It takes a ranch to host Rogers family reunion

Keeping close and staying in touch with everyone can be difficult for families who’ve outgrown the dining room table, the add-on family room or the spacious back yard. This was one of the obstacles facing 12 cousins who formed the Rogers family reunion committee planning.

James and “Lizzie” (Redding) Rogers, who married in 1890, were parents of 12 children—six boys and six girls—and have a lineage of 434 descendants both living and deceased. James and Lizzie’s 12 children are known collectively as “The Twelve” to the four generations who have followed.

“The Twelve” are all gone now, but their tradition of togetherness is still being fulfilled by their descendants with periodic family reunions, the most recent of which was held in a wooded glen on the Chileno Valley, California, ranch of Leroy Dolcini.

Over time, many family members retained their agrarian heritage, while others branched off into a wide range of careers, and two descendants who’ve “just disappeared.” They were widely known in the area because all but one of the original 12 families considered Petaluma, California, their town to live, shop, or do business in.

To keep it simple, they planned to barbecue chicken and hot dogs, with everyone obliged to bring a side dish and beverages. On the day of the event the food was bountiful. Three tables were set up just for salads, which included that reliable standby of older generations, green and orange Jello. There were “pots and pots” of home-cooked beans and others brought homemade pies and cakes.

A chart of the extensive Rogers family tree was on display, along with poster boards affixed with numerous family photographs. Everyone wore name tags bearing the number corresponding to which of “The Twelve” they descended from, and greeters helped familiarize newcomers with each other. Of the nearly 300 attendees, the eldest was Dorothy Rogers Hall, 82, and the youngest was McKenzie Mann, just two months old. Unbridled energy abounded, with more than 60 children under the age of 12. At the end of the celebration, the leftover food was thoughtfully wrapped and donated to the Petaluma Kitchen.

From a story by Harlan Osborne in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, California