Research and Publications Committee
MONOGRAPH NO. 2
A HISTORY OF THE ANNUAL REUNIONS
Group photo of the great 1883 reunion
Group photo of the 2011 reunion.
I INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
II THE FIRST
IV DOCUMENTS FROM FILES OF THE ASSOCIATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
A. Steps that led to organization of DICKINSON ASSOCIATION
B. Further development of the formal organization
V THE NUMBERING OF ANNUAL MEETINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
It is probably safe to say that the Dickinson Family Association has been built on family reunions. It was a family gathering that initiated our organization although the formal structure of the association took several years to materialize. Through the years, the DFA has been propagated by nearly annual family reunions.
The nature of the gatherings has evolved, and gradually other important areas of concern were added to the duties of the association, such as recording of genealogy and awarding of scholarships. Many significant milestones, however, were associated with annual reunions. Therefore, the history of DFA reunions is, in a sense, the history of the DFA.
This monograph is the result of a search for
information on all the reunions, from that first family gathering in 1859 up
to the most recent one, 152 years later.
It starts with a description of the first reunion, and then lists all
the reunions, grouping them by the President elected at each. Basic information, where available, is
given in the list in section
As a personal note, I have been aware of the existence of this organization for several decades. However, I first saw some physical evidence of the DFA in the 1990s, and only became actively involved in 2002. I was honored to be elected president in 2005 and started this project fairly soon after that. The establishment of the Research and Publications Committee at the 2008 annual meeting, and the publication of its first monograph for the 2009 meeting spurred me to accelerate the pace of my research. It has been an enlightening and exciting project and has heightened my appreciation of the importance of family history.
II. THE FIRST
meeting that is generally agreed to represent the beginning, though informal,
of the Dickinson Family Association, was held on
A record compiled later states that it was “the first
Dickinson Reunion and was followed by yearly reunions. Then they organized…
1859, August 17 “A Surprise Party” was held for Abner
and Abigail Dickinson at their home in
in all 37 persons.
1883, August 8 “The Great
from around the country, gathered at College Hall on the
College campus for a long and illustrious program, with many notable
president for the reunion was M. F. Dickinson of
secretary and treasurer was Franke W. Dickinson of
recording secretary was Edward B. Dickinson of
were 32 vice presidents.
Charles L. Brown
1908, August 27 Home of Timothy Dickinson,
was elected the first president.
Albert W. Post
1909, August 25 Home of Mr. Albert W. Post,
Timothy D. Dickinson
1910, August 26
By-Laws proposed and voted on.
Elmer N. Dickinson
1912, August 24
1914, August 8 Hill Top Farm, Mr. Charles L.
1915, August 14 Elizabeth Park,
1916, August 19 Elizabeth Park,
Attendance small due to contagion of paralysis.
1917, August 14, Elizabeth Park,
Some met although no reunion was called due to Infantile Paralysis.
1919, August 14 Home of Mr. and Mrs. Isaac M. Quin,
1920, August 12 Elizabeth Park,
Arthur W. Dickinson
1921, August 13 Elizabeth Park,
1922 – 1925 No Reunions held.
Charles J. Strickland
1926, August 28 “Mayview”,
Mrs. Etta Goff Rodgers,
1927, August 27 “Mayview”,
Mrs. Etta Goff Rodgers,
1928, August 25 Home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles J.
1929, August 31 Elizabeth Park,
1930, August 30 Elizabeth Park,
1931, August 29 Elizabeth Park,
First time that the “Abner” and “Seth” branches of the family united for a reunion. (Seth was Abner’s brother and also his brother-in-law.) 30 were in attendance. This was the first meeting for which the notes are on record; they contain the first recorded mention of succotash at a reunion. One of the “Seth” branch, Addie Maria Dickinson was elected genealogist at this meeting. Her work would result in the first published genealogy of the Dickinson Family, in 1955. The oldest attendee, Albert Post, 82, had attended the original reunion at the age of 10.
1932, August 27 Elizabeth Park,
65 attended. It was announced that Albert Post had died in January.
1933, August 26 Elizabeth Park,
First time roll call by
descendants of children of Nathaniel was held. Addie Dickinson gave an account of the
dedication of the
Merton F. Dickinson
1934, August 18 Elizabeth Park,
Two who attended original reunion were present: Timothy Dickinson, 90, and Emma Brown.
