Martin Minters of Logtown: Pike Pioneer Coal Miner Was Born in Slavery

At our February Genealogy meeting, a few of us found ourselves digging through stacks of old Winslow Dispatch newspapers that had been donated.  It was really random because the third paper I picked up had my grandmother’s marriage announcement on the front page.  Then Sherry picked up one that had my aunt’s birth announcement.  Suddenly Sherry handed me a paper and said “look, good blog material.”

I think it is good blog material. I get a lot of blog hits from the search of Logtown Pike County.

From the front page of the July 19, 1946 issue of the Winslow Dispatch:  Pike Pioneer Coal Miner: Martin Minters:  When the first deep coal mines of the county were opened, Martin Minters was one of the original miners who opened the first mines.   He is 91 years old, hale and hearty, though born in slavery.  He has lived in the Ayrshire community more than sixty years and has always conducted himself like a gentleman.

Martin Minters

The genealogist in me surfaced and I thought, “what a treasure for the family of this man.”  I would give anything to find a picture and story like this about some of my relatives.  I knew he lived in Ayrshire, probably in Logtown for some time.   He is buried in the Logtown Mt. Hebron Cemetery.  So I went to  Ancestry.com to see if anyone was working on him in their tree.  Nothing.  A google search turned up no family trees with Martin Minters.

Martin and his son, Lavonia Minters graves at Logtown.

By now curiosity was getting the best of me.  He was someone’s Papa in 1949 when he was buried.  I had to put together a life story for this man who had obviously lived quite a full life.

Grave of Martin Minters from Logtown Cemetery. From findagrave.

Martin was born in April of 1861 at Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Kentucky as a slave.  Parents unknown although he states on census records both parents were born in Virginia.  He was a mulatto, half white.

A Martin Minters who’s service record in the Civil War U.S. Colored Troops Military Records states he was a Private in Comp. G,  the 47th Infantry.  He was recruited in May of 1865 from the depot in Mobile, Alabama.  In July of 1865 he became sick and died of disease in August of 1865 at Pineville, Louisiana.   Who was he?  Someone related to the Pike County Martin Minters?

There were several Minter families living in Hardin County, Kentucky at this time and they were slave owners.  They came to Kentucky from Virginia.  Was Martin’s family a part of their slaves?  Did Martin take their name?

Slavery is such a big brick wall.

October 1, 1881 Martin Minter married Belle Williams.  The marriage record in Hardin County, Kentucky states: Boy of age, sworn, Henry Williams, father of girl present and consents. Black, Book 140 Hardin County, Kentucky

1900 census finds him at Mag. District 7, Kitchen, Hopkins County, Kentucky. The family is listed as black.   He and Belle have a daughter Ruth, 9 years old, son Lavonia, 3 years old and a boarder, John Fox.  Martin is a coal miner.

1910 census finds the family in Ayrshire, Patoka Township, Pike County, Indiana.   They are living on the Ayrshire Road.  Martin is listed as a mulatto.  On this census, it looks like Belle and Martin are living in two different households next to each other.  Ruth is not on the census.  She would be 19 now, so possibly married or did she die? Their son,  Lavonia and a new son, Murl who is five is listed.  Lavonia is listed as black and Murl is listed as a mulatto.

January 1912, they will have another son, Flue A. C. Minters who only lives for a couple of months.  He died in March 1912.  His death record states:  Fluia A.C. Minters,  Date: March 16, 1912, Location: Pike County, Age: 2 months, Gender: Male, Race: Colored (black),  Source: County Health Office, Petersburg, Indiana, WPA Book 8, page H1.

Grave of baby, Flue A. C. Minters in Mt. Hebron Cemetery at Logtown.

1920 census finds the family still in Patoka Township, Pike County, Indiana.  Martin, black, aged 69 married to Gertrude Curry, black, aged 34.  Lavonia and Murl, both black, live with them.  They can all read and write.  Martin and Lavonia work in the coal mines.

1930 census find the family still in Patoka Township, Pike County, Indiana.  Martin, black, his wife, Gertrude and her mother, Elizabeth Curry.  They live on the Old State Road from Winslow to Oakland City.  Martin is still working as a coal miner at the age of 60 years.   The boys are living with their mother in Indianapolis in 1930, along with a nephew, Lavell Minters.

Now we know Martin has a brother who also lived in Pike County for a short time.  One the baby boy who did not live was named for.

Martin’s brother’s name was Flue Lerone Minters.  He was born in 1879.  He was in Patoka Township, Pike County, Indiana on the 1910 and 1920 census.  Then in 1930 he was in Madisonville, Kentucky and widowed.  In 1944 he is found in Danville, Illinois as a helper in a hotel.  His wife’s name was Elizabeth and they had children:  Catherine, Charlie, Palestine, Lawrence, and Lavell.  His WW1 draft registration states he was a machine operator for the Ingle Coal Company while in Pike County.

Lavonia and his mother, Belle must have  moved back to Pike County because on Lavonia’s WWII draft registration in 1942 he and Belle are at RR3, Winslow, Indiana.

