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Reunion organizer keeps the tree alive with Internet site

Saturday, February 22, 2003

By Monica L. Haynes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

When Mark Miner was a youngster, he thought his family didn't extend beyond his grandparents and a few aunts, uncles and cousins.

Mark Miner's Web site for his extended family tree has been honored by Family Tree Magazine. (1997 photo) (John Beale, Post-Gazette)

Today, as president of the Miner-Minor-Minerd annual family reunion, the Beaver resident knows there are approximately 15,000 family members, all of whom can trace their roots back to the same Western Pennsylvania pioneer couple.

Helping all those cousins stay connected is Minerd.com, a Web site launched in 2000 by Miner and selected by Family Tree Magazine as one of the Top 10 Family Sites in the Nation. The magazine is part of F&W Publications, a leading publisher of books on genealogy.

Minerd.com contains 900 biographies, 2,700 photos, memoirs, tributes to deceased relatives, family news, etc. This information is based on 90,000 documents compiled and archived by family members.

It was this abundance of information that persuaded Crystal Conde, assistant editor for Family Tree Magazine, to select the site.

Its clean design and easy navigation were also deciding factors, said Conde, who had no set criteria for judging.

"I just tried to be open and find what I thought were some of the best personal family Web sites out there."

Family Tree Magazine's goal is to "make genealogy something anybody thinks they can learn and they can do," Conde said.

Miner, 41, also views his Web site as an educational tool that lets tens of thousands of people around the world know that their roots can be traced back to Western Pennsylvania. It had more than 84,000 hits last year.

"I had developed some [Web sites] in my employment and realized what a fantastic communications tool a good Web site can be," said Miner, president of Mark Miner Communications, a public relations and marketing firm.

"Not only does [the site] tell the story of one family, together the biographies and the other texts that we have published tell the story of a region."

The Miner-Minor-Minerds are descendants of German immigrants Friedrich and Eva Maria (Weber) Meinert, who settled in Berks County in the 1730s. Their son, Revolutionary War veteran Jacob Minerd Sr. and his wife, Maria Nein, were pioneers of Fayette and Somerset counties. The family's property straddled the two counties. Some of their descendants have remained in the Tri-State area; others have migrated throughout the United States and the world. But fewer than 1 percent of the Minerd, Minard, Miner clan carry a variation of the name. Most family members have some other surname.

Nevertheless, the many cousins continue to find each other, and every year they hold family reunion activities in Somerset and Fayette counties.

Monica Haynes can be reached at mhaynes@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1660.

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