Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pilgrimages and Kinship

I've had so many positive experiences as a result of the time I spent several years ago creating a family history website.  I've been remiss in recent years in keeping the website updated due to some software issues, but even so it continues to reap benefits.  I've had many distant cousins get in touch with information and photographs over the years and my family history is much, much richer than it would have been if I had not taken the effort to publicize the facts and stories I had collected about my family.

And my life is much richer for having had the opportunity to meet some of those hitherto unknown relatives.  

Today I had the privilege of attending a reunion of the descendants of John and Della Mobley.  John was the brother of my great-grandmother Cora Mobley Hodge.  I never had the privilege of meeting Uncle Johnny or any of my other great-grand uncles and aunts, but I heard about them from my grandparents as they would relate stories from their visits and reunions before my time and I felt like I knew Uncle Richard and Aunt Lizzie, Uncle George and Aunt Figgers, Uncle Tommy and Aunt Tiny, Uncle Willie and Aunt Cora, Aunt Sally and Uncle Thomas and Uncle Johnny and Aunt Della.  Through my grandparents' and my mother's memories, they became real for me and I sometimes forgot I had never met them myself.

A few years back, I made online connections with Uncle Johnny's youngest daughter, Pat, and her husband Al and ultimately met them in person when they were on a visit to Texas.  We made the rounds of the Mobley graves in Bastrop County and Pat became an instant favorite cousin.  She was and is a lively conversationalist and full of entertaining stories.   A few years later, Pat (now widowed) was back in Texas for a reunion and introduced me to cousins John and Mimi Kimbrough and we spent another afternoon rambling around Bastrop County and having a grand visit.

So a few months back when John and Mimi invited me to this year's reunion and told me Pat would be coming as well, I did not have to think twice about whether I would join them.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to participate as much as I had wanted to, thanks to weather and roofing installations and preparations for an impending trip, but I joined the clan in Paige for several hours of fellowship and fun today.  I met a lot more cousins, all of whom welcomed me with open arms.

The reunion took place in an open air  pavilion next door to the Paige Community Center and the Paige Museum.  In addition to the Mobleys, several members of the Wunneberger family were also in attendance, relatives through Uncle Johnny's marriage to Della Wunneberger.  

There was no doubt that Cousin Pat was the star of the gathering.  As soon as she arrived, she was surrounded by folks who obviously adored her and then we all settled down for a brief worship service.  We sang several gospel songs, then Rich Mobley, a cousin from Denver, spoke on the different kinds of pilgrimages we make in life.  Afterwards, several members of the group spoke, recounting memories.  And then, of course, there was food and laughter and lots of visiting.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the museum would be opened for us to tour.  I've many, many times wished I could get inside, but there are no regular hours and visits are generally by appointment only.  It turns out that one of the Wunnebergers attending the gathering is on the museum board and he and his family acted as guides.

I was amazed at the amount of material housed in the two buildings.  Old photos, old ledgers, and a wealth of items donated by local families provide a rich history of the area.  I would love to spend a few days going through the material there and combing it for data that might relate to my Mobley ancestors (who settled nearby and helped found the Ridgeway Baptist Church) or my Hodge ancestors (the infamous Dr. Henry Hodge practiced there from 1898-1902).    I had a great time prowling the displays and then chatting with the Wunnebergers.  It is well worth a visit, if you ever get a chance.  

Alas, the visit was much too short, but everyone had a good time and they promised to let me know when the reunion schedule cycles back to Texas.  Can't wait.

One of the two buildings comprising the Paige Museum.
This was the former depot.

The John Mobley family begins gathering in the pavilion.

Looking down the side of the pavilion toward the museum
The Doris Goerner Laake building, part of the museum complex.

Mobley mingling 

A short worship service before lunch began with music and singing.

Me with Cousin Pat

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