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AAFA 13th Annual Meeting and Family Reunion

Alford American Family Association, Inc.

2000 Meeting Report - Augusta, Georgia

The 2000 meeting was another successful get-together for the Alford American Family Association. There were a total of 145 people that attended at least one of the sessions scheduled over the three days.

We did not arrive until Thursday afternoon. We drove right by the hotel the first time but turned around and found it. As a matter of fact, I followed Wick Alford, one of our illustrious founders, to the garage area. If it hadn't been for Wick, we might still be circling the block looking for a place to park. The meeting was held in a hotel called the Partridge Inn. It has been called "One of the South's Finest" by Southern Living Magazine. The Inn boasts of once serving as host to President Warren G. Harding. In the dining area, newspaper front pages with headlines from President Harding's stay to stories concerning the storied Masters Golf Tournament have been framed and hung. It was the first hotel in Georgia chosen by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for membership in Historic Hotels of America. As far as the hotel staff is concerned, I have never stayed anywhere that had a more friendly, accommodating staff than the Partridge Inn. The entire staff from the general manager to the front desk to the maintenance people to the gardeners always spoke when they met you anywhere on the hotel grounds. The only snafu we encountered was a reservation problem. When making reservations, I had requested a room with two double beds. The reservations clerk told me that all their rooms had double beds. When we checked in and the bellman showed us to our room, one of the beds turned out to be a sofa sleeper. To the bellman's credit, he did call the front desk to see if a room with two double beds was available. Unfortunately, there were no other rooms available at the moment so my daughter had to make the best of the sofa sleeper. Once again, Ramona Darden, Chairperson of the Meetings Committee, did an outstanding job of planning and coordinating the meeting with the hotel staff. Please don't think that Ramona's job ends when the meeting begins. She is as busy, if not more so, during the meeting as she is before the meeting. And she does it all with grace and dignity.

We did not arrive in time for the Thursday morning tour of Augusta. But I did hear that it was an informative and interesting tour. One comment I heard was that the bus stopped adjacent to the Augusta National Golf course where the Masters Golf Tournament is held. As the tour guide was going over the history of the golf tournament (remember, she is talking to a bus load of genealogy-minded folks), some members were having to bite their tongues because they were parked right beside what looked like a very old cemetery about which the guide is saying nothing.

We had two guests, Robert & Phyliss Chapman, from the Chapman Family Association. They happen to be passing through Augusta during the time of our meeting and Gil Alford invited them to drop by if they had the time. Robert is the President of the Chapman Family Association. He was hoping to pick up some ideas from our meeting that he could incorporate into their association. We certainly hope that they both enjoyed their visit, as I know we enjoyed having them attend.

Friday morning, registration started at 8 o'clock. The genealogy workshop started at nine. People kept wandering in most of the day picking up their registration packets and nametags. The gift shop was right across the hall from the registration table. The gift shop (formerly called the Store), managed by sisters, Sally Stoewer and Jeanne Singleton and ably assisted by their husbands, Dick and Clif, once again did a landslide business. For those of you who haven't attended a meeting, the gift shop serves as a gathering place for those members who aren't signed up for the session that is currently in progress and those who just happen to have some spare money that's burning a hole in their pocket. You can hear some very funny stories in the gift shop. But I understand that at one point during the meeting, some of the ladies gathered there (my wife being one of them) got to discussing topics that were so embarrassing to the male gender that the men in the room had to leave to preserve their dignity (or their ears, I can't remember which). I do not believe I have ever attended a meeting where I have heard and shared in as much laughter as I did at this particular meeting. There were stories ranging from waking up the proprietor of a gas station at 1 or 2 in the morning to buy dollars worth of gas to military experiences.

The photo room was next door to the gift shop. Janice and John Smith use this area to display photos that have been contributed to the Association's photo archive. The photos range from Alfords of many generations back to photos taken at the previous meeting. Anytime during the three days of the meeting that you see Janice and John, you will see a camera hung about their necks. They do an excellent job of recording the meetings via film media. Perhaps the most difficult part of their job is the taking of family group photos after the Saturday night buffet. They try to get all the people from a particular line together for a group shot.

Next door to the Photo Room was the Research Room. Each year, Gil Alford, whose basement serves as AAFA Central Data Storage, packs up notebook after notebook of data on those particular lines that will be represented at the meeting. That is one reason that it is so important that if you are planning to attend a meeting, you register early so Gil can preplan as much as possible what to bring to the meeting. In prior years, he hauled all this stuff in the back of his van. This year, for the first time, it was necessary for him to pull a trailer in order to bring all the material that he thought folks would be using during the course of the meeting. The Research Room was a busy place during the three day meeting with lots of people availing themselves of all the material available.

