In the late 1950′s through the early 1980′s, my grandmother’s paternal side gathered together each fall for the annual Wilt Reunion. I knew names of these relatives but not really who they were or how they fit into the family. As a young child (and then a young teen), I felt somehow on the “outside” of this family for I saw them once a year.
Sometimes my grandmother’s first cousins would travel from Indiana to Ohio to visit her and sometimes my mom and I would accompany my grandparents to Indiana to visit them. That was the extent of my interaction with my Wilt Cousins and extended family.
Going through the photographs my grandfather took to document the Wilt side of the family, has enabled me to actually put names to faces. Even though there are an awful lot of pictures that don’t have labels, my grandfather was very good at labeling reunion pictures.
Ina (Wilt) Wisehart Family
First Row Left to Right: Ward’s son, dau-in-law, Richard Wisehart’s son, Ward Wisehart’s daughter (nurse)
2nd Row L-R: Ward’s son, Mrs. Ward Wisehart, Ward (Ina’s son), Ina (Wilt) Wisehart, Richard Wisehart, Richard’s wife
The above was how the photo was labeled by my grandfather. I’ve since found the names of these folks. In the 1st Row: (I think this is) John E. Wisehart, his wife, Wava June Wicker, Ricky Joe Wisehart, the nurse is either Nancy or Janet Wisehart. In the 2nd Row: not sure of the other son’s name, Ruth West Wisehart, Ward Wisehart, Ina Wilt Wisehart, Richard Wisehart, and Norma Gilmore Wisehart.
Ina Wilt Wisehart is the daughter of Charles and Margaret (Fadely) Wilt. Charles is the youngest brother of my grandmother’s father, Joseph N. Wilt, which would make Ina and my grandmother, Vesta, first cousins.
Ina was the oldest child of Charles and Margaret. She was born on November 2, 1896 (2 years older than my grandmother) probably in Henry County, Indiana. She married George Wisehart on December 12, 1914 in Henry County. (Their marriage record was found in Book 1, Vol. 4 of the Index to Henry County Marriage Records on page 392.) The couple had 4 children: Ward (married Ruth Louise West), Mary Margaret (married Fred Borror), Linda Lee (married Joseph Daffron), and John Richard (married Norma Gilmore). George died on May 13, 1959 and Ina died on November 23, 1967.
Mary and Fred Borror along with their ten year old daughter, Mary Lou, all perished in a car accident on May 29, 1952 (source: Freda Pierce, cousin to Mary Wisehart Borror).
Linda Lee (Wisehart) Daffron died at the age of 58 at a hospital in Richmond, Indiana.
Ward Wisehart passed away on February 26, 2000. John Richard Wisehart is the last surviving child of Ina and George Wisehart.
I’ve often wondered why the Wilt Reunions ended? Did life get too busy for people to gather together? After all the “first cousins” died, did their children decide it was too much trouble? Were there a smattering of family gatherings that only included the immediate families of the first cousins?
The last Wilt Reunion I attended was in September 1983. It was held in Dayton at my brother’s home, and I was 6 1/2 months pregnant with my second child. It would be the last time I saw many of my Wilt relations.
When you gather with family – be it immediate or extended – for a reunion, holiday, birthday, or even funeral – and photos are taken, please make sure to document the event and those in the picture. That includes listing how each of the people in the photo is related. Are they all first cousins? Who is their common ancestor? Are there in-laws in the picture? Make sure to list who they belong with. Are there non-related god-parents or close friends in the photo? Make sure they are listed out and whose friends they are or why they were considered important enough to be part of the picture. Write an account of the day especially the five W’s: Who, What, When, Where and Why. How was the weather? Did you have to travel? How? What type of travel experiences did you have? What activities did you or family members engage in? What type of stories were told and by whom? Is there a recording of this event?
Then keep your documentation, photos and recording (DVD) together or list on the documentation (as well as the DVD and photos) where all the necessary elements are. Someday when your descendents see the photos, the DVD or read your account, they will feel as if they were there and there might not be as many questions as we have about our ancestors’ activities.