Longtime Loyalty — Wesson Cases celebrate 50th reunion

Published 3:31 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2013

JESSICA BOYD / DAILY LEADER / Joy Wesbrooks looks through a scrapbook of the Sylvarena Case Reunion. Scrapbooks are updated each year.

JESSICA BOYD / DAILY LEADER / Joy Wesbrooks looks through a scrapbook of the Sylvarena Case Reunion. Scrapbooks are updated each year.

Nearly everyone has been to a family reunion at one time or another. But for a family to reach a 50-year mark is a milestone. The Wesson Cases of the Sylvarena community are celebrating that achievement today.

“It’s a close knit family,” said family member Joy Wesbrooks.

The first reunion was held on Aug. 11, 1963 at Sylvarena Baptist Church, with an attendance of over 200 family members and friends. More than half of the members of Sylvarena Baptist Church in Wesson are descendants of the Case family.

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“Sylvarena Church was started by our ancestors in 1898. My great-grandfather and great-grandmother, John Calhoun and Mary Case Hutson, are two of the charter members that organized the church,” said Wesbrooks.

The reunion begins every year with Sunday service at the church at 11 a.m., then a covered dish luncheon is served, including everyone’s favorite, homemade chicken and dumplings and fried chicken. A reunion isn’t a reunion without some kind of chicken dish. Then, a business meeting is held and each family present is recognized. Each family will also have a photo session to be included in the annual scrapbook. A family tree is hung, on which new babies are added every year.

“All of our members grew up attending Sylvarena, and it’s important to each one of us to return each year to celebrate our longstanding tradition,” said Wesbrooks.

A family Facebook page helps family members keep in touch all throughout the year.

“Family members come from as far away as Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana and Indiana,” said Wesbrooks.

A lot of the Sylvarena community who are not family members also enjoy coming to take part in the festivities.

The oldest member is Maude Case Williams of Jackson, age 96, who has come every year since the reunion began. Wesbrooks has also attended every year. She said there is a good mix of generations, from babies to senior adults.

“My children who are in their 40’s still come,” said Wesbrooks. “They like to come and see everybody.”

The Case Reunion was started in 1963 “to remember and to enjoy again this precious fellowship with our blood ties. It was felt that such a reunion would be helpful in increasing our pride in our ancestry and history,” according to the Dr. Cecil C. Randall, now deceased.

Wesbrooks believes the reunion was started because of the “family history of togetherness.” She often used the word “loyal” to describe her family and the reason for a continuous 50 years.

The Cases are the descendants of Allen W. Case and Margaret Case. Allen Case was the son of James and Sarah Case, who moved in the early 1800s to what is now known as the Sylvarena community, probably from one of the eastern states. They settled about one mile north of where Sylvarena Church now stands. James Case was assigned Justice of the Peace in Copiah County in 1851.

Wesbrooks obtained this family information and other history from much research done at courthouses, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Copiah and Lincoln County libraries and talking to people.

She and others have updated reunion scrapbooks yearly. Not a year has been missed since 1963, with photos and minutes from each year.

“Pictures tell a story and each year, we can look at these albums and remember family members who have gone on and those that are still around to remember the early days,” said Wesbrooks.

About 75 to 100 people attend each year. The Cases are expecting a large crowd for the 50th reunion, held today.

“It is our family desire to continue celebrating reunions for a long time,” said Wesbrooks.