(Frieda Siefert Retzlaff Placke has kept a brief record of each reunion from the beginning, including clippings from The Lexington Enterprise, a weekly newspaper, for four of the above years. It is from these resources that these notes are made, as well as from what Frieda and Ruby Vance, who wrote the articles for the paper, can remember.)
1947. Frederick William (Fritz) Retzlaff, son of Bernard and Mary Krake Retzlaff, died March 20, 1947, and following the funeral two days later, the many relatives attending gathered in the family residence. Someone, perhaps Otto, a brother living in Waco, suggested that since this was a large family of brothers and sisters and getting widely scattered, he would like to see them get together for a fun time and not just for funerals.
Everyone agreed and a date for a reunion was sought. It seemed July was to be the month chosen, and Ruby Vance begged that it be the latter part of the month as she and Robert were expecting their third child around the fifteenth. That was one reason for it being held July 30, 1947, and the Vance baby, Edmund Neil, was the youngest in attendance at age 17 days.
The gathering was held in the pasture near the Bernard Retzlaff home, with planks on sawhorses for tables and everyone bringing their own or a borrowed chair for sitting. Gus Retzlaff donated a calf and had it barbecued, and other local relatives prepared the other food to go with it.
Eight of the nine living brothers and sisters were present -- only Adline Urbantke of Rowena, could not come. A total of 84 was present, including descendants of two of Bernard's brothers, Adolph and Arnold. Also present were descendants of two sisters of Mary, his wife, the Wiebusch and Jank families of Wales.
A business meeting was held and it was decided to hold a reunion every two years, the 1949 one to be in the same place with local relatives to be in charge, and the date to be July 3rd.
1949. In 1949 102 were in attendance, including 8 visitors. It is interesting to note tht expenses amounted to $51.28 and included the following items: 74 lbs of meat for barbecue, 15 loaves of bread (9 were left over because Lulu Drenna brought 10), 1/2 box lemons, 1 box tea, 10 lbs sugar, and ice. A freewill offering was taken and all expenses were taken care of.
The older members present asked that the reunion be held every year. This was especially urged by Lulu, who was getting on in years, and so it became an annual gathering of any and all who could attend. The date was set for September 4, 1950, in the same place.
1950. Only 68 names are on the list for this year, and there is no clippings from the paper. We do remember that as soon as we had finished lunch -- which we believe was a picnic basket brought by each family -- the rain came and we had to beat a harty retreat to the nearby home. In the business session it was agreed that the date set should not be on a holiday weekend. The third Sunday in July was in July was agreed on and thus set for July 15, 1951. The Waco relatives asked to be hosts for it in Waco.
1951. The reunion was held in Cameron Park, Waco, with over 100 in attendance. This was a pleasant setting and much enjoyed. The Reverend Walter Hornung and the Reverend Nolan Vance gave inspirational talks following the bountiful meal. A brief business meeting was held, a freewill offering was taken for expenses, and the relatives at Brenham asked to host the 1952 reunion.
1952. The Fireman's Park in Brenham was the setting for this fifth reunion on July 20, 1952 with about 100 relatives present. Another Retzlaff branch was presented by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Grauke and daughter, Lillian Levine from Louisiana. Mrs. Grauke's mother was Augusta Retzlaff, sister of Bernard, Adolph, and Arnold. Mrs. Grauke was the oldest present at age 82.
A program and business meeting was held following a basket lunch and included group singing led by Frank Vance, solo numbers by the Reverend Donald Elzey and by Mary, wife of Weldon Retzlaff, a sermonette by the Reveremd Nolan Vance title "Living Life At Its Best," an original reading by Esther Brockenebush, and a talk by Mrs. Emma Retzlaff of Dallas about the family books she was workingn on.
This great lady, known to all of us as Cousin Emma, is owed a great debt of gratitude for the untold amount of effort, time and funds she has put into collecting, arranging, and preserving the history of this family.
Mrs. Robert Vance, Secretary
written September 4, 1995