A Walk Through Minden: In the Lives of the Crone and Vegh Families, by Lillian (Sissy Crone) Frazer, is a treasure trove of facts for historians and those interested in Minden and West Virginian coal mining families.
Frazer traces her immigrant ancestors from their earliest beginnings in the United States and their travels to Minden, a small mining camp situated in the mountains of West Virginia. The family endures hardships as mining, the company, and the camp change over the decades. Throughout it all, the family and neighbors maintain strong relationships. Life in Minden is never easy, but the author’s family does their best to live fulfilling lives.
New technology, especially the advent of social media, threatens current and future precious historical records. Not many people write letters, keep journals, or other wonderful resources that used to be such a part of everyday life until recently. These documents help historians piece together evidence to round out a picture of what it was like for people during a certain time in a certain place. And they are vital for reconstructing the lives of the common folk, which has become more popular as of late. History isn’t solely about “great” people, it’s about all people.
Frazer’s book is such a delight for people interested in the history of everyday life. But it’s more than that. It’s a valuable historical record that is meticulously researched and beautifully presented. A Walk Through Minden should become required reading for those interested in the local history of the town and mining camps. It paints a vivid picture of what life was like for the author’s ancestors and family.
The book is also full of interesting details that aren’t always positive. Coming to terms with the good, the bad, and ugly of family history can present uncomfortable discoveries, and unearthing that your grandfather joined the KKK would be a difficult pill to swallow. Yet, she included the fact, which aids the authenticity of the information presented as a whole.
At times, the author bogs down the narrative tracing all the branches on the family tree and it’s difficult for the reader to keep track of all the relatives and what branch he or she belongs to. This is a tricky situation. The author’s goal is to trace her ancestors, which makes it imperative on one hand to drop names, but the narrative flows better when she’s reciting personal stories and not focusing on mentioning all family members. To aid the reader, Frazer has included an extensive breakdown of the family tree in the back of the book.
A Walk Through Minden is a wonderful gift to the family it chronicles, and readers who delight in local history.