Sunday, June 25, 2006

Retirement always seems to allow one the opportunity to do things they have always yearned to do, however, one does not need to be retired (as many think) to dabble in genealogy. I started my dabbling after my father passed away in early 1990 and I learned of a Berry reunion in Georgia that following summer. My brother and I had very little knowledge of the Berry side of the family and I found this an opportunity to meet some family I new nothing of.

I found a lot of information back then and kept in loose contact with some of my newly found cousins. I did some research on my own, but had very little resources living so far away from the Georgia homeland. As the years passed, I kept my interest in the family past, but was not very active in pursuing it. Then I received an email from another distant cousin who had learned of me through one of my cousins that I had met in 1990. She introduced me (through email) to another cousin who and they asked if I was interested in attending another family reunion in Cullman, Alabama. Seems like quite a few early Berry families settled in Alabama and stayed there. I asked my brother if he wanted to go and we both ended up attending. More Berrys than a berry patch.

As several more years and reunions passed, a “grand” reunion was organized in Roswell, Georgia for June of 2006. Again my brother’s family and my family decided to attend. I do not believe I have seen more Berrys together in one place anywhere. The event started on Friday evening in the host hotel’s conference room. After the social hour, which included great finger food and several Berry genealogy “stations” around the room, a more formal program began. Much of it was the agenda for the weekend, stories of Berrys past, and introduction of all the Berrys in attendance. Wow! We are one large family.

Each separate line of Berrys had their own colored T-shirt. It was like a rainbow when we met in the hotel lobby the next morning for breakfast. Our Saturday began with a bus tour that took us to the early family cemetery then to several of the original home sites of our ancestors who settled the lands around what is now Atlanta. These ancestors took advantage of the Georgia Land Grants of the late 1820s. After seeing the palatial homes that were now built on the original sites we moved on to tour the Smith Plantation. This was a beautifully restored example of an “Old South” antebellum plantation. Before our formal tour of the property we lunched on sandwiches and soft drinks in an open air dining facility close to the main house. After this tour we traveled a short distance to Bulloch Hall, another restored antebellum home. Both were breathtaking and provided all of us a peek back into the time of our ancestors (although our Berrys were not quite as wealthy). After returning to the hotel, we all freshened up and walked next door to a family-style restaurant for dinner. Every one was full, exhausted, and tired. Needless to say that it was an early evening for most (except some of the younger cousins who trekked into Atlanta for some night life---ahhh…to be young again).

There are more plans for more reunions in the near future. We will be there. The genealogy bug has deepened its grip on me. Looks like I will have a very time consuming hobby to look forward to very soon. We are blessed to have so many wonderful cousins in our extended family. I hope we can get to know them better as well as our ancestors who carved out a portion of this country to make a home for their families. See the Photo Album named Family Reunion for pictures of this event. For more information on the Berry family roots, go to these web pages: