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Reunions are numerous among summer events

By Staff | Aug 10, 2010

Former resident Ann Smith Burke, now of New Cumberland, with ancestral quilt gifted by cousin.

For years, the Gardner/Faus families have gathered at the Franklin Township farm of Glenna and the late Ralph Gardner.

If one is early on the scene, the sight and sound of frogs leaping into the water is observed by those strolling around the sprawling farm pond. Others bait poles hoping to catch fish while youth may later opt to take a refreshing plunge.

These families are the offspring of Samuel and Phoebe Lowe Gardner and Uziah Zachariah and Emma Johnson Faus.

The most prolific family branch and therefore more numerous in attendances are from Phoebe and Sam’s son, Brady, and wife, Erma Faus Gardner. The last of Brady’s generation, a sister Olive Sones, passed on this year. Also long gone are the spouses.

And so, like soldiers replenishing the lines of the fallen, 49 relatives gathered at the same time and place keeping the circle from being broken.

Eldest attending was Mildred Gardner Cross, Danville; with youngest Noel, daughter of Justin and Amanda Gardner, Harrisburg.

Howard Faus, formerly of Hughesville, was correct in his claim of being the only one present retaining the Faus name.

Conversations included remembering U.Z. Faus as the longtime Sunday school superintendent of Moreland Baptist Church who came to the township from Talmer where that church was locally known as Faus Church.

Non-relative Elaine Barton Harmon attends often. A daughter of the late Rev. Lester Barton, the Jersey Shore resident was born here in the early forties while her father was pastor at the Moreland church.

Seated in shade beneath tall maples, another cluster of cousins heard how seemingly insurmountable traveling challenges failed to keep one cousin away. Arlene Bartlow had flight plans from New York City to Harrisburg with connections to Montoursville. However, the last stop was aborted.

Ann Smith Burke of New Cumberland learned of her cousin’s plight through telephone calls desperately passed back and forth between concerned family members at the point of destination. Unbeknown to the stranded cousin, Ann drove to the airport waved to get her attention and said, “Hi, remember me?”

An unscheduled overnight stay at Ann’s home gave Arlene the first opportunity to view the quilt given Ann weeks earlier during a visit to the host’s mother’s home.

The quilt had been made by Arlene’s maternal great-grandmother, Sarah “Jane” Smith Lowe of Franklin Township.

A written history accompanying the quilt notes it had traveled from Muncy, where Sarah Jane lived her latter years with daughter Phoebe Gardner, to the home of the Arlene’s youth in Canton, Ohio, to her NYC apartment and back to Ohio.

Currently the circa 1926 red and yellow covering is back in Pennsylvania adorning the bed in the Burke guest room.

The quilt’s initial owner hopes someday the current steward continues to pass the heirloom down the generations to another female member of the maker’s family.

Ann and Arlene traveled to the outing near the Starr school where the latter was deemed as coming the greatest distance.

Reunions can be routine and predictable, but once in a while travel plans go aerie and rescues turn into pleasant surprises.

FYI: Ann Smith Burke spent 1953 to 1957 at Eight Square and Hughesville High School before moving and graduating in 1960 from Montoursville. She graduated from Harrisburg Policlinic Hospital of Nursing and is a retired nurse anesthetist. She and husband Tom are parents of two sons and have two grandsons. A quilter, she’s a member of Letort Quilt Guild of Carlisle.