Biography of John W. Minnick

JOHN W. MINNICK. – In the person of the subject of this sketch we have one of the leading men of Union county, both in matters of business and of prominence in development and progress of that which is for the interests of all citizens. Forceful, energetic and wide awake, he has made his influence felt not alone in the enterprises of business where he is universally successful, but also in the conventions and newspapers of the county, being recognized as one of the most vigorous and telling local writers of the county, thus casting an influence that is both potent and salutary.

Highland county, Ohio, is his birthplace and September 15, 1849, the date that he first saw the light, being the son of Samuel and Phoebe (Hyatte) Minnick, natives respectively of Reckbridge county, Virginia, and Ohio, and early pioneers of the latter state. In 1857 the family came to Jasper county, Iowa, and there the father died, but the mother is still living at the home place. The opportunities for early education were limited and John W. was obliged to make up for the lack by more careful attention and personal research for himself, which has given him a fund of information both practical and comprehensive. At the age of sixteen he engaged as brakeman on the Rock Island Railroad in Iowa, served for five months and then acted as fireman for one year and nine months and then became engineer for four months, enjoyed a wreck and quit railroading. In 1875 he came to Wyoming and worked at carpenter work on a flume, then operated in the sandy smelter in Utah for the winter and returned to Iowa and engaged in coal mining near Oskaloosa. In 1878 he sold his mining interests and came to the west, starting with teams on March 5, and landed in Union county on June 23, and camped on his present place, seven miles east from Union, on the High valley road. He soon had a log cabin erected and filed on a homestead, which has been increased by purchase until he now owns one section. Of this fine estate he farms one hundred acres to wheat and oats and nearly two hundred acres to hay. He owns about fifty hogs and two hundred head of cattle, being grades of the Hereford and shorthorn breeds. Mr. Minnick takes great interest in good cattle, and is doing much to improve the grade. In addition to all the large interests, he operates each year a large thresher and has done so for sixteen years, and is at the present time buying a new outfit. Politically, he is with the Democratic party and with the People’s party, having attended the conventions. For nine years he served as road supervisor and did much to improve the roads of the county. Eight years since he resigned this office, finding that it was interfering with his other occupations. His estate has as good improvements as one would fine in the county, being well fenced and in a high state of cultivation, while the implements and necessaries are plentifully provided for the carrying on of the farm in first-class manner. His barns are of the best and his fine, large and well furnished house, bespeak an intelligence and taste that are praiseworthy.

Mr. Minnick was married to Miss Mary Davis, in Evanston, Wyoming, in 1876, and they became the parents of the following children: Jessie, now Mrs. Woolever, living north of Union; Macy, wife of Mr. Evans, of Ennis, Montana; William; Mary; and Ivy. William A. is attending the State Agricultural College at Pullman, Washington, and is fitting himself for a mining engineer. He was chosen as orator for the celebration of Washington’s birthday by the Washington Club of his college and in his efforts he has shown marked talent and bright promises for the future. Mrs. Minnick was called from her family by the rude hand of death on March 5, 1889.

In June, 1891, Mr. Minnick contracted a second marriage, the lady being Mary Vass, from the home place in Iowa. Mr. Minnick is affiliated with the I.O.O.F. , Union Lodge, No. 35, and with the Rebekahs. It is of note that in addition to all the other industries that he has successfully carried on, Mr. Minnick has attained a prominent distinction as an orchardist, raising on his estate all the varieties of fruit except those of a tropical nature.



An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

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