I survived…

Me and my cousin/best friend.

 I survived planning a successful family reunion! I don’t recommend do it alone! 

What is a successful reunion? 

  • Everyone arrived safely
  • We didn’t run out of food…not even for the late arrivals
  • Everyone had a great time
  • Everyone enjoyed the change!!!

We did our reunion a little different this year.  Since I was the one planning it, I changed alot of the traditional things we do during the reunion.  I was worried that I would get some resistence.  I was worried that we wouldn’t get a large turnout.  But I was wrong. 

I think the family was ready for some change. 

This year, we held the reunion, not in traditional Elizabeth City, NC.  But in Orlando, FL.  Nor did we hold it at the usual ‘last weekend in August’ that we have had it just about every year.  I moved the date up about 2 weeks to correspond when the kids were still out for summer break.  We had just over 100 people in attendance.  Which is awesome.  Granted when it’s in Elizabeth City..we have more.  But, a good majority of our family stays there.  So, being at the reunion is not a traveling event for them.  I was happy that we had a great turn out at this year. 

Many people took advantage of turning the reunion into the summer vacation.  Being in Orlando made it easy! 

Now I need to a vacation to recover!

Late Follow up on Wordless Wednesday

I didn’t get a chance to finish writing about this picture before. A family emergency arose and I had to put everything on hold. Now that the emergency is over and the family reunion planning is almost finished, I can get back to my roots.

So, about the picture…

My daughter and my mother are pictured above on their way to visit their roots.  My mother was so exicted and my daughter seemed miserable.  I mean, what a mean mom she has for sending her on an all expense paid trip and her getting her passport stamped before me!! 

Of course, there roots are my roots too, but I didn’t get a chance to go.  Way to expensive and I can’t take that much time off from work.  But, this was an amazing opportunity for my daughter to go and visit relatives in Ethiopia for a month over the summer. They went to Mek’ele in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

As you can see the look on my daughters face..she’s wasn’t looking forward to the trip. In all honesty, she didn’t want to go. But, I told her that she didn’t have a choice. She wants to travel and traveling isn’t always going to be spa and resorts. Plus, she going to see family. What 12 year old gets these kinds of opportunities? As good experiences go, I think this one was perfect for her.

So, for a month, she stayed with my aunt (my mom’s sister), uncle, great grandmother, and 8 cousins. She got to see that simple luxuries like…underwear was a complete anomaly to her female cousins. Not that they were poor, it just wasn’t something that they wore. She got to see that her 12 year old cousin does just about everything that her mother. All the cooking, cleaning, even child rearing. A far cry from my American child who grumbles over just washing dishes.

Not so surprisingly though, she really enjoyed herself. Stereotypes that she left home with faded away. (she said, “it’s not as hot as FL..actually, FL is hotter!”). She was able to see London for a short time (“People really sound like that… “)

All in all, even though sending her sent mommy into the poor house temporarily, I’m glad she was able to get the experience she did. When she’s 20+, she’ll be happy about it too. But as a pre-teen…she’s just annoyed again…

To-Do List: DO IT NOW!

I’ve been so scatter-brained lately. There are so many things to do that I can’t focus on one to get started. So, I decided to write a to-do list to help me get moving.

  • 1. Update family database. I have some addresses I need to update.
  • 2. Work on September newsletter. It’s nowhere near completion and due to be mailed out by September 15th. *sigh*.
  • 3. Make phone calls to a new cousin in TX to get his family info.
  • 4. Export database to get the birthdays for the coming quarter (September –November). I add this to the newsletter to recognize family.
  • 5. Scan pictures and documents received on my last trip to NC.
  • 6. Send document and picture of ancestor to cousin. It’s a surprise. The family doesn’t think she’s ever seen the document and picture of her parents. They think she should have them. Don’t worry, they’re scanned.
  • 7. Upload my images to a reliable image hosting site. Especially for times like these where my laptop is out of commission due to my cat eating the charger. Still waiting for my new one to be delivered. I was thinking of using Google for my images…
  • 8. Learn WP. I really want to move this blog to a WP blog and incorporate my family tree online for the family to view. I understand that WP is more customizable than Blogger. But, I’m just so comfy on my Blogger platform..it’s hard to leave.
  • 9. I know I’m forgetting something.
  • 10. Now I know, plan the 2010 family reunion in Orlando. I need to decide on where in Orlando we’re going to have it.
  • 11. My genealogy friend, Our Georgia Roots, reminded me that I need to be posting to all the online boards. I hadn’t been doing that. So, when I get my charger, I’ll make more of an effort.

So, right now, I’m working 1, 2 & 4 items on my to-do list since they go hand in hand.

Sad News…

My family reunion is in a few weeks and I was looking forward to attending. This year’s reunion is in NC and only for 2 days (Saturday & Sunday) instead of the usual 3 days (Friday-Sunday). I live in Florida and it’s a pretty long drive for me. My plan was to go up Friday night, stay for the activities on Saturday and leave early Sunday morning.

Well, recent required home & car repairs are cancelling my plans to attend this year’s reunion. It really bothers me that I won’t be able to go. But, I have to keep my priorities in order. My house and transportation take precedence over the reunion.

So, while the rest of the family will be having fun fellowshipping, I will be home tending to a roof leak and idling issue. I miss those days when my parents handled getting to and from the reunions. 😛

Family Reunion

As we’re half way thru the summer, most of us have to remember this is the season for interviews. Don’t forget your tape records as you plan on going to your family reunions this year.

Family reunion season is in full swing. If you’re a genealogist also trying to connect the living, a Ning.com website could be helpful. I started my website after my Blog friend, Mechie, showed me the site.

