Tennessee Mountain Stories

Reunions Then and Now

This weekend I will gather with a group of extended family – relatives of my paternal great grandmother.  We’ve talked here before about how I enjoy the family reunions and looking forward to this visit I’ve been thinking just how blessed I am to know so many of my distant relatives.  One my cousins shared these pictures with me a couple of years ago and when I came across them again recently I knew I wanted to pass them along to you. 

This is the Norris family, gathered nearly 75 years ago.  Tom Norris was my great-great-grandfather and some of his siblings moved all the way off the mountain to Sparta, TN.  Now what is today a 45 minute drive must have been a whole other world in that mule-drive era because these relatives came to visit but rarely.  The day commemorated in these photos drew all of the plateau-family together for a full day of fellowship.  I don’t know that the two siblings that joined these people ever saw each other again after this day, at least not this side of heaven. 


How I wish I could sit right in the middle of that bunch today.  Can you imagine the stories?  What history they could teach us.  What characters they’d known and oh the memories they must have shared.  Tom was born in 1857 and seems to have lived his whole life on the Cumberland Plateau.  Nicey was born about 1865 their father had come from North Carolina along with his parents and at least one brother. Do you suppose that Tom and Nicey had heard the stories of that move across the Smoky Mountains to the western frontier of Tennessee? I wonder how they ever even found our plateau and why they chose to settle here?

Well despite all my questions, there’s no going back in time however I can certainly spend some time with the remaining Norris relatives.  Some of the stories from that long-ago reunion will be shared again this weekend – after all, we remember the stories only because we keep telling them.  Many of the people in these pictures will be remembered when we’re together and even though most of the people at that long ago reunion died before I ever knew them, their character lives on because we pass the memories along.