2015 Reunion News


Emily Dickinson Museum
Amherst, MA
June 20

The 145th Family Reunion of the Dickinson Family Association was in Amherst, Massachusetts where we last gathered in 2011. 38 people attended the Friday evening dinner at the Lord Jeffrey Inn on the Amherst town common. It was a busy, festive evening with the many tents for the “Taste of Amherst” set up on the common itself, a wedding in the rear garden of the Lord Jeff, a board of governor’s annual meeting for the Emily Dickinson Museum in the banquet room next to us. With all this activity the kitchen was stretched and service was slow, but the DFA members used the time to visit and chat with their cousin-friends new and old.

Saturday’s activities were at the Emily Dickinson Museum and started earlier than usual, with a 90-minute tour of both houses at the museum offered to our members at 9AM. At 10AM an architecture-themed tour took a large group of cousins around the exterior of both houses. At 9:15 and 10:15 small groups were taken for a visit to the nearly completed restoration of Emily’s bedroom, a major project that started in the summer of 2013.

Meanwhile cousins from far and near registered at the small tent behind the Dickinson homestead and signed in on the large poster under the son(s) of Nathaniel from which they were descended. Many browsed at the exhibit table where there were also publications and t-shirts for sale. The large tent on the museum lawn had juice, coffee, fruit and pastries for the early comers.

At 11AM, as the tours were winding down and the tent was filling up, our attention was drawn to the large screen at the front of the tent and our cousin from Maryland, Patricia Vitale, gave us a power point presentation on one of her illustrious ancestors, Elijah Dickinson.

When Patricia finished, and the servers were resetting the food table for lunch we had the traditional “counting of the cousins.” This year’s count yielded few surprises:

  • John 19
  • Joseph 22
  • Thomas 0
  • Samuel 13
  • Obadiah 10
  • Nathaniel, Jr 20
  • Nehemiah 27
  • Hezekiah 0
  • Hannah 0

After that we presented gifts to three people. The youngest attendee was Cory Tanner, 5, from Orange, MA. The oldest was Dave Chipman from South Dartmouth, MA. And the farthest travelled was Francy Dickinson from Lakewood, WA, a new member attending her first reunion! Congratulations to all three.

Then we moved out from the tent to the side of the homestead for our group photo. That and a few other pictures from the reunion can soon be viewed on our 2015 Scrapbook page.

Roger Zimmerman, one of our co-chaplains, gave the invocation and then lunch was served. Amherst College catering had already secured a fine reputation with our 2008 and 2011 reunions, but many agreed they outdid themselves this year. It was a wonderful meal including honey lavender chicken, their famous succotash and fresh strawberry shortcake, all elegantly presented.

President Andrew Dickinson opened the 145th annual meeting at 1:15PM we received and accepted reports from treasurer, membership clerk, historian and webmaster. Our genealogist, Becky Passa, told us that her report would be forthcoming soon and our secretary was unable to attend.

Scholarship committee member Alan Dickinson gave the report for that committee. They had once again received outstanding applications and had selected as this year’s recipient Elizabeth Morris, of Swanzey New Hampshire. Elizabeth was present and came to the podium to tell us about herself. She plans to attend the University of Vermont and to major in physical therapy. Her love of horses has led her to the study of hippotherapy which she hopes to use to help her patients.

Nominations chair Dale Williams then informed the assembled cousins that there were several vacant positions this year which we will be trying to fill as soon as possible. They include president, vice president, secretary and publications treasurer. The other officers both in the elected and appointed categories remained the same as last year and were accepted by unanimous vote. Dale also thanked Andrew Dickinson for his five years of service to the DFA as president.

After a short break we reassembled and were greeted by Jane Wald, executive director of the Emily Dickinson Museum. She welcomed us to the museum and expressed her pleasure in the continuing relationship between the museum and our association. Then she introduced our main speaker of the day, Eric Johnson, director of Archeological Services at the University of Massachusetts.