The Genealogy Workshop was held on Friday. Lynn Shelley, our Vice President, was in charge of the workshop. As usual, she did a marvelous job ably assisted by other members of the Association. The reception was held in the same room as the workshop. For the past several years, the reception has been a stand up affair so as to encourage mingling. This year, Ramona thought it would be a nice change if it were made a sit down affair. It is rather difficult to hold a plate and a drink and eat at the same time. If there is anything an Alford had rather do than talk, it is eat. The food was great. There were four different stations or areas where you could get food ranging from ham to cheeses to vegetables to freshly cooked to order pasta. The room quickly filled up and left some with no place to sit. Ramona to the rescue. Additional tables were set up out on the veranda. To complicate matters, the hotel had three wedding receptions also scheduled Friday night. Sitting on the veranda (or porch as we called it), I observed a steady stream of cars passing by trying to gain entrance to the parking garage or just looking for anywhere they could park and believe me, those places were at a premium that night.

After the reception, the Board of Directors held their annual meeting. Many things were discussed. Among them was the establishment of some type of scholarship fund, a Hall of Fame Album, a dues increase, web site issues, DNA testing and other items. It was decided to establish a Scholarship Committee headed by Seanne Carrigan to do some more research on establishing such a fund. The DNA testing was briefly discussed. The idea was to do DNA testing to establish a DNA genealogy family tree to determine whether or not someone is from a particular line or perhaps use it to establish that all of us Alfords are indeed from one ancestor some where back down the line. As I understand it, it would not prove inconclusively the relationship but could establish the probability of such being the case. It was decided to forgo DNA testing now partly because of the cost involved and partly because of the anticipated reluctance on the part of some people to submit themselves to such a test. Unfortunately, the necessity of an increase in dues could not be postponed. Adding to costs over the years has been the increase in the number of pages in each quarterly, increases in printing costs (due to increase ink and labor costs incurred by the printer), and increases in postage (which is due to increase again in January).

It has been several years since the dues were increased to $20 per year. The Board voted unanimously to increase the dues to $23 per year and do away with the $5 initiation fee charged new members. The web site was discussed. Kim Savage is our Webmaster and she has done an incredible job designing the site and doing all the maintenance since it was established on the web site of Jimmy Alford's company, The Alford Group. It was suggested that perhaps the Association would be better served having its own site as opposed to using part of the Alford Group's site. The thinking behind the matter is that at some point, as our web site grows, it will reach a point where it becomes a burden on the Alford Group's site, either from a cost standpoint or a size standpoint. It was decided that more research was needed before a solution could be found. Some directors expressed concern that the Alford Hall of Fame was not receiving proper recognition. It seems people are periodically inducted into the Hall and then promptly forgotten about. There is no album such as the Memorial Album to keep track of the members of the Hall. It was decided to establish such an album and keep the information on the web site concerning the Hall of Fame current.

The regularly scheduled Saturday morning business meeting was held beginning at 9 o'clock. Milton Folds, who along with his wife, Roberta, were the hosts for this years meeting, welcomed everyone to Augusta. Reports were heard from the President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Census Extraction Group, Wills Project Officer, the Photography Archives Group, Webmaster, Gift Shop Manager, Library manager, and the nominating committee. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was selected as the meeting site in 2004 (I think the year is correct). Competition was heavy from another group pushing Indiana. The Baton Rouge people had a display set up extolling the virtues of the Baton Rouge site which no doubt played a part in the selection. The members present at the Business Meeting vote on the sites put forth from the floor. Another order of business was the selection of three new board members. The Board of Directors consists of 12 members who are elected for a period of three years so that four members rotate off the Board every year. This, in theory at least, keeps fresh faces and ideals on the Board and at the same time, keeps a nice mix of veterans, so to speak. Unfortunately, theory doesn't always work out that way. The Human Resources Committee is in charge of coming up with nominations for the position of Director. No one is nominated unless they agree to take on the task and, for some reason; it is really difficult to find people willing to serve. Nominations are also received from the floor prior to the vote being taken. Again, the person being nominated must have agreed to serve, if elected, prior to being nominated. Unfortunately, rarely is a nomination made from the floor. It is so difficult to find people to serve that Lynn Shelley, Vice President, who was scheduled to rotate off the Board, agreed to serve another three-year term. Others elected were Alicia Houston, Seanne Carrigan, and Morris Myers. The new Board then votes for officers for the coming year. Nominations for officers are presented to the Board by the Nominating Committee, which by the way consists of Don Alford, Seanne Carrigan, and Jimmie Alford. Again, nominations are also taken from the floor with again, the only stipulation being that the person being nominated must have agreed to serve if elected. The current slate of officers was again re-elected. During the Business Meeting, a strange thing occurred. When the membership present at the meeting were told that the Board had voted Friday night to increase dues to $23, they were all so happy at it costing more that someone made a motion, which was seconded, that the dues be increased to $25. The motion passed almost unanimously and the new Board by a vote of 6 to 1 agreed to the new increase. You're probably wondering why the other five Board members didn't vote. Very rarely (never that I can remember) are we blessed with the attendance of the entire Board. So, it is left up to those Board members who are present to vote on such things. The Business Meeting was then adjourned.

