In conjunction with the 200th anniversary of Holly Grove Mansion, originally constructed in 1815 by Daniel Ruffner, the 2015 Ruffner Reunion and Board of Directors meeting will be held June 19 thru June 21 in Charleston, West Virginia.
Twenty years later, after the 1995 Ruffner gathering in Charleston , West Virginia a contingent of eighty Ruffners gathered once again to celebrate our heritage in the great Kanawha Valley. The reunion was scheduled to commemorate the bicentennial of Holly Grove constructed and owned by Daniel Ruffner, son of Joseph. Unfortunately the planned renovations of this lovely facility had not begun due to budget constraints.
This did not dampen the spirits of the attendees. Emily Rector of the bureau overseeing the restoration of the facility came to the reunion headquarters and gave a preview of the plans for the work to be performed, hopefully in the not too distant future. After an evening of meeting new cousins and renewing old friendships the group retired for the evening.
On Saturday morning everyone went on a driving tour of Ruffner historical sites in the area near the state Capitol. Included was Rifleman’s Park where Joseph and Anne are buried. Another highlight was a display of Rufner artifacts and memorabilia in the State Museum which was put together especially for our visit. .Lunch was served at midday at Daniel Boone Roadside Park.
The tour moved on to Malden and to the Ruffner Family Cemetery where many of the most prominent early ancestors are interred. This was a memorable occasion for some who had never visited this site before. The group dispersed to tour the historic sites in Malden as directed by the booklet “Historic Tour of Old Malden” compiled by Larry Rowe, a member of the West Virginia Legislature. One of the sites was Kanawha Salines Presbyterian Church which was founded by David Ruffner in 1840.
The group assembled in the Malden African Zion church, founded by Booker T. Washington where they were treated to a stirring rendition of Ruffner history by Larry Rowe. Larry wove the story about the interaction between the Ruffners and Booker and the impact they had on the history of West Viginia and beyond.
The final stop on the Malden tour was a visit to the historic Dickinson Salt Works, The Dickinsons and Ruffners were the early salt producers along the Kanawha River. After the use of salt declined, the works became dormant in the 1940’s. Today two seventh generation Dickinsons have revived the operation by producing small batches of salt by using all natural and environmentally friendly concepts. The salt brine is evaporated in sun houses .and harvested by hand. This product is now being enjoyed worldwide due to the power of the internet.
On Sunday the group assembled once more in the Great Hall of the Cultural Center for a delicious luncheon provided by the State of West Virginia to honor the descendants of the pioneer settlers of the valley. Prior to the luncheon the Board of Directors convened. It was decided that the 2016 Board of Directors meeting would be held via a conference call rather than a meeting in person, as in previous years. It was also determined that the next reunion would be held in Luray Virginia in 2017.
The culmination of the reunion was the transfer of the fifteen boxes of Ruffner material that Bob Sheets had acquired during his many years compiling the family data from the many functions, family and other sources. In early June Dave and Dan Ruffner left their homes in Nebraska and traveled to Denver to retrieve this storehouse of material and brought it to Charleston. Its ultimate destination was the Greenwood Library at Longwood University where it now resides for future generations to utilize
Enjoy some photos from the 2015 Reunion here. Click an image to view slide show.