Sunday, September 16, 2012

John Philip Olsen Family Reunion Sherwood, Oregon

Yesterday, September 15, 2012, the descendants of John Philip and Julia (Brown) Olsen met in Snyder Park in Sherwood, Oregon for the annual family reunion. For this couple, both of immigrant families from Norway, this would be an honor and acknowledgement of their valiant efforts to raise a family. All of the children were born on the family farm, Oak Leaf Farm, in Orenco, Oregon. Of the close to two hundred descendants and extended family, there are at least one hundred and six living. Twenty-five direct descendants attended this event, along with fifteen extended family members, for a total of forty people. Of the family groups (in bold below), three were represented and three were not.

The family of John and Julia included their children:
Helen Katherine who married Albert Erickson, they had three sons
Rudolph Oscar who married Dorothy Berthold, they had one daughter
Carl Ivan who married Zella Straw - my grandparents, they had three sons
Edith Gladness who married Victor Davis, they had one daughter
Philip Henry who married Saimi Kuusala, they had a son and a daughter
Fred Stanley who married Pauline Payton, they had one daughter
Anne Marie who married Jack S. Wheaton and second Ben Davis (Anne had no children and has no descendants)

It was a beautiful early fall day, with mild temperatures and not a cloud in the sky. The reunion begins with a time for greeting and signing the guest book.  For this reunion I created a descendancy chart, marked the six couples with descendants in different colors, and then requested that the attendees find their names on the chart and mark them the same color. This provided a graphic picture of the various family groups. Then they created a nametag corresponding to the color for their family group.

Mariruth Hanna, of the third generation, reserves the park covered area, sends out postcard reminders about the event and generally directs the activities. Of her ten cousins, only two are living and they were not in attendance. The wives of three of her cousins did attend. Of the fourth generation there are thirty descendants, twenty-seven living and eleven attended. In the fifth generation there are fifty-one, fifty living and six attended. As of this week there are twenty-four in the sixth generation and two attended.

Over the years we met at various places. The one remembered with great fondness is Oaks Park in Sellwood, Oregon where we went for many years. We would gather along the waterfront and have a feast. Then the tickets were handed out to each family so we could go on the carnival rides. From there we moved to a park in Wilsonville, Oregon for a couple of years. Other years we met at Stella Olson Park in Sherwood, Oregon, Stella being no relation to us. For the past several years we have gone to Snyder Park, which is a little newer and offers a very nice play area for the children.

Yesterday our turn out was very good and we enjoyed visiting with relatives who we may see only once a year at this reunion. We share details of our family's experiences, changes including births and deaths. We had plenty of tasty food: chicken, salads, a zucchini casserole, and lots of deserts. Mariruth brought her special plum cake, which is always a hit.

Next year, thanks to the chart showing who attended this year, we will try to make better contact with the families that were not represented. I will review the chart with Mariruth who knows these families better than I do. For those attending I provided descendancy information so they might come to know one another better. This year for the first time in about five years I brought three notebooks of family memorabilia and pictures. Last year I was unable to attend as I fell and broke my arm the week before. It was wonderful to return again this year and share our family history and carry on the tradition of our annual reunion. When Mariruth can no longer coordinate the picnic we all wonder if it will continue, but for now we enjoy and appreciate her efforts in continuing a very important family tradition.

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