1935, August 24 Elizabeth Park,
1936, August 29 Elizabeth Park,
Addie Dickinson gave a short history of Dickinson Reunions.
1937, August 28 Elizabeth Park,
It was decided to call the
organization The Dickinson Family Association of America. It was announced that the
1938, August 27 Elizabeth Park,
Ruth Bishop reported on the coat
of arms. She had learned that no
1939, August 26 Elizabeth Park,
A basket lunch was enjoyed as at all reunions from 1931 – present. A tribute was given to Rev. Anton Temple Gesner, author of the book: Dickinson Families of Milton and Litchfield Counties.
1940, August 31 Elizabeth Park,
Edward Ellis, 86, told about some early reunions. He was 4 years old at the original 1859 surprise party.
1941, August 23 Elizabeth Park,
1942 – 1945 No Reunions held due to war time.
The Duck Pond House, where
reunions had been held, was used by the American Red Cross as the blood bank
center. Letters were sent to all
1946, August 24 Elizabeth Park,
Addie Dickinson requested help putting her genealogy together. Discussion of Edward Dickinson’s book, “A New England Epic.”
1947, August 23 Elizabeth Park,
Speakers, Louise Dickinson Rich, author of “We Took to the Woods” and Edward Dickinson (see 1946).
1948, August 21 Home of Mr. and Mrs. Merton F.
1949, August 27 Home of Mr. and Mrs. Merton F.
1950, August 26 Home of Mr. and Mrs. Merton F.
Entertainment: An Antique Fashion Show, directed by Mrs. Merton
1951 through 1952 No reunion held due to illness of President, Merton F. Dickinson
1953, August 29 Home of Mr. and Mrs. Merton F.
1954, August 28 First Congregational Church,
“Emily Dickinson Day”
Ralph R. Mason, Sr.
1955, August 27 S. White
Genealogy of Nathaniel Dickinson by Addie Dickinson is completed and available.
1956, August 26 First Congregational Church,
1957, August 24 Congregational Church,
Announcement that the Prentiss
(Dickinson) House had opened at the museum at
1958, August 23 Hatfield Congregational Church,
Frank G. Reynolds
1959, August 29 Congregational Church,
1960, August 27 Wyben
Program by Mr. & Mrs. Charles Ross: Illustrated lecture on their trip to
Edward L. Dickinson
1961, July 29 First Congregational Church,
1962, July 28 Congregational Church,
Eleanor V. Smith
1963, July 27 Congregational Church, Old
1964, July 25 Hatfield Congregational Church,
Speaker: Alfred Mueller, slide show entitled “The Valley As I See It”
Philip B. Dickinson
1965, July 31 First Congregational Church,
Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Bruns, “Motor trip through the
1966, July 30 Public Library,
Speaker: Ralph Hiers, curator of Historical Room: “History of the Noble and Cooley Drum Factory”
Program: A movie, “African Holiday” by Ethel Dickinson Cross
Walter C. Dickinson
Speaker: Richard Tracey, “Colorful Facts in Westhampton History”
“An Afternoon with Emily Dickinson”
Speaker: Polly Longsworth, “Emily Dickinson, Her Letter to the World”
1970 100th Congregational Church,
Hatfield Tercentenary Week
Paper by Mary Cutter:
Whately Tercentenary Week
Mrs. Raymond Dickinson read her paper on the Granby Dickinsons.
Speaker: Rev. Samuel Young: “History of
Mrs. Harry Dickinson
Speaker: Mrs. Doheny Sessions, curator of Porter Phelps Huntington House: “History and Present-day Activities”
1974 First Congregational
Raymond S. Dickinson
“A Brief History of the
Music: Helen Scott, violin with E. Porter Dickinson, piano.
Speaker: Dr. Marjorie Kaufmann, “Emily Dickinson and
Music: Nancy MacGreggor & son, Douglas, recorder duets
Speaker: Thomas Hennessy, curator of the Lock Museum of America, Terryville.
Philip B. Dickinson
Music: Amherst Senior Citizens Choral Group
Speaker: Harold Cary, “History of the
1979 Federated Church,
Music: presented by the Church Choir
Speaker: Helena Duris & Mae Dickinson, “Early Granville History”
1980 110th Congregational Church,
Speaker: Mrs. Robert Berkey, slide show – “
Speaker: Elsie Scott, “
President 1982- 1991
Special guests: Belles of Amherst – Barber Shop
Main Speaker: Ruth Masso, “
Theme speaker: Margaret
Bock, genealogist – “100th Anniversary of 1883
Main Speaker: Ruth Jones, Slides on Emily Dickinson and Amherst
Anniversary of Founding of the
Announcement: Bequest of $10,000 by Arlene Crangle Rosner, initiates scholarship fund.
