Washington descendants gather for 100th family reunion
CASSADAGA — Descendants from the Washington family of Dunkirk met recently for their 100th annual family reunion at the Red House in Cassadaga. Steve and Nancy Wickmark of the Red House graciously welcomed the group of over 300 attendees to the reunion. Bruce Washington of Ohio, who has served as president for two years, welcomed all to the 100th reunion, and thanked the committee chairperson Cindy Riggle and all of the committee members for their help in organizing this very special event.
The group is known as the “Washingtons of Dunkirk.” The family’s original immigrants were John Thomas and Elizabeth Ward Washington, who traveled to the United States from Littleport, England in the time period of 1902-1905, with 12 of their 13 children. They built a house on West Sixth Street in Dunkirk where the family was raised.
Carl Richter gave the opening blessing to the event with all those attending holding hands. Richter gave thanks for the opportunity for all of the family members to gather for this occasion. Family members brought dishes of food which were served buffet style. The group is famous for baking delicious homemade pies, of which there was a large variety for all to enjoy.
The planning committee for this reunion was under the direction of Riggle. They included Cindy Hannum, who was in charge of the “Washington” shirts; Sue Gay who was in charge of the museum displays; Gail Dash who was in charge of cemetery tours; Dave DeRider who was in charge of the golf; Doug and Andrea DeRider who were in charge of games and prizes; Scott Washington who was in charge of food and Miriam Washington who was in charge of flower decorations. Susan Washington Sipos updated the Washington genealogy book, which was 138 pages in length and available to all. Graham and Katy Stoll were in charge of the sound and music. Richter was in charge of special awards, and Tom Washington was in charge of cooking the pig for the pig roast.
In his speech, President Washington compared life 100 years ago with today, such as the price of a stamp was 2 cents, bread was 9 cents, and the popular song was George M. Cohan’s “Over There,” since the United States became involved with the first World War. Americans did not drive much, and mostly walked, rode horses or rode trolleys, he said.
Following the luncheon, the annual business meeting was held. The oldest present was 98-year-old Rebecca Washington Kugler Dlouhy of Ohio. The youngest was 4-month old Axelle Jane Smith. Chuck Whitmore was recognized for traveling the farthest for this reunion, being from the state of Washington. There were prizes awarded by the DeRiders.
Descendants of nine of the 13 original children were present for the 100th reunion.
Following the business meeting, there was music and singing. A group photograph was taken by past president John Sipos of Cassadaga. Games for the young people were held, including shooting basketballs, egg tossing and face painting. There was an evening barn dance, followed by a bonfire.
Officers for the next reunion elected are Shane Washington of Washington, D.C. as president, John Dewhurst of Pennsylvania as secretary, and Nancy Wickmark of Cassadaga as treasurer.
The 2018 reunion is scheduled for Saturday, July 14 at 1 p.m. All family members are encouraged to attend.