Roberts Family Reunion History
as told by Luie Donnie Roberts WhittingtonAs told to her by father Neil Archie Roberts
The Roberts Family Reunion began on July 14, 1914. The first reunion was at home of Neil and Roxanna Harley Roberts. The ideal came from Neil’s two sisters Kizzy Roberts McBride and Josephine Roberts Alford. July 4 also happen to be the birthday of Neil’s wife Roxanna. So the reunion, also became a celebration between the Roberts family and the Harley Family to celebrate Neil’s wife birthday. All of Neil’s brothers, sisters, cousins and family friends joined in as the years went on. Neil passed the tradition on to his children.
In later years, it was held at home of Neil and Roxanna Harley Roberts children and grandchildren. The last house hosted Roberts Family Reunion was at the home of Earnest and Mary Helen Taylor Roberts. Earnest is the grandson of Neil and Roxanna Harley Roberts. Through the years, the Roberts Family Reunion change home several times. To name a few more, it was hosted at home of Randolph and Maggie Roberts Thompson; Neil (Jay) and Flora Serenia Alford; John Will and Barbara Roberts Bethea and Agnes Jacobs. Maggie, Neil (Jay), Barbara and Agnes are the children of Neil and Roxanna Harley Roberts.
In 1977 the Reunion was moved to the American Legion Hut in Rowland, NC. In 1979 the family went to New Jersey for the Roberts Family Reunion. In 1988 the Reunion was moved to the Southside School Alumni Building and in 1989 to Southside School. In 1990 the Reunion moved to Magnolia A.M.E. Church in Hamer, SC, it remained there for 18 years. In 2009 the Reunion was moved to the Southeastern Farmers Market in Lumberton, NC. On Sunday the morning service was hosted by Bethel Charity Church of God of Rowland, NC, were Rev. William Roberts is the pastor. Rev Roberts is the grandson of Neil and Roxanna Harley Roberts.
Originally the Roberts Family Reunion was held on July 4th. Later it was moved to the first Sunday in July so more family and friends could attend. Family and friends travel from far and near to be present for the Reunion. Regardless of how far we may travel to be present and regardless of what our last names may be, we all gather for one reason. That reason is to be together as one large family. We are all an extension of the generation of sisters and brothers that began gathering as a label of love for each other on July 4, 1914.
Down through the years, the story has been told about a basket of food being bought and the preparing of the food and the gathering of family members.
The Roberts Family Club was organized in the 1970’s. Agnes Roberts Jacobs suggested that we form the club. She was also our first Family Club President. The club was formed to meet the growing needs of the Roberts Family Reunion. The Family Reunion had grown and was too large to have at the home of family members. The children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren ,great-great-great grandchildren of the generation of 17 brothers and sisters that started the Roberts Family Reunion 100 years ago have contributed and made great contributions to keep the reunion going strong for 100 years.
A Brief History of the Roberts Family Reunion
Written by Sara Roberts Hunter