30 May 2008

Texas: Family reunion and more

In Dallas, the Texas Jewish Post's "All in the Family" section includes a story on the Rachofsky family reunion that took 2 1/2 years to plan.

The section also includes my own stories, "Milestone events are family history opportunities" (while having family at a celebration, get some genealogy work done) and "10 Steps to Family History."

At the Rachofsky family reunion, 37 Dallasites gathered with relatives from across the country. Ongoing for 30 years, their family tree database includes Rachofsky, Kobeisky, Shwayder, Rittmaster, Vitovsky and extended families, totalling some 7,000 people. Nearly 2,000 are direct Rachofsky descendants (including spouses).

During the recent winter solstice, 61 Rachofsky family members from Texas and eight other states attended the bi-annual family reunion held at the Marriott Quorum. Attending were 37 from Dallas, as well as family from Houston, the Texas Hill Country, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Florida, California, Colorado, Wyoming, Maryland and New Jersey. They ranged in age from 2 years old to our 90-year-old family matriarch, Norma Ray Gremm. The central focus was a genealogical chart stretching almost 90 feet and mounted in double rows across two long walls of the Marriott’s Mesquite Ballroom. This was accompanied by photos of the three Rachofsky brothers who founded the family dynasty in the United States in the mid-1850s, which now encompasses almost 2,000 descendants.

It goes on to recount the years of email communication with family researchers in California, hundreds of emails to family in the US, England and Israel. Their researcher attended his first family reunion in 1922, at age 4.

Read about color-coded name tags indicating descent from which of the three brothers, and the previous generations. Some younger members had tags demonstrating nine generations. The family researcher kept busy updating his records.

Researching their tree includes documenting stories and oral histories, digitally preserving photos and more, locating and photographing graves and organizing reunions. The effort is made possible through donations of time and resources of many cousins.

"Milestone events" offers tips on working genealogy into life-cycle events, and explains why I go to weddings and other celebrations with a manila envelope tucked under my arm.

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