Theme speaker: Bob Magovern, “Religious aspects of the move to Hadley”
Main Speaker: Douglas Alves, “Slides and History of Wethersfield (350th anniversary)
1985 Prospect Hall,
Speaker: Jeff Babar, “
Speakers: Bob Magovern, etc.: “Hatfield in the 17th Century”
Speaker: Richard Garvey, “History of
Re-enactor: Connie Clark as Emily Dickinson
Speaker: Daniel Lombardo, “
1990 120th Congregational Church,
Speaker: Richard Garvey, “
President 1991 – 1997
Speaker: Donald Friary, “Dickinsons
Speaker: Bill Schoeffler, “Researching Family Roots”
Speaker: Gregory Farmer, “The Evergreens and Austin Dickinson”
Re-enactor: Dennis Picard as Nathaniel Dickinson
Speaker: Dr. Georgia Nugent, “Rev. Jonathan Dickinson”
Speaker: Daria D’Arienzo, “Samuel Fowler Dickinson”
Main Speaker: June Cook, “Women in Nathaniel Dickinson’s Day”
President 1998 – 2001
Main Speaker: Bob Magovern, “Pilgrims”
Main Speaker: Cindy Dickinson, “The Dickinson Home and Cemetery”
2000 130th Yankee Pedlar,
Main Speaker: Polly Longsworth, “The Evergreens”
Acting President, 2001 – 2002
Main Speaker: Robert Aborn, “Broom Making”
President, 2002 – 2005
Main Speaker: Joe Carvalho, “Family Association”
Re-enactor: Belinda West as Emily Dickinson
Special Program: Cindy Dickinson, Jane Wald and staff, “Customs and Events at Dickinson Family Homes in the 19th Century”
Speaker: Donald Friary, “Dickinsons of
Alan C. Dickinson
Reenactor: Dennis Picard as Nathaniel Dickinson
Main Speaker: Dr. Marla Miller, “Rebecca Dickinson”
Special Presentation: Doris Dickinson, “Memoirs of Harvey Dickinson”
Main Speaker: Clif Read, “History of the Quabbin”
Special Presentation: Ken Haar, “The
Main Speaker: Bob Brown,
Anniversary of the Great
Main Speaker: Polly Longsworth, “Those Old Grounds of Memory”
Anniversary of the founding of the
[Main Speaker: Melissa Josefiak, “From Adventurers to Establishment: Early
Andrew W. Dickinson
2010 140th Willits-
Special Presentation: Melissa Josefiak, “From Adventurers to Establishment:
Main Speaker: Martha Ackmann, “Emily Dickinson and Mary Lyon:
Special Presentation: “The
Main Speaker: Jane Wald, “The News, like Squirrels, ran”
IV. DOCUMENTS FROM FILES OF THE ASSOCIATION
A. Steps that led to organization
Curtis Dickinson at their home
by their children, grand-children and great-grandchildren,
in all 37 persons. Each year thereafter the family got
together. It wasn’t until 1908 that there is record of
vote being taken to form a permanent organization and the
following are excerpts from the Secretary’s Record Book.
annual reunion of the
tion be made and the following officers were elected and committees appointed.
President Charles L. Brown of
Secretary D. W. Brown of
Treasurer Albert W. Post of
Mr. Northend moved that a committee of three (of the
by the President to draft By-laws, etc. for the organization. The following were
Mr. Post moved that a vote of thanks be tendered to Timothy Dickinson and family
for the use of their home and grounds for this reunion, which was given heartily.
Mrs. Brown moved that a collection be taken for the expenses of today, and for
future use, which was VOTED.
A committee of one, Serilla Dickinson was appointed to prepare a badge.
Committee of arrangements, Julia Ellis, Julius Strickland and Almeria Dickinson.
A letter from Mrs. Serilla Ellis was read, she being the only surviving member of
Mr. John Northend gave an entertaining reading.
Sixty-five persons present.
