The annual 12 Pioneer Families Reunion that regularly meets on the third weekend in September at Monett City Park Casino has been moved to the Freistatt Community Hall. The hall is located east of the Freistatt Post Office at 105 E. Third St.
The traditional covered dish dinner will be held on Sunday, Sept. 16.
The first reunion was held in September 1934 and was attended by 83 people from the Boucher, Cagle, Morris and Pruitt families from Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas. After Elizabeth Smith Cagle's sister, Abigail Hewlett, revealed common family ties to Boucher, Bright, Cagle, Spilman, Morris and Pruitt family trees in 1946, it was decided to include other allied families that also had common ties.
The 12 pioneer families have since celebrated 78th years of family ties, friendships, recipes, family photos and losses of dear loved ones over the years. The original 83 attendees from the Boucher, Cagle, Morris and Pruitt families has now grown to over 355 households from the 12 surnames from 38 states.
The late Leonard Goodman, a descendant of the Cagle/Morris family, attended his first reunion in 1934 at age 5. He never missed a single reunion until
his death in 2009. According to Jean Gaw, the reunion's current president, Doris Neely Goodman, Goodman's wife, said in 1999 that she was related to half of Lawrence County before she married, and became related to the other half through marriage.
The members whose ancestors are traced to two or more surnames is not common. In the case of the children of John and Mary Boucher Spilman, Mary Massey Spilman married James Hewlett. Her brother John Spilman, married Laura Moody, the daughter of Isaac Moody and Malinda Bonner. Mary's other brother, Nathan Spilman, married Emily Paralee Pruitt. Laura Moody's sister, Jeanette, married Oliver Perry Mann.
The late Leonard Goodman was related to six of the surnames that comprised the
reunion. His wife, Doris, was related and allied to five of the pioneer surname.
The granite monument at Highway 97 and Farm Road 2080, north of Pierce City, commemorates the arrival of these families in the late 1830s and bears all 12 surnames.
"The tradition of family, church, and moral values is passed down to the next generation," said Gaw. "A major project in progress is to complete a history of all 12 surnames and their allied family members in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 1909 Spilman family history."
Anyone with living or deceased family member whose maiden or married surname is related or allied to the above families or allied surname is welcome to attend the 78th reunion in Freistatt, Gaw added,