, CO and then again to Idaho. Stricken with cancer, Tyler died at home on Dec. 5, 2012. His remains were returned to Oklahoma to rest in Sunny Lane Cemetery in Del City.
Son Joel W. Piper married Sharon Hall, daughter of Christine Traweek Hall. Their home in 2012 was in Moore, OK and in 2014 was in Oklahoma City.
~ Daughter Catherine L. "Kay" (Piper) Bruscemi ~
Daughter Catherine L. "Kay" Piper (1926- ? ) was born on July 9, 1926.
At the age of 14, in 1940, she was employed by a local distillery as a laborer. Then in 1948, she was a waitress living at 3329 Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh.
On Aug. 31, 1948, when she was 21 years of age, Catherine was joined in holy wedlock with Frank Bruscemi (Oct. 10, 1913-1978), son of Italian immigrants Frank and Josephine (Georchov) Bruscemi. The wedding was held at the Peoples Central Church on Sandusky Street in Pittsburgh, officiated by Rev. Dr. Jack Munyon.
The couple bore two offspring -- Kathleen A. Bruscemi and Frank M. Bruscemi.
Frank earned a living as a truck driver. They lived in 1961 in Monroeville in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh.
She died on May 29, 1974, with a mass of the resurrection sung at Immaculate Conception Church and burial in Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Pittsburgh. A death notice was printed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Frank survived her by four years. He passed into eternity on Feb. 1, 1978.
Daughter Kathleen A. Bruscemi ( ? - ? )
Son Frank M. Bruscemi (1950?-1997?) is believed to have been born on Jan. 19, 1950. If so, he died in Pittsburgh on May 28, 1997, at the age of 47. He rests in Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in McMurray, Washington County, PA.
Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2014, 2019 Mark A. Miner