Thursday, 8 September 2011

Family Reunion

It seemed forever until time to drive over to Clay's for the reunion, but we eventually went.  Everyone was asked to wear a name tag with their parents, grandparents, etc names.  Also to complete a register giving contact details and brief genealogy and an email address.  We were asked if we wanted a copy of the list (YES!).

After completing that and giving Bill his name tag, I set up my computer in a corner and started the slide show.  Everyone seemed to know each other, and of course they did.  People kept arriving for at least an hour and a half, most bringing some kind of food.  All Clay had asked me to bring was my camera.

I first sat about taking notes from the genealogy chart.  Clay said he'd send it to me, but his is an Apple Mac and I don't trust the things to talk to my computer; we never did decipher the invitation he'd sent.  Also, it gave me something to do until I could find a way to start talking with people.

Although I'd brushed up on Grandma's brothers and sisters, many of the people present were descended from her cousins and I knew nothing of them, other than what I was reading on the chart.  Bill found some pages photocopied from a biographical history of Clinton County, Indiana where I read about George Leonard who immigrated from Germany and set up several flour milling businesses in Frankfurt.  He retired on a modest but comfortable income.  His son, Andrew, went on to open a grocery store and reading about Andrew's extraordinary business acumen, his deligent church attendance and the wisdom he shared with his fellow city council members practially had me rolling in the floor laughing at his extremely inflated ego!  Thankfully, George Leonard was only Grandma's great-uncle.  Still, I put the information in my family tree for more direct descendents to enjoy.

Leonard was Grandma's Dad; I wonder if she
inherited her love of hats from him?

After Clay introduced me to a few people he thought I'd be interested in meeting, I began to strike up conversations and to invite people to come over and look at the 20 or so photographs on my computer.  I can't tell you how much it pleased me when they all recognized Clara and Jack - "Oh, that Jack, you'd know him anywhere.  He and Clara used to come back every year to visit.  She was such a sweet lady.  You never met such nice people."  A few had met my Dad at some point or other, but none especially remembered him.  He always seemed to me to avoid family gatherings.  Now I wonder if he wasn't particularly encouraged to mingle with Grandma's family, lest he discover he was adopted?  That's something I'll never know.

Grandma:  the girl in the Stripey Dress...
I came away with two new photos of my Grandma.  The one above I'm guessing was when she was about 12 or 13.  I've always found her clothes to be quite interesting, but that collar just doesn't look right to me.  She looks like she's wearing a table cloth!

Mary, Shelley & Sue
At one point I had a moment of deja vu and Bill recognised it the same time that I did.  Two years ago, I sat with two other women whose grandmothers were sister of my Grandpa Jack.  In this scenario, I was talking with Mary and Sue, whose grandmother and grandfather were siblings of my Grandma Clara.  Sue, thankfully, has email, but I will be writing letters to Mary, just as I have to Mona (Mom's 93 year old cousin) for the last couple of years.

The other new photo of Grandma, Bill found in someone's photo album.  I can't tell anything from the damaged writing on the back except that it was taken at a place called Maple Bluff.  The lady seated, wearing the jaunty hat, is Grandma.  I think she looks absolutely amazing.

Grandma seems to have liked stripes, eh?

I don't know who is the lady standing up, but I have a strong suspicion she is my Dad's first wife, Adeline.  The only reasons I think this are that it would be from about the right date and the fact that she bears a strong resemblance to my Mom, though Mom never weighed that much in her life.  That is likely another mystery I'll never solve, but it's fun all the same.

It was a long day by the time we'd been there five or so hours.  I'd talked to everyone I could, taken notes and photos of everything.  I thanked Clay about 50 times for inviting us and then we headed back to the hotel to pack up and fly home the next day.

1 comment:

Terri said...

Grandma does like stripes, but her hat is at a jaunty angle.