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Review of the 111th Annual Wilson Family Reunion, 13 July 2014

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Sunday, 13 July 2014, dawned cloudy and cold in Niagara County, New York. The forecast and sky both seemed to say the same thing - this reunion would have rain.

However, about 45 stalwart Wilsons - with various surnames - braved the weather and gathered once again in Krull Park, Olcott, Town of Newfane, Niagara County, NY, to celebrate 111 years of family reunions and to enjoy the delicious food and bountiful friendship that are mainstays of our reunions. The sky opened up as we sat down to lunch, but the pavilion kept everyone and everything dry and comfortable. By the end of the meal, the clouds gave way to blue skies and sunshine.

For the first time in several years, we had no first-timers present at this reunion. Perhaps next year, we can all work toward bringing a "newbie" to the reunion.

One family "heirloom" brought to this reunion was a pre-Prohibition shot glass from MH Chamberlain's liquor company in Detroit, Michigan. Although perhaps not technically an "heirloom," because it wasn't passed down through the family, but instead was purchased, it will become one in the future. None of the researchers who have attempted to learn the identity of the parents of Philonzo Chamberlain, the husband of Cynthia Wilson, granddaughter of Alexander and Jane (Armour) Wilson, has been successful. However, this year, a direct-line male descendant of Philonzo and Cynthia - i.e., a male descendant who still has the Chamberlain surname - did a DNA test. Based on the results of that test, Philonzo's immigrant ancestor has been conclusively identified as Richard Chamberlin, who was in Braintree, Massachusetts, by about 1642. The line from Richard to Philonzo is still not known, but we hope to find another male descendant who will do the DNA test so that we can get more information. For his part in solving this mystery, the Chamberlain descendant who did the DNA test will be given the shot glass, with the thanks of the family.

In a follow-up from last year's reunion, we learned that a bridge in Charles County, Maryland, has been dedicated to the memory of Wilson Association member Lawrence H. McParlin, who died in the line of duty, serving with the Charles County Sheriff's Office, and that the CCSO has had a plaque showing the Sheriff's Office arm patch affixed to Lawence's gravestone in Hartland Central Cemetery, Hartland, Niagara County, New York. Lawrence's status as a veteran is also now marked on his stone, so that, in the future, he will receive the military honors to which he is entitled.

As a matter of new business, the descendants of Daniel and Martha (Robinson) Wilson, who have also held a reunion for over 100 years, asked us to consider combining the reunions. Daniel and Martha Wilson were the progenitors of one of the three families with the Wilson surname to settle in Niagara County, New York, in the early to mid 1800's. The other two Wilson families were headed by Alexander and Jane (Armour) Wilson and Reuben and Esther Parkman (Oliver) Wilson. As you know, our ancestors, Alexander and Jane Wilson, were from Scotland. Both of the other Wilson families were from England. It is not presently known whether there was any relationship among these families before they came to America. However, William Temple Wilson, a grandson of Daniel and Martha Wilson, married Martha Hess Wilson, a great-granddaughter of Alexander and Jane Wilson. (Also, Esther Marion Wilson, a granddaughter of Reuben and Esther Wilson, married George Edwin Wilson, a great-grandson of Alexander and Jane Wilson.) Over the years, the size of the reunion of the descendants of Daniel and Martha Wilson has dwindled, until, at present, fewer than 10 people normally attend the reunion. The Wilson Association members at the reunion voted unanimously to invite the descendants of Daniel and Martha Wilson to join us in the future. This was reported at the reunion of Daniel and Martha Wilson's descendants, which was held the week following our reunion.

Again, thank you to our family members who were able to attend the 111th reunion. Without your attendance, there would be no reunion! And thank you to the Wilson Association officers for taking us through another year and another reunion.

We hope to see you on 12 July 2015 at Krull Park for the 112th Reunion!

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