Back in the mid-1970s, when Joyce and David Guerin began poking around in their past, they were pleasantly surprised to find that David’s kin (on his mom’s side) had given them a head start in fact, they had formed a nonprofit group called the Muchmore Family Association.
Family associations are formal structures with officers, bylaws, dues and objectives. (See the Toolkit resources on the next page if you’re looking to form your own.) The Muchmores’ goals include “pooling the resources and efforts of the members of the family so that the history and genealogy of our ancestors may be passed on to all descendants.”
To that end, since 1990, members have traveled from all over the United States and England to reunite every two years. “Each reunion location has family historical meaning, following the migration of the family from New England to New Jersey to Ohio to Oklahoma,” says Joyce, who edits the family’s quarterly newsletter. “The coordinators provide tours of the homes and businesses where Muchmores lived and worked. They even bring in a speaker or historian from the area.” During the three-day affair, family history also comes to life in genealogy workshops, heirloom displays and storytelling sessions with artifacts as props.
Reuniongoers who want a break from history can shop, relax by the pool or visit a playground. And there’s plenty of free time for fun and socializing. A Friday night banquet might include a 50/50 drawing (a raffle in which the winner gets half the pot; the rest goes toward expenses) and awards such as “oldest attendee” and “person who traveled the farthest.” Sunday morning finds many Muchmores worshipping at an ancestor’s church. After the festivities, Joyce summarizes reunion events and publishes photos in the family newsletter.