Today has been a long, but amazing day!
About a couple weeks ago, there was an article in the local paper about a reunion picnic for the descendants of a Revolutionary War veteran named Conrad Bush. It talked about how Conrad had settled in the area of Pompey, had many children, and how some of the descendants were trying to get together to fill in some of the missing gaps of the genealogy.
I immediately recognized the name as it belonged to my great-great-great-great grandfather on my mother's side. Conrad was born Georg Conradt Busch in Germany and came to the colonies just around the time of the Revolutionary War. He signed up to help in the fight for the colonies independence from Britain (which was amazing in itself considering that there was a bit of anger at the Germans -- or Hessians -- who were fighting for King George.) Because of the anti-German attitude, he changed the spelling of his name to Conrad Bush. It is said that he was with Washington at Valley Forge, participated in the famous crossing of the Delaware, and at Yorktown when Cornwallis surrendered.
About a week later, I called my parents and asked if they wanted to meet some of our distant relatives. My mom, who has always been interested in family history, jumped at the chance.
Next I called the contact number in the paper and talked to Ron Bush, the gentleman who was creating this whole massive reunion. We had a delightful conversation and I was even more interested in attending.
Jump forward to today -- the day of the picnic. My parents arrived in Syracuse around 10am and we were off to Stafford Park in Lafayette. We arrived there before 10:30am. The first person to greet us was none other that Ron -- the gentleman whom I spoke with. He was very welcoming and glad we were able to make it.
Shortly thereafter, a caravan was created to see the grave of Conrad Bush. That was when we met another distant relative, Louis Bush (who was leading the tour). He offered to give us a ride in his truck and we had a very pleasant trip. He knew a bunch of history about Conrad and his family, including some secrets that we didn't know!
I believe I could find my way to the entrance of the "path" that led to Conrad's grave. The roads leading there are pretty easy. However, that would just get you to the entrance. To get to the actual grave would require you to navigate through a huge field that has been overgrown with weeds and following the narrow path that leads to it. The property belongs to someone else now (except the grave site), but they were kind enough to allow the Bush family to visit their ancestor.
After a bouncy ride in the field (which definitely required the assistance of a 4-wheel drive truck) we were at a little marker that indicated the beginning of the the path which led to Conrad's grave. We all got out of the vehicles and made the trek to see the monument.
There, surrounded by lots of trees, was the lone monument to Conrad Bush and his wife, Mary. They are the only two people buried there. The monument itself is pretty tall. I heard it was about 14 feet tall, but it looks a little bigger than that. For years I had always heard the story about this monument, and now I was actually here to see it. It was amazing!
Once we made it back to the picnic, another Conrad Bush showed up. He is the family historian, and OMG the amount of detail he has!! He laid out these red binders -- one for each of Conrad's 12 children. It was everyone's task to look at the information of the branch of the family they were from and to correct the information that was there or to supply information that was missing. (There were some histories that he had very little of.) I think my mom and I spent much of our time pouring over those records! Conrad's whole goal is to complete as much information as he can, then distribute it out to the ENTIRE Bush clan. That is a huge undertaking.
It was estimated that there was over 100 people there. As Ron mentioned to me, although they have always had a Bush family picnic, this was the first time it encompassed the entire family, and there were a lot of people he didn't even know. There was probably at least one representative from each one of the 11 lines of Conrad's children. (Child number 12—George—had no children himself, so his line stops there.)
We had a great time talking to people from all over the country and meeting very distant relatives. I think it came off so well that Ron was calling it the "First Annual Conrad Bush Family Reunion". I think we're going to attend next year.