The Meriwether Society, Inc. hosts an Annual Meeting every year and a Reunion every other year (biennial).
The hospitality, the facilities, the food, the agenda — and, most of all, the fellowship — all combined to make the fifth biennial meeting of THE MERIWETHER SOCIETY an unqualified success. The gathering of the clan in Louisville, KY, June 11-13, was coordinated by Ron and Susanne Van Stockum. Their efforts produced a memorable weekend, enjoyed by almost 100 Meriwethers and their connections.
Attendees began gathering at the Galt House East Hotel in Louisville on Thursday evening, June 11. This gathering allowed early arrivals to greet and visit with old and new acquaintances,first at the registration center in the hotel and later in THE SOCIETY’S hospitality suite.
Friday morning, June 12, the rains came,but so did more Meriwethers, and the weather did little to dampen the spirits of the group. A bus trip to Locust Grove opened the day’s events. The mansion was built in 1790 and became the retirement home in 1809 of George Rogers Clark who established the first permanent settlement Louisville in 1778.
At noon on Friday, the clan attended a buffet luncheon in the Liverpool Room of the Galt House. It was a time of relaxing and getting to know one another better, and getting an update on the planned events.
A Friday afternoon bus trip took the group to the Churchill Downs Museum where photographs, drawings and a multimedia show gives an exciting flavor of Kentucky Derby Day events.
The group then went to The Filson Club, founded in 1884 as a Kentuckiana library and museum. With an overview given by Jim Bentley, Director of The Filson Club, the Meriwethers were free to visit the various rooms of the library and museum. Many took advantage of the few minutes to look through the excellent collection of books and documents hoping to find a “connection” that would fill a blank in their family research. The museum, located in the carriage house of the mansion that is The Filson Club, is small, but well designed and the exhibits cover a wide spectrum of Kentucky history.
Friday evening, the group assembled in the Breathitt Room of Galt House East for dinner. Following the meal, SOCIETY President Dr. Will Meriwether of San Antonio greeted the clan, and SOCIETY chairman Heath Meriwether of Hannibal, MO, spoke briefly about David Meriwether (1800-1893), Virginia born, but long-time Louisville resident.
Also at the Friday dinner, BGEN Ron Van Stockum, USMC (Ret.), President of The Filson CLub and host to THE MERIWETHER SOCIETY in Louisville, gave a presentation on Sue Thornton Meriwether Henning, great granddaughter of Nicholas Meriwether (1749-1828), and her daughter Susanne Meriwether Henning, Marquise de Charette. It was a fascinating tale of a strong willed mother and equally strong willed daughter. Only after dinner did many present realize he was talking about his wife Susanne’s mother and grand-mother.
Ron Van Stockum had a surprise for Heath Meriwether at the Friday dinner and presented him with a Commission as a Kentucky Colonel, signed by Kentucky Governor Martha Lane Collins.
Saturday morning, June 13, was free time for most, but the SOCIETY’S Board of Directors met for breakfast to discuss the present status and future directions of THE SOCIETY and they acted on a number of business matters to come before the Board. Three actions, particularly, are noteworthy:
1. It was agreed that THE MERIWETHER SOCIETY will seek incorporation as an association, probably in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and will establish a constitution and by-laws as part of that action. SOCIETY President Will Meriwether, appointed a committee to act on the matter. The committee includes Bates Block, George Browning, John Browning and John Gilmer. It is anticipated that the committee will report to the new Board of Directors in several months.
2. The Board approved the use of first class mail for MERIWETHER CONNECTIONS, THE SOCIETY’S quarterly newsletter. Editor Joel Meriwether reported on the inadequacies of using third class mail and suggested the additional cost of first class mail would be worthwhile.
3. The Board also approved the design and manufacture of a SOCIETY pin that will be made available for sale to the membership as soon as practicable. Joel Meriwether will take action on the Board’s decision and will report progress in the newsletter.
The Meriwethers and their connections spent a delightful Saturday afternoon cruising on the Ohio River aboard the stern-wheeler Belle of Louisville. Built in 1914,the Belle has gone through several modifications and was converted from a packet boat carrying freight, farm produce and even livestock, to an excursion boat in the 1920s. However, it was not until 1962, when sold at auction to Jefferson County, KY, that the Belle under went an extensive restoration program that produced the lovely boat that it is today. Assisting the group with its understanding of and appreciation for the Belle and the river cruise was C. W. Stoll, former pilot of the Belle and a member of the Belle’s Board of Directors. (It turns out that C. W.’s wife, Lucy, who joined us on the cruise has Meriwether connections.)
Saturday evening found the clan again in the Breathitt Room of the Galt House East for our banquet and meeting. Following a hospitality hour and scrumptious dinner, SOCIETY President Will Meriwether presided at the biennial business meeting and election of officers.
Elected for the 1987-1989 term were: President, George Browning, LittleRock, AR; Vice President, Ron Van Stockum, Shelbyville, KY; Secretary, Meriwether Schmid, Riverside, CT;Treasurer, Jim Meriwether, Front Royal,VA, and Historian, Charlene Benne, Richmond, VA. Heath Meriwether remains as Chairman of the Board and Joel Meriwether continues as Editor.
It was announced that current plans are for THE MERIWETHER SOCIETY to gather for its sixth biennial meeting in Atlanta, GA, in 1989, probably in mid-June, as it did this year.
Guest speaker for the banquet was John Frederick Dorman, Fellow and Past President of The American Society of Genealogists and Founder and Editor of THE VIRGINIA GENEALOGIST. Fred Dorman described the intricacies and pitfalls of family research that make genealogy so fascinating and frustrating at the same time.
On Sunday morning, as members greeted one another in the hotel dining room or in the lobby, it was clear that the fifth biennial meeting of THE MERIWETHER SOCIETY had been a resounding success, as each previous gathering of the clan has been in its on way. Each person left Louisville with a sense of family that will surely be nurtured until the Meriwethers meet again.
Meriwether Connections, Vol. 6, No. 3.