Editor’s note: Joan Taylor, a coordinator for the Somervell County Historical Research Center, is now writing a column on related topics for the Glen Rose Reporter.
Summertime always brings memories of family reunions. Back in the day they would begin planning for that summer get-together of families far and wide to make a trip “home” to see everyone and exchange news & celebrate events. It was exciting to look forward to seeing those cousins and “near cousins” and their families and meet all the new people. It was a highlight of the summer for both adults and all the kids.
In planning for the event, the first item would be the place to have the event must be decided. In my “Texas” family it was either Oakdale Park in Glen Rose or Katy Park in Walnut Springs. But everyone had their places sort of “nailed” early on. Everyone seemed to know what/where the other families would be meeting and how many reunions each family would be attending. In my family we had three different family reunions, although a lot of the people went to several reunions. Seemed we were all related one way or the other. Good food was abundant, and each family had their own specialty. Oh my, the desserts, always that good homemade ice cream, watermelon and cantaloupe, fresh peach pie, blackberry and green grape cobbler. Oh my, how I miss those tasty treats.
These wonderful events still happen. But they are usually much longer driving, and they are held in air-conditioned facilities and the food is mostly catered. There does not seem to be as many children around to create a sense of celebration to the groups. The ones I have been to lately we mostly visited and remembered the “good ole days”. I don’t remember anyone doing that in my childhood days. There always seemed to be an abundance of laughs, music and fun for all. More like a party. But again, I am seeing these events with “mature” eyes. But I know how very important they are to the younger generations and their children.
I began wondering just how many homecoming reunions we have in Glen Rose every year. I called the County for the count on the Civic Center on the Hill and was very surprised they have about 30 standing reunions each year and in checking with the Citizens Center on Barnard Street they gave me a standing count of some 15 families. These figures do not count the last-minute reunions. So, Glen Rose citizens can be proud of our interest in preserving this wonderful family tradition. I do know the Heritage Library and the Research Center have even more traffic when there is a family reunion in town.
This July 19-23, I attended an adult “Louisiana” family reunion in Charleston SC. It is somewhat different. I love to attend this reunion and I have learned so much from visits with these cousins. The reunion has been held annually in July for the past 24 years. There were some 300 people attending, many from different states who came this year. Each time I have been there has been the core group who do the planning and setting up and arranging for the side trips to wonderfully restored places that have always been in the family. We did the usual family reunion celebrations, we heard stories, told stories, listened to histories of great people and the not so great, but most interesting. You meet new kin and greet the ones you know so well. And you trade genealogy research findings! They point out that it is our job to take these stories home to our children and grandchildren.
We visited the eight French Huguenot Churches that were established in SC. These churches were the key places for these immigrants. Interesting to me each church had a graveyard. (Note: A graveyard is attached to a church and a cemetery is located elsewhere.) On Sunday we all visited the French Huguenot Church in downtown Charleston and I sat in my family pew. The fellowship and camaraderie of this group is awesome. All in all, different as it was, truly a reunion of like minds looking for the same answer to the question, “Who Am I and Why Am I Here”.
For me, this all began with me picking up a sheet of paper at a library. It was a form that had blank spaces to fill in my family history. The more names I put down the more I wanted to know. From there I evolved into this person who lives in libraries, cemeteries and old courthouse, searching for just one more record.
The Somervell Historical Library and Research Center, now located in the Somervell Public Library located at 108 Allen Drive, phone 254-897-9073. This is the place you can find records and stories of the early days and families of the area.There are many family histories already recorded and just think, one may be from your family. We have all the forms to get you started on this journey of discovery. This is how we each can find out who we are and how we got here. Volunteer staff is here every day at the same hours of the public library. We can get you started on this new adventure!
In September we will provide more news of the upcoming October Workshop sponsored by the Waco Genealogy Library and the State of Texas. This one-day event will be held at the Public Library.