Israel Miniard is believed to be the ancestor of all the 19th century Miniard families of southeast Kentucky. He was born about 1776 during Revolutionary War times and there are several traditional stories about the early years of his life, some possibly true, others unlikely.
One such tradition is that Israel was born at sea on the way to America. This is unlikely, as it appears to be certain that he was born in North Carolina, possibly in the vicinity of Gates County where an Israel Miniard, who may have been our Israel's father or uncle was living in 1786.
It is also said that he lived with a tribe of Indians in Oklahoma until he was 12 years old and married an Indian girl and took her name and that he later moved his family east to Tennessee. Most of this is probably also untrue.
If he lived with the Indians at any time in his life, it is highly unlikely that it was in what is now Oklahoma. It is possible that he lived with the Cherokees who were then living in North Carolina. Many years after this would have been, the Cherokees were moved west on the infamous Trial of Tears to a reservation in what is now Oklahoma.
As Israel was about 20 years older than his wife he appears with in southeast Kentucky, it is possible that he had an earlier wife who may have been Indian but the known children of Israel is southeast Kentucky are probably all by the known wife, Mary Turner; born about 1793.
Israel Miniard, his wife Mary and her brothers David and William Turner apparently lived for a while in Tennessee which may have been where Israel and Mary met and married. Early in the 1800's they came to the Kentucky mountians, traveling as a group of families. They lived at first in Clay and Perry Counties, with David and William settling eventually on Greasy Creek in what is now Leslie County. David and William's families have both been discussed in recent columns.
Israel also settled on Greasy Creek in what was then Clay County. In 1824 he obtained a grant of land on Abners Branch of Greasy Creek on the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River. This area became Leslie County in 1878 and many of the families still living there have Miniards in their ancestry.
Eights of Israel's children are known, all probably by his wife, Mary Turner. The oldest of his known children is his daughter Nancy, born about 1817. She married William Cornett. They settled in what was then Perry County, probably near the Clay/Perry County line.
William Miniard, Israel's oldest known son, was born about 1818. He married Walter and Sarah Turner Middleton's daughter, Susannah. They lived in Clay and Harlan Counties.
Isreal died sometime between the 1850 and 1860 census enumerations and in 1860, his widow Mary is living with her son John, born about 1824, in Harlan County. Also in the household are two young children, nine year old Nancy Ellis and eight year old James Ellis. It is possible that these two young children are grandchildren of Israel and Mary Miniard.
Elizabeth Miniard was born about 1829. In 1849, at the age of 20, she married Moses Maggard in Harlan County. Her brother James was born about 1830. He married Cyrena Lewis. James and Cyrena are living near his mother and three of his brothers in 1860 Harlan County.
Matilda Miniard, born about 1832, married John A. Maggard. Her sister Rutha married John Joseph. The Maggards and Josephs settled in that part of Perry County which later became Leslie County.
Joseph Miniard, youngest of Israel's sons, was born about 1837. In 1859, in Harlan County, he married Louisa M. Bailey. Like James, John and William, Joseph settled in that part of Harlan County that became Leslie County.
Also thought to be a child of Israel and Mary Turner Miniard is Louisa who married James Napier. Like the other Miniards above, many of her descendants live in what is now Leslie County.