2019 Family Reunions

Hannah-Turnipseed Family Reunion

The Hannah-Turnipseed Family Reunion had a wonderful turnout of about 100 members from near as Detroit and far as Texas. The three-day reunion was held at the Sheraton Hotel Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus, Michigan. Guests started checking in the Hospitality Room Thursday afternoon. They gathered for a Cookie Reception, registering and signing up for Codee’s Guessing games (ages 17 & under), and the Casino Run at 6 PM.

Each member who registered received a personalized tote bag, personalized bags of popcorn, chips, bottle water, t-shirt and items featuring Detroit. Hats off to Phyllis Turner for her gifted hands. Pearl Oliver created a family tree on a large cloth using three shades of green to simulate leaves on a tree. Each family member was asked to put their thumb in the green paint and place it on the tree and add their name under, as well as signing a Hannah-Turnipseed plate presented to Reverend Reginald Hannah.

Friday started with breakfast before boarding two motor coaches to tour the Detroit Underground Railroad. After the tour, we had lunch on the iconic Detroit Belle Isle, a tour of Belle Isle and to Detroit’s main attraction, Detroit Motown.

Saturday, mid-morning, there was storytelling, poetry, a photo display and Hannah-Turnipseed Family book sale. Books include family history, stories, photos, poems, maps of Mississippi, marriages of Choctaw County, Missis-sippi, and recipes. There were letters from the Michigan’s Governor, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Romulus Mayor LeRoy D. Burcroff.

Saturday evening a Family Banquet and Fellowship started with welcome by host Doris D. Hannah-Turner and Prayer of Thanksgiving by Reverend Reginald Hannah followed by a buffet dinner. Remembering Our Ancestors was a station set up for our loved ones who had gone before us. Lady D showed up on the scene to say hello. (Doris dresses up and does Lady D. See her on Facebook). The reunion committee was recognized and received a plaque for a job well done. Motown Revue by Marlon Hannah with some of Motown artists and groups as the Temptations My Girl, Marvin Gaye What’s Going On, Gladys Knight and the Pips Midnight Train To Georgia, Stevie Wonder You Are The Sunshine Of My Life and The Contours Do You Love Me and many more. Each table centerpiece featured a Motown artist or group which was used to call a table to line up next for the buffet line. Later, people at each table got up to perform their artist or group. There were several winners. Gladys Knight and the Pips came in first with Midnight Train to Georgia, and Stevie Wonder came in second with You Are the Sunshine of My Life. It was a blast. Some laughed, while others cried laughing – it was the highlight of the evening.

There was also the Hannah-Turnip-seed Motown Photo backdrop for all the stars in the building. More games and prizes followed as Codee, the host’s grandson and son of a committee member, called out the winning raffle numbers. His game consisted of three jars, small, medium and large, and you had to guess the number of items in each jar. The one closest to the right number won a prize. The committee came up with a game called Left/Right. Each table has a package. As the story was read, whenever you heard a direction called, whoever had the package had to pass it following the direction in the story as left/right/cross. At the end of the story, the person holding package wins. It was so much fun and got everyone from the tables engaged.

The evening ended with Shaking, Rattling, Wobbling and more fellowship. The committee didn’t leave a stone unturned. And to those behind the scenes, we saw you and appreciate you more than words can say. You helped make this reunion one to be remembered for generations to come. The Hannah-Turnipseed Family Reunion was well planned and executed. We thank God for all He has done.

Reported by Marlon Hannah

Smith Family Reunion 

We hold a three-day Smith Family Reunion on the same weekend every year in Yorktown, Texas.

We stay at the same place each year. We have a new theme every year. There are tournaments for washers and 42, and special events like baby and wedding showers. In alternate years, there is a talent show and carnival.

A quilt raffle is held each year. Every-one makes a quilt square and a quilt is put together and raffled the next year.

Generations help each other. Kids take roles in the reunion as they become teenagers. The chairman is chosen each year at the business meeting at the end of the reunion.

Reported by Sheila Tompkins-Hess North Las Vegas, Nevada

Poindexter Family Reunion 

We all meet a month or so after one reunion to plan for the next. We send letters to everyone, including family members who could not attend meetings, and reach out on social media, and make lots and lots of phone calls. We ask each generation what they would like to do or see at the reunion. We try to have activities for each age group. Our tradition is a baseball game.

We ask family members to pay family dues, and about six weeks before the reunion we send a final letter with all the details.

We try to change the location every year, or to have a theme. One year we had a Luau. The last reunion was at the beach. The next may be at Wisconsin Dells.

The first night is the meet and greet, sometimes including members who have not been to a reunion in years. We make announcements about things that happened the previous year. We have talent shows and acknowledge events like weddings, graduations, etc. We play family games and have Memory Boards, some with old and new photos and some with family members that are no longer here.