Eric gave a very interesting and informative illustrated presentation, focusing on the recent work of a team of students enrolled in a “Field School” sponsored by his department. They spent 4 weeks in a “dig” at the museum trying to learn about the old conservatory once located in a front corner of the homestead, as well as the barn in back of the house, the orchard in the eastern corner of the property and the wooded area in the back. Eric told us how they worked to achieve their goals and gave us an indication of some of their findings. The museum hopes to rebuild the conservatory, barn and orchard but because this is a historic property the state historical commission requires that archeological work be done first to assure that anything of historic value is uncovered and not destroyed.

Eric answered several questions from those present and all agreed that his talk was very interesting, appropriate for the day and location, and quite different from any others we have had in the recent past.

The reunion ended with the traditional singing of “God Bless America” and everyone was on their way home before a gentle rain began. Those who attended either or both the Friday and Saturday events totaled 85.

Plans are underway for next year’s reunion but have not developed to the point where any announcements can yet be made. As soon as more is known, it will be posted on the web.


ALLIS, VirginiaWhately, MA1
BUSSA, JenniferGlastonbury, CT1
BUTLER, Lisa, Bob, Claire, John, AshleyNoanck, CT5
BYRON, Norman & MaryAnnWest Wardsboro, VT2
COSTELLO, Nancy DNorwalk, CT2
DAVIS, Ingrid S.Woodbury, CT1
DICKINSON, Alan & BetsyWilbraham, MA2
DICKINSON, Andrew, AnwynCummington, MA2
DICKINSON, FrancyLakewood, WA1
DICKINSON, Jean & Personal Care Asst.Holyoke, MA2
DICKINSON, Jeffrey & RobinManchester, CT2
DICKINSON, John,  Hazel Dickinson WightmanTequesta, FLHarrisburg, PA2
DICKINSON, Kenneth & Maria,  Robert & SharonHudson, NHStoneham, MA4
DICKINSON, RobertWeymouth, MA1
DICKINSON, Robert & LindaSpringfield, MA2
DICKINSON, ValerieStamford, VT1
DICKINSON, WendyNorth Adams, MA1
FOLWEILER, Helen & Dave ChipmanSouth Dartmouth, MA2
GALE-TANNER, Jessica & Ben Tanner, CoryOrange, MA3
GAUSTAD, GailNorthampton, MA1
GODING, Joanne, Mary Philip & ChenieceHadley, MA4
HEADBERG, ElnaMarlboro, MA1
HEINZ, AnnBenbrook, TX1
KARNIK, Gayle & ArvinLongmeadow, MA2
KILBRIDE, Elizabeth & MarcHouston, TX2
KRIBBLE, MargaretBrighton, MA1
MAGOVERN, RobertAgawam, MA1
MALLALIEU, Richard & PeggyEast Longmeadow, MA2
McAULIFFE, MargaretKennebunk, ME1
MEANEY, SandraGuilford, CT1
MERCHANT, Leonard & MadelineScituate, MA2
NASS, Karen, Elizabeth Morris, Diana FioreySwanzey, NH3
PASSA, Rebecca & ThomasEasthampton, MA2
PATTERSON, BarbaraStamford, CT1
PAYNE, Nancy & RobertWellesley, MA2
RICKER, LoisHuntington, CT1
RIGGIO, Louise & TomOld Saybrook, CT2
RUGGIERO, Patricia & JosephDepew, NY2
SCHULTZ, Kathleen & Dennis, Arthur ThompsonDeep River, CT3
SOKOP, Janis WilliamsHolyoke, MA1
VITALE, Patricia & Eli EisenbergGermantown, MD2
WALSH, Janet S., Bob BrownMillis, MA2
WARNER, Russell & ElaineWilliamsburg, MA2
WELLS, LanaColorado Springs, CO1
WILLIAMS, Dale & SuzanneNorthborough, MA2
ZIMMERMAN, Mary & Roger, MeghanEast Otis, MA3