Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wishful Wednesday/I Wish There Were More Reunions

     Is it my imagination, or were families a lot closer in years gone by than they are today?  My Warner family used to have a reunion every year, but the tradition died out long before my birth.  They even had an official name for it, “The Annual Reunion of the Descendants of Anne Greenway and James Warner”. They took it pretty seriously too.  Each year they elected a president and treasurer, and family members were chosen to head food and entertainment committees. Together they chose the home where the next reunion would be held, well, I assume it was together- maybe someone went to the outhouse and upon returning found that they had been voted next year’s host.  Here is a description from the local newspaper:


     The annual reunion of the descendants of Anne Greenway and James Warner, who were natives of Packwood, Warwickshire County, England, and came to America many years ago, was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Warner on Saturday, with 65 members of the family present. A bountiful dinner was served at noon by the committee in charge, followed by a literary program and a long list of sports, the winners receiving prizes.

      A business meeting was held, and the following officers elected: President, James Warner, of Port Gibson; secretary, Mrs. Alvin G. Warner, of Manchester; treasurer, Alvin LaRue, of Palmyra; chairman of dinner committee, James Warner; chairman of entertainment committee, Adelbert Robinson, of this village. The meeting place selected for the next reunion is the home of Mrs. Mary Warner.

     My Ryan family also made sure everyone got together at least once a year:

Aug. 30 1920:
      The fifth annual reunion of the descendants of Andrew and Cornelius Ryan was held August 28th, at the home of Oliver Ryan. Fifty members were present, from Webster, Manchester, Palmyra, East Rochester, Fairport and Perinton. A picnic dinner and supper were served on the lawn and the intervening time was spent in dancing, singing, speaking and the playing of games. At the meeting of the family it was decided that the reunion in 1921 would be held at the home of Mrs. Catherine Caler in Fairport. The following new committees were appointed: Refreshments, Mrs. Frank Ryan, Mary Caler, Mrs. George Caler, Nellie Ryan; sports, Mrs. Thomas Ryan, Frank Ryan George Caler.  In the evening all departed for their homes fully convinced that the fifth reunion was the best yet.

Ryan Family Reunion circa 1920

   It seems like so much fun, and they were so totally into it, although I think the Ryan reunion sounds more like my cup of tea what with the singing, dancing and playing of games and all. There were articles written about many other family’s reunions in the old papers too. When did people stop having them, and why?  My guess would be the great depression and then WWII probably put a damper on things, along with smaller families and increasing mobility.  At any rate, my families stopped having them and it seems so did most other families, fewer and fewer articles were written chronicling them.  Which is sorta sad, because reunions were one of the things from the past that were worth preserving.

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