Reported by Celia Williams, Burnham, Illinois

Turkett-Bracewell Family Reunion

The Turkett-Bracewell Family Reunion is the same weekend each year in Chicago. They meet at Grandmother’s grave site on the anniversary of her death for a memorial service.

The eldest Uncle and Aunt establish, approve and maintain the budget and finances, and family members contribute. Facebook and teleconferences keep members involved. Facebook and email promote and publicize the reunion.

Food served allows for everyone to sit and talk. There is also entertainment, a business-meeting, tours and prayers on Sunday morning.

Shared by Stephanie Brooks, Humble, Texas

NOTE: We were particularity amused by Stephanie Brooks response to the question about how the reunion planner is chosen. Her response: Voluntold!!!!

Reunión Familiar Familia Águila 

Due to the fact that not all relatives can travel for a variety of reasons, the Reunión Familiar Familia Águila tries to accommodate everyone by visiting their hometown. So each year we reunite in a different location. Our last reunion was in Mexico. This year they will be reuniting in Los Angeles, California.

Once a year seems to work well for everyone’s schedule and pocketbooks. Reunions vary from one to two days each time.

We establish committees and each committee is responsible for a different job. We finance the reunion together as a group, depending on how many will be attending. We determine a cost per person and charge a quota. With this quota we pay expenses we encounter as we plan reunions. There is someone responsible for monitoring expenses and how money is distributed.

This is my first time planning the reunion. Individual family members are nominated for the position and everyone votes on who they want to be the organizer this year. Whoever has the most votes gets the gig! We’re a very democratic family.

We do activities where family members must hunt to find people or clues. Sort of like a scavenger hunt but for people. For example, find three people who come from another country and they have about a minute to find those people within the crowd.

We stay in touch on social media, email or your traditional methods of phone calls and mail. We mainly use Facebook to keep everyone updated on the latest reunion news.

The responsibility is to enjoy activities that are planned and also to enjoy the family together in one place.

Reported by Maritza Águila, Chicago, Illinois

NOTE: Maritza is looking for some solutions and strategies to better motivate people to get the reunion ball rolling in a timely manner. She says: I set timelines and people have a hard time meeting the deadlines I set. So I’m hopeful I can find some ideas to better manage people that are helping me organize the reunion.

Coleman Family Reunion

Before we started calling our gatherings reunions, my family took summer trips to West Greene, Alabama, where my great- grandparents Quilla Coleman (early 1900s-1979) and Anna B. Coleman (early 1900s-1991) originated. I learned from elders that the gatherings started around 1955. At that time, they were not a yearly event, but enough to keep us as united as we are today. In the late 1980s, the family began to hold annual reunions during Labor Day weekend. It continues to be the perfect time, because members are able to adjust their work and school schedules.

The agenda kicks off with hospitality and registration on Friday. There are tons of hugs and kisses from family members who haven’t seen each other since the last reunion. We always open with a prayer, immediately followed by distribution of registration packets. The host family provides a list of things to do and places to visit in their city. After everyone is registered, the fun begins – lots of dancing and listening to music and playing card games while enjoying great food and refreshments.

On Saturday we check out things to do and places to see, which includes amusement parks, museums, zoos, etc. Saturday evening we have a semi-formal banquet with various themes. The most recent was a Hawaiian theme.

Sunday’s worship services are followed by an afternoon cookout. We refer to it as our Signature Family Cookout because it’s when we enjoy all our traditional family dishes, such as BBQ ribs and chicken, fried chicken, pigs’ feet, fried fish, collard greens, corn on the cob, potato salad, corn bread, macaroni and cheese, watermelon, sweet potato pie, and the list goes on and on. In order to attempt to work off some of the food, we play basketball and football, and have horseshoe tournaments. Our reunion consists of a lot of eating because we love to eat. Many family members say they eat healthy until our reunion.

Before closing, we have a family/business meeting, talk about the reunion, and vote on the next location. Family members are given the opportunity to discuss their reunion likes and dislikes and recommend changes they feel are needed or things they feel should be added. Taking into consideration lessons learned and recommendations from previous and most recent closeout meetings, we have included many educational materials as part of the registration packets. Included is information about health fairs, drug prevention, education opportunities, and debt prevention. We close the meeting with a farewell prayer.

Depending on the reunion location, some members return home Sunday and some on Monday (Labor Day). Those who stay get together in the hospitality room and listen to music and play cards before the Labor Day departure.

The majority of members come from eleven states, and each state has a representative on the planning commit-tee. Our last reunion was held in El Paso, Texas, and the next will be in Louisville, Kentucky.