Belle Williams Minters died in 1944.

Martin dies in 1949 and is buried in Mt. Hebron Cemetery at Logtown in Ayrshire, Indiana.

His son, Lavonia, a WWI veteran dies in 1950 and is buried beside his father in Mt. Hebron Cemetery at Logtown, Ayrshire, Indiana.  Lavonia was married to Bertha Malone.  They had a daughter, Lavern.

Lavonia Minters grave, Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Logtown. from findagrave.

Martin’s son, Murl died  in 1968 at Indianapolis.

The Hardin County, Kentucky genweb page has a copy of the will of Clarissa Williams, mother to Belle Williams Minters.  It states there are no living heirs of Belle Williams Minters.

There are the facts for Martin Minters.  I am so sure there is much more to the story.


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16 comments on “Martin Minters of Logtown: Pike Pioneer Coal Miner Was Born in Slavery

  1. allangieselman says:

    Good Job!

    • Anonymous says:

      does anyone remember Gertie Minters…..she lived down by the railroad tracks as I remember…

      • William Berlin says:

        Yes, I also remember Gertie (Gertrude) and her husband. I lived on Goose Hill and would see them occasionally in town. As a youngster, I remember that one time before WWII they came to the services at the Church of God where my parents attended.

        Bill Berlin

  2. William Berlin says:

    I remember several of the African Americans who lived in the Log Town community before WW 2. In those days, racial discrimination was a hard, cold fact for them.. In Winslow, all “blacks” were required to be out of town by sunset. AS a group, they were referred to as “n . . . . .s.” Through the years those families had several children, but only one young lady graduated from Winslow High School. Her name was Thelma Wickware. She graduated in 1927. One of my former employers, Lyndon Sims, who also graduated that year, told me that she was a bright, intelligent, and popular student.
    Phil Tett served as the cook and “butler” for the Ingle family many years. As a reward for his excellent service, the original mine owner Ingle, gave him the property where the Ingle barn stood, where Phil and his wife built their house and retired.Although he had never lived in Log Town, he was considered one of that community because of his race.
    The Reverend Swearingen (spelling questionable) was a well-known, popular local minister for many years and was invited to the pulpits of many local churches on various occasions, and was accepted as a visitor in some homes in Winslow and Oakland City.

    • rose says:

      Thanks for the story and bringing him to life for us.

      • My Grandparents lived in the old Ingle house just a way’s from the old barn.. One Easter Sunday their children and grandchildren (I am one) had a big dinner at the house.
        After the dinner was over about 8 or 10 od us walked to the barn just to play. We had never heard that it was haunted. Some got into one of the huge ‘buckets’ that hang from the ceiling was still working. (I wasn’t one of them.) Scardie Cat! They had a lot of fun pushing that ‘bucket full of kids’ bac k and forth when one of the big heavy chain’s went off the end of the rail. Lucky, no one of them was seriously injured. most of them are gone now (2012) and I have been reading a lot of stories from around there.
        Joyce

      • rose says:

        Thanks for sharing that story! I love hearing about the memories.

  3. Anonymous says:

    i have a picture of brother swearinger, cousin ruthie smith and myself with his goats, in front of his house…. It was the afternoon I was baptized…. He and Gertie have very special memories to me….i still have a letter that Gertie wrote to me…..my grandpa russ was a minister of the Church of God…stories and memories…..thank you

  4. Excellent research and article and photographs. Brava! Charley McKelvy

  5. Sheryl says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. Excellent research!

  6. M. Howard Edwards says:

    I am a great grandson of Martin Minters, and it is good to fill in some unknown information about him and Ayrshire (I had not heard about Logtown before this). I last visited the area in the late 1970’s. During the visit very few knew about the Mt. Hebron cemetery, and I was told that no African Americans lived in the area any more. When I did locate the cemetery it had been recently cleared of weeds, and it was next to the “old black church” which had been thoroughly vandalized.

    • rose says:

      How great that you found this article! I am always so happy when I find some information about my ancestors. There are some ladies that probably have more information. They have an entire collection of Logtown information, articles, etc.. My email is rosebeyke@gmail.com if you want to send me yours I will pass on any I find.

  7. Joyce says:

    Have you ever heard that the old Ingle house had ghost?
    My Grandmother, Rosa DeJarnett and Grandpa lived there. Grandma was bedfast. She had a stroke one time. Her bed set in the room at the end of the hall and you could see the stairway from there. She swore she saw shadows walk up stairs. I played up there but never saw one.
    Joyce

  8. My mother lived in the Ayrshire community some growing up and she tells me that she can remember that Rev. Swearingen shared the same birthday with her. She says on her 9th bday which would have been in Sept. 1952 she can remember that he was living alone at this time (as his wife had reently passed away) and her and her mother took her birthday cake down and shared it with him. Mom says that preacher Swearingen was a very sweet and polite man. Mom also tells me that she, too, can remember Gertie Minters, who lived right across the tracks and she remembers a colored man by the name of Phil Tett living by her and that he would always sit on his porch and smoke his pipe while making conversation with the neighborhood kids as they walked by.

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