By Brenda L. Holmes
The Thompson family has been getting together for a reunion each year for 100 years. They met this year in Clayton at the home of Steve and Diane Thompson.
Betty Jane Cook Volp, 88, was one of the older family members who attended this year’s gathering.
She said when she was a child the reunion was normally held in the Hazelwood area and was a “pretty big event.” Each year, she recalled, she would wear a new dress made my her mother.
“Uncle Elmer had it most often at his place,” she told a family member. “(It was) a farm carved off the original farm.”
The farm belonged to her grandfather and reunion co-founder John Thompson.
Volp said her mother would make fried chicken directly from the coop, garden green beans, pie or cake.
She said she remembers the adults talking loudly about politics, news, and farming — especially school teacher Clare Sellers.
This year the entertainment portion of the event included a challenge for everyone to share their favorite memories from reunions of years past.
“My memory was about that fella, Clare Sellers,” said Steve Thompson. “He scared me to death. He was very proper and always wore a tie and suspenders. I was terrified that I would have him in school.”
He said there were a variety of stories shared — everything from funny to heart wrenching.
“There were some interesting stories,” Thompson said. “I’m sure a lot of the younger children didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. They don’t have 60 years of memories.”
He said the Thompson family originated in North Carolina.
“Two brothers landed in North Carolina,” he said. “The Thomas Thompson side of the family then moved through Kentucky and into Indiana.”
Now, he said, most of the family members that come to the reunion live in Morgan and Hendricks counties.
“But we did have some from farther away,” he said. “My son (Steven) and his new wife (Catlin) came from Denver, Colo. It was the first time his wife had been here, so it was a lot of fun to have them.”
During the reunion, each family member signs a reunion book. There is also a secretary’s report from the previous year that is read.
“We have books and minutes dating back to the first reunion,” Thompson said. “The first reunion was held in July 1912.”
The family has made arrangements for their reunion books to be kept in the Indiana Room at the Plainfield-Guilford Township Public Library. They are only taken out for the reunion each year.
And no family reunion would be complete without plenty of good food. Thompson said people seem to each bring their specialties.
“And we had lots of desserts,” he said. “And it was a beautiful day — as long as the wind was blowing.”
Thompson said he and his family will continue holding the traditional reunion as long as possible. He said this year there were 31 in attendance.
“I was looking at the books and in the ‘20s and ‘30s there would be as many as 80 people show up,” he said. “Yesterday, we had 31 and that was more than we’ve had in recent years.”