The LaGrone 70 Reunion turns
B efore his deat h in 1939, LaGrone family patriarch Oliver Pugh had but one wish—that his family would stop its petty bickering and come together as a whole once again. Ironically, it took O.P.'death to finally bring a feuding family together.
His children saw it as the perfect opportunity to gather everybody together and put an end to the nonsense.
Seventy years laterLaGrones are getting along splendidly (for the most part) and approximately 200 family and friends gathered together again on Father's Day Sunday to celebrate family.
According to the family history book which was compiled by kinfolk Betty Arnold, the LaGrone name was originally LeCrown when Lorenz LeCrown, his wife Mary and two children caught passage on the ship Upton from Schonau, Germany and landed in Charles Town, South Carolina in September of 1752.
Unable to speak English, Le Crown sounded like LaGrone to emigration officers and that is how it was listed on the manifest.
The next pivotal LaGrone was the first to settle in Texas. Daniel, who was originally from Alabama, acquired the original LaGrone farm land in Milano off of County Road 364 after he was released from a Civil War prison camp in Vicksburg, Miss.
The cabin he built in 1875 stood until 1984 when it was blown over by a violent storm. It had housed Daniel's family of seven children and wife Sarah. He died in the cabin in 1893.
Daniel's youngest son O. P. lived in the cabin with his wife Stella and their seven kids.
My grandfather, Taylor Eugene, took over the LaGrone place in the mid 1950s after paying the back taxes and it remains in our family to this day and always will.
While the LaGrone Reunion began at the home of Sonny and Norine LaGrone, it eventually moved to Seven Cedars Park, the roadside park between Milano and Gause on Highway 79 before being moved back to Sonny and Norine's in 1964 where it has remained ever since.
After a recent hospital stay, Norine was unable to attend this year's gathering. It marks the first time in 70 years that she has missed one.
Cecil Hurt, who used to get up early and go to Seven Cedars to make sure there was a place to hold the reunion, attended his 69th LaGrone Reunion on Sunday. He missed once because he was in the hospital.
His grandson Josh Lopez and his great granddaughter Audrey were there to continue the tradition and that's what the reunion is all about.
Passing it on.
I lost my grandfather Taylor when I was nine years old. I am grateful for those nine years I had with him, but it is a small window of memories I have and I rely on those who knew him longer to get my fix of stories.
He is the reason I participate.
There isn't a year that goes by that I don't hear a story or see a picture that I haven't heard before or seen before and it makes my heart soar.
In my research of family reunions, there were only two that were longer.
O.P. LaGrone was known for his barbecue. On Saturdays he would steer his horse drawn wagon filled with containers of brisket around town to be delivered to a host of regular customers.
On Sunday, his descendents prepared and also feasted on barbecued brisket, chicken, sausage and the traditional goat as he would have preferred.
Again, the passing it on theme continues.
I would love to be around for the 100th LaGrone Reunion, but if I'm not, I would hope that most of the stories I've heard, I have passed down to the next generation so they might do what those before me and what I have tried to do—pass it on.