Shared by Duwan M. Mason, Sr, El Paso, Texas

Maselli and Falcone Family Reunions

Paula J. Norton plans two family reunions. The Maselli Family Reunion was planned for years by an aunt who kept the event in Matteson, Illinois. Norton was eager to change the location to engage more members. The Falcone Family Reunion in Ixonia, Wisconsin, remains at it county park location that has all the activities and facilities the reunion requires.


We met at Memorial Park, in Matteson, Illinois, for eight reunions. The last reunion chair chose this park because it was convenient for her. I am taking over because we need new blood and ideas. I have been Game Chair for the past seven reunions and t-shirt chair for one. When I asked my aunt if I could take over, she was reluctant, mostly because she knew I would choose a new more central location for participants. She finally agreed. Reunions were held every five years, but we’re changing it to every three years.

I am moving this reunion from a southern suburb of Chicago to Southern Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, or possibly Missouri. Looking also to extend to a long three-day weekend. We’re looking for a variety of lodging possibilities for camping, cottages/cabins, lodge or hotel. Looking for a large outdoor pavilion with picnic tables for at least 100 people for a pig roast. Availability to a water source, at a minimum, for water balloons. Also, a volleyball court, horseshoe pit, preferably flush toilets.


The location of the Falcone Family Reunion stays the same at Harnischfeger Park in Ixonia, Wisconsin, every three years. It is a beautiful, affordable county park with pavilions and a clubhouse for rent. It has camping in the park and there are nearby hotels.

I was the only one with any reunion planning experience and the only one who was willing to do it. I will be doing it as long as I’m able.

Traditions include an auction, pig roast, games, mini golf, camping, and ice breaker games. We don’t have a ton of kids. We have a water spigot available so I make a goody bucket for the kids and include bubbles, squirt guns, balloons, and balls. Wheelchair accessible, alcohol allowed, nice to have a lake or pond (for fishing, canoeing), mini golf, disc golf. We also need an inside rentable space for evening for maybe a pizza party with an auction, talent show or barn dance.

Reunion traditions include Bingo, egg toss, picture time, and a potluck. In the past, money was raised in an all-family donation bucket. At our last reunion, we had an auction and raised $1,000 to use for our next reunion.

I started a closed family Facebook page where we can share ideas, keep people involved and in the loop. We use Facebook invites with snail mail only to those without computer access.

We play an icebreaker at the beginning of the reunion. We have games for kids. I also want to incorporate a service project like making and donating dog and cat toys to an animal shelter.

I plan on games for age groups, t-shirts, an auction, possibly a talent show, barn dance, and picture time. to keep them occupied. Kids participate in a service project making fabric tug toys for the animal shelter.

We also have a recipe book, a directory, and family history presentations.

We have an auction at every reunion. Attendees bring handmade things, bakery items, canned items, garden item baskets, etc. We encourage everyone to participate in the auction by giving $5 voucher coins to those who bring items. They can use the coins as money in the auction.

Paula J. Norton, Carol Stream, llinois, reporting for both the Maselli and Falcone Family Reunions

Tyler Family Reunion

Oh my goodness….we have a huge family. My great-grandmother was featured in the National Enquirer back in the 1970s as having the largest number of living descendants. My mom has nine brothers and sisters and each had a passel of kids, and now they all have kids and grandkids, and even great-grandkids. My mom and aunts passed this reunion on to the kids. So it is a bit overwhelming to think about planning for this crew! Would love to make shirts or ornaments or something special to remember the activity by! But funding that, by collecting or pre-paying, is a bit difficult to think about.

We have family all over the country, so we want to make the reunion geographically central. Someplace that has activities for all age groups.

Our last reunion was in Branson, Missouri, and the next is in Fredericksburg, Texas. We had a great time in Branson. We stayed at the Stone Castle Inn and had a gathering room where we had a tea cup exchange, shared photos and sang. Activities include entertainment, tours, workshops. Everyone brings pictures to share. There is talent sharing and a worship service. We had a day at the beach with a cook out, and then held our own worship service before we had a Sunday meal and all started our different paths home. 

Shared by Sherry Moravy, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Faith, family and fun in Branson

Robert and Mary Annette Turner, Stillwater, Oklahoma, and 38 Drakes, Knox and Lee family members met in Branson, Missouri, for their family reunion. Branson’s central location allowed almost everyone to drive.

In addition to family-friendly shows and attractions, getting the biggest bang for their buck was a major reason to take advantage of Branson. At the Carriage Place resort, everyone got their own condos.

They enjoyed Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction, visited Table Rock Lake, had a family banquet and shopping at Branson Landing. The biggest struggle they had while visiting was trying to get to see and do everything.

From a story by Joshua Clark in the Branson Tri Lake News, Branson, Missouri