WHAT YOU MISSED AT THE 2016 & 2017 REUNIONS
The 75th Counts Family Reunion was held on August 6, 2016, at historic Sulphur Springs Primitive Baptist Church on Frying Pan Creek in Tiny, Virginia.
Many Sutherland's and Counts kin were members and/or preachers at this church. As the Counts descendants have been noticeably absent from the reunions, it has been combined with the Sutherland-Dye Reunions.
The reunion was well attended by about 65 people who enjoyed homemade and store bought goodies that each attendee had been invited to bring to share with their kinfolk.
A representative of each family addressed the gathering and told them their family line. First time attendee, Chad Counts, whose great great grandfather was Nealy Ridge's William Lewis Counts, was also in attendance. In introducing himself, Chad respectively thanked Elihu Jasper Sutherland for his tireless genealogical research efforts and urged attendees to visit the University of Virginia at Wise which houses a special Sutherland Room collection of Eli's work. Also attending for their first full event were Phyllis Counts and daughter, Rachel Joy.
William "Billy" Sutherland with wife, Thora "Toy", said a special greeting to the gathering stating that he was, "Probably related as cousins to all of you", which got the crowd roaring.
President Patty Dye Conner, presided over and gave the welcome. Randy Miller opened with a prayer. Cliff Mahone led the Pledge of Allegience and Mary Queta Watson led the singing of America the Beautiful. Davine Miller, vice president, covered old business and new business. It was decided to continue the postcard mailers and website. It was voted to have the reunion at the same site next year on August 5, 2017. The reunion has a balance of $346.32 and $60 was collected from the reunion and $124 for the church.
Maxine Fuller, the oldest attendee at 94 years of age, also had the most family members present. Second oldest was Billy Sutherland, Elihu & Hatty Swindall Sutherland's son, who was also the oldest veteran. He was given an American flag that had flown over the Capitol which he then donated to the Sutherland Family Cemetery. Maxine Fuller was given a special 75th commemorative reunion coffee mug that Phyllis Counts had designed of Counts ancestors. Davine Miller and Patty Conner, presented a special program on John Counts of Glade Hollow and Elihu and Hetty Sutherland. The reunion was closed with a prayer. After which, an invitation to tour nearby Sulphur Springs School was extended and Chad Counts, Phyllis Counts and daughter, Rachel Joy, happily accepted. They discovered that an authentic pot belly stove stood in the center of the wood floor along with photos of some of the Sutherland and Counts teachers who had taught at the school.
Gail Marney, Secretary/Treasurer and Phyllis Counts/Writer/Editor & Webpage Administrator
The 76th Counts Family Reunion was held on August 5, 2017, at Sandlick Presbyterian Church in Birchleaf, Virginia and was again combined with the Sutherland-Dye reunions.
President Patty Dye Conner, presided and gave the welcome. Randy Miller opened with a prayer. Cliff Mahone led the Pledge of Allegience and Mary Queta Watson led the singing of America the Beautiful. It was pointed out that previous Counts reunions had historically sang America's song of patriotism.
The reunion was well attended by approximately 55 people with many Counts kin first time attendees and the air was abuzz with excitement. Attendees brought photos, charts, books and wanted to connect with their fellow Counts kin and let them know, "WHAT'S MY LINE?" that they represented. Those in attendance on the Counts side included:
- Frank Counts and sons, Shawn & Chad Counts of West Virginia (from the line of Francis Marion Counts > Goolsby B. Counts > John "Jack" Bunyan Counts)
- David Fraley of Georgetown, Kentucky (From the line of ?)
- Ginger Counts Kinkead (from the line of Nealy Ridge's Edward "Carmac" Counts > Noah Bruce Counts >William Lewis Counts)
- Sue Kiser Wiley (from the line of Nealy Ridge's Lucille Counts Kiser > William Hopkins Counts > William Lewis Counts)
- Rylee Kay Jones (from the line of Nealy Ridge's Elizabeth Counts Hay > William Lewis Counts > Joseph Counts)
- Phyllis Counts Raker (from the line of John & Mary's son, George Counts>Philip>George Washington Counts)
- Phyllis Counts and daughter, Rachel Joy and granddaughter, Rylee Kay (from the line of Nealy Ridge's William Lewis Counts)
- Priscilla Sue Counts (from the line of Ray Clinton Counts > Jonas Walker Counts > Elijah Shelby Counts)
- Gay Counts and son, William "Billy" Brice Counts (from the line of John Jr's son, John and wife, Phoebe McReynolds Counts and so many related families lines they need an entire section!)
- Beulah McKemy, brought her siblings, W.C. (William Clyde) "Dub" Counts, sisters, Colleen, Lema and _____. (from the line of William Clyde Counts > Sheriff John Bunyan Counts > Joseph Counts > John "Jack" Bunyan Counts).
