Next to my house on Roosevelt Street in the Egypt section of Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania is a grand red brick house. It dwarfs the rest of the houses in the neighborhood and is situated facing out to Main Street across from Eberhart Motors.
Edwin Minner Family
I did some digging and found out it was built in 1914 by Dr. Edwin S. Minner. According to the History of Lehigh County Pennsylvania, the Minner family traces its roots in the area back at least the early 1800s. Dr. Minner was born in 1888 in Bechtelsville, PA to Jonas and Mary (Specht) Minner. They had several children including Tamar (who later marries Preston Smith and moves to Roosevelt Street). Edwin’s mother Mary died in 1890 when Edwin was only 2 years old. My guess is her death was childbirth related because Edwin had a younger sister who died as an infant.
Edwin’s father, Jonas, remarried and had more children. At some point, Jonas Minner became a cement contractor and learned the plastering trade and moved to Allentown. Jonas built his home at 804 North Seventh Street, Allentown just a year before he died in 1908.
Edwin Minner’s Schooling
Edwin went to public school in Pottstown and then graduated from Allentown High School in 1905. In 1906 he went to Medico-Chirurgical College in Philadelphia and graduated in 1910. The Medico-Chirurgical College merged with University of Pennsylvania in 1916 and the buildings were demolished in 1918 to make way for the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
In 1911, he was elected as a resident at Allentown Hospital and also set up a general practice in Egypt which grew large. In 1912 he married Carrie Rogers who I suppose Edwin met at the Allentown Hospital since she graduated as a trained nurse from Allentown Hospital in 1911.
Edwin Minner in Egypt
In 1914, Edwin built the large brick house next to my house in Egypt, PA. I wish I knew who built it, who designed it, and I wish that I had a picture of it when it was new. I’m still searching. But there is still a hitching post on Roosevelt Street which is on the side of the Minner house. It was probably there for guests since the Minner family probably would have put their own horses and carriages on the other side of the house off the alley which is where the detached garages are today. I like to imagine neighbors and friends dropping by and hitching up there. Or maybe someone who needed medical care. I don’t know if he practiced medicine out of his house or if he had a separate office somewhere.
Edwin was in a number of social societies. Some were in Allentown, but the Independent Order of Red Men was in Egypt. It caught my eye since I had never heard of it and because to today’s ears it sounds terribly racist. The Independent Order of Red Men is an off-shoot of the Improved Order of Red Men which is the same organization as the Sons of Liberty and is America’s Oldest Fraternal Organization and chartered by Congress. They are patriotic and use Native American terminology and customs. (Think about the background of the Boston Tea Party.) In the 1850s there was a disagreement between several of the groups and the German-language groups split off to form the Independent Order of the Red Men. Membership petered out after the 1920s which makes sense since a lot of German language associations did after World War I. I was not able to find out if it still exists today.
Edwin Minner’s Family
Edwin and Carrie had two boys named Edwin J. and Roger. Edwin J. was born in 1921 and served in the Army Air Corps in World War II then worked a career at Bethlehem Steel. Roger also served in World War II, but as a doctor in Pittsburgh. After the war he came back to Allentown and served as a doctor in the area for the rest of his life just as his high school yearbook predicted.
Carlton Diehl, who was born in 1934 and grew up in my house on Roosevelt St., remembers the Minner house was always immaculate! I think I found out why. The 1920 census record shows the Minner family had a household servant. By the time Carlton was born, the Minner kids were older but I’m sure the immaculate precedent was already set. In addition to Edwin J. and Roger, there were daughters Paulette, Caroline, and Marjorie.
Edwin Minner’s Medical Practice
Dr. Edwin Minner was truly a neighborhood doctor and I found his name listed twice as I was researching the Diehl family. In 1913, before Dr. Minner completed the building of his house, he attended Catharine Diehl as she gave birth to a stillborn baby. Catharine and Charles Diehl lived in my house from at least 1910-1920. They named the baby Catharine and buried her in the Egypt Community Cemetery. Dr. Minner’s name appears on the death certificate. Catharine was 45 at the time of the birth. Seven years later, at the age of 52, Catharine passed away and Dr. Minner’s name appears on her death certificate as well.
Dr. Edwin S. Minner also organized the Farmers Bank of Egypt in 1938. He also was part of the Egypt Fire Company. He died in 1970 at the age of 81 after almost 60 years of practicing medicine.
The Minner House Today
As for the stately brick house, I’m not sure who owned it after the Minner’s. Carrie Minner’s obit says she died at home in 1963, but Dr. Minner died at his daughter’s house in 1970 so perhaps the house was sold sometime in the 1960s.
The current owners of the Minner’s house have lived there for 40 years so I’m unsure who owned it between the 1960s and the early 1980s. The current owners take excellent care of the house and although I’ve never been inside it, I’d love to check it out. I’m hoping all the original wood was not painted white! Zillow lists it with 6 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, and 3,200 square feet. I’m hoping that means they didn’t muddle the inside by adding a lot of modern updates.
Edwin J Minner Obit: https://www.mcall.com/news/mc-xpm-1986-12-20-2545853-story.html
Dr. Roger Minner Obit: https://www.mcall.com/news/mc-xpm-1989-07-16-2707859-story.html
Dr. Edwin S. Minner Findagrave listing: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/202669903/j-edwin_s-minner
University of Pennsylvania Archives: https://archives.upenn.edu/collections/finding-aid/upc50_3/