Whitley 157th family reunion to be held on July 4

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2021

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The Elisha Everette and Mary Eliza Barnes Whitley family reunion will be held at noon, Sunday, July 4, at the American Legion Building on Armory Drive in Franklin.

Relatives, friends, and guests are invited to come and bring a covered dish for a noon luncheon. Plates, cups, utensils and beverages will be provided. This will be the 157th annual reunion held on the birthday of Elisha Everette Whitley.

Whitley was born in Hertford County, North Carolina on July 4, 1829, to Joseph Elisha Whitley and Sarah “Sally” Lane. He married Mary Eliza Barnes, a daughter of John Elias Barnes, II and Talitha Buxton, on Jan. 7, 1855. Nine children were born to the couple. Whitley was a miller and farmer by trade and spent most of his life in the New Hope Church-Winborne’s Mill community of Southampton County. Whitley enlisted in Company G, 31st North Carolina Troops on Sept. 12, 1861, and was paroled on May 2, 1865, after the surrender on General Joseph E. Johnston to Gen. William T. Sherman on April 26, 1865, at Bush Hill in Randolph County, North Carolina

This annual reunion has been a family tradition for 157 years and is thought to be on of the longest continuous family reunions in America. Tradition goes that when Elisha Whitley returned from the War Between the States, his sisters have him a dinner on his birthday, July 4, 1865, and he asked that this be continued. Since that time, there has been an annual reunion carried on by his children until their deaths and now by their descendants.

Whitley and his wife are buried in the Blackjack Oak Cemetery on the VA-NC state line near Winborne’s Mill.

The descendants of John Benjamin “Ben” Whitley have the honor of serving as hosts for this year’s reunion.