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Willey Family Reunion scheduled for Saturday

By Myoshi Price

The Orange Leader

As I made a turn down a one-way road I was unfamiliar with in Orange, I was driving onto history. The beauty of the property was nothing you could forget. The tall green grass surrounded the wooden swing and seesaw in the yard. The white barnlike work shop building within eyesight on the property held the stories of a working family. As I approached the front porch I was greeted by Winnie Willey, wife of Earnest Willey. As she guided me down the hallway to where we would be chatting, nothing but family history was on the wall beside me.

The Willey Family isn’t just another event to be announced, but a tradition with history in Orange County. As I sat with Earnest and Winnie Willie in their home. The history was rich and evident throughout. The couple of 66 years began to explain how this family reunion came about.

The story dates back to before 86-year-old Earnest Willey was born. Before the invention of concrete roads and cars, wagons brought Henry Willey and his family from the Midwest to Orange after the Civil War. The family consisted of farmers and stockmen. The earliest Willey Family Reunion was around 1896. World War II slowed down the reunions for a while, but they resumed after the war ended. By the time Earnest was born in 1928, his grandfather Henry had died in 1926. The reunions continued to happen in Orange and Mauriceville until around 90’s. The reason why was unknown.

As the Willey Family Reunion gears up for the family tradition October 22 in Mauriceville, the turnout is expected be very large. According to Earnest, just his family alone makes up 30 of the members that are going to attend.