Family Reunion Forum
Back from St. Louis & Family Reunion!
I just returned home Monday night from attending our COLLIER, LACY & WHITE Family Reunion which was held July 10 - 12 in St. Louis, Missouri and posted this piece this afternoon on the family's social network site:
In October 2005 when my task began to merely find the grave of Charlie Miller, my Great Grandfather in Terrell, Texas I had no idea whatsoever that a few minutes on my computer would turn into an almost 24 hour, 7 days a week obsession that would transform itself into the what I now refer to as The Amazing Journey.
The Amazing Journey for self, for that's truly what it is has become for me, has flowered into a boundless bouquet of living legacy and family. You'd think that it would get easier but it doesn't because I have made my peace with the fact that it's continually evolving ... this thing that I once called my 'RESEARCH' that one day 'CAME TO LIFE ... walking, talking, breathing human beings that through the grace of God and birth are related to me.
I remain amazed and in awe of the fact that two individuals, Eliza Pinter and Buck NORRIS could each be born to slavery in this country, find one another in the early 1840's and manage to stay together long enough and strong enough to keep together a family of eight (8) children through the end of slavery is a testimony in some part to their cleverness, I believe. I add to to the canvas of thought that six (6) of those eight children: Sonnie, Sylvia, Marcus, Mary, Dina and Millie would live the remaining days of their lives within walking distance.
The next three and four generations would leave Texas and scatter to the four corners of the earth in search of many things. Some returning but many only returning for occasional visits that would make many of us ships that pass in the night. Not ever really knowing the other ship at a distance in the night yet acknowledging its lights passing.
Only now can I lead you into the visual of how wonderful it is for me when I find and actually meet so many of the descendants of our six ancestors ... when I find my kinfolk!
I know the ancestors much better than I know you so I must confess that 85% of the time when I'm with you in person I'm not seeing you in whole because my mind is screaming at me "this is Millie's child" or "she's Marcus descendant". I wonder to myself how proud this ancestor or that ancestor would be to see how well their children have done in life but most of all I cry with joy because I know they're happy with us and for us that we've found their blood again in this magnificent thing we call life.
Over and over again I find and rejoice in the truth that we are the same people pretty much. I have tried to show you through the familly heirloom books that our ancestors were very family oriented, loving and considerate of one another, God fearing strong people who were landowners, providing for their own and living off the land, industrious business owners, long livers who knew as early as 1867 they wanted the right to vote and say a say in their futures. I've shown you Educators, Blacksmiths, Ministers, Military, Doctors and Nurses, the list is endless. Descendants of Mary have been invited to The White House, Descendants of the Millie have performed on premiere stages around the world, basically we're doing it all and I am so very proud of you.
Monday, July 13th I came home from St. Louis, Missouri where I attended the COLLIER, LACY & WHITE Family Reunion where I had my very first opportunity to be surrounded by the descendants of MILLIE NORRIS & ASBERRY COLLIER. I'd met some of the Collier's in 2008 at the Norris Reunion in Dallas but this was entirely different. Everywhere I went during the Reunion there were Colliers and Lacys. I had a wonderful time and could not have been made to feel more apart of the family. Everyone was so nice, so warm and loving. I'm also happy to report that the descendants of Millie are touch me feel me people too! (smile) We don't do the handshake thing ... we hug and kiss! I love it! You see I've waited so long to finally meet you that a handshake just doesn't seem to do the occasion justice.
I loved St. Louis, I loved the hotel, my room was fabulous and I went back for seconds of every meal (smile) If I had to pick two things that I loved most about the Reunion because it's impossible to just pick one it would have to be 1) staying with my Cousin Sylva and 2) the HOSPITALITY SUITE!
Sylva and Kayla picked me up from the airport. I'd been told what Kayla was wearing in the airport but what I didn't expect was that she would turn around with the biggest smile and be holding a white placard with my name on it "FELECIA MONTGOMERY"! I felt like a VIP I'm telling you and then she said "Oh, I remember you from Dallas" and right away I felt at home. I was in St. Louis five days and four nites. I had the pleasure of staying with Sylva and her mom Frances Collier my first and last nite and we had a ball. It was just like when I visited my Grandmother. A house full of females ranging in ages and personalities all blending into a smooth blend of family. Sylva's sister Constance Stafford was there also along with Lynelle Johnson the daughter of Helen Collier Johnson. I can see us all still now sittind around the kitchen table or out on the deck enjoying that fabulous view of forrest. For those of you that don't know Cousin Sylva makes a mean spaghetti!
