Monday, January 08, 2007

The Blake & Riffle Reunion

The five little girls in the photo, Bonnie Brown, Pearl Fleming (back middle), Canna Fleming (front middle) Margaret Bragg (back daughter of Preston Bragg), Blenda Brown(front), are all dressed up and ready for whatever the 1949 Blake and Riffle Reunion might bring.

According to David L. Blake1, "The Blake and Riffle Reunion was started by Lee Washington Blake around 1933 or 1934. The reunion was held on the first Sunday of August. All the family members knew of this date and this was the day the family or clan came together.

"The largest Blake Riffle reunions were held in the 1950s and '60s with 250 to 300 people participating each year. It was not just a family affair. It was the event of the year and all people were invited. Because the reunion was held on the borders of Lewis, Braxton and Gilmer counties a lot of politicians came seeking votes from the people who attended. "At the reunion families would always gather with their fathers and they gathered at the same spot every year. This way you knew where to find your favorite cousins. They would bring food and have a picnic on the ground. People would begin arriving at nine and stay until dark."

In addition to starting the Blake and Riffle Reunion, Lee Washington Blake wrote The Blakes and Riffles Going Back Seven Generations, a "must read" document about Orlando.

1. David L. Blake, The Blake and Riffle Reunion, pg 60 in Lewis County, West Virginia: Her People and Places edited by Joy Gilchrest Stalnacker.

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