The Maryland-Kentucky Catholic Reunion, was held June 28-30, 1996, at St. Charles parish hall in St. Mary, Kentucky. My birthday weekend. Our very first genealogy convention of any kind. What a blast! I met so many people – most of whom had been researching far longer than I. I still have my name badge with my eight families displayed – Montgomery, Dillehay, O’Bryan, Smith, Carrico, Gates, Spalding and Yates. The ancestors from all these families made the trek from Maryland to Kentucky in the last few years of the 18th century. These pioneers came to the counties of Marion, Nelson and Washington in Kentucky. Most of my ancestors came from Charles County and St. Mary’s County in Maryland.
Since it was our first convention, and Ritchey didn’t know as much about the family lines, I worried he may get bored. How wrong that proved to be! Registration started at 9:00 a.m. on Friday and we were one of the first in line. He may not have known the family lines at that time, but he can talk to anyone! They put him to work and he manned the pre-registration table on Friday and Saturday – talking to everyone he came in contact with! That he does very well!
Friday evening a “Welcome Home to Marion County” reception was held at St. Augustine Parish Gym. It was hosted by the Lebanon/Marion County Chamber of Commerce. We were treated to a premiere of a 41-minute video, “Maryland Pioneers at Home in Kentucky”, produced especially for the event. The tape included beautiful photography of landscape and landmarks, and were available for purchase.
Saturday was another day of research and talking with others about the different families. The tables were divided into family names and everyone who was researching Carrico’s sat together and shared information. Of course, people were milling around, staying at one table a few minutes, then going on to their next family. Thomas Montgomery had boxes and boxes of information on the Montgomery family and I copied everything I could! He was a goldmine of information for me. I was able to help several people with their O’Bryan and Linton lines.
Sister Mary Louise Donnelley was there. I purchased one of her books – William Elder. There were about 25 vendors that attended.
The event banquet was held Saturday night. I still remember the food! I can honestly say (and not with prejudice just because I am originally from Marion County) the food was the best of any convention I’ve attended! Marion County is the country ham center of Kentucky – their festival being Country Ham Days held the last weekend in September. So naturally we had country ham, fried chicken, corn pudding, salads, luscious desserts – so much to eat! Dr. Thomas Clark, the then 93-year-old Kentucky’s Eminent Historian Laureate, was the keynote speaker at the banquet. He told an appreciative audience that the area known as the Catholic Holy Land, parts of Marion, Washington and Nelson counties, “has never been sufficiently exploited. There is a certain English charm about it,” he said.
Sunday morning a special Mass was held at St. Charles Church with a luncheon following. One final time for chats and exchange of information – along with addresses.
I would encourage anyone interested in genealogy to attend a convention – whether it is a local, state or national convention. Meet people, talk about your families and share information. You make good friends that will last a lifetime, and generally add a few more branches to your family tree!