50th annual Reynolds Family Reunion held

Published 12:17 pm Saturday, July 15, 2017

The 50th annual Reynolds Family Reunion was held May 21 at the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church near Columbia, with 37 members and guests in attendance.

The event reunited the descendants of William Reynolds Jr. and his sister Matilda Jane Reynolds Spencer, both originally from Chelsea, England. William Reynolds Jr. lived in Tyrrell County and became a Primitive Baptist preacher, while Matilda Jane Reynolds Spencer lived near Roper in Washington County and ran a local store.

Family and guests began arriving at 10 a.m, and the official business meeting started at 10:40. Mark Bateman, president, of Ledyard, Connecticut, opened the meeting and welcomed everyone. Next Mark read a story on “Our Ancestor’s Memories Live On” to set the tone for the day. This was followed by a hymn led by the president and the opening prayer by Katie Swain Reynolds Woodley of Jamesville.

Two recent family births were announced: Thomas Dale Baker born in August 2016 to Steven Baker and Katie Baker of Camden, and Jackson Grant Forbes born in April 2017 to Thomas Jacob Forbes and Stacy Forbes of Hertford. Two recent marriages were also announced: Michael Voliva and Kari Hohn in July 2016, and Stephanie Anderson and Jordan Davis in September 2016. Both Michael and Stephanie are the grandchildren of Virginia Voliva of Columbia.

The minutes of the last meeting were read by the secretary, Susan Reynolds Forbes of Roper, and the treasurer’s report was given by Gail Reynolds of Columbia. Mark gave a report on the repairs to the Bethlehem church building. Bids are in and work will start soon to paint the exterior of the church including the new wood lap siding that was recently added. More work is needed to repair the interior bathroom, as funds become available.

Next, a memorial service was led by Amanda Reynolds Frymier of Plymouth for the 9 family members who died during the past year. Then Mark gave a recounting of the first Reynolds Reunion held back on August 4, 1968, at the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church. There were 200 people in attendance for that first reunion, with a preaching service, then a picnic, then a business meeting. There were several family members at the 50th reunion who had been at that very first reunion.

The program featured was “Living History of the Reynolds Family”, a skit to visually represent our Reynolds ancestors as they gradually emigrated from England to North Carolina, and how we got to our family branches today — from William Reynolds Jr. in 1828 to Matilda Jane Reynolds in 1849, through the Civil War until today. Different family members played the part of the Reynolds ancestors as their stories were told.

Joyce Bateman Giglioni was recognized as having traveled the farthest to attend, 850 miles from Starkville, Mississippi. The youngest member was Thomas Dale Baker, age 8 months, son of Steven and Katie Baker of Camden. The oldest was Virginia Voliva of Columbia, age 94. Attending the reunion for the first time was Bryan Bass of Moyock. Colorful award ribbons were presented to each of these people.

At this year’s meeting, for the first time in many many years, there were family members from all of the William Reynolds Jr. lines: Mary Elizabeth, James William, Rhoda Caroline, William Puckett, and this year finally also the Benjamin Reynolds lines all had family members attending. The Matilda Jane Reynolds Spencer line was also represented.

It was noted that the annual Primitive Baptist preaching service has been moved from June to September. It will be held at Bethlehem on the 4th Sunday, September 24, at 10:30 a.m., led by Elder Johnny Ray Gardner. Also noted was that the next reunion will be the 51st Reunion Celebration and will be held on the 3rd Sunday, May 20, 2018.

The reunion meeting adjourned at 12:15 p.m. with the blessing given by Rev. C.L. Reynolds of Columbia. Then came a barbecue and covered-dish picnic lunch provided by the families, held outdoors in the yard of the church on the cool Sunday afternoon. A meeting of the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church Preservation Society followed the picnic.

Contributed by Mark Bateman.