Separated by a distance of 1,000 miles, but remaining close over more than 50 years apart, sisters Clara (Barnhouse) Huston (standing) of Olathe, KS and Esther (Barnhouse) Freed of Vanderbilt, PA pose with their husbands for a studio portrait during a reunion in the early 1900s.
Married in Fayette County, PA in 1871, the Hustons soonafter bade farewell to family and friends and migrated to Kansas as pioneer settlers. The newlyweds and their belongings boarded a boat in Pittsburgh, PA, floated the entire length of the 981-mile Ohio River to Cairo, IL, and turned right into the Mississippi, heading against the current toward St. Louis. Their boat then maneuvered west into the Missouri River at St. Louis, and made its way the entire width of Missouri for another 240-plus miles, arriving in Kansas City, where the exhausted couple finally dis-embarked and headed for land that Boyd had scouted the previous year.
The Hustons eventually settled in Olathe, Johnson County, in what today is the southwest suburbs of Kansas City. They raised a family of five adult children, buried another two young children, and established a life as farmers of the flat prairie soil. Their farm today is a housing subdivision.
Clara and Boyd and four other cousin-pioneer families were the focus of our 19th annual research trip in September-October 2010 to eastern Kansas. The trip built upon one of the great differentiating strengths of Minerd.com -- a relentless commitment to original, on-site, proprietary research on a national scale.
The four other family groups we researched were Nathan W. Minard and wives of Richland and Topeka, Shawnee County; David and Mahala (Miner) Johnson of Concordia, Cloud County; John Edgar and Lottie (Overfield) Born of Lebo, Coffey County; and Samuel and Rebecca (Smalley) Minerd of Pittsburg, Crawford County. Using our time-tested brand of proprietary research methods to draw out details of these ancient, forgotten lives, we visited county courthouses seeking legal records, visited libraries to find old newspaper obituaries and rare book mentions, and photographed the graves of the pioneers and their children and grandchildren in a variety of cemeteries.
~ Highlights of the Research Findings ~
Among the highlights was finding obscure newspaper accounts of how these hardy pioneers traveled to Kansas originally.
Another highlight was learning more about the lives of the pioneers' offspring and their contributions to Americana.
Seen here, cousin-researcher Eugene Podraza pays his respects at the grave of Clara and Boyd Huston at Pleasant Valley Cemetery near Stanley, KS.
We returned home with a five-inch thick stack of copies of important documents, plus some 200 digital photographs of farms, towns and old grave markers. Follow-up searching on Google Books identified that Sylvester Georgia, married to Laveria Minerd of Crawford County, was an old Civil War soldier who had served in an Iowa regiment. Sylvester is now the 107th known cousin or spouse to have served in the War Between the States -- a group of men we will honor at our 2011 national family reunion in Indian Head, PA.
Once all of this material was synthesized, written and uploaded to Minerd.com, the search engine spiders of Google and Yahoo! began combing the site. This invaluable service will help drive traffic to just the right page when long-lost, curious cousins inevitably google a family name. One of the underlying themes that Minerd.com promotes to all cousins everywhere, regardless of where they live today, is that their ancient family roots are right here in Pittsburgh, PA.