Share Your Reunion Experiences



Have you had a hand in planning a Family Reunion?

Why not share your account with others! Send your stories, whether they recall an intimate gathering of a dozen, or a large group of a hundred or more, to
GFSBrenda@aol.com

Your tips, your trials and tribulations, your success stories, are all welcome and we'll make them available for others to read, enjoy, and benefit by. :)




The 133 Year Old Family Picnic of The Consider Law (Revolutionary War Patriot) Family Reunion

This family picnic is 133 years old. The one item of interest is the 450 page ledger of vital statistics is the valued piece. It has been microfilmed in 1950 and I made 10 copies (to send to different family lines that were not attending) in 1994. Pages were copied on 11 by 17 paper. Its a big leather ledger.

Family members are elated to get together to exchange family activities and share the joy. All kinds of occupations and interests gives us a database of contacts and information that our family can still enjoy even 7th cousins later.

We also found advertising in the Yankee magazine renewed family contacts. The food has changed to lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus interesting cooked salads , meat and meatless dishes. The dessert table is the joy to behold. Everyone sets-up and cleans-up . We do the whole thing in 4 hours. We dropped the baseball game, but the kids always come up with some activity during the meeting.

The Consider Law (Revolutionary War Patriot) Family Reunion 1866 with vital records ledger and secretary minutes announces the merger of grandson Daniel and Amanda Lydia Dunham Cheney reunion.

Daniel and Amanda Lydia Dunham Cheney reunion had become so large it broke away from the Law reunion, now to reunite again as its membership waned. Records had been continually kept in both organizations.

Participants will meet July 12, 1998 at the Bartlett Baptist Church (the church the family built) Town of Westmoreland, Oneida County, New York.

The call to picnic letter has been sent out. The letter includes the minutes from the last meeting and minutes from 100 years ago. All not planning to attend will mail their update of statistics and words to the family that will be read at the meeting.

Participants also include Consider Law's great grandfather John Law's children of that part of Concord known as Acton, who are scattered around the world.

An order of meeting is followed : Blest be the ties that Bind, Pledge of Allegiance, America, prayers, blessings, food, pictures, reading of minutes, collecting of offering, reading of correspondence, historical research display and collection of records display. Take home photocopies are usually available.

GFH AnnE

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Annual Rhoades/Rhodes/Rhoads Reunion

There is an annual reunion of Rhoades/Rhodes/Rhoads folk in Browder, KY, the 4th weekend of April each year.

A Capt. Henry Rhoads, his brother Daniel, and Henry's son Solomon founded a town called Rhoadsville (now Calhoun) in the 1780s in what is now McLean Co., KY. They lost the land in Revolutionary War bounty land title disputes and moved south a ways where Capt. Henry acquired several thousand acres in what is now Muhlenberg Co. which Henry named after his Commander in the Rev.

The two story log cabin built in the 1790s by Capt. Henry still stands near Browder, a small village close to Greenville, KY and the family cemetery plot is nearby the log house. The annual reunion is held in the church hall of the Missionary Baptist Church.

Descendants of Capt. Henry Rhoads and of his brothers come from all over the country. They generally have a work day on Friday in the cemetery where they have restored stones and cleared brush and weeds. They stay in motels in nearby towns and get together in groups for informal diners on Friday night and meet in the Church hall on Saturday for exchange of information and for a brunch.

A copier is made available for exchange of copy and of late folks have taken pictures, had them developed at K-Mart and scanned them into their notebook computers. Gedcoms on disks are exchanged and more and more people are on line with e-Mail addresses every year.

This April there were families there from Texas and Utah who heard about the reunion from my AOL web page. About 35 families were there this year. They have a loose organization and publish a quarterly newsletter.

While my wife and I are not direct descendants of Capt. Henry Rhoads (his brother Jacob was my 3rd great grandfather) we have met so many nice folks from all over the country at this reunion that we go to visit with them anyway.

The State of KY has recognized the historic value of the two story log house by placing a historic marker along the highway in front of the building.

Bud Isenhart

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Trojanovich Family Picnic


My dad's side of the family (TROJANOVICH) has an annual reunion over the 4th of July weekend in Calhan CO. It is usually a 2 day event, depending on when the 4th falls.....sometimes it is 3 days. Everyone who is not within driving distance brings tents and spends the entire time camping out together.

