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Reunions of the 1980s and '90s

The Minerd-Miner-Minor Reunions were held every year between 1986 and 1999 at the Kingwood (PA) Grove of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows., and have continued into the 2000s  Here are summaries: 

Carnegie addressing the group
~ 1999 ~

1999 - "Coal, Coke & Steel" -- At what may have been the first of its kind in Western Pennsylvania, we saluted 330 family members who have worked in our nation's coal, coke and steel industries since the 1840s.  The two-day reunion featured a picnic lunch in Somerset County, a speech by an actor portraying industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and a tour of a restored coal mine in Tarentum. In a quiet ceremony, a memorial roll was unveiled bearing the names of 14 cousins killed in workplace accidents. 

Andrew Carnegie
Portrayed by actor Allen Nesvisky of the Senator Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, Carnegie shared his thoughts on the Homestead Steel Strike, how he created his wealth and how his empire built landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building and Panama Canal. He had his photo taken with a number of cousins who brought old miners' lamp-hats, lunch pails and pay stubs to show.

~ 1998 ~

Military veterans honored
"Our Military Heroes"
-- We saluted more than 300 known cousins who served in the US Armed Forces during wartime. Two cousin-veterans spoke about their significant wartime ordeals -- Robert E. Minerd, who at age 22 was the senior surviving officer of the torpedoed and sunken U.S.S. Frederick C. Davis; and Donald L. Plants, who survived several months as a Nazi POW in Germany. The Color Guard of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Somerset, Post 554, and the Somerset Marine Corps League led a stirring ceremony which included presentation of the flag, a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.

With the 15 cousin-veterans in attendance standing side by side in a semi-circle, the reunion president recited President Reagan's moving speech honoring the 40th anniversary of D-Day, and read aloud the names of the 14 known cousin-servicemen killed at war. During the weekend, reunion officers placed flowers and plaques at the graves of cousins killed in action who are buried in Fayette, Westmoreland, Somerset and Washington Counties, PA.

Educators honored in 1997
~ 1997 ~

"A Sense of Wonder" -- Honored more than 220 cousin-educators in the family at the event held at the Odd Fellows Picnic Grove in Kingwood, PA. Retired teacher Freda (Miller) Channing provided insights into her own career as well as those of her mother, aunt, uncle and others in her immediate branch of the Miner family.

~ 1996 ~

Clowns with kids
"9,000 and Counting"
-- A crowd of 90 people attended the reunion at the Kingwood IOOF Picnic Grove despite the threat of rain from Hurricane Bertha.  The reunion also was highlighted by a group photograph, clowns (seen here in colorful costume) and childrens' games, softball hitting, speeches by Eugene Podraza and Melda Bittinger, and a noon picnic meal.

~ 1995 ~

July 8 - "Minerd-Fest '95," a celebration of the German heritage of the family. The Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier said, "If drawing crowds of more than 100 makes a family reunion a success, then count the Minerd-Miner-Minor family reunion among the successful. The family's latest reunion ... drew more than 100 people for the second straight year." Commenting on our reunion, the Uniontown Herald-Standard said, "It's hard to realize to what extent a family can grow in a little more than 200 years." 

Joe Malone, a popular German folk musician, seen here, entertained with authentic music played on his old-time alpine button accordion and while wearing a traditional alpine costume.  Our German Connection booklets, authored by cousin Eugene Podraza, provided an update of his extensive and at times frustrating research of our clan's German roots.  Minerd-Fest Cookbooks also were distributed, containing many delicious recipes provided by a number of cousins, including tasty German delicacies handed down over the generations. 

Mark A. Miner of Wexford, PA, was elected president, succeeding Deborah Miner Covell of North Canton, OH, who stepped down after eight years of service.

Accordion player Joe Malone entertains with German tunes

~ 1994 ~

Reenactor Bill May
July 9
- "Civil War" -- Twenty-two Civil War soldiers who were members of the Minerd-Miner family were honored at the annual reunion at the Kingwood Picnic Grove. The agenda included remarks by various descendants of the soldiers and a picnic lunch. Everyone in attendance received a special booklet containing biographies and photographs of the soldiers. There was no charge to attend, but a freewill offering was taken to offset costs. 

After lunch, actor Bill May portrayed a Union Army Civil War soldier, seen here, dressed in an authentic uniform of a private and performed a 45-minute monologue as if he were on his way home after several years at war.  Just as he was finishing, a storm hit and a small tornado brought down several large trees around our picnic pavilion.  Fortunately, though we had a record crowd of 125, including several elderly cousins and young children, no one was injured.

Donald Harbaugh
~ 1993 ~

"80th Anniversary of First Reunion" --  Donald Harbaugh recited the Minerd history prepared in 1913 by his great grandfather, Allen E. Harbaugh, "The Mountain Poet" and historian of the family  The group took a driving tour of the old Minerd farm and other old landmarks  Everyone received a copy of Harbaugh's speech. 

~ 1992 ~

July 11 - After a picnic lunch, held at the Kingwood Picnic Grove, there were remarks by President Deborah (Miner) Covell, introductions and an explanation of how each attendee was related to the rest of the group. Guests were encouraged to stand and share a little about themselves and their families. Mark A. Miner was elected vice president. 

Later, the group embarked on a driving tour of old nearby family landmarks. One stop was the old farm settled by Jacob and Catherine (Younkin) Minerd Jr. in the early 1800s near the Old Bethel Church. Other stops were cemeteries, including the Odd Fellows Cemetery where Civil War veteran Ephraim Miner is buried, and the site of the old Fairview Church, where Jacob Minerd Jr. is buried. The group paused at the Fairview site to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Jacob Jr.'s death, in November 1842, after being crushed while chopping down a tree. Later in the afternoon, the group re-convened at the Kingwood Picnic Grove for a short business meeting and visiting.

~ 1986-1991 ~

1986 to 1991 - See a special memoir by Melda (Miner) Bittinger, treasurer of the reunion from 1986 to 2001.

Copyright 2000, 2005, 2022 Mark A. Miner