The Williams-Grant-Stephens Family all began with Israel Williams who was born in Georgia in 1854. He was eight or nine years old when the slaves were freed and migrated to Poplar Springs, Florida, with relatives and friends until he was a grown man. Israel Williams, the root of this family raised eight children: Elbert, Luis, Dodd, Emma, Indiana, Samuel, Mary & John Williams. A baby daughter died at an early age. Israel Williams died April 6, 1935.
Elbert raised seven children, Emma raised four children, Indiana raised ten children and Samuel raised fifteen children. The Williams-Grant-Stephens Family continues to grow and fulfill Israel Williams’ goal: that we love each other and fellowship during the good and bad times.
The Williams Grant Stephens (WGS) Family Reunion is a diverse family that has been meeting since summer 1982, originating in Poplar Springs, Florida. The family has grown over the years and with this evolution, members have migrated to places all over the country. From Hayward, California, to Miami, Florida, members have had the opportunity to coordinate reunions in their area or chose other locations.
Since the start of their reunions in1982, held during the third week of June, WGS family members have “showed up and showed out!” One of God’s many gifts is the honor of being surrounded by family, creating memories and a legacy for future generations. They realize that their history lies in their hands so they’ve begun preserving their stories as a way of maintaining their rich heritage. In 2001, the reunion was named “The Israel Williams Family Reunion” and took place in Panama City, Florida. In Atlanta, Georgia, in 2003, a new name was conceived and remains today “The Williams Grant Stephens (WGS) Family Reunion.” The tradition was followed by the 2005 reunion held in Wilmington, North Carolina. However, in 2007 the WGS Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, reunion experienced a tremendous increase in the level of participation and enjoyment for the family. At the next gathering in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2009, they welcomed and introduced a “New Generation” to the celebrations.
Next, 2011 saw them sailing away on a cruise to the Bahamas organized by Curley McKenzie aka “The Bamboo Warrior” of Tampa, Florida. “Family Strong” was the theme of the 2013 WGS reunion in Jacksonville, Florida where they showed their pride in strong family bonds and unity.
As reunions continued to grow, 2015 became a momentous year as over 200 members were present at the gathering in Knoxville, Tennessee.
In 2017, the WGS reunion utilized new technology, when Ancestry.com, enabled them to link five generations of family members from the past and present. The WGS Executive Board encourages the family to keep God first and preserve their legacy. They ask members to please continue to support, attend, recruit family, and host future WGS Family Reunions.
The 2019 WGS Family Reunion was in Orlando, Florida. The family reunion has grown to 300 strong. The last meeting was in 2019 was in Orlando, Florida, the next will be in Charleston, South Carolina. They meet every two years, (biennially).
Reported by Deborah Porter, The Grant Family, Quincy, Florida.