Thursday, October 9, 2014

Returning to Our Roots: Reflections on the NC Troutman Reunion

Just a quick note about last week's blog. Inexcusably, I omitted one of my great-grandfather's brothers. He had six brothers, not five. I have corrected the error and updated the blog post.

My great-grandfather, Daniel A. Troutman, returned to North Carolina for only a few short years after the Civil War. When he left, maybe in 1868, driving horses to Virginia for trade, he surely intended to return, but marriage to a Virginia girl on 3 February 1869 changed his life’s course. 
When he took his bride to meet his family, she didn’t like North Carolina, so sweet man that he was, he took her back to the rolling valley of Virginia that she loved. There they lived their lives, there they raised their children, and there they are buried.  
Daniel A. left behind a close-knit family in North Carolina, many of whose descendants still live there today. Whether he ever returned to North Carolina to visit his family, I do not know, but his leaving home started a trend on his branch, some of whom ultimately ended up in Nebraska.
In 1904, the North Carolina Troutmans decided to celebrate the birthday of one of its esteemed elders, Henry Martin Troutman, son of Henry and Margaret Elizabeth Leonard Troutman, by hosting a reunion. The birthday boy was Daniel A.’s brother. At that time, D. A. and his family were still living in Virginia, not far away “as the crow flies,” but many miles over treacherous, unpaved mountain roads in reality. Whether they went to the birthday party/reunion, I do not know, but that reunion has continued without interruption every year since then. This year on October 11, the family marks the 110th year.
In August 1938, Daniel A.’s son James Henry "Uncle Jim" Troutman and his grandson Verne Troutman (my father), went to the North Carolina reunion. To my knowledge, they were the first of Daniel A. Troutman’s branch to return to his home place. Verne wrote to his parents in Nebraska about the warm welcome they had received and sent this picture of his dad's brother Jim (light hat) and himself standing in front of the old depot, which the Troutman family had moved to their historic grounds from town:
James Henry Troutman (light hat, age 58) and Verne Clinton Troutman (age 24), North Carolina Troutman Reunion, August 1938.

On the back of the next photo, Verne noted to his parents that he had marked himself and Uncle Jim with arrows. 
Troutman Reuinion, August 1938, James Henry Troutman and Verne C. Troutman, marked by arrows on right.

To my knowledge, the next time my dad returned to the North Carolina reunion was 1968 when he took my mother, my younger sister and me. Before that, my cousin Darrell, son of dad's brother Carl Troutman, took his family in the mid 1960s. For each visit, the vivid impression on us has been the warmth and expressions of joy we receive from our distant North Carolina cousins.

One of the most memorable trips for me was 1972. My dad’s two brothers, James and Carl Troutman and his sister Neville Lamson, came from Nebraska to Virginia to join my parents, Verne and Lois, my niece Teri Troutman, and me, and we all went to the reunion together. Watching my dad and his siblings laughing and sharing stories with distant cousins warmed my heart. They walked the red dirt trail to the tumble-down house in the woods where their grandfather, Daniel A., had been raised.
James G. Troutman, Carl J. Troutman, E. Tays Troutman, Blanche Troutman Canter, Neville Troutman Lamson, Verne C. Troutman, Troutman Reunion, August 1972. Photo by Z. T. Noble.
Verne Troutman, James G. Troutman, Lois McIntyre Troutman (Verne's wife) and Jay Troutman, 1972. Photo by Z. T. Noble.
Distant cousins, Sarah Blanche Troutman Canter and Neville America Troutman Lamson, 1972. Before this reunion, Neville and Blanche had corresponded through letters, so they were thrilled to meet each other in person. Photo by Z. T. Noble.

Teri Troutman at age 11, 5x great-granddaughter of Jacob Troutman, the Pioneer, granddaughter of Verne C. Troutman. North Carolina Troutman reunion, August 1972. Photo by Z. T. Noble.
Dad returned again in 1989, this time with my mother Lois and me and my three children, Jay, Sarah, and Lee. My mother took a picture of our three generations standing beside the tombstones of our ancestors Henry and Margaret Elizabeth Troutman, my great-grandfather Daniel A.’s parents.
Jay Samuel Noble, Zola Troutman Noble, Verne C. Troutman, Sarah Michal Noble, Lee Daniel Noble, at North Carolina  Troutman Reunion 1989. Photo by Lois Troutman.

Since all the children of Clint and Mary Troutman have now died, their children have taken up their mantle of keeping in touch with the North Carolina Troutman clan. For the 100th anniversary of the Troutman reunion in 2004, the Nebraska branch came about 30 strong to celebrate our heritage. During the morning meeting in the old school shown in the picture below, we sang hymns and listened to speeches that impressed us with the strong Christian heritage given to us.
Descendants of Daniel A.'s son Clint & his wife Mary Troutman who attended the 100th anniversary of the NC Troutman reunion, 2004. Photo courtesy of Genise Dostal Troutman.
With nearly every visit, we make the trek through the woods to see the crumbling house of our NC progenitor. Soon it will collapse.  Photo by Z. T. Noble
Our most recent trip to the reunion was in October 2012 when eight of Daniel A.'s descendants met once again for food and fellowship in Troutman, NC, under the cool cover of majestic oak trees.

On the Troutman grounds picnicking in October 2012. Photo by Z. T. Noble.

Grandchildren of Clint and Mary (Waggoner) Troutman at North Carolina Reunion, October 2012. All of us were born in Nebraska. Photo by Z. T. Noble.

More Clint and Mary Troutman descendants at North Carolina Troutman Reunion, 2012. Photo by Z. T. Noble.

The beautiful cemetery gate. Photo by Z. T. Noble.
And here’s the tree on whose branches we perch. Wish we could be there this year. Happy 110th reunion to the Troutman family!
This tree sketch on the wall inside the old school building on NC Troutman reunion grounds shows my great-grandfather Daniel A. Troutman sprouting as a twig off the lower left branch, which represents Henry Troutman, the sheriff, son of Jacob Troutman, the Pioneer, whose name is on the trunk. Photo courtesy of Genise Dostal Troutman.


  1. Hi Zola! I am a distant realitive of yours, apparently! I stumbled upon your blog while doing some family research. Very interesting stuff! Love your blog!

  2. Hi, missyleighm,
    I'm thrilled that you commented and that you're enjoying the blog. I'd love to compare notes on research at any time. Always happy to make cousin connections.