This past week we were able to attend a family reunion for the family of one of my Great-great grandfathers. This reunion for the Samuel Linton family was well attended with over 200 people gathering in a park in Orem, Utah.
Samuel Linton was an 19th Century immigrant to Philadelphia from Ireland. It is likely that his ancestors immigrated from England to Northern Ireland in the 1600s. Samuel joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and traveled across the Plains to Utah, settling in Nephi. My Great-grandmother was his daughter Mary Ann Linton.
This was the second reunion for this large family. It is estimated that Samuel has more than 1000 descendants and we were thrilled to get more than 200 of them together at one place and time. Like any good reunion there was food and a lot of talk. One of the oldest living descendants, 91, related his early experiences in the family. Many of the older individuals had extensive recollections of living in Nephi in the early years. The night before the gathering in the park, many of the adult members of the family met for a dinner at the BYU Wilkinson Center Skyroom. There they presented various PowerPoint reports and histories of the families. Most of the genealogical information was graphically illustrated with a 60 foot long descendancy chart. There were also exhibits of old photographs and other objects.
Most importantly, the family members who came from as far away as China, were able to meet each other and form a sense of family. Many of the members of the family are actively involved in research and it was a good time to begin to coordinate the family organization and attempt to avoid needless duplication. In my own family, my daughter was one of the acknowledged "experts" on the family, so it was a good venue for people to share ideas and talk about research issues. One of my relatives turned out to be a former director of the Utah Valley Family History Center and we had a good talk about the challenges of New FamilySearch.
Not all families would have the energy or resources to have such a large and successful gathering, but even if the only meeting is a pot-luck in a park, the reunion gives younger family members a sense of family they may never otherwise have.