The Meriwether Society, Inc. hosts an Annual Meeting every year and a Reunion every other year (biennial).
More than 100 members and friends of THE MERIWETHER SOCIETY, from 17 states and the Philippines, gathered in Montgomery, AL, on the second full weekend of May for the third biennial meeting of THE SOCIETY.
The meeting was headquartered at the Sheraton Riverfront Station Hotel, a charming building near the Alabama River, converted from a freight depot of the Western Railway. Members of THE SOCIETY began gathering on Friday, May 13, and in the afternoon participated in a joyous “Welcome” Reception. The three-hour party provided an opportunity for old friendships to be renewed and new ones to be made — many discovering new Meriwether connections among those attending.
On Saturday morning, May 14, the attendees gathered in the lobby of the Hotel and divided into two groups to visit selected historical sites of the city. One group went to the State Capitol,the First White House of the Confederacy, and the State History and Archives Building. The second group went to North Hull Street, a restored area, where Montgomery’s past is preserved in a number of homes, shops and offices of an earlier era.
At noon on Saturday, the two groups rejoined at the Union Station railway depot which has been magnificently restored and presently houses a fine restaurant and bank. (Other shops and businesses are planned for the depot.) Following lunch in the station restaurant, the two groups resumed the tour, switching the sites visited.
Saturday evening, 113 persons gathered in the Track II banquet rooms of the Sheraton Hotel for THE SOCIETY business meeting, preceded by a delicious buffet. The dinner menu included several salads, fruits and vegetables, and entrees of roast round of beef, barbecued lamb, and chicken breasts smothered in mushroom gravy. Apple cobbler topped off the meal.
Dr. Harold Malone, Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary, Baguio City, Philippines, and husband of SOCIETY member Bessie Meriwether Malone, offered an invocation and blessing at the beginning of dinner.
Mrs. Charlene Benne of Richmond, VA, 1981-83 President of THE MERIWETHER SOCIETY, presided at the meeting. Business conducted included the reading and acceptance of the minutes of the 1981 meeting in Williamsburg, VA, and a Treasurer’s report. Mrs. Benne recognized Mrs. Mary Ellen Reid, Vice Presi- dent, and Mrs. Ann Anderson, Secretary-Treasurer, both of Montgomery, and thanked them for their planning and coordination of the successful weekend gathering of THE SOCIETY. Her remarks were concurred in by loud and long applause from those attending the dinner meeting. Assisting in arrangements for the weekend were: Mary Turner, Rebecca Copeland, Hilda Gilbert, Nancy Eagerton and Mrs. Hal C. Lamar.
Brief remarks were made by Joel Meriwether, Editor of MERIWETHER CONNECTIONS, who thanked the members for their support and encouraged continued contributions to the newsletter. Heath Meriwether, Chairman of the Board of THE SOCIETY, also briefly addressed the audience.
John Browning of Westfield, NJ, headed a nominating committee for officers of THE SOCIETY, and Mrs. Benne presented the committee’s report. Nominated and elected unanimously for 1983-85 were: President, Mrs. Elise Franklin, Greensboro, NC; Vice President, Mrs. Nancy Rountree, Fairfax, VA; and Secretary-Treasurer, Mrs. Rachel Goode, Richmond , VA.
The principal speaker for the evening, SOCIETY member Dr. Calvin Reid of Dothan, AL, presented his remarks in a unique format. Dr. Reid addressed the attentive audience by describing what he thought might be the feelings of Nicholas Meriwether II about the present state of our country if Nicholas were to “visit” us today. Dr. Reid then concluded his presentation by reading Nicholas Meriwether’s “rewritten last will and testament,” addressed to his present-day descendants. His presentation was received with a resounding ovation and with the gratitude of his listeners.
The Saturday evening dinner meeting adjourned following the taking of a group photograph. Many folks lingered, however, breaking into small groups to continue discussions and reminiscences. Again, many found new connections and relationships among those in attendance.
On Sunday morning, May 15, a few of those attending the weekend gathering had to begin their journey home. Most, however, again gathered in the Hotel lobby and walked to the nearby boat landing where they boarded the riverboat “The General Richard Montgomery” for a cruise on the Alabama River and an enjoyable catered brunch. “The General Richard Montgomery” is a sternwheeler ‘steamboat’ and the leisurely cruise on the river was the capstone to a lovely, memory-filled weekend.
On Sunday afternoon, the few remaining attendees visited the Nicholas Lewis Meriwether cemetery in southeast Montgomery County. (Members of THE SOCIETY are indebted to members Nancy and Fred Eagerton for the many hours spent clearing the cemetery grounds and cleaning the tombstones.)
The cemetery visit ended the third biennial gathering of THE MERIWETHER SOCIETY. There is no doubt, however, that all who attended returned to their homes with fond memories of good fellowship, good hospitality, good food, and with plans already in the making to attend the fourth meeting, in 1985, probably in the Washington/Virginia area.
Meriwether Connections, Vol. 2, No. 3.