SPRING MEETING OF MAYFLOWER SOCIETY
By Governor Ben J. Talbott, Jr.
On Saturday, April 28, 2018, beginning at 12:00 noon, the Kentucky Society of Mayflower Descendants (KSMD) held its annual spring meeting in Lexington at the Idle Hour Country Club with approximately fifty members and guests attending.
Governor Ben J. Talbott, Jr. opened the meeting by welcoming the members and guests, thanking them for coming, and promising a busy but informative and entertaining occasion. Following the opening, the Invocation was delivered by Chaplain Martina Ockerman, and after that Captain David Hampton led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Governor Talbott then informed the group that this year’s Annual Meeting of Congress for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) is going to be held from September 5, 2018 through September 9, 2018 at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois, which is only forty-five miles west of Chicago and within five hours driving distance of Louisville. Because of its relative proximity to Kentucky, Talbott hoped that a number of our members would attend.
Governor Talbott also reminded the KSMD members that the year 2020 will be the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing, for which a huge celebration is being planned in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In addition, however, the GSMD had requested all fifty of its member state societies to organize state and local celebrations or recognitions of the historic Mayflower landing in America in 1620. Talbott said he would be seeking ideas about such state and local celebrations from the members, and he invited anyone who could help to give him a call.
Governor Talbott also explained that as a part of the 400th Anniversary in 2020, the GSMD has instituted a huge project of restoring and renovating the First Parish Church and Meetinghouse of Plymouth. The cost of this project is expected to be $3,000,000. He pointed out also that despite the burden this project placed on the GSMD and its member societies, at the GSMD Congress last September the project was unanimously approved by the approximately 250 members present. Because there are fifty-three member societies of GSMD, if each society bore an equal share of raising the total amount needed, we all would be required to raise at least $56,000 each. However, all the member societies are different sizes, with some having very few members, and others having memberships considerably larger than KSMD. Therefore, based on the size of KSMD, and taking account of the fact that KSMD has already raised or gotten pledges of $7,425, mostly from Board members, Talbott hoped that we could raise at least $20,000, and perhaps over $25,000 within the next two years. He pointed out, for example, that so far we had only solicited sixteen of our 193 members, thus leaving 177 members still to be contacted. Therefore, even if each of those members would contribute the average of only $100 over the next two years, we would still raise another $17,700 for a total of slightly more than $25,000. Talbott stated that Libby Berryman and Sandra Butler, both members of the Fundraising Committee, would be calling these members who did not attend the meeting to solicit contributions from them. Talbott noted also that all said contributions are tax deductible.
Following these announcements from Governor Talbott, Historian Anissa Davis announced the names of our newest members. They are Janet Dorothy (Smith) Clawson, a descendant of John Alden, Dr. Kim (Clawson) Rosentein, also a descendant of John Alden, and Peggy Sue (Oliver) Kennedy, a descendant of John Howland.
In addition, in remembrance of KSMD’s recently deceased member, Mary Dan Raider, Chaplain Martina Ockerman and honorary member Jerry Ford each spoke very nicely about her and Chaplain Ockerman followed with a prayer. It was noted also that Mary Dan Raider is Anissa Davis’ mother.
Martina Ockerman next gave a detailed fundraising appeal on behalf of the GSMD First Parish Church and Meetinghouse restoration project. For example, she noted that First Parish Church is the oldest presently used religious site in North America and the fifth spiritual structure built on the same site starting in 1621, and later to honor and memorialize the Mayflower Pilgrims. Also, it sits immediately adjacent to the Pilgrim Cemetery in which many of our ancestors are buried. Sitting atop Leydon Street in Plymouth, there is no more-authentic historic place in America. In addition, the current structure was funded in 1896, the same year as GSMD was founded, by donations from across the country, much like we are being asked to do now.
Although the facility is presently owned by the First Parish Unitarian Church, once the $3,000,000 is raised by GSMD, title to the facility will be transferred to GSMD pursuant to a Joint Venture Agreement and a related Charitable Trust signed by the parties during GSMD’s 2017 Congress. All funds raised for the project will go into the restoration, etc., and none of the funds will revert to the First Parish Unitarian Church. Furthermore, in addition to getting title to the land and structures, GSMD will also acquire ownership of the related contents, including several valuable Tiffany stained glass windows donated by member societies, and various furnishings, appliances, and records.
The reasons for the renovation are many. Over the last 122 years the structures have suffered serious deterioration from a lack of current maintenance. The purposes of the restoration include repairing the structural deterioration of the roof, parts of the walls and other areas, certain wiring and piping, and the need for new and improved appliances, along with the cost of meeting state and local code requirements, and compliance with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and related state statutes. In addition, GSMD is hoping to raise funds for future preservation and maintenance, and eventually for operations.
