The 50th annual reunion of the Roark-Conner Association will be held Friday-Sunday in Cleveland, Tn.
The reunion is an important gathering of Roark and Conner descendants and relatives of these pioneer families.
This year, 2008, special emphasis is being placed on attracting a large attendance of Roark-Conner descendants and in-laws living in the areas of Birchwood, old Salem, Friendship, Georgetown, Ooltewah, Harrison, Meigs County, and Bradley County. (The RCA reunion is a national event and well attended by "cousins" from California, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and other states. An increased attendance from local Roark-Conner ancestors and in-laws can make this year's event a special golden homecoming that will be well remembered.)
Brief summary of next weekend's reunion events:
Friday, Oct. 10 - afternoon and evening of family fun and meeting old and "new" cousins and friends; greeting message; "finger foods"; games and contests, etc..
Saturday, Oct. 11 - business meeting followed by presentations on History and Memories of old Salem Baptist Church and a family focus presentation on the Frank Scott family. The afternoon includes displays of family memorabilia to include "clothing of the past" and antique jewelry display. The Saturday night banquet includes special musical entertainment and special events and announcements.
Sunday, Oct. 12 - meeting at old Salem Baptist Church site for morning church services; followed by a catered lunch at dear old Birchwood School; followed by an afternoon of tours at the old Joseph Roark homestead; tours of family cemeteries; demonstration of a blacksmith forging a nail at old Whistlin' Bill's Blacksmith Shop in Birchwood; and a visit to Kaye and Phyllis Roark's Two Sisters Vintage Shop.
Why is a Roark-Conner Association Reunion a special event?
"In the mid to late 1830s, four families settled in the eastern portion of Hamilton County, Tennessee, that lies on the south bank of the Tennessee River. These four families, who were to live as part of the Salem Community south of present-day Birchwood, were headed by Maximilian Haney Conner and the three Roark brothers, James, John, and Joseph. It was from these four families that the majority of the members of the Roark-Conner Association trace their ancestry. The first of the four families to arrive in the unsettled area was the family of Maximilian Haney Conner who disembarked from a river barge on the Tennessee near Hiwassee Island in January 1835. Soon thereafter, in late 1836, Joseph Roark, the youngest of the three brothers, moved across the Tennessee River from Sale Creek with his wife and two daughters to settle on Grasshopper Creek near the Conners. He was followed in 1838 by his eldest brother, James P. Roark, who sold his land holdings along Sale Creek and purchased lands overlooking the Tennessee on the south bank. The last of the four families to arrive south of the Tennessee was John Roark, two years younger than his brother James. John had sold his farm in Claiborne County, Tennessee, after his father's death in 1833 and moved to Sale Creek on the north bank of the Tennessee.
It was in 1840 that John Roark purchased land west of the Salem Community and moved his family across the river.
The four families together raised a total of 45 children, 34 of whom lived to maturity. Of the 34, most remained in Hamilton County and raised their families in the Salem Community. Others found it advantageous to locate elsewhere during the era of reconstruction following the Civil War. Even later descendants followed the western migration patterns common to many families during the western expansion of the United States so that by the year 2003, descendants of the four families lived in each of the fifty states of the U.S."
Therefore, one purpose of the non-profit Roark-Conner Association is to provide a solid base and source of continued interaction and relationships of these ancestors and in-laws. The October, 2008, 50th Anniversary Reunion of the Roark-Conner Association will be a golden "homecoming" opportunity to learn more about our treasured past and continue the preservation of our proud family and neighborhood histories.
Reunion Committee members are:
Gene Johnson 423/838-6092 (Friendship Community),
Howard Scott 423/472-4236 (Highway 60; Bradley Co.).
Peggy DeFriese McCallie 423/961-2739 (Birchwood; Highway 60 area).
Ken Gamble 423/624-6450 (Whistlin' Bill's Blacksmith Shop-Birchwood-Meigs Co)
Darwin Lane 423/842-4823.(Hixson and surrounding areas)
Verna Ellis 817/279-0250 (Texas resident).
Faye Thompson 972/235-8450 (Texas resident).
County Mayor Claude Ramsey has proclaimed the weekend of Oct. 10-12, 2008, as "Roark-Conner Association 50th Anniversary Weekend".