- Wade Garvin Counts and his nephew, Dalton Counts Mays, excited the crowd by bringing a precious beautifully framed tintype of Noah Counts & Aily Amburgey Counts, as well as an entire boxful of old family photos that are yet to be identified! (They are from the line of Wade Garvin Counts > Noah Tilden Counts > Noah Counts & Aily Amburgey Counts > Joshua Counts & Martha Kiser Counts)
- Bruce Arrington, kin to Robert L. Arrington of Nealy Ridge who had married Mabel Bernice Counts, a descendant of Noah Bruce Counts > William Lewis Counts > Joseph Counts) arrived with his wife on their motorcycle just as the reunion was winding down but still managed to grab some grub and talk with fellow Nealy Ridger, Virginia "Ginger" Counts Kinkead before it was sealed and put away.
Priscilla Sue Counts brought a photo montage of her family line and a basket full of photographic treasures. Phyllis Counts Raker, who had last attended the 2002 Counts reunion also brought with her a large ancestry book of some of the photos and documents that she has researched and collected over the past 20 years.
David Fraley, Shawn Counts and Billy Brice Counts discussed their genealogy research and utilized charts and papers. Shawn Counts, still lives on the same West Virginia farm that his ancestors, Goolsby Counts & wife, Causby Colley, lived on over 100 years ago. It isn't officially designated a "Centurion Farm" which Shawn told me means it has to have been in the same family for 100 years and has to be a "working" farm.
Gail Marney, Secretary/Treasurer, covered old business and new business. A motion was made to discontinue sending funds to care for the grounds of the John Counts of Cleveland Cemetery; however, Phyllis Counts suggested that we could each make a donation of at least $5 and a collection was taken by Priscilla Sue Counts distributing the basket for the cause. It was voted to contribute $100 to the Cleveland Cemetery. A motion was made by Phyllis Counts Raker to discuss the feasibility of installing a protective fence around the Glade Hollow John Counts Family Cemetery. The suggestion may not have been heard as no discourse ensued.
A motion was brought by Phyllis Counts to move the reunion to Nealy Ridge's Counts Chapel. Phyllis explained that there was much Counts history contained on Nealy Ridge including that her great great grandfather, William Lewis Counts and Nancy (Rose) Counts, are said in the EJ Sutherland book, Some Descendants of John Counts of Glade Hollow, to have once owned thousands of acres there; that Nealy Ridge is the home of two Counts Cemeteries, and that it hosts, Counts Chapel, named after the Counts Clan which just happened to be where Phyllis chose to have her wedding nuptuals. While it was not pointed out at the time, it is said in the EJ Sutherland book, that EJ's parents first lived on Nealy Ridge on land given to them as a wedding gift by William Sutherland and Sylvia Counts Sutherland. After some discussion, it was voted to have the reunion next year at the same location on August 4, 2018. Cousins Phyllis Counts Raker and Phyllis Counts will attend services at Counts Chapel on Nealy Ridge in Clinchco, Virginia to scout the suitability of the kitchen facilities in hosting reunions there in the future and will report back with their findings.
Patty Dye Conner, announced she was stepping down as President and nominations were taken for a replacement. While both Phyllis Counts and William "Bill" Brice Counts were nominated, it was Davine Miller who has faithfully served the Counts Reunion for numerous years, that won the election and she will preside as President for the next two years. William "Bill" Brice Counts moved up to Vice President. Gail Marney, will remain as Secretary/Treasurer. The reunion has a balance of $431 and $172 was collected for the reunion and $110 for the church.
W.C. Counts was the oldest veteran and was presented with an American flag that flew over the Capitol. Phyllis Counts, with her daughter, Rachel Joy and granddaughter, Rylee Kay, traveled the furthest from Michigan. Patty Dye Conner presented Phyllis with a framed photograph of the homestead of her ancestors, William Beauregard Sutherland and Eliza Jane Counts Sutherland, where she had also been born and raised. The youngest attendees were Isaac and Isaiah Marney, 4 years old, and Rylee Kay Jones and Mya Miller, both 7 years old. Stuffed Bears and tasty Muscadine jelly were given as door prizes to winners were Rylee Jones, Patty Conner, Lena Counts, Emma Gilley, James Byers and Roderick Smithson. Each family introduced themselves and many shared genealogy research and family photos.
Several "Get Well" and "Missing You" cards were brought by Phyllis Counts and distributed by Patty Conner for signatures of attendees to be sent to William "Bill" Sutherland whose health did not allow him or his wife, Thora"Toy", to attend this year's reunion.
Roderick Smithson said a prayer before lunch. Poems from Ethel Hughes and Norma Sutherland were read during the meal. Before we knew it, the food was eaten, put away and our reunion guests said their good-byes til next time.
WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO FORWARD YOUR COUNTS FAMILY REUNION PHOTOS, WITH NAMES & DATES MARKED, TO: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phyllis Counts, Editor and Webpage Administrator