The ones who live nearby all cook the family's traditional Slovak food. During the daytime, they all play various sorts of games such as huge tug of wars using large heavy ropes, kid type-games (where you & your partner share a gunny sack & hop across a field with each of you having one leg in the sack), carrying raw eggs on spoons for a tag race, etc. We had a "woman's only" activity that was a lot of fun. All the women were given a large nail and a hammer and we were all lined up at a huge log. The one who drove the nail in all the way, the fastest, won. Guess who won???? ROTFLOL! Yes, I won. Yippeeeeeeee!

Another thing they do is to have made, and wear, T-shirts with the family name (TROJANOVICH) on it, with each particular branch of the family wearing different colors. That way, not only do we know who descended from whom, but we also can quickly sort out the groups for games etc.

One of our family members has set up a web page and I have been helping them to contribute to it, although I don't know the slightest thing about web page creation (desperately want to). She and her hubby have decided to take the computer with them to the reunion. I suggested to her to download AOL Instant Messenger as she isn't on AOL. I told her I thought it was a fantastic idea that at least we could IM each other from the reunion!!! So...........I'd actually be there but still be here, in Tulsa. LOL!!!

Here's a little bit I copied off one of the web sites on our family about the reunion.

Come celebrate
Come remember
Come for a hootin' good time!

Trojanovich Family Picnic

The Trojanovich family has hosted annual 4th of July picnics for over 25 years and most recently at the William Trojanovich ranch/farm. The picnic emphasizes the importance of family ties and includes, weekend camping, evening singing gatherings, dancing, religious celebration, walks, heritage sharing, large community picnic (barbecue and drinks), hayrack rides and July 4 games and celebration.

This year 1998, the reunion will be held at St. Mary's Community Hall (5 miles north of Calhan). This year's reunion emphasis will be on finishing the rock monument on the original homestead, viewing old film, slides, pictures and albums, singing and dancing. Friends and relatives are invited.

Here's a list of essentials:

•Food. Ethnic dishes to share. Bring your own drinks. •Music. Bring your polkas.... •Camping. Bring your tent, sleeping bag, and marshmallows. •Clothing. Wear your family colors: William=Blue, Anna=Orange, Anthony=purple, George=xxx, Steve=xxx, Mary=Yellow, Mike=xxx, Matt=xxx

Kitti

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Raygor Family Reunion

My cousin Betty always invites the first cousins to a reunion every couple of years. She rents a shelter at a state park near the old homestead in central Iowa. This year, I searched on-line phone books for our surname RAYGOR. All Raygors are related. I found over 100 throughout the United States. I used desktop publishing to create a flier inviting all to the reunion. I got six telephone calls from very long lost relatives. Some verifying that this was a true reunion and not a hoax or sales piece. All the people who received the flier shared it with their siblings and cousins who have a different last name. I got 11 back with a "Not at this address" mark.

Even though it rained 13 inches!!! on that Sunday, we had more than 100 Raygors show up for this first all-Raygor reunion. Everyone had a wonderful time!

I sent out a follow-up newsletter with family group sheet. Everyone is to fill it out and send it back to receive a free copy of the Family History Project (thanks to my mother who is funding it as a tribute to my father).

The neat part was everyone acted like family even though there was every shape, size and background - from tattooed bikers to 87-year-old great grandpas. It was a fabulous time. I'm glad my 17-year old son, my mother and I were able to participate.

Lori Raygor Fields - a.k.a. RedNPhx@aol.com

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Libolt Family Reunion

Just wanted to share a bit of experiences we have had, I'd call them all successes.

First of all, I started out trying to locate as many people as I could by sending genealogy sheets to Key people, perhaps the eldest in the family or someone I had on my Christmas List. I gathered names & addresses, wrote a Newsletter telling about a Libolt Reunion on the Beautiful Oregon Coast. We had it at a small Women’s Club building. I thought perhaps we might have 75 people, but we ended up on our registration of 150. Well, we had quite a squeeze, but the misty rain kept us close & the gentlemen spread a blue plastic over the entry so people could stand out & visit. I usually get a Newsletter out just as soon as we know the when & where for the next reunion. At Christmas time I try to get a bit of additional info out. I keep in touch with the host & hostess of that reunion.... this is strictly volunteer work. But sometimes, I have had to twist a few arms cause they don't feel they can do it. Those who have had experience is usually willing to answer questions for them.