The afternoon session, the Alford Family Forum, was led by Gil Alford with assistance from Wick Alford, Lynn Shelley, Milt Folds and others. The presentations try to cover every line represented at the meeting. Many times, the audience will also offer some interesting bit of information that they have attained in the course of their genealogy research. Again, this was a resounding success and was much enjoyed by all present. This has always drawn the largest group during the meeting and this year was no exception.

The Saturday night buffet drew, as usual, the second largest crowd. This year, we were entertained by the Strings Orchestra of the Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School of Augusta. They performed under the direction of Kirsten Hughes. The group did a magnificent job. For those of you who have never attended the Saturday night buffet, it starts off with the drawing of numbers to see which in what order each table gets to proceed to the buffet line. This always leads to a lot of banter not only among tables but also among individuals at the tables. It starts off with someone at each table drawing a number from a hat or box. That then becomes that table's number. A duplicate set of numbers is then used to draw for position in the buffet line. If you drew the number for your table and it was one of the first selected from the hat, you become an instant hero. But pity the poor soul who drew the table number and it is not drawn from the hat until late in the drawing process. He, or she, catches it not only from their table but also from all those who have already been through the line. All of this was, of course, done in and received in the good-natured way it was intended. After the buffet, awards are handed out. A special award or recognition was made this year and deservedly so. Gil and Mary Alford were honored as the Alford Man and Woman of the Century. Gil has been the driving force behind the Association since its founding in 1987. He would be the first to tell you that he would not have been able to contribute as he has without Mary's support, help and, in some cases, guidance. They are among the nicest folks you could ever hope to meet.

There were twenty-three members recognized as Distinguished Members. Distinguished Members are those members who have contributed significantly towards the goals and purposes of the Association during the past year. They are nominated by the membership for their contributions during the preceding year. Their efforts range from data input for various committees to contributing prizes to be handed out during the meeting. These members are to be congratulated for their efforts on behalf of the Association during this year. The members honored as Distinguished Members this year are: Jeanne B. Singleton, Ramona Alford Darden, Kim Savage, Janice Smith, Lee Ann Turner, Ruth Eager Moran, Elizabeth Hazlip, Earline Alford, Seanne Carrigan, Peggy Schuster, Nancy Dietrich, Carolyn Alford Chambliss, Cecil O. Alford, Richard M. Alford, Morris Myers, Sam McCray, Harris M. Alford, Donald R. Alford, Jimmie R. Alford, Robin Alford Sterling, Sebastian Vetri, Richard A. Kirk, and John A. Rogers. The two new inductees into the AAFA Hall of Fame were Doris Vetri, who has been the Treasurer for the last nine years and Max Alford who has been Secretary for almost the same length of time, were inducted. Doris has done an outstanding job of accepting dues payments and keeping the books for the Association, which would seem to be a full time job in itself. However, Doris also helps out in many other ways including inputting computer data, keeping track of the meeting registrations, and she also makes some of the door and raffle prizes handed out at the meeting each year. A new game was introduced at this year's meeting. It was sort of an Alford trivial pursuit game. A list of approximately 40 questions was handed out during the first day of the meeting. You had until Saturday afternoon to turn in your completed questionnaire. The answers could all be found somewhere in the material in the research room. That could have been one of the reasons it was always crowded. There were also pictures posted somewhere in the meeting rooms. Some of the questions pertained to identifying the people in the pictures. I do not know who was the originator of the ideal but I do know that Sally Stoewer and Gil Alford had a hand in getting everything together. The winner was announced at the banquet and she was Patsy Alford Dunn who also happened to be a brand new member. Tied for second place were Seanne Carrigan and Vesta Bowden. I think everyone had a good time with this contest. The winning tickets for raffle were drawn also. My wife, Earline, is in charge of arranging prizes for the raffle drawing, which is held after the buffet. She receives help from members who provide some of the items to be raffled off. She also makes some of the prizes herself. During the meeting, Earline and our daughter, Samantha, will circulate among the crowds encouraging (some might even say "badgering") members to buy a raffle ticket for a dollar. For some unknown reason, it seems as if every year, there is at least one poor soul who is targeted by my wife for special encouragement. She is relentless in trying to encourage this person to buy more tickets. This year, the targeted person was one of our founding members, Wick Alford. Poor old Wick was so intimidated by Earline that I actually caught him hiding behind one of the columns in the gift shop trying to avoid another encounter with my wife. I would have been more sympathetic except for the fact he only had to put up with it for three days. I catch it the other 362 days of the year. Earline showed her soft side this time thou. She felt so bad for hounding Wick that she made a special presentation to him of a baseball cap that she had embroidered with the AAFA logo. A sort of peace offering, I guess. Wick, as all the others do, took the harassment in the good-natured way it was intended. After the buffet, members from the different Alford lineages had group pictures taken by John and Janice Smith. That was the end of the official functions for the day. However, you can usually find some of the members gathered in small groups reliving the events of the preceding days, reliving old times and making new acquaintances. This is the time that one gets to really know the other members and is one of the most enjoyable times that one experiences at the meeting.

