The granddaddy of Alabama family reunions

Posted by | August 22, 2016

There are a few things that can be said about Kennamer Cove that probably cannot be said truthfully about any other community in the state.

There have been only two murders in the Cove, which occurred ninety years ago. I am sure there has never been a divorce case in court in the whole 130 years since Hans Kennamer, with a large family of children, settled among the Indians. Hans Kennamer and some of the five generations of his descendants are buried in Pisgah Cemetery, which is in sight of the D.A.R. school located on the brow of Gunter’s Mountain.

John R. Kennamer (1873-1952)
From The Progressive Age, August 22, 1929

Granddaddy of reunions in state
by Boone Aiken
The Birmingham News, page 13
Tuesday, Sept. 5,1972

AUBURN There are family reunions and more family reunions in Alabama, particularly around this time of the year, but how many can claim their very own cove, complete with a pavilion in case of rain or a too enthusiastic sun?

Furthermore how many have their very own museum? Or a commercial picture postcard with their name and a picture of the ancestral home site?

No one knows exactly how many Kennamers there are today but at last count in 1942 there were 2,400 families.

John R. Kennamer, Sr.John R. Kennamer, Sr. (1873-1952) organized the first Kennamer family reunion.

On Aug. 21, Kennamers, from as far away as Oklahoma and “cousins by the dozens” gathered again at the Pisgah Church in Kennamer’s Cove in Marshall County for the 44th annual reunion.

Earl Kennamer, Auburn University extension wildlife specialist, recalls when the first reunion was held he rode in style in the rumble seat of the family car from Selma to Kennamer’s Cove. He also reports the huge picnic basket of food beside him arrived intact at the Aug. 15, 1929 affair, but his friends rather doubt this astounding bit of information.

At that time more Kennamers arrived by buggy and wagon than by automobile, he said.

Always there has been a good crowd on hand whether the reunion was held on Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. One of the smallest occurred in 1942 when only 350 persons attended due to war conditions, lack of transportation and Kennamers in the armed services.

The Kennamer clan proudly announces its annual reunion is held “rain or shine, war or peace, depression or inflation, hot or cold, Republican or Democrat, pollution or smog, mini or maxi, hair or bald.”

They report their membership is made up of “farmers, preachers, teachers, merchants, students, retirees, secretaries, lawyers, housewives, beauticians, radio announcers, contractors, doctors, salesmen, bankers, druggists, and what-have-you.”

A famous family member is Dr. Rexford Kennamer Hollywood, physician to Elizabeth Taylor and Gary Cooper.

In 1965 a concrete block structure, 10’x30′ was built to house family mementoes. Included are pictures of pioneer families, old family Bibles, family records, a 150-year-old quilt, a 50-year-old baby dress and arrow heads.

Although no one knows just how many persons actually showed up Sunday at the pavilion in Kennamer Cove Earl Kennamer, vice president of the Kennamer Family, Inc. said estimates between 500-1,000.

All with well-filled picnic baskets, of course.

Kennamer Cove, ALModern day view of Kennamer Cove.

Minutes from the 1st Kennamer Family Reunion

On August 15th, 1929, six miles south of Woodville, at Pisgah Church, in Kennamer Cove, was held the first Kennamer Family Reunion.

By actual count five hundred Kennamers and their kinfolks assembled. Many members of this large family from a distance were present to enjoy the day, a day long to be remembered by all present.

The morning was given over to meeting and greeting each other in social conversation.

At the noon hour was taken in enjoying an old time picnic dinner. There was enough food to feed a crowd three times as large. It is generally agreed that the day of miracles has passed, but when I saw some of the baskets of food taken up, after every one had eaten, I involuntarily thought of the Savior feeding the five thousand, and the baskets remaining.

In the afternoon many short speeches were made to the great delight of all. First on the program, was our genial editor, Hon. J. S. Benson, who kept the audience in laughter by his funny and appropriate stories. He was followed by Federal Judge Franklin Elmore Kennamer, of Tulsa, Okla., who made the principal speech of the day. He made a strong plea for the sanctity of the home, reverence to God, and obedience to Constitutional Government. Next Mr. D. P. Woodall, postmaster at Hillsboro, Ala., made an interesting speech. Dr. L. G. Kennamer, of Richmond, Ky., made a short and very appropriate speech.

Mr. P. H. Woodall, of Columbus City made a stirring appeal to the young folks to live for God and the Church. He was followed by Hon. T. J. Kennamer, U. S. Marshall of Birmingham, Ala., and in a happy speech. The last speaker on the program was Hon. Chas. B. Kennamer, District Attorney of Guntersville, Ala. It is needless to say that he made a good one. He said the majority of persons convicted by the courts are young educated men, and stressed the great need or moral training in the schools. That the colleges were not now giving this training as they should.

All speakers urged the parents to train their children in matters right or wrong and to learn obedience to parents and reverence to God.

The occasion was such a success that it was unanimously voted to hold another reunion next year.


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