Myrtle (Thurston) McVay was born on April 12, 1877 in Bridgeport near Mt. Pleasant, Westmoreland County, PA, the daughter of Charles and Emma (Minerd) Thurston.
On Sept. 14, 1899, when she was age 22, Myrtle married 24-year-old James Ira McVay (1875-1926), seen here. He was the son of John and Rebecca (Baggs) McVay of West Newton, Westmoreland County. Justice of the peace L.S. Rhoades of Westmoreland County performed the nuptials.
The McVays had two sons -- Richard Alvin McVay and John David McVay. Sadly, son John died at childbirth, in about 1911 or 1912, and was buried on a neighbor's farm in an unmarked grave.
James stood 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and had a fair complexion, slate eyes and light hair. He was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, having served as a corporal in the 10th Pennsylvania Infantry, which saw heavy action in the Philippines. (One of James' fellow soldiers in the 10th Pennsylvania was Howard Campbell Miner. Click for a list of all known cousin-veterans of the Spanish-American War.)
James originally enlisted in the 10th Pennsylvania on June 10, 1891, when he was age 16, and re-upped on April 12, 1906, as a machinist, when he was age 31 and living at Stauffers, near Mt. Pleasant.
The federal census of 1910 shows the newlyweds making their home in Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County, near Greensburg. James' occupation is listed as "engineer - coal mine."
In 1919, they lived in the coal mining town of Millwood, Westmoreland County, where a major shaft had been sunk and a town built around it. James worked as a pumper in the mine.
The family made its home by 1925 at Superior, Derry Township, Westmoreland County. That fall, James ran for the elected office of tax collector of Derry Township, as a Republican, but was sent to defeat in the polls.
As a veteran of the Spanish-American War, James became eligible for a military pension based on his service. In June 1926, his monthly pension award was increased from $12 to $20. Upon hearing the news, he told relatives that he planned to purchase additional life insurance.
By the summer of 1926, James had secured employment as an automobile mechanic with the Overland dealership in Latrobe, located at City Parking Place and owned by I.W. Altman. That year, the Latrobe Bulletin said that James "was a mechanic, by trade, and in years past had been the master mechanic at numerous Frick plants, alter locating at Superior where he continued to reside after the plant closed down, about three years ago. He was employed as a salesman, for a time, at the local Ford garage and later was with the Oldsmobile agency. Still later he sold the Star for a time and finally secured a position with the Overland agency."
Tragedy struck the family on June 7, 1926, when James collapsed and died at the age of 51 from heart disease. The Latrobe newspaper reported that he:
...was walking across the room to sit down, just after having returned from Latrobe.... He had seemed in his accustomed health, yesterday, and had worked throughout the day. He remained at the parking place until after eight o'clock, late evening, and shortly before leaving for his home, he had fixed a tire on his car. Upon arriving at his home he remarked to Mrs. McVay that he wasn't feeling well, and she told him to sit down, and she would get him something. He was in the act of crossing the floor when he dropped over dead.
He was laid to rest in the cemetery across from the Middle Presbyterian Church ("Middle Churches") near Mt. Pleasant.
Widowed at age 48, Myrtle resided in Mt. Pleasant with her son and elderly father. In 1931, in September, she and Richard attended a 25th wedding anniversary reception for her brother Alvin.
During World War II, Myrtle made her home at 157 Diamond Street in Mt. Pleasant. She and all families were restricted on what they were allowed to purchase, and were issued ration books.
In early May 1942, while at the Ramsay High School registering for rationed sugar goods, she suffered a stroke. Sadly, she only lived one day, and passed away at the age of 65 on May 7, 1942 in Frick Memorial Hospital. Her funeral was held at the Methodist church in Mt. Pleasant. She rests for eternity beside her husband.
~ Son Richard Alvin McVay ~
Son Richard Alvin McVay (1914-1993) was born on Oct. 28, 1914 in Westmoreland County. For all intents and purposes, with the death of his baby brother, he grew up as an only child.
