The description below of the Maryland to Kentucky Reunion is adapted from the previous web site of the Reunion. What we hope to do with this site is not duplicate the resources available elsewhere, but point people to existing resources, and serve as an entry point for the thousands of our family members who are new to this part, the Maryland to Kentucky part, of their family history. This web site is the result. If you have an interest in working with us, please contact us at mdtoky -at- gmail.com
In 1785, a group of families from the southern Maryland counties of St. Mary, Charles and Prince George formed a “Catholic League of Families” [aka "Emigration League"] pledging to migrate to Kentucky. Reasons for this move were varied. Economics may have played a large role in this westward movement, with the depletion of available land in Maryland and the after-effects of the constant plundering by the British during the Revolutionary War.
Certainly religious freedom was a likely concern to many of these pioneers. After a century of anti-Catholic bias in Maryland, many were seeking freedom to openly practice their faith. John Carroll (a few years later named the Bishop of Baltimore) told them that if they would settle together he would do what he could to supply them with a priest.
True to their word, these pioneers largely settled together in what today are the three Kentucky counties of Nelson, Washington and Marion. Even now this central Kentucky area is known far and wide as the Kentucky Holy Lands.
(From a Hayden family history, “As first written by Rev. Wm. Hayden, 1877, copied by Mina Pomeroy in 1915“:
Notes for BASIL HAYDEN, SR:
1785- BASIL HAYDEN WAS THE LEADER OF THE ORIGINAL 25 FAMILIES FROM MARYLAND. Basil sold the land to Holy Cross church’s trustees for 5 lbs. His farm was in Pottinger Creek Settlement, next to Church. His widow lived in Holy Cross Parish until 1837. Church location was at present location of Ky 49 & Nelson County Line (Rohan’s Knobb). Four of their children died on the trip from Maryland to Kentucky. In 1799, the family owned 525 acres and 24 slaves. The first Catholic Church in Kentucky was built on his land. Special note: The picture on Old Granddad Whiskey bottles is Basil.
Also see “4. The Kentucky Migration” on rootsweb (Ancestry.com).)
As land further west opened up for settlement, some of these same pioneer families again packed up and headed out seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Many from this group seemed to have agreed to once again settle together. This led to many sister communities of this same group all across the western part of the United States.
The idea for this reunion originated in 1988 during the course of a Buckman, Leake and Montgomery family reunion in Monroe City, Missouri. It was thought that it would be wonderful if people who had for many years researched these families by mail and phone calls could at last meet, sit down together and share more family information. The idea bore fruit in 1990 when the first Maryland to Kentucky reunion was held at Nazareth, Kentucky. It was such a success that we knew that it had to be repeated. A gracious offer came from St. Mary’s County, Maryland.
Maryland asked us to please come back to our ancestral home in 1992. In 1994, Cape Girardeau and Perry County, Missouri rolled out the red carpet for us, which was followed by a 1996 meeting at St. Charles in Lebanon in Marion County, Kentucky, where our keynote speaker was the Historian Laureate of Kentucky, Dr. Thomas D. Clark. A video of the Maryland to Kentucky migration was made available. Owensboro, Kentucky in Daviess County fired up it’s renowned barbecue pits in 1998, and we were thrilled to hold our millennium meeting at Leonardtown, St. Mary’s County, Maryland in 2000.
The reunions drew genealogists from all faiths and anyone with an interest was welcome to attend the reunion weekends, which have been described as “a researcher’s delight.”
The 2002 reunion was held in historic Washington County, Kentucky, site of the third Maryland settlement at Cartwright’s Creek in 1787. We met on the grounds of Saint Catharine Motherhouse and College on June 28-30, 2002. Other events took place at the Dominican Proto-Priory at Saint Rose, dating from 1806.
On July 16 – 18th, 2004, the reunion was held at Hannibal, Missouri. In 2006 the group enjoyed the great hospitality of St. Mary’s County, MD. In 2008 the group met at St. Thomas Farm, Bardstown, KY. A wonderful surname book was compiled by the committee.
In 2010, the reunion met in Leonardtown, Maryland, from July 16-18, 2010. Many of those who had been involved for many years felt that the time had come to let others take on the work of organizing the biennial reunion. Several people attending the 2010 Reunion agreed that at a minimum we should set up a web site and attempt a “virtual reunion,” and to try and fill in some small way the shoes of those who have done so much work in prior years.
Again, if you have an interest in working with us, please contact us at mdtoky -at- gmail.com
Also feel free to leave information in the comments, including your web sites AND how others can contact you.