I loved the Hospitality Suite because Constance had the best coffee in St. Louis served there in the morning and it was the best place ever to meet up with everyone. There was always some activity there and it just turned into my favorite place to be the entire weekend and the DJ they had on Saturday night was really good. As a matter of fact I had my AH HA MOMENT in the Hospitality Suite. As I went through the buffet line Friday evening one of the servers, Ronald Robinson, looked at my name tag and said "Hi, Felecia Montgomery, we're so glad that you made it and my daughter will be so happy to see you." After a few short moments I learned that Ron's daughter Zoe Robinson, the daughter of Cardelia Collier Robinson, was interested in family research and was a little disappointed that I would not be staying with them while in St. Louis. He even confided that Zoe had read her copy of The Norris Family Heirloom Book from cover to cover more than once. When they had company at home Zoe would even bring the book out for their inspection. You could have popped me with a pin because I was full, done and through and so very honored. THAT was the best news ever and it occurred to me that as the Norris Family Historian I had somewhat neglected the 15 and under family members or that they would take such an interest in our history. Immediately I made a mental note to self: finish the story before next reunion for them.
Later that evening I met Zoe ... she's just like the fairy tale "sugar and spice and everything nice" just what little girls her age are supposed to be. Somewhat shy but to be expected ... I was just as nervous to meet her as she was me. I asked her if she would agree to be my Pen Pal and she agreed. I posted my first note to Zoe today.
The banquet was great and it was so nice to have everyone together all in one room. What a feeling of family! I must confess that the highlight was my little angel of a cousin from Atlanta who wowed the crowd with her rendition of dance steps from Michael Jackson! WOW, what confidence and poise. I'll be very interested to see where this young lady is in another 15 years ... did someone say JULIARD!
Beyond a doubt my most moving experience would have to be Sunday Worship with the family. I thought it was sheer genuis that the family had repurposed a school into a place of worship but when I saw how practically the entire Collier family practically played some integral part in the church I was over joyed. What a brilliant 'String of Pearls' to yoke a family together. The quiet and gentle voice of Sylva came to life as shed led the church in a prayer and song. I thought my goodness this is the flip side to my cousin ... she's most alive in her work as a Nurse and in her Church with God. Craig Collier who I'd had a very quiet and quick conversation with in the hotel parking lot stood in the pulpit and led us in the prayer ... people keep shining and sparkling. Cousin Lois had told me "I'll be singing in the choir" but what she didn't tell me was that she would also be playing the piano! Chamellions, one and all.
Then I see the poised and friendly mother of my little Cousin Zoe ... Cousin Cardelia follow her dad Elie Collier to the pulpit and I think to myself "she's a good daughter. She'll probably sit up there to assist however she can and then she stands up and starts PREACHING! Honey, my people are fabulous in all their glory!!! I was speechless and bursting with pride. I remember most of the message that day but not all because mostly I cried and smiled. Millie Collier was sitting on my left and Kim Favors on my right, a descendant of Marcus Norris and to her right Pam Wezenaar, she and I descendants of Sonnie Norris. We all were content in the moment and so very happy to be there to worship with family.
My crowning and most moving moment had to be before the Service when one of the grandchildren wheeled Cousin Frances in to the Sanctuary and seemed to be giving her a Tour of some kind around the room. Quiet tears were running down her face but she was aglow with joy. Too private a moment for me to intrude on although my heart ached to do so. Later after the service began we were told how there had been a flood at the church in January and that the entire sanctuary had to be redone completely. Their biggest fear was that it would not be ready in time for the family reunion to hold worship services there. The entire church family had been working furiously for the past six months to renovate the space for Service that morning. With God's blessing everything had been completed with the exception of the new seating being delivered. NOT to be deterred in their mission they had decided to bring in the seating from their Dining Hall to accommodate the congregation.
Later Cousin Frances shared with me that she had been crying because she was so happy to see her home church restored in time for the Family Reunion. I now understood what she had been feeling earlier and began to tear up a bit myself ... A dream answered is a dream remembered.
My sincerest thanks to The COLLIER Cousins in St. Louis for making the COLLIER, LACY & WHITE Family Reunion possible and so fabulous not only for me but for us all. When we make the opportunity for family to come together from far and wide, to rejoice in one another and renew our family ties and knowledge we honor the best in ourselves.
OOPS! How could I forget. When I went to St. Louis I did the very thing that I did the first time I went to the Norris Reunion .... I lost myself so completely in having a good time and getting to know family that I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked to (smile). I was too busy living it!
Please take the opportunity of this site to SHARE your pictures with the entire family from the Family Reunion in St. Louis. If you know of a family member that took pictures but is not yet a member of this site .... PLEASE INVITE THEM! You can upload your pictures to your own individual pages and the entire family will be able to view them and even make copies. RIGHT HAND CLICK and save to your DESKTOP.
I love you and thank you
I hope that each and everyone of you will share your pictures