In addition to its historical value, there are a number of reasons why GSMD wishes to acquire and save the First Parish Church and Meetinghouse of Plymouth. To begin with, GSMD wishes to include these facilities as part of its educational mission regarding Plymouth, and for many special events such as weddings and meetings, as well as for having some additional space available for GSMD operations.
GSMD’s expectation is that within the next two years the functioning goal of $3,000,000 will be met. At that point, First Parish Unitarian Church will resign the Charitable Trust created pursuant to its Joint Venture Agreement with GSMD and transfer ownership of the real estate and related assets to GSMD, thus making GSMD the new owner responsible for restoring and preserving this memorial for our descendants.
Martina Ockerman also noted that the Governor Talbott had already prepared a Pledge Form which had been distributed to the members present, and she informed the group that we had already received a few donations of $1,000 or more. In fact, one donation received by KSMD was for $2,000.00 and another already received was for $1,200.
She also requested that all of our members share this fundraising information with others who may be interested in this project, especially to those members which certain of us may be particularly able to persuade to donate generously to this fine cause.
Following her fundraising appeal, Chaplain Ockerman gave the blessing for our food, and the members and guests were treated to a delicious luncheon which included chilled strawberry soup, chicken and wild mushroom crepes served with sherry cream sauce, asparagus and wild rice pilaf, soft rolls and butter, coffee, iced tea, lemonade, and water, and a panna cotta dessert made of vanilla with strawberry coulis and fresh strawberries.
Upon completion of the luncheon, Governor Talbott introduced our event’s speaker, Stephen Vest, pointing out that Vest was a graduate of and had degrees from both the University of Louisville and Murray State University. In addition, he is the founder, publisher and editor of the Kentucky Monthly magazine which won the Governor’s media award in 2005, as well as the editor of SARS Magazine, a publication of the Sons of Colonial Wars. Vest’s speech was entitled Six Degrees of Separation- Kentucky style.
On its face, Vest’s speech title sounds as if it might be a dry topic of serious discussion. After all, "six degrees of separation" is the idea that all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from one another. For example, a "friend of a friend" statement can be made to connect any two people in the world within six or fewer steps. But the words "dry" or "serious" would never be the words used to describe Vest’s talk which may have been the funniest and most entertaining talk ever given at a KSMD luncheon. In a masterful discussion of how Kentuckians interrelate, and based on actual events of meetings and conversations involving himself and other Kentuckians resulting in hilarious outcomes, Vest masterfully wove together a series of stories that had his KSMD audience laughing from beginning to end. It was a great treat for everyone present.
Following his talk Governor Talbott thanked Vest for his wonderfully humorous presentation and presented him with an engraved julep cup as is our KSMD tradition. Talbott also reminded everyone that Stephen Vest was offering everyone present a free subscription to the Kentucky Monthly.
Next on the agenda was the drawing for gifts arranged and handled by Faye and Jerry Ford, who had collected four gifts for this presentation. Winners of the drawings were Greg Landon, James Burton, Jan Sheetinger, and Marjorie Shelton. The gifts included two books, a battery-operated candle, and a scented candle and container. David Hampton donated the two books.
Before closing the meeting Governor Talbott presented the KSMD’s Board nominations for the two open positions for At-Large Board members and the nominees Libby Berryman and Jan Sheetinger were unanimously elected to those positions by the members present.
Governor Talbott then made a number of announcements and expressed his appreciation of the help of other KSMD members in the activities of the Kentucky Mayflower Society. Those included the following:
Talbott noted that two of our members, Kathy Whitaker and Elizabeth Winter, had come to our meeting all the way from Arizona and he thanked them especially for their attendance.
Talbott also thanked former Governor Jim Hancock and Howard Roberson for their work in restoring the KSMD website to active use, and he invited our members to review it to keep up with KSMD’s recent events and announcements.
Talbott next thanked Martina Ockerman for Co-Chairing our Fundraising Committee on the First Parish Church and Meetinghouse project and for her excellent presentation which she made for the fundraising project at the meeting.
He then also thanked Fay and Jerry Ford for the multiple things they do for our society, including today providing us with table flowers, the drawing of gifts, taking photos, and bringing name tags, etc. Jerry Ford is also working on the new KSMD Member Directory which will come out later this year, and Fay is our Treasurer.
Finally, Talbott thanked Bill Swinford for allowing the KSMD to use this beautiful Idle Hour Country Club for our Spring Meeting, and there was a general consensus that the club looked gorgeous, the food was delicious, the service was spectacular, and even the weather cooperated by giving us a bright, sunny day.
Upon motion made, seconded and approved by the members, the Spring Meeting adjourned at approximately 2:00 p.m.
The Fall Meeting of KSMD will be held at the Pendennis Club in Louisville on Saturday, November 10, 2018.