The original Younkin Family News Bulletin was the brainchild and focus of Charles Arthur Younkin, of Charleroi, Washington County, PA. "Charleroi Charley," as he was nicknamed, was a businessman, reunion organizer, journalist, letter writer and family cheerleader.
His pioneering genealogy publishing, in coordination with his distant cousin Otto Roosevelt Younkin, resulted in a national reunion and following involving thousands of cousins.
This all happened during the height of the Great Depression, a phenomenon he called the "Great Younkin Awakening." His efforts set the stage for the renewed interest in Younkin family connections today, and the establishment of the Younkin Reunions in the 1990s.
The original YFNB was a six-page, five-column tabloid, priced at $1.00 per year. The first issue, dated Christmas 1937, was loaded with family stories and obituaries, a reunion wrap-up and letters from readers. All told, eight editions were printed -- Christmas 1937; April 30, 1938; August 5, 1938; December 20, 1938; August 10, 1939; March 15, 1940; Sept. 25, 1940; and June 30, 1941.
In 1938, a subscriber in Ashville, Ohio, showed his copy to newspaper columnist Clyde Michael of the Pickaway County News. Mitchell later devoted an entire "Meanderings" column to the reunion and the family newspaper (July 28, 1938), writing: "[Horton] showed me what I believe to be the only newspaper whose news is devoted entirely to one family and which is written and published as a family newspaper...."
In 1940, the Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier published an editorial praising the newspaper and the reunion's size and national reach, saying:
Of the numerous family reunions which run through the summer season in ever increasing numbers, that of the Younkins is one of the few which take on a national scale. According to Attorney Fred E. Younkin of this city who has been vice-president since the organization was formed, they come all the way from California and Maine. The association has a national printed bulletin... The usual big gathering is anticipated for the reunion August 18.
The last known YFNB, dated June 30, 1941, contained a foreshadowing of world war. A subscriber from Arizona wrote: "We are certain to be called upon to sacrifice much, to work hard and long with no thought of the dividends which might accrue...."
~ Enter Donna (Younkin) Logan ~
Born in Washington, DC, Donna (Younkin) Logan had an insatiable curiosity in her Younkin name, beginning in childhood and lasting the rest of her life. "Several years ago," she wrote in 1990:
... "while visiting my Grandparents, Karst & CAtherine Younkin, we started talking about our family history. With this invitation, my grandmother retrieved a huge box from storage filled with memories. This box contained an enormous collection of photographs, documents, hand-written memoirs and one very special item -- an old (published in 1938) issue of The Younkin Family News Bulletin. I was amazed that someone had taken such an interest in the Younkin family as to produce this publication.
In 1991, after 50 years of inactivity, Donna revived the reunion and appropriately held it at the Kingwood Picnic Grove. The tireless Donna hosted a Younkin website; published her own version of the YFNB; traveled to Germany to make connections with current-day cousins; and launched a DNA research project to determine precise Younkin bloodlines. In 1996, cousin Diana (Younkin) Egan formed the Younkin Reunion-West in Oregon to benefit West Coast kin who could not make the long trip east.
The first copy that Minerd.com's founder saw was in 1986. It had been photocopied from someone else’s original, in hard-to-read sections. In a letter, the late Jane McNeill of Onawa, Iowa urged him to find the original publisher. It was clear that more than one issue had been printed. But how many in total?
It was not until 1998, while at the Younkin Reunion West in Salem, Oregon, that he saw all eight originals. They were side by side on a table, displayed by the late Merrill V. Younkin of Edmonds, Washington, and his cousin Paul. The untimely passing in 2006 of East/West reunion organizers Donna Logan and Diana Egan was the final inspiration to get this long overdue task done.
Seen here, Paul Younkin with a master set of YFNB newspapers, at the 1998 Younkin Reunion-West in Salem, OR.
Published in 2008, as the Pittsburgh region celebrated its 250th birthday, the reprinted volume served to preserve the stories and experiences of early Younkins who not only were integral participants in the life of this region, but were a vital connection with Americana.
Thank you to cousins in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania who furnished originals of the newspaper for the highest possible quality of reprinting. Thanks also to cousins who helped underwrite up-front production costs.
Copies were deposited in public libraries in communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania which is one of the epicenters of our ancestral Younkin roots.
Adding to the legacy, Charleroi Charley is pictured, and he and the early reunions and the Younkin Family News Bulletin are mentioned specifically, in a lavishly illustrated, 2011 book about Charley's uncle Ephraim Miner -- entitled Well At This Time: the Civil War Diaries and Army Convalescence Saga of Farmboy Ephraim Miner.
The book, authored by the founder of this website, and the publisher of the YFNB reprint booklet, is seen here. [More about the book.]
~ "Above the Fold" Images of All Eight Known Copies ~