The first Pultz Reunion in Kansas was organized by the children of George Edward Pultz and Kate Anna Smith. George and Kate are my great-grandparents. They started their family in Clarke County, Iowa where they were married on October 18, 1880.
As they started their family in Clarke County, Iowa they learned of the rich farmland in Kansas, in which they could grow a hearty crop of wheat, corn, and soybeans, etc. The land was at a good price per acre as well. It was between 1896 and 1899 that Kate and George loaded up their belongings and their children and made the trip to Riley County, Kansas. There they would start their farm and raise their children.
They had the help of many children and friends to help manage the farm and the crops. Long days would ensue from sunup to sundown to get the crops out of the fields, along with weather conditions that were unpredictable at times. At the end of every June, they were grateful for their winter wheat and other crops. It was time to celebrate the great harvest with family.
The Pultz family came together with a potluck dinner in December 1943, because family members were going off to war.
George died in 1929 and Kate died in 1947 and it was after Kate’s death that ten years later one Pultz family member decided it was time to have a Pultz Family Reunion. There was a total of thirteen children born to George and Kate, so the family was beginning to expand and spread out further than Kansas. They chose the end of June every year to have the reunion because it would be easier for everyone to get together. Schools would be out of session and the crops would be out of the fields.
On June 29, 1958, the Pultz family officially had their first reunion. It was located on Hunter’s Island, south of Manhattan, Riley, Kansas. Pultz family members were told to bring food either a couple of side dishes or dessert. The meat was furnished by other family members. They decided to elect officers for this event. They nominated a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Officers would change yearly so everyone could have a chance to help organize the yearly event.
I was eight years old when my family went to the first reunion. We lived in Illinois at the time so my father included that event in his two weeks of vacation each year. My memories are still vivid of seeing people I was told I was related too but had never meant until that weekend. The food was an experience all its own. I remember seeing long tables set up and food that seemed to go on forever. If you didn’t find something you liked to eat it was your own fault because there was everything to select. The fried chicken was my favorite and it was delicious.
All of the Pultz women were excellent cooks and bakers, they brought a whole new meaning to country cooking. I noticed that a lot of the Pultz men were outside throwing horseshoes or swapping stories of old times in Manhattan and surrounding towns. I noticed another group of men who were working on the best dessert in the world – homemade ice cream. Several ice cream makers were going at one time. It takes time to churn the ice cream so people would take turns sitting on a chair and turning the crank over and over.
I had never had homemade ice cream until the Pultz reunion. I was raised in the city so I only knew of the store-bought kind of ice cream. This ice cream was worth the wait, for as the ice cream got harder to turn I knew it would be ready soon. The paddles would be removed where all the children could get the first sample. It was then announced to everyone that the ice cream was ready and to “come and get it”. No one would wait to be called a second time!
Looking back on it now with a genealogy perspective I wished I would have listened to the stories that were told about the “good old days”. I remember asking my parents how I was related to the other children that were there, they were mostly cousins. The whole day was spent being together with family catching up with what was going on in their lives. My brothers and I were tired at the end of the day but it was a day that we would remember forever.
The reunions went from 1958 through 1990, there were very few times that it was not held usually if there was a death. At least thirty-two years of Pultz family reunions. The reunions got smaller and smaller over the years because of family members dying and relatives who were too far away to attend.
If you ever get the chance to attend a family reunion make sure that you go! Ask questions of the elder members, record their answers and stories, it will be a win-win for everyone.
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