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One hundred thirty seven persons were on hand, Sunday, August 11, 2002, for the 52nd meeting of the NC Yoder family. Held in the parish building of the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church near Hickory, the convention has met annually with the exception of one year since it's inception in the late 1940's.

The first reunion of the Yoder family occurred on August 23, 1949, when five granddaughters of the late Col. George M. Yoder met in Gastonia, NC in the home of John W. and Stella Yoder Stroup "and enjoyed a good day of fellowship with kith and kin". A sister of Dr. Fred Roy Yoder, Mrs. Stroup served as the first president of the Yoder Reunion.

The 52nd homecoming opened with a prayer and table blessing by Phillip D. Yoder of Newton. An abundant array of home cooked foods of every description was enjoyed by all.

Following lunch President Albert F. Yoder of Conover conducted a business meeting in which the first time visitors to the reunion were acknowledged. Peggy McManus of Hickory, Connie G. Mosteller of Sod, WV, and Mr. and Mrs. Clay G. Brewer of Dalton, GA, were introduced.

A descendant of Adam Yoder, the youngest child of Conrad Yoder by his marriage to Catharine Huffman, Clay Brewer and his wife, Sharon, were no doubt guided by providence to attend the reunion. The couple hand earlier engaged in family research in Surry and Burke counties in NC before moving on to hickory to pursue additional historical records. A lead offered at the public library steered the couple to Zion Lutheran Church. On reaching the church, the Brewers bumped into Ted Yoder who was setting up the facility for the annual reunion. The couple explained that they were looking for Yoder graves, and specifically the burial plot of Conrad Yoder. An invitation was extended by ted that the couple attend the Yoder reunion on Sunday. Unaware that a reunion was slated for the next day, the couple decided without hesitation to remain in town an extra day and participate in their very first Yoder reunion. The couple later confessed that they had never been to a family reunion!

Daniel N.Yoder, 95, of Newton, was identified as the senior guest. The youngest visitor was Adison Adair Yoder, three months, of Conover. A daughter of Easton E. and Glenna B. Yoder, the little girl was horn on April 22, 2002. Mr. and Mrs. Dan (Margaret) Yoder had been married the longest. The couple was united in Holy Matrimony on November 28, 1935 in Newton.

Albert Yoder recognized Mr. and Mrs. Rick (Kelly) Cranford of Charlotte, who were married on June 22, 2002. The newly married groom was a nephew President Yoder.

Journeying from her home in Pullman, WA, Elaine Yoder Zakarison, represented the family of the late Dr. Fred Roy Yoder. A noted professor of sociology for more than 60 years, Dr. Yoder authored the "History of the Yoder Family in North Carolina" in 1970. The educator's daughter encouraged the clan to submit their family history for inclusion in the proposed Yoder history update targeted for release in 2005.

The secretary gave a synopsis of the minutes from the previous reunion. Treasurer Benelia Yoder Reese offered a financial report for the fiscal year.

President Yoder remarked that Rachel Hahn Kennedy continues to work towards achieving non-profit status for the family. Ted Yoder intends to develop a local Yoder web page.

Michael B. Huffman announced that access to the Thessalonica Baptist cemetery on Pott's Creek in southwestern Catawba county is now again possible. Huffman and members of his family are caretakers for the abandoned cemetery where several Yoder descendants are interred, including Catherine Yoder Baker (1782-1867), the sole daughter of pioneer Conrad Yoder to reach maturity.

The Rev. Larry D. Yoder offered a prayer in memory of the departed members of the extended family. During the past year 41 known deaths were counted in the Yoder, Reep, and allied family lines.

Former president Ted M. Yoder of Newton narrated an interesting slide presentation about his recent trip to Germany and Switzerland. Yoder traveled as a part of an entourage which was composed of 15 Yoders including 13 descendants of Conrad Yoder, as well as 13 other current or former North Carolinians. The tour was organized by Dr. Don Yoder, a retired professor of history at the University of Pa.

The trek took the group to the ancestral origins of many prominent NC pioneer families of German extraction. In Steffisburg, Switzerland, the party visited the village of the Yoder clan. A landmark unknown previously to American researchers, the St. Joder chapel in Gsteig which was erected in 1453, was located by Dr. Yoder and toured by the Americans. Many quaint villages with lovely old churches at their center and a leisurely boat ride up the Rhine River were experienced by the group during their 15 day excursion. The tourists also visited a museum and a farm and enjoyed a local parade, among other events. Ancestral towns peculiar to the Yoder, Rudisill, Shufford, Wilfong, Hahn, Leinbach, Sigmon, Seitz, Dellinger, and other colonial families were showcased throughout the dozens of colorful slides. Among the members of the NC Yoder line who traveled to Europe were Wille A. "Bill" Yoder, Jack A. and Phyllis F. Yoder, Rachel H. Kennedy, Elaine Y. Zakarison, the Rev. Kristine A. Zakarison, Dr. Elizabeth Z. Hall, Marcia M. Yoder, and Ray A. and Agnes Yount. Two grandchildren of Elaine Zakarison also represented the NC family.

On Saturday, August 10, 2002, at 7 pm, 21 persons attended an informal worship service at the old Yoder family cemetery two miles south of Zion Lutheran Church.. Ted Yoder spoke about the beginnings of the NC Yoder family which was established by Swiss immigrant Conrad Yoder. Ted also pointed out the former locations of some of the early homes associated with the family.

Charles F. Miller of hickory was recognized and thanked for allowing the family access to the hilltop burying ground located on a portion of his property. Miller also mows each year the general area around the cemetery which includes a temporary drive from the public highway.

Neal D. Wilfong of Cleveland read from Genesis 25:7-12 and offered a prayer. He commented that Abraham, like Conrad Yoder, buried his mate and lived to see some of his descendants before going to his rest. Assisted by Ted Yoder, Wilfong sang the 16th century Reformation Hymn, "Ein Feste Brg", written by Martin Luther.

Michael Huffman of Hildebran provided floral arrangements for the cemetery. E.A. Wilfong, 12, of Cleveland, decorated the gravesites with the standards of Switzerland and the United States of America. The cemetery was mowed and maintained by Willie A. "Bill" Yoder of Hickory. - Neal D Wilfong, secretary, The N C Yoder Reunion

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Yoder Newsletter - © Christopher K. Yoder, 1992, 1994