Regarding the Newsletter, I get a copy of the motels, RV parks, etc. & send that along just as soon as I can get it so they can make reservations or whatever. That way the host & hostess doesn't have to handle any of that.

We try to always fix the breakfasts, but lunches were snack items & dinner was a potluck. The object was to try to keep the cost down as much as possible for the younger & growing families. It is enough that they get themselves there. We have always had it on the long 4th of July week-ends. Potluck Friday night as people were getting there. Our family being quite musical, we had entertainment. Some- times, we'd take a "mike" around to everyone for them to tell of their family, where they were from, etc. We always have had a fund-raiser of some sort, quilts were usually bid on silently or auctioned. We brought "White Elephants" for silent auction & one time we put together a Libolt Cookbook. That was a really big winner & great fund-raiser for us. In fact, it carried us into other reunions. It always takes a bit of money to secure the place you are gong to have it, so a deposit is necessary. Who-ever is Hosting the reunion should not have to take money out of their own pockets to put a deposit on a facility for us.

Other things of interests: Everyone has pictures they no longer have any use for or they are "unknown" to the owner, as they have been passed down from parents without names on them. So they are brought & it is fun reminiscing & trying to figure out who they are. Of course, there is always new faces. Those of whom we haven't seen in years or perhaps never met. It is great fun getting to know them & about them.

We have been chasing genealogy for several years & that is always interesting to our family. It is a never ending job & never complete it seems. My cousin is trying to complete the ancestors & I'm trying to do the same for the living kin. We use the Family Tree program & it is a great help. When I got the genealogy sheets back from the 1st mailing I did, I was really surprised, I got 175 of them. I made 60 books with them. Had them punched for a notebook. Those we sold for just a couple bucks over cost.

Another thing we try to do if there isn't a beach or play area for the younger children is organize games for them. A watermelon contest is always fun to watch. Finding coins & wrapped candy in a hay bundle that is spread about, egg toss etc. You get the picture I'm sure. We always have Libolt Reunion T-shirts that have something of the area for us to remember it by. Our last one this July was Bandon, Or & their Lighthouse. Makes for nice wearing.

We have been having them every 3 years. It is just about right. But some of our elderly just may not make it to the next one so we don't like to make it too far apart.

I believe the most important thing that makes a reunion a success is people being congenial. If you have a beef with a member of the family, this isn't the place to settle your differences. Make it another time. I am so grateful for our great family. There just isn't any better people that walk this earth. Go expecting to have a great time & you will. Be willing to pitch in when you see a need, lend a helping hand to the people who are your host & hostess. Appreciate them & let them know it.

One last thing, we always have a church service Sunday morning & a time of picture taking of families. It is a fun time & we find that God has blessed us when we remember he is part of our family too. Prayer for the safe journey home is made on our families behalf. We have been truly blessed.

Leta Libolt-Allmain E-Mail: Liball97@aol.com

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A Children's Art Table

Something I planned at our first family reunion together was to have a variety of art supplies, paper, and more, on one or two of the picnic tables. For one thing it was a very good icebreaker. Kids (and some adults) who arrived and didn't know anyone, starting congregating at this table and began watercolors, and drawings, and were told beforehand that for the children there would be prizes later in the agenda for their art work. Unbeknownst to them, everyone would be getting a prize, but that made it so everyone eagerly displayed their work. Many kids spent lots and lots of time at this table and began conversing with each other, and with other reunion attendees that came along to see what everyone was doing. Most of the work these kids did they just left on the table when leaving at the end of the day. After months and months of my effort in putting this event together, I loved being rewarded with the art works. One child was actually drawing some of the people that particularly caught his eye at the reunion. My next reunion will definitely have a children's art table! Anyone having further suggestions regarding this, I would love to hear from you.

LauraJoH@aol.com

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Five Scheming Daughters Plan a Memorable 40th Wedding Anniversary-Reunion

Charles and Kathleen met at a dance on a dude ranch in western Michigan, Labor Day week-end of 1957. They were married the next April. Forty years later their children put together for them a special week-end that will never be forgotten . . . . and most of the planning was done from 1200 miles away!

