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Biographies K-M

Minard, John S.

Articles from the Wellsville Daily Reporter, Belmont Dispatch and the Andover News

And Willing Historian Hazel Shear

(After finishing this article, you may want to read his original writings about the "Historic Homes and Places of Western New York; Number Two; by Jno S Minard; The Home of Major Moses Van Campen"

JSMinardJohn Stearns Minard was born on January 31st, 1834, on the Caneadea Indian Reservation in Hume, Allegany County, New York. He was the son of George and Maria Burt Minard.  His schooling was first in the “log school house era”, the Hume Union School and the Castile Scientific and Mathematical Institute where he studied under Prof. Davis W. Smith, who was very noted at that time.  Some sources say that Minard studied at Genesee Wesleyan Seminary but others say that his education ended while he was still a student at Castile.

His father died on April 1st, 1853 when John was 19.  Being the oldest of four children, the care of the family now fell upon him.  In 1858 he married Mary A. Nye and at some point in time they adopted two siblings.  He remained on the home farm until 1871 when he sold part of the homestead.

He went into the merchandising business at Hume with the Hon. John M. Hammond and George Marvin.  The firm was known as J. M. Hammond and Co.  There is a picture of this store in the 1879 History of Allegany County.  After three years, he ran a store in the Old Mechanics Hall and in 1878 built a store on Main Street which he operated until 1885 when he sold “the stock and good will to a man named Wells.”  The store was run under the name of Wells and Minard.  A man who knew him once told that he was never a good businessman.  He could not put his heart and mind into the business. There were too many good stories to be gathered and written.

In 1880 he bought a large tract of timbered land, intending to go into the lumber business in which he was associated with Simon B. Clark.  The deal resulted in disaster to Mr. Minard.  The Centennial History of Allegany County says, “This resulted most disastrously, due to circumstances beyond his control, in large losses and pecuniary embarrassment, but his integrity and fair dealing were not compromised by these operations and he made new friends by his stand in relation to them.”

JS Minard's rifle and surveying equipment

 John S. Minard's rifle and surveying equipment.

 

 

He was a practical surveyor having made a careful study of the subject while a student at Castile.  He was always called in on any affair involving lines or boundaries and did much “common” surveying.  He made farm maps of ten of the northern towns of the county.  He was Supervisor of the Town of Hume, Justice of the Peace and in 1873 acted as town agent on the matter of railroad bonds.

Through the efforts of Mr. Minard the Allegany County Historical Society was organized at Friendship, December 6th, 1889 and he was elected its first president. He worked, through that organization, to bring about the Centennial Celebration of 1895 and it was largely through his effort that the Centennial Memorial History was compiled; he himself writing, by far, the larger part of it.  He was county historian in 1895 and is believed that he was acting in that capacity when Beers published the 1879 History of Allegany County. In the list of acknowledgements the editor of that history gave Mr. Minard top billing.  Mr. Minard also wrote the histories of Hume and Caneadea and allowed them to use his “Pioneer Sketches” as a basis for the early history.

Some of his other writings were: “Life of Major Moses Van Campen” 1893, “General History of Allegany Co. and Ten of Its Towns” 1895,  “ Ye Olde Log School House Tymes”, published by Cuba Patriot 1905, “Civic History & Illustrated Progress of Cuba” 1910, “Sketch of Judge Phillip Church”,   “An Indian Parliament House and its Last Council Fire”, published by John Sanborn, Friendship, N.Y., and others.

Mr. Minard was well known outside Allegany County and many times addressed the Rochester Historical Society and the Allegany Society of Buffalo.  He gave the historical addresses at the Allegany County Centennial at Wellsville, in 1895, also in that year addressed the Allegany County Historical Society, his subject being “The Caneadea Reservation and Some Indians of the Upper Genesee.”  He gave the address at the Big Tree Centennial at Geneseo in 1897 and at the unveiling of the boulder and tablet at Ga-ya-da-o, Caneadea in 1908.

He had been corresponding member of the Buffalo Historical Society for 40 years in 1912 and was corresponding member of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.

One of his adopted siblings was E. Forest Minard. He died on May 13th, 1887 at the age of 27.  He is buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in Fillmore.  As for the other sibling, I know nothing.  John’s wife Mary A. Nye died in 19ll and is also buried at Pine Grove.

John lost his sight in about 1913; this impairment didn’t stop him from recording our counties history.  He’d dictate to anyone who would write for him.

Three months before he died, he was placed in the Allegany County Home at Angelica.  After spending all of his life and money making sure Allegany County’s history was written down for future generations, to end up there as a pauper is very sad.

John S. Minard died on January 30th 1920 at the age of 86, the results of general breakdown and old age, all alone. The funeral was held at the home of his nephew Ed Minard.  John was buried by his loving wife Mary at Pine Grove Cemetery.

John never got the recognition he deserved while he was living. The citizens of Allegany County and people from all over the United States owe a debt of gratitude to John Stearns Minard for having the foresight to record Allegany County’s history for all to see.  Many genealogists still use his writings in finding their ancestors that once lived here, and the factual accounts of happenings that took place here.  His contribution of our history speaks volumes.   

If you are interested in some of John’s work, you can find CD’s on E-Bay selling for around $10.00.  They usually have “History of Allegany County New York 1879” and “Allegany County and Its People 1896”.  If you want one of the books, they go for around $300 in good shape, if you can find one.

Thank you John S. Minard for all that you have done.

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