The ‘Unique’ Family Reunion

Family reunions seem to be the talk of the town at present. Well, on social media anyway. And why wouldn’t they be, with A.J. Jacobs’ Global Family Reunion which was held this weekend, proving to be a huge hit.

So on the topic of reunions, I wanted to share with you, one of my family’s family reunions.

This one was held in December 1938 at “Sulby Glen”(the Kelly family homestead) at the tiny town of Cudlee Creek in the Adelaide Hills. This date marked not only 100 years since the arrival of William Kelly and his second wife Jane (nee Caley) to South Australia, pioneers to South Australia from the Isle of Man, but also 50 years since the death of William.

My connection to this family, other than the fact that they settled at Cudlee Creek, which is where I grew up, is that William is my 4x great grandfather.

Various newspaper articles tell the story of the Kelly reunion, but I’ve chosen just two to share with you.

This first one was before the event …

FAMILY GATHERING TO HONOR PIONEERS. (1938, December 3). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), p. 21. Retrieved June 7, 2015, from

The Advertiser, 3 December 1838, p. 21

And this second one was afterwards. It is a long article, and what I’ve shown below is only about 1/3rd of it. To see the full article, click on the link in the caption.

this article appeared in The Advertiser, 2 January 1939 you can read the full article on Trove at:

this article appeared in The Advertiser, 2 January 1939
you can read the full article on Trove at:

Relatives came from around Australia to attend this event. The newspaper says that this type of reunion was unique for not only South Australia, but with very few of this kind of reunion held throughout the Commonwealth.

Approximately 300 people attended the Kelly family reunion, and we know who at least 277 of them were, thanks to an autograph book which was signed by those who attended this reunion … and has SURVIVED! Below are a few pages from this treasure.Kelly Autograph Book - a1

Kelly Autograph Book - a3

Kelly Autograph Book - a4

Kelly Autograph Book - a5

And if having newspaper articles telling us about the reunion, as well as the autograph book was’t awesome enough, there is actually a group photograph from the Kelly 1938 reunion!! Yes truly!

Kelly reunion group photo taken at "Sulby Glen", Cudlee Creek, 31 December 1838>(click for a larger image)

Kelly reunion group photo taken at “Sulby Glen”, Cudlee Creek, 31 December 1938
(click for a larger image)

If anyone has connections to the Kelly’s from Isle of Man, there are several books relating to this family available. You can find these at Gould Genealogy.

Have you been to any family reunions? If so, do you have any momentoes from them?

4 Responses to “The ‘Unique’ Family Reunion”

  1. Judy Lofthouse says:

    Alona, The descendants of John Holmes and Mary Ann Throup from Keighley Yorkshire had a reunion in Pittsworth in 2000 and we had 600. Margaret Roberts helped organise it and I’m not sure whether she has a complete list of attendees. I do have a photo but I’ll blog about the reunion later this week.

  2. Alan Phillips says:

    Another Kelly reunion was held 50 years later in 1988. Over 500 people were present. A large 1938 reunion photo was on display and we were able to identify 225 of the 253 names in the photo by the end of the reunion. In 1990 family tree (a 136 page book) was published from information gathered at the 1988 reunion. This included a large pull-out of the 1938 reunion photo with the names published alongside, as well as photos of all branches of the family present in 1988 and several special group photos. One of these was a group of 45 who had attended the 1938 union.

  3. Fran says:

    Great that you are adding to the family history of autograph books!!

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