At the age of 19, he eloped with 19-year-old Wilma Eleanor Ferguson (1914-2004), a native of Scottdale. The couple drove in a snowstorm to New Cumberland, Hancock County, WV, where they were united in wedlock by the hand of Rev. Oresta C. Gross, of the Presbyterian Church, on Dec. 10, 1933. Both husband and wife fibbed on their county marriage license that they were both age 21. How the couple got away with their deed is related by a granddaughter:
They each told their parents they were going to a friend's house to stay the night. My grandmother said on their way to West Virginia, there was a snow storm and a few times their car spun around. They got married and then went back to their homes. Around April 1934, Richard's mother was putting some clothes away and found the marriage license. She asked him about it and he admitted they got married. They then went to Wilma's house and told her father. He was not happy about the elopement. From there they moved out of their parents' homes and moved in together. Wilma's dad wanted her to go to college, not get married so young, which wasn't typical for their day and age.
Wilma was born on Nov. 8, 1914, the daughter of John G. and Minnie Grace (Hays) Ferguson.
They went on to have five children -- Arminta "Grace" Fmura Kerchner, John Richard "Jack" McVay, Patricia Ann McVay, James Dean "Jim" McVay and Michael Alvin McVay. They also raised a grandson, Ira John "Ike" Fmura.
The McVays were affiliated with St. Mark's Lutheran Church of New Stanton. Some of their family baptism records are preserved in a light-blue booklet compiled by Paul Miller Ruff, entitled St. Mark's Lutheran Church (Mechling Bookbindery), covering the years 1906-1947.
Richard was employed for many years as a railroad locomotive engineer, and they made their home in Youngwood, Westmoreland County.
Following his retirement, he became involved with many community volunteerism initiatives, among them the Youngwood Volunteer Fire Department, American Red Cross (where he donated blood) and Meals on Wheels (delivering meals to shut-ins). He also provided shopping services for shut-ins. At one point he saved the life of a young boy, Ricky Bricker, son of Richard and Bernadette Bricker of Tarrs, Westmoreland County.
In October 1987, Richard received a Distinguished Service Award by the Health and Welfare Council of Westmoreland County. He received the award at a luncheon and was pictured in the Latrobe Bulletin. (The article is seen here.)
Wilma also was active in the community. Said the Greensburg Tribune-Review, "She was the past president of the Ladies Auxiliary of Youngwood Fire company, a former leader of Youngwood Dieters Club, secretary of Youngwood High School alumni Association and volunteer for the Red Cross for many years."
Richard died on Jan. 22, 1993, at the age of 78. His remains were laid to rest in Westmoreland County Memorial Park. [Find-a-Grave]
Wilma passed away at home at the age of 89 on Jan. 5, 2004. Following a funeral held at the Harrold Zion Lutheran Church, led by Rev. Robert A. Free, she was laid to rest in the Westmoreland County Memorial Park. At the time of her passing, said the Tribune-Review, she was survived by 12 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.
Daughter Arminta "Grace" McVay (1935-1996) was born on March 16, 1935. She was married twice. On May 11, 1954, when she was age 19, she was united in matrimony with her first husband, John Ira Fmura ( ? - ? ). Their known children were Evelyn Sue Gismondi and Ira "Ike" Fmura. Her second spouse was William "Bill" Kerchner ( ? - ? ). They had two children of their own, Heather Joyce Leggett Neal and Richard Kim Kerchner. She married a third time to John Hoffer ( ? - ? ). She died of diabetes-related illness on Oct. 10, 1996 and rests in Westmoreland County Memorial Park. She was interred under her maiden name of "McVay." [Find-a-Grave]
Son John Richard "Jack" McVay (1940-1962) was born in 1940. At the age of four, in May 1944, he underwent throat surgery in Frick Memorial Hospital. He died of a brain aneurysm when he was age 22, in January 1962.
Daughter Patricia Ann McVay (1943-living) was born on Oct. 1, 1943 in New Stanton. When she was six years of age, she and her brother James both underwent throat surgery in Frick Memorial Hospital, with the news reported in the gossip columns of the Connellsville Daily Courier. She resides in Youngwood and has two daughters -- Amy Ann Busch and Tamara "Tammy" Lee Whitehead Hodder.
Son James Dean McVay (1946-1992) was born on Sept. 24, 1946. At the age of 22, on May 17, 1969, he was married to Pamela A. Kuszaj ( ? - ? ) and had three children -- Christine Marie Weller, Kelley Lynn McVay and James Patrick McVay. Later, he was remarried to Jung Suk Kim McVay and had one more offspring, Su Jahn McVay. He died on Feb. 12, 1992 of lung cancer. Burial is in Plum Creek Cemetery in Plum Borough near Pittsburgh.
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