Twenty-nine hardy souls braved an incessant weekend rain storm to attend the 2015 national Minerd-Minard-Miner-Minor Reunion, the clan's smallest gathering since the 1980s. Guests included travelers from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.
Over the weekend the family explored the theme of "On Finding Your Roots," held on the grounds of our new meeting place, the Day's Inn Hotel in Donegal, PA, located just a few hundred yards from from Exit 91 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and a two-hour drive from the Pittsburgh International Airport.
The Saturday picnic featured a panel discussion with our cousins Irita (Goins) Canady -- of the family of Rebecca (Minerd) Goins -- and Rhonda (Cook) Tabler -- of the family of Ruth Ann (Minerd) Kennedy -- who last fall appeared on the popular PBS Television show Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
The episode, which explores the host's Mayle-Male family connections in West Virginia, originally aired nationwide on Nov. 25, 2014. Both Irita and Rhonda discussed their experiences in preparing for and being taped on the show with Dr. Gates, a popular social critic, author and Emmy-winning TV documentary producer, who is director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
They shared their exciting finds with DNA analysis in which they've taken part, including a direct match with one of the reunion's organizing committee members
~ Friday Evening Dinner ~
On Friday, the group carpooled to dinner at Out of the Fire, a local restaurant. Afterward, they returned to Day's Inn to enjoy socializing in the lobby.
Among others, dinner participants included first-timer visitors Bill and JoAnne Bedillion of Lone Pine, PA -- of the family of Golie Cephas Bedillion -- and Robert and Kristen (Murphy) Krieg of Lowell, MI -- of the family of James Jasper Knight.
~ Traditional Saturday Picnic ~
During the Saturday picnic, held in the open air pavilion at the hotel, cousins Irita and Rhonda were part of a panel discussion to share their memories of having met Dr. Gates and being taped for television.
Reunion president Mark Miner moderated the conversation.
Both Irita and Rhonda said they enjoyed the final episode although both were a bit dismayed at how little of the taped material ended up in the final version.
Thanks to those cousins loving locally who brought a covered dish, there was plenty to eat and drink. A number of cousins brought keepsake heirlooms to share, especially old photograph albums.
A freewill donation was taken afterward to offset our costs. As well, reunion treasurer Doris (Sands) Hawker held a drawing for some keepsake prizes, including 16 small quilted centerpieces she had fashioned, as well as magnets and potted plants.
Cousin Robin (Brocht) Zambanini won a jar of root beer candy after she correctly guessed the number of pieces inside.
~ Driving Tours ~
After the reunion ended, the reunion president led a small driving tour for Dorothy (Bender) Krieg and her son and daughter in law, Robert and Kristen Krieg, to several local cemeteries and an ancient mountaintop farm.
They visited the Imel Cemetery where Dorothy's great-grand uncle, David Harbaugh, rests for eternity with his wife and generations of family. The drive also took them to the Maple Summit farm, landmarked by large windmills, which was settled in 1791 by Jacob and Maria (Nein) Minerd Sr.
At the Indian Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Mill Run, Dorothy paid her respects to the graves of her great-great-great grandmother, Martha (Minerd) Imel Harbaugh and great-great-great-great grandfather, Revolutionary War patriot Jacob Minerd Sr.
On Sunday morning, a small group took a driving tour of the farm site where Irita and Rhonda's ancestors, Jacob and Ruth (Adams) Minerd, lived in Fayette County, PA, before relocating to West Virginia before the Civil War.
~ Why Did We Move? ~
Sadly, we were forced to move this year in the wake of the May 11, 2014 fire that destroyed our usual meeting place, the Indian Creek Valley Community Center. Fire officials called it a total loss. The community center had been our home for five reunions in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. See the news as reported in the Connellsville Daily Courier.
~ Why the Pittsburgh Region? ~
Southwestern Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh are the epicenter of our clan's founding in the United States of America following the American Revolution. In 1791, patriot and war veteran Jacob Minerd Sr. and his wife Maria (Nein) Minerd settled there near Maple Summit on the mountainous border of Fayette and Somerset Counties. They had a dozen children, who in turn spawned 87 grandchildren, 469 great-grandchildren and 1,344 great-great grandchildren, for a total of 1,912 lives, virtually all born before the year 1900. Today, their descendants and spouses number an estimated 50,000 or more, and are scattered all over the world -- but regardless of a cousin's homeplace today, their roots are here.