Reunion seeking families of Buena Vista County's pioneers

Thursday, January 24, 2002

A group of Storm Lake history buffs plan to revive one of the city's first celebrations - the Old Settlers Reunion.

The first reunion was held in 1876, just a few years after Storm Lake was founded, and while many of the pioneers who forged the county's first settlements along the Little Sioux Valley were still civic leaders.

In the 1920s, the Buena Vista County Daughters of the American Revolution organized Old Settlers Day again, with help from the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce, inviting survivors from a list of hundreds of names that then-Chamber Secretary W. J. Robinson compiled from the earliest copies of the Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune and Register. The reunion was held every year for a decade, making front page news, and then disbanded. The reason isn't recorded, but perhaps the county was simply running out of living pioneers.

Eighty years later, the same organization, the Buena Vista County chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution wants to start the tradition once again, this time searching for the descendants of the pioneer stock who settled the county in the late 1800s.

"We would like to try to revive the tradition for the descendants of people who forged this county. We think that would be a wonderful

way to bring history to life," said Jane Germann, a member of the DNR. "We would like to set the reunion for this coming June, and we want to hear from as many descendants of the early settlers as we can possibly find, just to see if there is interest in going ahead with this idea."

They hope to make it an annual event again, reaching more and more of the families of the pioneers as time goes on.

The group is busy compiling names of the founding fathers - and mothers, as many women seemed to precede their husbands in homesteading this region. They plan to issue a series of articles to the Pilot-Tribune on the early settlement of the county, leading up to the event, planned for the Elks Lodge in Storm Lake with an exact date yet to be set.

People interested in taking part, those with information on reaching a family of a pioneer, or those who may have photographs from the early reunions of the local settlers, may contact Gerry Dahlen at 732-1461, or e-mail

Rosemary Toohey and Mary Smith are co-chairing the effort for the DAR.

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