Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fraser Clan Reunion 2000

The new millennium saw the reunion of two branches of our family that had been separated for a century. In 1900, Alexander Fraser, brother of our grandfather Charles, moved his large family from Toronto to Chicago. Their sister Isobella's children also moved to the States at a later date and, over time, the Canadian and United States branches of the family lost touch with each other. The photo above shows the welcoming fruit basket, with Fraser tartan trim, that greeted our arrival at our hotel in Troy Michigan and symbolized the reunion of our families.

Here Charles poses with his brothers Msgr. John Fraser and Alexander Fraser outside Alex home in Chicago in the late 1940's. By the 1990's Alexander's and Isobella's descendants and in-laws numbered in the hundreds and had spread to the far corners of the United States, while Charles descendants in Canada, still mostly residing in Toronto, numbered nearly twenty. Once the branches rediscovered each other, to their mutual surprise and delight, plans were made to get together in July of 2000.

Across the span of three days nearly fifty people became family once again over such activities as baseball games (like the one above), playing pinochle, enjoying meals, picnics, viewing family albums, sharing mementos, water balloon fights and lots of talk. Members came from Colorado, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, Crystal Lake, Cleveland, Toronto and throughout Michigan. There were former university professors, accountants, lawyers and several owners of businesses. Many were retired.

Our hosts, were very gracious and supplied dinner every night for the three days of the reunion, brunch and dinner at the picnic as well as breakfast on the final day. They have a beautiful large home where we felt welcomed and very comfortable. The genealogy chart they had assembled stretched over ten feet in length. One remarkable man had inherited his mother's collection of Fraser artifacts that included many letters, plays written by family members, poems, the earliest attempt at a Fraser genealogy and numerous photos--some of which he brought to the reunion for us to see. He had the earliest family photos I have ever seen, of my great uncle William and aunt "May" taken in Scotland when they were two and three years of age, about 1860. He has literally cartons of Fraser artifacts in his garage that haven't been opened in years! He allowed me to take the genealogy and a copy of an account of a great aunt's travel to New York about 1920 to make copies. Sister Geraldine's trip was a wonderful adventure, traveling by train to Buffalo, then Albany before boarding ship to sail down the Hudson River to New York. It is filled with photos and postcards of the journey.

This photo reveals two things about the reunited families: a remarkable family resemblance (all right, so we're all wearing funny glasses with fake noses) and a shared sense of humour and fun. Before the three days were over we had moved from strangers to feeling like family with our American cousins. Plans for future reunions are already under discussion.