Our family has our own social networking site for free. Thru our site we can connect, share and plan to stay in contact. I’ve been able to meet cousins I didn’t even know about.

It’s a useful tool and is LOW maintenance…..

I have no shame.

Besides my bad interviewing skills that is. But I have no shame in cold calling or e-mailing possible family members. We have a large family that branch out to the east coast (even a few in the west).

The way I was brought up, you are our cousin. There is not just 3rd cousin 4 times removed. It was passed down from my great grandmother who is and who isn’t family. She pointed out to all of her children cousins and aunts. However, she left out the little detail of exactly how they were related. So, growing up, they just knew that this person and that person were cousin. Come to find out, they were all distant cousins. Either way, they are our cousin and loved no less.

Every year at our family reunion, we have the most recent and most distant of cousins that come. We’re that type of family. Heck, we even have friends in the neighborhood that show up because they know we’re going to have food.

However, as I’ve begun the search thru my family tree, I’ve noticed a lot of branches missing. Missing because the information that my great grandmother passed on to her children didn’t trickle down like it should have. When the elders passed away, their children missed the information also. I’m trying to reconnect those branches of my tree.

Plus you never know, they may hold the missing link to go even further back. So, if you’re a distant cousin that got the Cousin Connections newsletter, it’s because you’re family. Now it’s time you figure out how.


With writing a newsletter and the holidays coming up, I hadn’t had much time for research. I also hadn’t had that urge to focus on anyone particular for a while. Maybe my ancestors are busy too. I don’t feeling them guiding me towards an ancestor, but I do feel them guiding me towards unity.

See, with my family, we have had a separation for far to long. For reasons unknown to me, Spence-Lowry family has been a bit divided. This is my own opinion. My family may not agree, however it does appear that way. So, my quest has been to try to unite my family. The 2 sisters that married 2 brothers.

Usually our family reunion consists mostly of 1 sister and brother’s family. The Bessie and Ed side. However on the Rosa and Enoch side, very few come to the reunion. I can understand why. But, I’m not going to air that on here. But, what I want for the coming years is for both sides of the family to feel connected. I don’t want one side to feel more or less important than the other. There is a reason why we call it the Spence-Lowry family. Because it’s the 2 sisters that married the 2 brothers. We are strongly connected and we should remain that way.

Contacting the Living

Since my family reunion, I haven’t done much genealogy research. With economic stresses in my life, my mind hadn’t been too focused on genealogy. However, it has been focused on family.

I started a family newsletter. The first one will be sent out in December 2008. I’ve requested an ISSN for the newsletter so the Library of Congress will keep each issue on record. I figure future generations will have something to look back on.

I have also been contacting the living. We have a large family but we barely know each other. More importantly, we barely see each other. There are cousins that I have never seen. Well, these past few weeks, I have been calling those family members. Of course, every phone call begins with “Hi, this is A. Spence, I’m the great granddaughter of Bessie” just so they know who I am.

I’m so glad that I have done this. In the beginning I truly thought that I was going to have resistance to the phone calls and questions. But, everyone that I called has been forthcoming with information. Not only that, they have been so giving with other ‘living’ family members #’s and addresses. Everyone seems to love the idea of uniting the family and hopefully in the coming years, well the most distant of cousins coming to the reunions.

But, I believe the happiest thing was finding out that I have a cousin in FL. All these years, thinking that my family and my uncle’s family were the only ones in FL, I learned that I have a 3rd cousin living about 4 hours from me. She doesn’t know me and I don’t know her but we talked for a while last night.


My family reunion was this past weekend (22-24) and we had a great time!

Friday night was the Meet & Greet. I got to see family I hadn’t seen in many years. BUT, I met my 2nd cousin 2 times removed (see the bottom of blog for figuring that out). His grandfather, Preston Banks, and my 3rd Great Grandmother, Harriet Banks, were siblings.

I had previously researched his grandfather’s family. So, when my uncle introduced us and explained who he was, I did what most genealogists would do. I started rattling off who he’s the son, grandson, great grandson of..on both sides of his tree. I think he was pretty impressed by the fact that not only did I know about his Banks side, but I knew about his mother’s Williams side as well.

On Saturday, my fiancé and I went around town. I got some things marked off my list. I visited the FRSNNC which I am a member of and met the President, Sharon Gable. It was a pleasure meeting her b/c I have e-mailed her often for assistance with my family research. Then we went by the library to pick up a copy of an article that the genalogist made for me. It cost me a whole $.10 to get. Then we went exploring.

I wanted to see if I could find my great grandmothers house. I was going off of memory and we just started driving. After a couple of wrong turns, we found it.

The beautiful thing about this is, alot of my family stays on this one road. So all we had to do is park the car and visit with more family.

Saturday night was amazing. Going to our banquets is like going to church. My uncles, The Spence Brothers, are gospel singers in Elizabeth City and they sing at many of the churches there. Every reunion, they sing and it makes you want to get out of your seat. We also had another gospel group come and sing. I don’t have the name of them but they were outstanding. When I get their name, I’ll update the post. When I say that the guy singing “Never would have made it” sounded EXACTLY like Marvin Sapp…that is no exaggeration.

My presentation of the family tree and our history went over well. I think it sparked a lot of interest in the rest of the family by seeing how much work I’ve done over the past year. My only regret is that more of Enoch and Rosa descendents weren’t in attendance. However, I employed my daughter to collect everyone’s address, phone # and e-mail address and she did an amazing job!

Sunday was our farewell cookout. I spent most of the time visiting with family, collecting more addresses for my database and taking pictures.

This weekend I took over 150 pictures. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take a group photo. There was so much to do and so little time. Hopefully next year, that will be accomplished.

But I can say that I can’t wait to go back on a research trip! Especially since I’ve learned the city!