Minnie was born in 1884, probably in Idaho, to 56 year old William West, and teenager Mary Taylor. William, already married, took Mary as a second wife, and when the marriage ended almost immediately after Minnie's birth, Mary left the home and Minnie was raised by William and his first wife Ann. And that is about all we know about her childhood.
What fascinates me about Minnie is that every "fact" I find about her is uncertain. Her life, much like her mother's, is a bit shrouded in mystery. Her details offer more questions than answers. Why did William take a teenage bride so late in life? Plural marriage was common among Mormons then, but William had been a one-wife man for over 15 years when he married the very young Mary, and had only one child with her before the marriage ended, making it an unusual situation, even for polygamist Mormons. Did she know Mary was her mother, or did she grow up believing Ann was? The few stories that survive about Minnie indicate she had no contact with her mother until the year after her father died, despite them living fairly close to one another. Does this mean she didn't find out about Mary until William died? Does it mean she knew about Mary but was not allowed to see her? Does it mean Mary chose not to contact Minnie, or that Minnie chose not to contact Mary? How did she feel about having half-siblings the same age as her own children? Why can no one identify her in a photograph? I've been in contact with many of her living relations, and not one of them can confirm that the photos thought to be of her definitely are. Why did she die so young of an unmentioned illness, and why did Clarence, who by all accounts was very much in love with her, remarry less than a year after her death?
There is something about Minnie's story, or lack thereof, that leaves me desperate to get to know her better. The little we do know - that she likely had a fairly confusing childhood and adolescence, that she married into a prominent Mormon family, that she was an active member in the church known for her kindness and generosity, that she turned down work to stay home with her children, that she died fairly young for unknown reasons - makes her life a tale I want to know so much more about. All at once, she seems popular yet lonely, loved yet abandoned, fulfilled yet rushed through life. She was well-liked in her time but cannot be pointed out in a photograph now. She was well-known, yet few records of her existence survive. She gave way to many generations, but died before any of them could meet her.
She is my great-great-grandmother, and keeps my passion for genealogy alive.