2010-08-26 / Crow Wing Currents

“The Gathering” happens Sept. 4, in Motley

A celebration of local history and family stories
By Dawn Timbs
Staples World reporter

Hundreds of people are expected to travel to Motley Labor Day Weekend for “The Gathering,” a fun-filled event inspired by local history and family stories.

Hosted by the Motley Area Historical Society, in conjunction with the Morrison County Historical Society and Morrison County Genealogy Society, the event will be held Saturday, Sept. 4.

Although not technically a part of The Gathering, festivities begin Friday, Sept. 3, with a fish

fry at the United Methodist

Church in Motley, from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.

“We know there will be a lot of people in town for the weekend and we thought that this (fish fry) might be another good way for people to connect with one another,” said MAHS member Florence Berndt of Motley.

Saturday kicks off at 10:30 a.m. with the dedication of the old Motley School bell, which has recently been placed in Veteran’s Park.

Two area groups will provide musical entertainment for “The Gathering” event in Motley September 4, at the Motley Fairgrounds. Pictured above is local band,”The Vagabonds,” which play oldtime standards. Group members include, from left, Neil Trout, Bill Berndt, Junette Blake (sitting, at keyboard) and Bruce Tollefson (Submitted photo). Pictured in lower photo is the sister/brother duo Barb Cline and Daryl Larson. (Staples World photo by Dawn Timbs) “The Gathering” music begins at 11:30 a.m., at the fairgrounds. The ceremony will feature the Motley American Legion Color Guard; remarks by Mayor Konrad Alexander; and speakers Greg Frisk and Al Riggs. Music by Staples Motley High School orchestra members will be provided as well.

At 11:30 a.m., the celebration will continue at the Motley Fairgrounds. Dinner will be available (chicken or ham); and a variety of entertainment will take place throughout the afternoon, including:

o Children’s games and prizes

o Storytelling by Morrison County Historian

o Music by The Vagabonds; and Daryl Larson and Barb Cline

o Refreshments and snacks will also be available during The Gathering event.

A number of exhibits will be on display in the Motley Fairgrounds Pavilion, which opens for viewing at 1 p.m.

At least 30 families will have their family histories on display, said Linda Townsend, MAHS member.

Some of the family names mentioned in the display line-up are: Swecker, Strack, Thomson, Dockendorf, Jones, Roberts, Schupp, Cantleberry, Kobliska, Crawford, Wilson, Marte, Shake, Bjerga, Greig, Riggs, Hull, Converse, Philipp, Goodwater, Berndt, Morey, Sperley, Starke, Strom, Johnson, Blake, Cottingham, Townsend, Topp, Martin.

Many of these families attended genealogy classes hosted by the MCHS and MCGS this past year.

“These classes were the inspiration for many of these displays,” Townsend said.

Fellow MAHS member Mary Sperley said she has enjoyed putting together a display of her family history.

Although not from Morrison County, Sperley said she is very interested in history from this area and was invited by members of the MAHS to join their group a few years ago.

While on an outing with the MAHS, Sperley read them a portion of her Norwegian great-grandmother’s diary. Written in her native language (which Sperley had translated), Maren Sophie Anonby’s diary tells the story of her journey from Norway to America.

“She was a very religious person and I think

they were inspired by her

writing,” Sperley said. “They asked if I’d join their

group and I said, ‘yes.’”

Townsend got involved in genealogy after moving to Motley from the Twin Cities. She has been researching the family of her husband, Greg Townsend, whose roots are in the Motley area. “His great-grandfather moved to Motley in 1883.”

“It’s really addictive; and it’s fun,” Townsend said of the research process.

Townsend and Sperley said they are hoping that as people look at the displays, they might discover local connections they weren’t previously aware of.

“There are so many surnames and that’s when you learn more about these connections,” Sperley said. “I discovered that Esther Morrow of Motley was a relative of mine,” she added.

During the course of The Gathering, the newly released DVD, “Printer’s Ink Saves Motley History,” will be shown.

According to Townsend, the DVD focuses on Motley history, through the writings of three of the city’s past editors: John Drawz, Ernest Haymaker and Rolley Hull. The City of Motley had its own newspaper from approximately 1888 - 1943.

The 30-minute video was put together by Bob Choate, from the Lake Alexander area.

There will also be photos and stories of these three editors on display.

Fellow MAHS member and area historian Ella Topp said they have been in contact with the descendents of at least two of these past editors.

“They have been really excited about this project and have supplied us with some photos that are a part of this video,” Topp said. “This entire event is a real celebration of our history and our families. In the end, I believe it will have been a great thing to have in our area,” she added.

This is the second ‘Gathering’ hosted by the MCHS and MCGS. The first one was held in Belle Prairie in 2007 and was a huge success, Townsend said, adding, “You don’t have to be from Morrison County to attend. There will be a lot of history from all over this area represented. We hope a lot of people stop by.”

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