The Martin-Baker Family of Walthourville celebrated its 21st bi-annual family reunion July 28-31. The theme was "Far Away in Miles, Bound Together in Love."
Approximately 100 family members, representing four generations from as far away as California and New York attended. The La Quinta Inn and Suites in Flemington served as the host hotel.
The four-day event started with get-acquainted evening at the Pray Pavilion on Barnard Pray Road, Walthourville. Family members picked up welcome packets, renewed and made new acquaintances and played games. A potluck meal of turkey and dressing, black eyed peas and other Southern dishes was served, reminiscent of family dinners in the days of old. Door prizes were given out throughout the reunion.
On July 29, relatives met at Stafford Pavilion for a picnic dressed in an array of T-shirts from previous reunions. Family members played basketball, swam, used the playground and ate a BBQ meal. That evening, the family gathered on the grounds of the family homesite on Shaw Road (old Sugar Hill Road) for more Southern cooking and a fish fry. Some played at nearby Johnnie Frasier Park.
On July 30, the family sojourned to Fort Stewart to visit the old Pleasant Grove AME Church site and the family’s home area at what was Taylors Creek. At Pleasant Grove Cemetery there a memorial marker was dedicated in memory of the late Milton H. Martin and Carrie L. Baker Martin.
As many family members are buried in unmarked graves, the memorial marker will serve in remembrance of the Martin, Baker, Blake, Frasier and Cassel patriarchs. The unveiling ceremony was conducted by the Martin-Baker siblings with the assistance of the Henry S. Baker, Bessie Baker Daniels and Mae Baker Anderson families.
Alton Martin shared the oral history of family life at Taylors Creek. After the unveiling, all ages took turns pumping the old hand pump on the site of the old Taylors Creek one-room school.
Midday Saturday was filled with fishing, shopping, bowling and tours of Geechee-Kunda, the Riceboro Baptismal Trail and Dorchester Academy.
That evening‘s Black and Gold Gala was at the Midway community complex. Jahlil Witt, a senior at Bethune Cookman University, was keynote speaker, stressing his success to motivate the youth. After the gala, the family danced to the music of the Old School Band. Charolette Lovette Norman was the guest dancer and vocalist.
On the last morning, family members worshipped at the family church, Pleasant Grove AME. Elder Darryl Lovett was the proclaimer, reminding his relatives of their spiritual obligation to prepare and to hand off to the next generation. After the service, a wreath was laid at the grave of Mr. and Mrs. Milton Martin in nearby Taylors Creek Cemetery.
Then the family enjoyed a meal catered by Raymond Palmer. During the dinner Alton Martin, the eldest survivor of the Martin-Baker children, was surprised with cake and ice cream to celebrate his 92nd birthday.
His advice to young people was, "They use to give out pencils when I was in school, now they’re giving out computers. Get all the education you can get."
Reunion hosts were Alton Martin, Donald Lovette, April Lovette Whitaker, Angelyn Pray, Arlie Brown, Louise Lovett and Clara Roberts. The next reunion will be in July 2018 in Washington, D.C., and hosted by Erika Lovette and Mr. and Mrs. James Dye Jr.