The Albrittons and Barlows had robust reunions

Published 8:51 am Tuesday, October 17, 2023

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By Lloyd Albritton

We have always had robust family reunions in our family.  As far back as I can remember the hub of our Albritton-Barlow family reunion has been my paternal grandparents, Marion Hubbard Albritton (1890-1975) and Julia Victoria Barlow (1893-1978).  Each of these stalwarts grew up in big families.  Papa Hubbard was one of four boys and six sisters born to Pleasant Lanier Albritton (1856-1943) and Martha Eliza Jane Evans (1860-1938).  Mama Julie was the daughter of T.R. Barlow (1845-1901) and Julia Ann Joyner 1857-1933).  T.R. was a Civil War veteran and a prolific producer of children.  He fathered five children with his first wife, Mary Ann Ethridge (1847-1878), and when Mary died in childbirth, he married 21-year-old Julia Joyner shortly thereafter, and together, they bore and raised twelve more children.  T.R.s progeny spanned such a long period that his oldest son, Frank, ended up marrying his stepmother’s sister, Amanda Joyner.

Most people did not travel very far from home in those days so the Albrittons and the Barlows grew up in the same general areas.  They played together and went to school together and worked together and ended up marrying one another and having big families, as most people did in those days.  Consequently, they had big reunions every year.  Robust reunions were held every year right on through my childhood, in the 1950s and continued well into my adult years.  I was born in 1947 into a big bubble of cohorts known as “baby boomers.”  We baby boomers are all senior citizens now and are spread about the earth.  Our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren have spread even broader across the land than we did and have not played together at the family reunions and schoolyards as we did.  In fact, they barely know one another.  Our beloved family reunion traditions would seem to be in peril, perishing by a slow death of extinction from lack-of-interest.

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But hark!   Perhaps there is hope.  In recent years there has been a huge resurgence of interest in geneaology research around the world.  In times past, serious researchers had to visit dusty courthouse archives, old graveyards, old bibles, journals and diaries to find ancestral records.  Nowadays, hundreds of volunteer recording teams and camera crews visit courthouses, archives and depositories all over the world to record and index (peruse, verify and organize) old handwritten records which can then be digitized and uploaded to a computer database containing information on millions, even billions, of people who have lived in the past.

Using this giant database only requires a household computer and access to the Internet, then going to to subscribe to a free membership to the largest ancestral database in the world. Training (including computers and Internet) are available for anyone absolutely free at thousands of Family History Research Centers all over the world.  Sophisticated search engines can now match names, dates and myriad other information from the input of millions of users.  This is a far cry from just a few years ago when my mother’s clumsy Book-of-Remembrance with its many long paper sheets of Family Trees and Family Group Forms, all handwritten and tediously gathered from dusty depositories and graveyards in neighboring counties, was her one of a kind and only copy of this precious record.  How did this come about?

In the last two verses of the Old Testament, Malachi prophesied “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).  Remember Elijah? Who was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire? (2 Kings 2:11).  Is it possible that Elijah has already made his prophesied visit before the coming of “the great and dreadful day of the Lord?” and that he has already turned the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers?

Is it possible that the current tsunami of interest in family history research throughout the world is the result of the “Spirit of Elijah” pervading the hearts and minds of God’s elect?  What do you suppose is the meaning of it all?

Is family history only about names and birthdates and burial places?  Or is it about much more.  Indeed, it is not the various dates of events in the lives of our ancestors that seem to interest us the most, but the stories of their lives.  It is the stories that help us to intimately know and understand our ancestors and to find joy in our connections with them.  This is really no different than our relationships with our living family members.  We build close relationships with our parents and our brothers and sisters and our cousins through sharing the events of our storied lives.  We all hope to see those we have loved and intimately known here in our lives in the hereafter.  Is it possible that through the “Spirit of Elijah” we can come to actually know our ancestors, as well, by learning not just the dates of their coming and going, but also through the stories of their lives?  If it were so, would that not add immensely to our joy when we come together in the hereafter to meet in person family members who we have already come to know and love.

As I catch the vision of it all through the “Spirit of Elijah” I have come to look forward to each and every family reunion we have with great excitement.  How great it is to have family and kinsmen, both now and in the hereafter.