Fourth Annual Upcountry Family Reunion Now a Three-Day Event

Event kicks off Thursday and is sure to provide a wealth of information for genealogy buffs.

The Reunion of Upcountry Families has grown into a three-day attraction to be held at varies locations in Pickens County this weekend. This event celebrates families dating back 100 years or more in the Upcountry of South Carolina; an area rich in family history that event sponsors hope to capture and preserve for future generations. 

Due to tremendous response by the public and the participants, there are now activities scheduled for Thursday and Friday, prior to the big reunion on Saturday. All activities are free and the public is encouraged to attend.

This family gathering offers everyone a chance to research and share local family history, attend seminars and workshops, hear guest speakers, tour popular cemeteries, visit local genealogy research facilities, buy books and browse through exhibits from local and historical organizations.

The activities start on Thursday, April 25 at the Hampton Memorial Library in Easley. From 1:30 to 2:15 p.m., a class entitled “Getting Started in Digital Genealogy” will be held in the Computer Lab. An Open House will be held in the Mary Oates Gregorie Historical Room in the library, from 3 to 5 p.m.

At the library on Thursday evening, Virginia Pierce, from the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program, will present “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers on the Internet” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The SCDNP has digitized many historic newspapers across the state, including early copies of The Pickens Sentinel and The Keowee Courier, among many others.

On Friday, there will be tours of several local cemeteries: at 10 a.m. at Pickens Chapel Cemetery with Dr. Carl Garrison; at 11:30 a.m. at Zion Cemetery in Easley with Brenda Meyers and Neil Smith; and at 2 p.m. at Carmel Presbyterian Church in Liberty with Dot Jackson and Gerald Bice.

A tour will be offered of the Pendleton District Commission Archives, located in historic Hunter’s Store in downtown Pendleton with curator Les McCall at 3 p.m.

Folger Auditorium on the Southern Wesleyan University campus in Central will again be the site for guest speakers on Friday evening. Steve Tuttle will present “Upcountry Research at the South Carolina Archives” from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by “yDNA” by Terry Barton, from 6:15 to 9 p.m.

The main event will take place on Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Founders Hall at Southern Wesleyan University. Families will display genealogical research, pictures, Bibles, old documents, and other ancestral memorabilia. Copiers, printers and scanners will be available to help share information, charts, pictures and other items.

Approximately 40 tables have been reserved for the reunion, representing more than 150 Upcountry families. During previous reunions, “cousins” from across the state and from as far away as Oregon have come home for this family get-together.

Local authors, historical and genealogical organizations, as well as the event sponsors, will be set up in the center of the room. They will have membership information, brochures and other handouts available.

This unique Upcountry family history event is sponsored by the Birchwood Center for Arts and Folklife, Old Pendleton District Genealogical Society, Southern Wesleyan University, Central Heritage Society, Pickens County Historical Society, Pickens County Museum of Art and History, Pendleton District Commission, Faith Clayton Family Research Center, Pickens County Library and Pickens County Accommodation Tax Funding.

Some of this year’s participants include representatives from the S.C. Genealogical Chapters from the Old Pendleton District, Anderson, Pickney, Greenville, Edgefield and Fairfield counties, as well as the Southern Appalachian Genealogical Society.

In addition, the local chapters of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy will be on hand. Other groups include the African American Museum of Clemson, the Civil War Roundtable of Anderson County, the Pickens County Confederate Cemetery Project, Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail and the folks from Foxfire Publications.

Local and family history books and other items will also be for sale. To help support the annual Upcountry Reunion, organizers will be selling calendars featuring historic photos and reunion t-shirts. This year’s shirt bears the newly adopted logo “Deep Roots.”

During the day, special speakers will make presentations on campus. “The Wesleyan Church and the Underground Railroad” will be the topic at 10:30 at Freedoms Hill Church. A tour of the new Faith Clayton Family Research Center will be conducted by Anne Sheriff at 11:30 a.m. Dick Robertson will speak about “Robertson, Bowie, McKinney and Related Families” at 2 p.m. in Folger Auditorium, followed by “Genealogical Research in the Probate Office” by Mike Becknell.

Participants can enjoy lunch upstairs in the Dining Commons between 12 and 1 p.m. and the campus snack shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, contact the Birchwood Center at 878-7579 or Ken Blakeney at 898-0840.


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