Friday, September 19, 2008

Bates Reunion at the Giant Fest

I just figured out today while I was driving to Seville that it has been 25 years since I had attended one of the Giant Festivals. I know that the progarm that is being used this year says it is the third annual festival, but twenty five years ago the city of Seville was hosting a parade and festival. That one so long ago included a circus in the elementary school which included acrobats and several circus acts. There was a flea market. There were life sized papier mache dolls of Captain Bates and Anna so you could stand by them.

We had a room in the church set aside for members of the Bates family to get together. We had a float on the parade where we could ride. There were wagons drawn by horses out to the cemetery and to the Bates homeplace where we could compare to an outline of Martin and Anna which was on the barn.

This new festival has no parade. It does have a very varied agenda for tomorrow including music, games, rides out to the cemetery, fireworks, lantern walks to the cemetery and many, many other activities. Tonight was a dinner for the Bates family.

This was a family reunion.

Velvet Eby welcomed the group to the Seville First Baptist Church. Then Rhonda Turner, a Bates family member, welcomed us and led us in a prayer before we ate a delicious dinner. Rhonda is related to the Bates through Martin's brother John Wallis Bates, Jr.

Rhonda Turner welcoming family

Also related to the Bates through John Wallis was Everett Bates, son of Washington Uriah Bates and Mary Higgins. Thier son Columbus Bates was Everett's father. Guess where Everett and his son Keith and wife, Ollie live? Washington Township, Ohio. Right where Lana lives. How funny was that to come to this festival and find a relative who lives 30 miles from you.

Everett Bates

Everett has a picture of Uriah and Mary. He also had a story about how they died. I knew that Uriah had been killed by his cousin, but I had never known the circumstances. I will be telling that story in a future blog. Keith and Ollie, Everett's son and daughter-in-law, exchanged telephone numbers and emails so we will talk and get all the facts straight and then tell that story.

It was a very nice dinner and did feel like family gathering rather than a bunch of strangers.

The Mayor of Seville had his wife make up buttons which said "I'm a Bates". We are guessing they say vote for Sarnowski underneath that saying, but we think it was an awfully clever way to make the family stand out. Seville was a grand host twenty-five years ago and they were a stand out tonight.

Lisa and Nancy, Cleveland cousins who come through the Bentleys and Stallards, came to the dinner with me. We called them outlaws and sidekicks. I was thinking that they might have been related to the Bates through their mother, Shirley, but when I ran the relationship calculator it said there was no blood relationship, that the closest relationship between Martin and Lisa or Nancy was that they were the nieces of the wife of his great nephew (niece of Lettie Bentley and Dr. Can Bentley who was indeed the great nephew of Martin Van Buren Bates.) They enjoyed the dinner, too, and took our group picture.

Oh, and remember how we heard that Martin and Anna had their own special pew at the church? Well we asked about that and one person thought that it had been taken away or broken up. Another told us that the first pew in one row had been cut down to match the size of the other pews. It is a different color and doesn't quite match the others. I choose to believe that one is true. It was a very nice church and one which showed us great hospitatlity.


  1. My name is Elwood Bates.  I am the nephew of Everett Bates who is a brother to my father, Curtis Bates who was the oldest son of Columbus Bates, my grandfther.  I am so impressed with the great effort put forth by the wonderful people of Seville,Ohio in hosting this event. I live in Chilliwack,British Columbia in Canada 150 miles north of Seatle.  Thank you so much.

  2. Hi, to all my kin. my name is marcus harbin.Elwood bates is my uncle,my mother mary bates harbin, grandfather curtis bates.i just love finding out info on our past. i live in southern indiana,in a town called corydon.thanks i love this.