Thursday, September 21, 2006

Family Reunion

This past weekend my family and I made our annual trek up to the small town of Spencer, Nebraska for the our Family Reunion. What a blessed time we had!

Before writing about our wonderful trip, let me share what led to some of the events of the weekend: Family and our family history is important to not only us, but also to our extended family. As a result, and as we do a great deal of work with computers, last year several relatives sent family history photos home with us for us to scan, make copies of, and then to save the photos to c.d.'s. Our goal was to give the c.d.'s away at the reunion so others would have access to the photos also. This year, we decided to bring our computer with us in order to scan photos at the reunion, thus making it more convenient for others to share photos as many of our relatives live near Spencer.

(Due to my interest in family history, my Dad had encouraged me to build a website for this purpose, and many of the photos that we scanned I also put on the website.

We planned to leave for the reunion Friday the 15th, and the morning dawned early at our house as we took care of our animals and packed the truck in the dark. Once we were all packed, we headed northwest. First, we drove to Norfolk, Nebraska where my Dad's parents live and visited them and some of his siblings for several hours before heading to O'Neill, Nebraska where we would stay the night. Saturday morning we drove the 30 mile stretch from O'Neill to Spencer. This is some of my favorite country and I always look forward to this beautiful drive. Miles and miles of rolling prairie as far as the eye can see, cattle and horses grazing in the pastures, farms scattered across the countryside. Something about it is so captivating! My Dad grew up on a Nebraska farm and both he and I share a love for the prairie.

I photographed this on our drive from O'Neill to Spencer. The grasses and sky were so beautiful and the picture was complete with the lone windmill on the horizon.

Once arriving in Spencer, it was so wonderful to see our relatives again and to get caught up on what has been going on in everyone's lives the past year. Shortly after we arrived, Ryan set up the computer and scanner. As some relatives had brought photos with them to the reunion, Dad and I began scanning. Once we began, others who live near Spencer went home to get photos which kept us busy throughout most of the day. We scanned about 150 photos at high resolution which is a lengthy, but fun, process! As we worked, others would be looking at the photos and would recall memories and would be sharing stories. How enjoyable it was to hear my great aunts and uncles sharing about going to school in one room schoolhouses, taking care of farm chores together, bringing in the hay, etc.

Leah, our Great-Aunt Irene looking at photos and her daughter Donna helping to identify those in the photos
Me sorting and identifying photos and Dad scanning

Speaking of memories, we also were able to visit my great-great grandparents Joseph and Antonia's homestead which is located only a few miles outside of Spencer. It is not owned by anyone in our family, but the gentleman who owns it is so kind as to let us visit the place. Many of us caravanned out to the farm and going there gave fruit to even more stories and reminiscing. The original farmhouse, hog shed, chicken house and barn are still standing, but weather and not being cared for is taking its toll on the buildings. There are also many items at the farm that would have belonged to my great-great grandparents when they homesteaded, including an old well pump outside.

Here are some photos of the farm:

THEN: My Great-great Grandmother Antonia with three of her daughters in front of the barn.

NOW: My Grandpa and my Dad and his siblings in front of the barn.

The rest of the the weekend was spent in visiting, taking photos, enjoying hearty home-style cooking, and then saying our goodbyes.

Family is very important to us and the Family reunion is one of our highlights of the year. The relationships that are formed, the bonds that are strengthened year after year and the love that we all have for one another is something I will never forget.

Once again, we are looking forward to the reunion next September!

Me, Leah, Grandma, Grandpa, Ryan, Mom and Dad