2011-09-01 / Entertainment

Family’s Reunion Continues Unabated

By Tom Ragan
STANDARD-SPEAKER

ZION GROVE, Pa. (AP) – Not too long ago, having a family reunion was a tradition. It was a time to catch up on family news and gossip, a time to say hello to members of the family that live out- of- town, or just spend a day relaxing as family gathers to maybe play friendly games and to have a few laughs about life in general.

The problem is family reunions usually fizzle out after 10, 25, or if the interest remains, even 50 years; seldom do such get-togethers extend long enough to span a century.

On Saturday, one of those rare 100th family reunions occurred - it was the 100th Singley family reunion in Zion Grove.

About 100 members of the Singley family attended the gathering, where they met at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, a tradition that dates back as long as the reunions, starting in 1912. There, they take a family photograph and move on to the Paul Singley farm, a 93- acre parcel in Zion Grove, A place that has been kept in the family for generations.

Just to put the first family reunion back in 1912 in perspective, consider that it was the year the Titanic sunk, the year the Detroit Tigers went on strike to protest the suspension of a ballplayer named Ty Cobb, and Arizona became the 48th state of the Union.

Direct descendents of a Revolutionary War soldier named Jacob Singley began having the family reunion at the Mt. Zion Lutheran Church back then, and it continued there until about three years ago, according to Mike Singley.

“I suppose we’ve averaged from about 75 to 100 family members during the last decade,’’ Mike Singley said at Saturday’s reunion. Mike currently lives in York, but heads back to Zion Grove each year for the reunion. He is originally from Dearborn, Mich., where his family still resides.

The Singley family comes from places on the West Coast like San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle; as far south as Lillian, Ala., which is near Pensacola, Fla.; and as far north as Dearborn or Grand Blanc, Mich. A few also traveled from Illinois.

They travel each year from near and far to say hello, exchange family news and gossip, and to just enjoy each other’s company for a day. The reunion typically begins with a prayer, extends to a barbecue at the old homestead that wraps up with a corn roast, and - if weather permitting - a bonfire.

A meeting takes place annually too, as family members go over their ancestral history, according to member Lois Revenaugh. She is also responsible for organizing the event.

Berdine Logar Rittenhouse was only 8 months old in the Depression year of 1930 when her mom, Alice Singley Logar, carried her to her first reunion. She is 82 now and refers to herself as one of the oldest women in the family but she still makes the trip from Lillian.

The oldest man is 92-yearold David Singley. He and his wife, Betty, have been married 63 years. David Singley doesn’t remember his first Singley reunion, but he says with a smile that he was just a small lad when he began attending them shortly after the inception.

He and his wife live in Delano, where he was born and raised. He graduated from Penn State University with a degree in engineering.

The youngest member of the Singley family is just 6 months old, however, he and his family couldn’t stay the whole day.

The Singley family has branched out wtih too many family names to list, but to a stranger approaching the family reunion it is easy to see why they hold it each year: Family members greet everyone with a warm smile and make them feel welcome.

It’s tradition.

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