D. W. Brown, Secretary
The Fiftieth Annual Reunion of
second,) was held at the home of Mr. Albert Post of
twelve present who had attended the first of the
Annette I. McGee, Secretary
B. Further development of the formal organization.
From time to time there is
mention of a “Dickinson Coat of Arms” in connection with a DFA reunion. The most famous image is that which appears
in the 2nd edition of our genealogy. It also appears in the 1883
In the November 2004 issue of the DFA Newsletter, Margaret Bock, then the genealogist, shed some light on the legitimacy of a coat of arms for the DFA. She stated that “there is no such thing as a coat of arms for a family name.” Coats of arms may be awarded to an individual but should not be construed to belong to all who bear the same surname. Nevertheless, in the past it has been a common practice for family associations to display coats of arms in their genealogical publications. More recently published genealogies rarely do this.
of arms with the hinds’ heads was evidently a
A communication from Lynn Betlock of the New England Historical Genealogical Society states that the use of a coat of arms as in the 1993 DFA Genealogy is not improper as long as its source is clearly stated and perhaps a description is given in heraldic terms. She said that this seal “is an authentic decorative and historic device, no more and no less.”2
In conclusion, we can continue to enjoy displaying this coat of arms, but we must understand that it is “a Dickinson Coat of Arms,” and not “the Dickinson Coat of Arms.”
Light on Some
vol. 1, no. 3, November 2004; E-mails from Margaret Bock, May, 2010.
2E-mail from Lynn Betlock,
V. THE NUMBERING OF ANNUAL MEETINGS
Although a formal organization as we now know it was not present initially and actually took many years to develop, the original “surprise party” for Abner and Abigail Dickinson in 1859 has long been considered the first meeting. A subsequent record stated that it was “the first Dickinson Reunion and was followed by yearly reunions”.
noted in section
Serious errors in numbering occurred in 1931. That year’s reunion was referred to in one place as the 61st, later as the 65th, and in the minutes, the 67th. This was a source of confusion for decades.
From 1908 on, the reunions/meetings occurred annually except for 13 years in which there was supposedly no meeting. Those years were: 1913, 1917, 1918, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1951 and 1952. To complicate matters further, even though no formal meeting was called for 1917, some records in our archives report that a few people did gather. The prevalence of “infantile paralysis” (poliomyelitis) seriously affected attendance in both 1916 and 1917.
Discrepancies in numbering continued until the mid-1990s when a convention was adopted which has been followed to the present time. It is based on the following statements:
1. The “surprise party” is taken as the first reunion.
2. It is assumed that there were reunions held each year thereafter except for 12 of the 13 years
listed above as “no-meeting” years. The small 1917 gathering is considered a reunion.
3. All years in which there was a gathering are counted, regardless of whether it included
Using this convention, the 2011 reunion was the 141st. It is also now common to refer to the whole gathering, usually two days, as the (numbered) “Reunion” and the business meeting which takes place at the reunion as the (same numbered) “Annual Meeting.” This tacitly acknowledges that those early reunions which did not have formal business meetings may still be regarded as meetings.
age of electronic communications has made it possible for
Alan C. Dickinson, historian
VI. SOURCES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Andrew Dickinson – material from the files stored at the Hatfield Library.
John Stene – information on reunions from 1980 through 2005.
Nancy Payne – secretary’s notes from 1997-2006.
The book: Reunion of the Dickinson Family, 1883, published in 1884.
Margaret Bock – information on the coat of arms issue and general help.
Robert Magovern – historian’s archives collected from many sources.
DFA Board elected at the 2008 Reunion, Amherst College, MA
125th Anniversary of the Great 1883 Reunion
Left to right: Robert Magovern, Historian; Dale Williams, Hospitality Chair and Newsletter Editor;
Roger and Mary Zimmerman, Chaplains; Alan Dickinson, President and Webmaster;
Karen Sims, Secretary; Virginia Allis, Treasurer; Adrienne Weible, Genealogist;
Jean Blackmer, Scholarship Chair; Betsy Dickinson, Registrar; Andrew Dickinson,
Vice President and Publications Treasurer; Beth Landolina, Membership Clerk;
Richard Mallalieu, Member at Large; Nancy and Robert Payne, Members at Large;
Peggy Mallalieu, Member at Large
2009 Reunion, Wethersfield, CT
President Alan Dickinson accepts a copy of Monograph No. 1
from author, Elizabeth Haydon Keithcart
Title: DICKINSON TRIBUTARIES IN THE
WATERSHED OF MUSIC EDUCATION:
MARTHA DICKINSON BOND (1856-1936) AND
CLARENCE DICKINSON (1873-1969)