At Ruihley Park Pavilion in Archbold, Ohio, Judy Viers Hinkelman, left, Nancy Henry, and Todd Dixon look at family history collected from 100 years of Viers family reunions.
ARCHBOLD, Ohio - They aren't the Rockefellers, but the Viers family has similarly expanded and modernized that age-old moniker "the family unit."
After 100 years of nearly consecutive reunions - they missed one in 1945 because of World War II - the Viers family is now a brand-name institution.
At their 100th anniversary yesterday, Viers family members sang the Viers anthem - "The Viers so worthy and true"- floated the Viers banner, and sold Viers-branded T-shirts, magnets, and pencils. They even sold M&M's with "Viers 100th" stenciled on the back.
Four long rows of picnic tables stretched out within the Ruihley Park Pavilion, seating about 140 family members in attendance, surpassing the previous record of 135 members set in 1918.
There were more than 25 different pies and cakes and nearly a dozen varieties of potato salad. The pavilion echoed with the constant chatter of children and the regular clatter of moving chairs. Grandparents in wheelchairs mingled, while granddaughters in strollers squirmed.
Most of the adults have been coming to these reunions since they were children.
"I'm 36, so I've probably been to 30 of them," said Andrea Dolacki, of Amherst, Ohio, who quickly defended her few reunion absences, blaming her husband's job that took them out of the state.
Viers family members posed for a family portrait at the family's first reunion in 1906 in Fayette, Ohio.
Amidst all the reunion hoopla, Cade Rhoden, 4, of South Bend, Ind., mistook the whole event for Christmas.
"Merry Christmas," he cheered, instead of saying "cheese," during the family reunion picture.
Dale Viers, the reunion president and a Toledo native, has meticulously catalogued the reunion minutes, photos, and invitations from every family reunion since its 1906 commencement, which also was held in Fulton County in Fayette, Ohio.
Capt. J.B. Viers of the Union Army, Dale Viers' great-grandfather, was the reunion president from 1912-1931.
The minutes of the first reunion in 1906 begin: "Three brothers of Scotch descent came to the United States from the Island of Jamaica: Brice Viers, Elisha William Viers, and Neiahmiah Viers."
From these humble beginnings, the Viers Family Reunion was sprung.
Joan Bacon, 65, wrote a poem to honor the Viers founders: "We honor those who came before, their legends not to be ignored. Beloved souls from yesteryear, softly whisper, 'We are here.' "
Bob Dunbar of Adrian was the oldest attendee and received a paperweight engraved with that designation.
Alan Schudel was the youngest at about 6 months of age.
"To the future president," Dale Viers chanted when Alan approached the podium, carried by his mother, Brenda, a resident of Jasper, Mich.
The Viers family will meet again next year, as always, on the third Sunday in July.
Contact Benjamin Alexander-Bloch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6050.
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