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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Monday, September 1 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Kennedy reunion day
Sunday, August 17 - vacation journal, part 6

Photo gallery related to this day's journal (14 photos)
Index for all vacation journal pages and photo galleries

This was intended as the climax of our vacation, the reason we had chosen to make this trip on this particular week: the Kennedy family reunion in Juniata County, the region in Pennsylvania where our ancestors and contemporary cousins had lived for well over 200 years. It was the first Kennedy reunion I'd ever heard of (though there had been predecessors many times over the past 50 years that I'd never heard about until recently). I learned about this one through Bonnie Kennedy Bair, whom I "met" through the Internet because she had learned that I was researching our ancestors. Bonnie and I have the same great-grandfather, Dennis Kennedy, whom I'd never heard of until three or four years ago. My dad wasn't big on family trees. But in fairness, I had never been curious enough about the family to ask questions when he was still around.

But before driving east on Route 22 to Lewistown and Mifflintown for that reunion, we had also scheduled a smaller one in Altoona, with my aunt Irma, the widow of my dad's youngest sibling, the last survivor of that generation on the John Moody Kennedy side. My brother Bob and late brother Tom had both encouraged me to visit Aunt Irma the next time I was in Altoona, and the prospect of it had been making me feel like a teenager. That's because I hadn't seen her since my teens and had never visited her either as an adult or on my own. I had no idea what to expect, but I remembered her as always fun to be around. Would she be semi-invalid in her old age? To our pleasant surprise, though of course she was 40 years older, she was found to be one of those people you would still have recognized after so many years. She was still vivacious and with a sense of humor always on the edge. She was not in the least invalid but on the contrary sat us down at the table while she cooked us eggs for breakfast. It was a great bonus that Mike had had the opportunity of visiting a great-aunt on his Kennedy side.

The Mifflintown reunion was set to begin at 1 p.m. at the Family Restaurant on route 35 east of town. We left Altoona feeling joy at the visit with Aunt Irma, though there was a twinge of regret as we zoomed past the Dream restaurant in Hollidaysburg, as that was the one place I had resolved to eat at before leaving California, and like the bike ride on the Ghost Town Trail, it alluded us. Most of 22 is much as the way I've known it most of my life, with the main exception being the big curve at Water Street, where 45 intersects 22. There, 22 is much wider than before, and though I think there has "always" been an antiques store there, now there is a huge facility that looks like it's an antiques mall, though it appeared not to be in business this day.

We arrived in Lewistown and its contiguous suburb of Burnham early enough to check in to our Super 8 Motel, which we'd booked on cousin Bonnie's recommendation, then we proceeded the final few miles to Mifflintown, which is in Juniata County while Lewistown is in Mifflin County. I had been trying to visualize a "family restaurant" big enough to accommodate a family reunion, but we were surprised at the size this facility. We found that our group was in a side room near the main entrance, which room was at least three times bigger than needed to accommodate the Kennedy group. I didn't know whether to expect a dozen people or 100, but there were 20 or 21 in all, 18 of whom made the group photo. It turned out that only three of us actually are known as Kennedys: Bonnie's brother Danny Kennedy, my son Mike, and myself. Most or all of the women there were born Kennedys, now married into new names. Only two of the local attendees were previously known by me, Arletta Kennedy Jones and her husband Sam, whom I'd gotten in touch with through the Juniata County Genealogical webpage a few years ago and went to visit during my most recent previous trip to Pennsylvania.

After the reunion dinner we discussed a next get-together, took the group photo, and dispersed. Bonnie and her family had Mike and I over for more getting acquainted, poring over voluminous family records Bonnie has accumulated, and rounded out the day with an indoor picnic. Bonnie has collected many courthouse documents, mainly in Juniata County and in Kansas. And while the good news for me was that she's now pinpointed a lot more information about our ancestors than I'd last known, it now seems certain that our earliest known ancestor, Isaac Kennedy, born in 1786, was born in Pennsylvania, not Ireland, as Bonnie earlier had concluded. And even his daughter-in-law, whom some record had described as originating in County Tyrone, Ireland, now appears by the records to be of German rather than Irish origin. So our Irish root again eludes us.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Kids think the strangest things

I remember thinking this prayer was, "Give us this day our jelly bread."

— Sent by Sallie Covolo

Thought for today

I believe that there is nothing good for me or for any man but God, and more and more of God, and that alone through knowing Christ can we come nigh to Him.

— George MacDonald

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