Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hedrick - Shepherd Reunion Attended

On Saturday, August 1st, Dad, Uncle Bill and I attended the annual Hedrick-Shepherd Reunion. This small family event takes place in the tiny community of Fort Spring, in Greenbrier County West Virginia. While our particular Bean family line does not extend directly into this familial group, we do share common ancestors. Samuel Perkins and Elizabeth Tuckwiller.

I had hoped to attend this event for years, but it seemed every year there was some kind of obstacle to prevent it. This year was just right.

We planned to arrive immediately after the noon meal was finished. Uncle Bill is 92, and the summer's heat was scorching. We didn't want to expose him too long to that.

The drive over from Dad's home to the Mount Vernon Methodist Church in Fort Spring was fascinating to say the least. I sat in the back seat and listened as Dad and Uncle Bill talked of the days when Uncle Bill was a young boy. [There's 20-years difference between Dad and his brother, Bill. They come from a rather large, extended family. My Grandpa Bean was born in 1866, the year following the Civil War's close. He didn't marry until he was 30. He and his first wife, Blanche, had 3 children. Sadly she died shortly after the birth of the 3rd child from tuberculosis. Left with 3 small children, Grandpa remarried. Ada and Grandpa had 9 children. Poor Ada wasn't given proper pre-natal care. She died from complications following the birth of the 9th child. Lastly, Grandpa married my grandmother, Mary. This wasn't until his children were all grown. He was already an old man of 69. Grandma was a spinster. She was 38 when they married in 1935. Two years later, when Grandpa was 71 and Grandma 40, they had their first child together. My Dad. They went on to have 2 more children between then and 1943. Yep, Grandpa was 76 when his last child was born.]

As we drove through the steep mountain road that lead from Ronceverte to Fort Spring, Uncle Bill told of how his older brothers and he used to haul wool from their farm in Union to the railroad depot in an old Model T truck through this very same trace. He recalled sitting on the wooden floorboards on the return home. His brothers sat on sacks stuffed with straw. He was teased when he would yell out because his posterior would get pinched between those floorboards as they creaked and gave with the rolling motion of the truck as they went around the curves in the road.

Mount Vernon Methodist Church is a site to see! As you approach it, it sits high on the hill, away from the road. The "old" cemetery at its back. The new cemetery sprawling out before it.

The church itself was started in 1846. My great-great-grandfather, Rev. Samuel Perkins, was instrumental in getting the church started, and was in fact its first minister, as well as having the distinction of being the first member to be buried in the cemetery there [in what is called the "old" cemetery now]. Born in 1778, he died in 1854. His wife, Elizabeth Tuckwiller Perkins [1779-1867] buried at his side.

The days festivities were being held behind the church, beside the "old" cemetery, under the picnic shelter. While Dad parked the car, I assisted Uncle Bill to walk to the shelter.

We were instantly greeted by one of the several correspondents I have had over the years from this family. She was quick to make us feel right at home, and above all else, welcome. We were introduced to a score of people, many of whom I feel I have known for a long time! Yet, too many for me to keep names and faces straight!

Following a short business meeting, this group held a silent auction to help raise funds for the annual reunion. I purchased a lovely framed quilt square. The quilt square was handmade more than 100 years ago. And the handmade chestnut frame was made from reclaimed lumber from an old tool shed that had stood on the property until January of this year. It's a lovely piece which now hangs in a place of honor in my living room. I also purchased a rough draft of Ralph Hedrick's "William G. Shepherd Family Story and Genealogy 1778 - 1970", which he later published. A true treasure!

We learned that the fence surrounding the old cemetery had been torn down by vandals in January of this year. They had also stolen boards from the old tool shed [from thus was the frame to my quilt piece made]. The individual responsible was finally apprehended and prosecution is in progress.

All in all, we didn't stay but a short 2-hours for the reunion. But it was an event I truly enjoyed!

Now... this Saturday [the 8th] we attend our own Bean Family Reunion! I can hardly wait!!!

Cyndi Beane Henry
Walter "Buster" Beane
William "Bill" Beane
Listening raptly to a speaker tell about the Hedrick-Shepherd family.

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