Sunday morning is devoted to using the research room for some final last minute researching and saying your goodbyes. This usually lasts until noon depending on how soon the hotel needs the research room for the next scheduled function. This time the hotel had nothing scheduled until the next days so there was no particular hurry except some people were schedule for the afternoon bus tour of Augusta and surrounding areas. There were less than 25 of us scheduled to go and so the bus company had sent over a small bus. However, the bus developed a problem with its air conditioning and with all the hot air that would be blowing around during the course of the tour, it was felt we really needed a bus with working air. A much larger bus was sent over and our tour started. It was to be guided by the same lady that conducted the Thursday tour. After the bus left the hotel, it proceeded to the old Cotton Exchange Building where we were to pick up our guide. We proceeded out of Augusta and actually ended up in South Carolina (by design, not by a wrong turn). We went to the Red Cliff mansion, which is a South Carolina State Park. It was an old house built in the mid 1800's with a storied past. A South Carolina Park Ranger conducted the tour through the house. There were lots of items and relics from the past history of the area. The Ranger actually lived in a small apartment in the lower level of the house. After we left Red Cliff, we journeyed back to Augusta and drove along the Savannah River where a festival was taking place. The tour then stopped at the Augusta Museum of History. It had many artifacts from Augusta's past. Among the exhibits were Revolutionary and Civil War weapons and uniforms, Native American culture, natural history (including a major dinosaur exhibit), space exploration, communications, vintage photographs and a tribute to the city's and Georgia's founding father, Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe. Other jewels include Savannah River marine life that inhabits a small aquarium and "Old No. 302," the Georgia Railroad's last steam engine. I did detect one slight flaw in one of their communications exhibits. It was of a telephone lineman who was on a pole with old open wire strung along the pole line. This particular wire has not been used for many years but the figure of the telephone lineman had upon his head a very modern hard hat. The next stop was back at the old Cotton Exchange Building Welcome Center. This building had some interesting displays. As the name implies, it house at one time the Cotton Exchange where cotton was bought and sold on the open market with current prices posted on a large blackboard. At sometime in the building's past, the blackboard was walled up during a remodeling of the building. When the building was being remodeled into the welcome center, the old wall was torn down and behind the old wall was the old blackboard in almost perfect condition with the chalk writings still on it almost as if they had been made the day before. There was also an old style weather map used many years ago by the railroads to keep track of weather conditions along its entire system. There was also the usual assortment of souvenir items that could be purchased. The bus than departed the Welcome Center and we were returned to our hotel.

When we arrived back at the hotel, it was time to start packing up the material in the research room and loading it back into the trailer. With help from one of the bellman, this was soon accomplished. Those of us who were staying over at the hotel Sunday night had a last meal together at the restaurant in the hotel.

The early part of Monday morning was spent saying some final good byes. We stopped to help Gil get the trailer hitched back up to his van. Mike Heazel also was there to lend a helping hand with the process. We soon had Gil hooked up and on his way and then we departed for our return trip to Mesquite.

