Thursday, July 18, 2013
It had been a good while since I’d been to a family reunion.
Unfortunately, on my side of the family, they’ve dwindled in importance over the years.
I fondly recall Pop’s (my grandfather Burleson’s) side of the family gathering at his and Mom’s old homeplace when I was a child. It had the best big shade tree ever.
I loved that place in rural Marion County, Ala., and I’ve said before in this column, I should have bought it several years back when it was for sale.
Last Saturday, for the first time in several years, we went to the Conley Family Reunion (wife Pam’s side of the family) in the small community of Nance, Tenn., near Alamo.
It was the 100th reunion, and the goal was 100 in attendance. I believe the goal was surpassed.
We had 18 from the Hefley family. Pam’s dad, Phil, was the son of Emma Conley Hefley, after whom we named our oldest daughter.
Emma Conley Hefley was the daughter of David Hall Conley and Elizabeth “Bettie” Smith Conley. Other children of the Conleys were Lura Conley Stallings, Mattie Conley Hunt, Cynthia Conley Boone, James David Conley, Eva Conley Speight, Henry Jefferson Conley, Lessie Conley Kirby, Simeon Alfred Conley, William Franklin Conley, Amanda Lurline Conley Warren, Alma Conley Williams and Nannie B. Conley Dreaden.
Marriages among the 52 grandchildren added the following names – Randle, Taylor, Lanier, Parlow, Seward, Strange, Snow, Bevill, Coltrain, Moore, Smith, Fitch, Moth and Freeman.
David and Bettie Conley had at least 94 great-grandchildren. The marriages of this generation resulted in additional names – Dudley, Buckingham, Eddlemon, Tatum, Barnes, Parnell, Ripley, Brittain, Antwine, Gillespie, Swan, Shaw, Miller, Blough, Carter, Futrell, Wilson, Cassell, Clark, Hill, Patterson, Blackstock, Leggett, Lawrence, Gavin, Shepler, Burleson, Simmons, Payne, Phillips, Craig, Hunter, Ammons, Laman, Nordaker and Daniel.
The reunion was wonderful – largely because all of Pam’s siblings were in attendance. We had not seen some of them since her mother, Fran Hefley, died two years ago.
It was also special because we were able to visit her mom and dad’s gravesite, which is adjacent to the Nance Church of Christ, where the reunion was held. It’s a beautiful country setting in Crockett County, Tenn. After the reunion fellowship, we gathered as an immediate family to put flowers on their graves and share some precious memories.
One of the shocking moments of the reunion came when Pam and I saw Brad Laman, a familiar face. Brad sings in The Hims, an a’cappella quartet, with Todd Sanderson of Holly Springs and Bobby Rawson and Brooks Rawson of Alamo.
I pecked him on the shoulder from behind and said, “What are you doing here?”
Come to find out, he is a member of the Conley crew, too.
My son Andy, who could not attend the reunion, has always looked up to Brad. Andy loves a’cappella music and particularly the bass part which Brad sings.
As we were leaving, Brad said, “Tell Andy, I will be e-mailing him my Christmas list for this year, since I know we’re kinfolks now.”
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