Last fall I started contemplating my parents' approaching milestone. Since "tomorrow" is not guaranteed, it occurred to me that one or both of them might not see their 50th wedding anniversary. (Then again, with people living longer lives, they may reach 65 years of marriage!) As the eldest daughter I wanted to do something special for them and I didn't want to wait another ten years.

The ball started rolling when I called my middle sister and ran some ideas by her. She lives closest to our parents and it was she who eventually did most of the footwork -- God bless her! ;) We both decided that it would be a surprise for our parents and that it had to be personalized just for them. We gave it some time, thought, and prayer, before contacting the other three sisters and asking them to keep Easter weekend of 1998 open, just in case!

Through several conversations by e-mail, phone, and in person, my fellow-schemer, Laura, and I had frameworked our plan. We wanted to hold our little anniversary reunion on the grounds of Double J Ranch, Rothbury, Michigan, where our parents had met. They have a wonderful restaurant there overlooking a first-class golf course and we just knew the evening had to include dinner and pleasant, familiar surroundings. Though not a part of the ranch in 1957, the present eatery (Sundance Saloon and Steakhouse), golf course, and nearby lodging are in keeping with the upgraded dude ranch theme. They are well-known to the locals and are popular with tourists who are looking for something above the "economy plan." Laura established contact with Double J to see what was available.

Before Christmas we had one more sister aware of and warming to our plans. It was going to be difficult to keep the grandchildren quiet about it (especially when on the phone with Grandma or Grandpa), but we emphasized the importance of secrecy on this subject. Our youngest sister didn't have to worry about this for her only "babies" (their cats) are good at keeping mum!

Three potential obstacles stood in the way of our scheme: (1) their actual anniversary date was Easter Sunday (2) sister #4 was not easily won over to the idea, and (3) the cost! We decided to make the reservation (for 12) for Holy Saturday night and emphasize Sunday as "family day" when we could attend church together and the grandkids could spend some time with their grandparents. My husband and children would have to stay at home in Dallas due to budget constraints, work, and school schedules. I would be flying up alone. Laura and I encouraged the other three to visit Double J's website Double JJ Resort (
http://www.doublejj.com/) and told them that the two of us would make up the difference if the cost of dinner was too steep. Laura arranged for a college student to sit for the evening with my seven nieces and nephews. This helped alleviate some of our other sister's concerns.

What started out as a surprise dinner (and cake) ended up to be so much more! After flying in on Good Friday, I was met by the second-oldest of us and her husband and son and taken to Laura's home. The other three were all staying at the same hotel, at a safe distance from my parents' home, but on the way to Double J and close to the rest of us. This was fun for the cousins as they got to swim together and do stuff with the dads while the five moms got our pictures done at a local portrait studio. (An 8"x10" was later given to my mom and dad -- another surprise presented two weeks later!) This was the first time the five of us had had a professional photo made since 1970 when we were all in grade school and had a family shot taken for our church directory!

Laura went beyond the calll of duty for she had visited a florist to see about getting a silk corsage and boutinerre for our mom and dad, made with same flowers as my mother's wedding bouquet. The two of us also worked on a framed picture collage which took a little sneaking around.

Earlier in the spring while my mother was at work and my dad was taking a train trip to Florida to meet his sister, Laura "broke in" to their apartment (she has her own key) and located some pictures and other items that might not be missed by mom. I was able to contact an old friend of my mother's by going to Switchboard Home Page (http://www.switchboard.com/). This woman had been part of a small group of friends that went to the dude ranch that week-end along with my mother, and she had slides! She gladly loaned them to me and I made prints out of several of them. Laura and I chose one to use in this collage.

The best surprise was "The Loft." Located within walking distance of the golf course and the steakhouse, this three story guesthouse has in-room jacuzzies and a wonderful view. Laura and I had booked our parents a room there for the night! How they would get from the restaurant to the Loft was part of the grand plan suggested to us by a staff member of the Double J. The best was yet to come . . . . !

Saturday evening came and the secret was still intact. All five sisters were in town with four husbands and seven kids between them. Pictures had been taken, pizza ordered for the children, and instructions given to the sitter. This was the first occasion since 1992 that all five were in the same place at the same time so there were hugs all around, with lively conversation, and the comparing of grey hairs! Laura and her husband left first; their mission: to pick up the anniversary couple! About a half hour later, the other adults caravanned to the Double J.