There were forty-three people who were attending their first meeting. From there, the number of meetings attended went up all the way to thirteen meetings, which also happens to be the number of meetings that have been held. The three people who have attended every meeting were Wick Alford, Gil Alford, and Gil's lovely wife, Mary. We also had several people to join the Association during the meeting. One new member, Anne Alford Lewis, and her husband had read an item in their local paper about the Association and the meeting in Augusta. They drove down from Cleveland, Tennessee, to look us over and were so impressed that they joined. Well, at least they joined anyway, impressed or not. This was another good, successful meeting well attended and enjoyed by all.

The following people were in attendance at the meeting:

BAL784NC 0152 Janice S. & John Smith
BRI781NC 0751 Cecil O. & Yvonne Alford
    Lisa & Joe Freschi
  1140 Elaine Loftin
  1141 Hazel Alford Middlebrooks
BYN787GA 0387 W. Dean & Martha Steward
DAV785VA 0059 Don & Joan Alford
  0832 Janet Alford Hemby
  1071 Robert A., Deb, & Lauren Hemby
EDW792NC 0673 Carolyn Alford & Will Saunders
    Kirk, Jenifer, Cara, & Annice Saunders
  0772 Robert & Kate Hollingsworth
    Katelyn Hollingsworth
ETH800NY 1051 Paul L Allison
GRE787NC 0011 Wick & Frances Alford
  0177 Louise Alford & Bill Ekin
  0965 Carolyn Alford Chambliss
  1084 Vesta Alford Beany
HAY780GA 0176 Betty Alford & Bob McGugan
  0227 Harold G. & Freda Alford
  0242 Kenneth & Darlene Alford
  1119 Sandy & Billye Campbell
ISA782NC 0258 Kim Savage
  1095 Lucy Dodd Eastham
JAC781NC 0717 Mary V. Alford
    Julie Alford McCall
JAM791VA 0763 Frieda Roberta Shepherd
  1000 Laura Tuffnell
JOH787NC 0447 Benjamin F. & Ruth Alford, Jr.
JOH795VA 0664 Mike & Betty Heazel, Jr.
  1051 Catherine Allison
JOH797SC 0655 Joan Hallford & Gerald L. Hidle
JOH801NC 0196 Arliene F. Alford
  0230 Max & Earline Alford
  0303 Doris O. A. & Buzz Vetri
  0615 David & Lana Alford
  0836 Samantha Kay Alford
JOH807LA 0019 Gil & Mary Alford, Jr.
  0064 Patricia B. Smith
  0120 Sally & Dick Stoewer
  0235 Josephine Alford Carrigan
  0249 Jeanne & Clif Singleton
  0335 Seanne Carrigan
  0537 Vesta G. Bowden
  0539 Shannon Carrigan
  0611 Charles H. & Joan Alford
  0839 Fran & Jack Harry
  1142 Joana B. Breeland
    Hugh (Mac) & Marie Bateman
    Daniel & Sherryn Carrigan
JOH844SC 1090 Jean & Bob Barkalow
LAM835NC 1143 Ann Alford & Terry Lewis
lav806va 0622 Ruth Eager Moran
luc784nc 0593 Peggy & Sam Wood
mir815nc 0358 Elizabeth H. Hazlip
  1139 Cecila Ann Gossman
NEE789NC 0503 David Gaston & Dorothy Alford
ORI806NY 0633 R. M. "Dick" & Connie Alford
PLE818AL 0199 Billy R. Gibson
RAN818VT 0217 Virginia Alford
ROB806VA 1045 Corinne & Ray Kesner
SAM814SC 0440 Dolores F. & Craig Rhodes
SEA807LA 0481 Evelyn Z. Mistich
THO802VA 0001 Alicia R. Houston
WIL787GA 0715 Ramona Alford Darden
  1133 Patricia Ann Jensen
  1144 Patsy Ruth Alford Dunn
WIL794GA 0076 Elisabeth A. McLane
WIL794NC 0528 Julia L.Duke
  0533 Miles & Judy Jackson
  0773 Myrtice Alford Edwards
  0774 Leaette Alford Braswell
    Keith, Marcia, William, Melissa Braswell
    Lillian, Rebecca, Matthew Braswell
    Susan Braswell
  0775 Celeste E. & Richard Furr
  0989 Sandra Kay & Jerry Harwood
  1044 Myra & Bill Bishop
WIL799?? 1129 James K. & Sue Adams
WIL804GA 0606 Catherine A. & Bruce Ellard
  0708 Frances Alford Herrington
WIL812GA 0049 Roberta A. & Milt Folds
  0562 Pat & Robert Thorn
WIL820SC 0667 Harris Monroe Alford
    Robert & Phyliss Chapman
    Margaret Shipp Henley
    Wally & Carrie Mentel
    "Bob" & Michael Pearson
    Ona Faye F. Simmons

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