We spent two nights (July 11 and July 12) in State College at the Best Western Plus University Inn & Suites. We traveled to State College via motorcycle, departing home around 10:00 am on July 11. We checked into the hotel around 1:30 pm. The purpose of our weekend stay in State College was to attend the Bell Family Reunion.
Bob’s sister, Cynthia, has a keen interest in genealogy. The following information was related to me by Cynthia. Bob’s maternal grandfather (Neil Bell) had 2 brothers, Floyd and Wallace (called Pat). In the late 1930s, Bob’s grandparents lost everything in a house fire. I do not know the whereabouts of Bob’s grandfather, after the house fire. His grandmother went to work as a live-in cook for a rich family. An accommodation was provided for Bob’s grandmother but not for his mother. Bob’s mother would have had to quit school and go to work, but Uncle Floyd and Aunt Margaret said, no, we have five kids, what’s one more? So she went to live with them. Bob’s mother graduated high school, while living with Uncle Floyd and Aunt Margaret. Neither Bob nor Cynthia knew their grandfather. It sounds like Bob’s mother and her father were estranged. When she was young, Cynthia was told by her mother that her grandfather was dead. Through Cynthia’s genealogy research, we learned that Bob’s grandfather actually died in 1984 and that he lived in our hometown of Warren until about 1964. Cynthia’s genealogy research led to the discovery of Clyde, one of Floyd’s children, who lives near Warren in the city of Bradford. Bob, Cynthia and I visited with Clyde and his wife, Lois, on November 11, 2012. That visit led to an invitation to attend the Bell Family Reunion. The people at the reunion were Bob’s mother’s cousins – Floyd and Margaret’s five children and their families.
I have another story to tell before providing details of and photographs from the family reunion. Clyde’s brother, Dick, related to all of us how the Bell Family Reunion got started. Sometime prior to July 2010 Dick and his brother-in-law Bud discussed having a family reunion. Bellefonte, which sits in the middle of Pennsylvania, was chosen as the reunion site. Bud said those who live in Alaska would have to come to Bellefonte; those who live in Arizona would have to come to Bellefonte; and those who live in Florida would have to come to Bellefonte. Bud named other states, too, where the families live. Everyone would have to come to Bellefonte. Bud said that because Dick lived in Bellefonte that he and his wife, Mary Ann, would be responsible for planning the reunion. The first Bell Family Reunion was held in July 2010 and has been held every two years, in July, since then.
The first event for this year’s Bell Family reunion was dinner at Damon’s Grill in State College.
The family occupied a banquet room at Damon’s Grill. Looking at the camera are Bob, his sister Cynthia, and Cynthia’s husband Larry. Sitting beside Cynthia is Clyde and next to Clyde is Lois. Clyde and Lois were the only family members whom we knew, when we walked into Damon’s. Everyone welcomed Cynthia, Larry, Bob and I with open arms. Dinner was at 6:00 pm. We spent the next few hours getting acquainted with our “new” cousins.
At 11:00 am on Saturday the family met at the Walker Township Park in Zion PA for a picnic. The picnic, which was catered, included pulled pork sandwiches, ham, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, watermelon, and chips. We spent about 4 hours at the park, getting better acquainted with each other.
While at Walker Township Park, we took pictures of each family who attended the reunion.
At 6:30 pm the family met for dinner at the Nittany Country Club in Mingoville PA.
Dinner was served buffet style and included salad, cranberry relish, stuffed turkey, chicken cordon blue, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner roll and a variety of pies and cakes for dessert. We spent about 4 hours at the country club, getting even better acquainted with each other.
Thank you, Dick and Mary Ann, for putting together a wonderful family reunion!
On Sunday morning, before departing on our ride back home, we were able to say goodbye at breakfast to many of our cousins who had stayed at the hotel as well. I am very thankful of Cynthia’s interest in genealogy. Without that interest, we would never have met Bob’s cousins. We had an absolutely lovely time at the Bell Family Reunion. In addition to meeting “new” cousins, we have gained new friends. We plan to keep in touch with our new relatives and are already looking forward to the next Bell Family Reunion in 2016.