We had allowed enough time to set up the "anniversary suite." An overnight bag, a framed photo of the lovely bride, a letter of instructions, and a CD player with the "hits of 1957 and '58" all ready to go, were strategically placed. The room passed our inspection and we headed for the restaurant.

The drivers parked their cars in the staff parking area down below (pre-arranged) so as not to be recognized by the honored couple. After a drink at the bar, final reminders, and a visit by four to the ladies room, we were ushered to our special table with a fantastic view. There was going to be a lovely sunset during dinner and later . . . a full moon!

We could hardly stand it, waiting for 7:00 p.m. and our parents to arrive. As the time neared, we passed around the message to put our menus up to our faces when we saw them walk in. Shortly the four of them were spotted at the front of the dining area and we went into action. As they approached the table we all stood up and exclaimed: "Happy Anniversary!" The two of them were flabergasted and practically speechless. They were both close to tears when they saw me as we showed them to their seats.

The whole evening went just as we had planned. I was afraid we would eat too fast and the arranged "kidnapping" at 9:00 p.m. would not work. We had a leisurely and very tasty meal with couples stepping outdoors to the deck every so often for "photo ops." My mom and dad continued to state their disbelief and pleasure at seeing us all together. My mom wore her old Double J badge and the waitresses recognized and commented on it. They both looked wonderful all dressed up with their matching corsages and flushed faces!

After dinner a scrumptious chocolate and strawberry cake was brought out and the two of them cut it and fed each other as they had done on their wedding day. Before anyone had a chance to think about seconds, gunshots and whooping were heard in the restaurant. A band of five masked men (and a woman) came in and people throughout the dining room were laughing and wondering what it was all about. They targeted our table and told us all to stand up with our hands over our heads. My dad was chuckling and I heard my mother say, "what?" The female desparado roped my dad and one of the young men lassoed my mother with a "You're a sweet thing, come along with me now!" Laura handed my mom her purse as she was led toward the door. My mother wondered aloud whether she'd be back and that was the last we saw of them until the next day.

Eleven of us stood around, sighing with relief, giggling at how the whole thing went off, and remembering the looks on our parents' faces! We waited for the bill, loitering in the foyer chatting with the employees, some of whom were almost as surprised at the whole charade! I bought a souveneir sweatshirt on the way out the door, and Laura and I both pronounced it a success . . . thus far! Between the five couples paying, we were able to cover most of the expenses for our parents at a cost of $55 contribution per family. (The lodging and travel expenses for the rest of us was taken care of individually, as well as our own dinners that evening.)

On Sunday we heard the rest of the story. My parents, unsure at first of where they were being taken, were ultimately delighted with their room and the arrangements. They had been taken by buckboard to the Loft and escorted to their second floor room. "Enjoy your stay!" was what one of the men told them as he shut the door to their room. The next morning they arose to a mist over the golf course and rabbits near the fringe as a partly sunny Easter Sunday dawned. They found Laura's car keys in the overnight bag and drove home in the car she had left for them, breakfasting in their own apartment before meeting some of us for Mass. They made it in plenty of time and were delighted to see the grandchildren.

That afternoon we all gathered in their apartment, bringing various dishes for dinner so my mother would not have to cook or even lift a finger. The five of us enjoyed the conversation, the food, and doing dishes together afterward. Several days before, my dad had won a three-foot tall chocolate Easter Bunny, and everyone got more than their share! The children played outdoors with Grandpa and we watched a video greeting card created by my husband and sons, the only ones of the immediate family not in attendance.

Combining the occasions of our parents' wedding anniversary and Easter worked out nicely and we have plenty of pictures and good memories to prove it. We started planning months ahead of time. It took some postive promotion to win everyone over to our ultimate scheme, but with sensitivity and care, it all panned out for the enjoyment and benefit of everyone. Our man concern was for our parents. We knew that my mom hasn't always been a spontaneous person -- although she has mellowed some in the last few years! ;) Laura and I felt that we succeeded in making it special and everyone else agrees.

Weeks later, anniversary notices (with pictures) that my sister and I sent in to two local papers appeared. Unfortunately the short text can't tell the whole story but the looks on our parents faces that night spoke louder than words!

Jill M. CLARK (nee SYERS)
Dallas, TX

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