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About Alice

Alice T. Miner's Life

Alice's life began during the Civil War and lasted into the Atomic Age. 
Learn more about Alice a passionate collector of art and preserver of American history.

Alice as a child, cropped
Alice as a Teen

Goderich, Ontario

Alice Emma Trainer was born on September 23, 1863, in Goderich, Ontario. She was the seventh child of Bernard and Louisa Saunders Trainer, who had emigrated from Britain to Canada in the 1840s. When Alice was only six years old, her mother died in childbirth. Much of the responsibility for raising the family now fell on Alice’s oldest sister, 19-year-old Matilda.


Alice attended Goderich’s Central School until she was about sixteen. The Trainer family were members of the Methodist New Connexion Church, and almost certainly participated in some of the many voluntary associations that flourished in Victorian Goderich: sporting, music, and drama organizations; charitable and self-improvement societies.

Central Park, Goderich
Central School

Chicago, Illinois

In 1887, the Trainer sisters–Matilda, Bertha, Louise, and Alice–moved to Chicago, joining two of their brothers who had left Canada in search of job opportunities. Here, sometime in the early 1890s, Alice met William H. Miner.

 

Like Alice, William was orphaned as a child, and at the age of ten moved to Chazy, New York, to live with his Uncle John and Aunt Huldah Miner. Here William absorbed the values of hard work, thrift, and honesty that he would always associate with country life. At eighteen, he headed for Lafayette, Indiana to work for the Wabash Railroad, learning about the design and construction of railroad cars and their components. Within ten years, he had received his first patent for a piece of railroad gear, the tandem spring draft gear, and was working for the California Fruit Transportation Company in Chicago.


Alice and William were married in June 1895 and settled into the home on Chicago’s south side that they shared with her siblings. Will’s job required frequent travel, but Alice kept busy with her sisters, friends, and pets. She enjoyed the theater and was learning to play the guitar. Scrapbooks that she compiled during this period show that Alice was an avid reader of a wide range of magazines and was particularly interested in fine art, history, and music.

Alice (far right) and the members of the Kamby Mandolin Club in Jackson Park
ATM portrait inside Chicago home
William H. Miner, ca. 1888
Alice and Bertha with dog in Chicago
Rooftop View
Frank W. Gunsaulus (far left) and Emma B. Hodge (second from right) at Cathedral Woods, Heart’s Delight Farm, 1912
William, Laddie, and Alice at Heart’s Delight, 1925
Heart’s Delight Cottage
Alice Miner presenting a new ambulance to Physicians Hospital, 1948

Chazy, New York

On March 16, 1902, Alice and William welcomed a long-awaited child. But sadly, William Henry Miner, Junior, died two weeks later. Alice was now nearly forty years old and unlikely to have another child.

 

Their decision the following year to embark on the project of expanding and modernizing the Miner family farm was surely related to their need to find a new focus for their time and energy.

Renovation of the old farmhouse, which would eventually become the 47-room Heart’s Delight Cottage, began in 1903.

 

Over the next six years, Will would build a new house for Aunt Huldah, a water tower, sheep and dairy barns, piggeries, henhouses, a gristmill, icehouse, cottages for employees, a fish hatchery, a refrigeration plant, greenhouses, and dozens of other structures. At its peak, Heart’s Delight Farm encompassed 15,000 acres and employed 800 people.

Although Chicago remained their legal residence until 1915, over the years William and Alice spent more and more time in Chazy.

 

It was the place where they focused most of their philanthropic efforts and where they received floods of visitors who delighted in the idealized version of country life they experienced at Heart’s Delight Farm.

William Miner died in 1930 from complications following a tonsillectomy. His sudden death was a blow to Alice and to the community for which he had done so much.

 

However, Alice continued to make Chazy her home and remained active in the support of Chazy Central Rural School, Physicians Hospital, and other institutions dedicated to the education and well-being of the North Country.

 

To learn more about Alice and William Miner’s life in Chazy, visit the Heart’s Delight Farm Heritage Exhibit at Miner Institute.

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