Eller Chronicles Nov 93 p- 1

The Eller Chronicles


Page - 268

JULY 19-23,1995
Lynn Eller, President, EFA

From our initial EFA Conference in 1989 at Salisbury, N.C. to 1991 in Estes Park, CO, and most recently this year in Portland, OR, we look to 1995. The Eastern location selected is Asheville, N.C. You are urged now to begin planning your travel in July 1995 to include, if not target, the beautiful area of Western North Carolina.

ASHEVILLE is very accessible by Interstate routes and other excellent roads. Air service into the city is quite adequate. If you do not find direct routing from your location, consider connections through Atlanta, Nashville, or Charlotte.

Your conference committee has already selected the location in Asheville for the event. Hotel Radisson will be our conference headquarters. This is a twelve story hotel in downtown Asheville. All rooms offer panoramic view of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Early indications point to a large attendance. "Eller Country" surrounds this area. To the north ate the Virginia families, to the east are heavy concentration of Ellers in Rowan, Wilkes, Ashe and adjacent counties, to the west and south we have large communities of Ellers in Graham County, NC, Tennessee, and Georgia. Dozens of Eller descendants live in northern Buncombe Co., near Asheville. You will find it interesting that Earl Eller (George Michael lineage) was mayor of Asheville for 18 years. A large plaque is evident in the Asheville airport honoring his long service to the community.

Conference 1995 planners are designing a Wednesday through Sunday event much on the lines of previous conferences. We will definitely plan an all day tour again. The Portland excursion on the Columbia River was an extraordinary day both for beauty of the area and the splendid camaraderie that surfaced and built by the hour. We want to show off Western North Carolina to you in 1995!

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Aside from the structured conference, we will offer many options for sights and sounds you might want to experience. Options for enjoyment are visits to the Biltmore House, the Thomas Wolfe museum and house (adjacent to the Radisson), and the National Park Service Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway (15 miles east of Asheville). You may want to go Whitewater Rafting on the Nantahala or other WNC Rivers! . You might be interested in visiting the Billy Graham home or the Carl Sandburg compound near Hendersonville, or driving northeast a few miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway to visit Mount Mitchell the highest point in the eastern U.S. The all-day tour which you will be hearing more about in future issues will take you on sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the west of Asheville.

Watch for future issues of The Chronicles for more information regarding CONFERENCE 1995. The exact dates selected for this conference are July 19-23. Scheduled for Saturday will be dedications in near-by Weaverville, NC of the Mary Biffle Eller and Joseph Eller memorial grave stones. For those of you who are interested, there will be an extension offered from Sunday through Tuesday (July 23-25) for a tour of Wilkes and Ashe Counties. Please note the article on the "New Hope Project" in this issue.

The conference committee invites you to make suggestions and to offer comments with regard to activities and events to take place in ASHEVILLE. Please direct these to me. On to 1995!

From J. Gerald Eller -

Retrospectives: Eller Family Conference in Portland, OR
July 14 - 18, 1993

The Portland Conference completed the 1st series of biennial conferences of the International Eller Family Association; the first, (Salisbury, NC, 1989), the second, (Estes Park, CO, 1991), and the third, (Portland, OR, 1993). As can be seen in the above report from Lynn Eller, planning for a 2nd round of biennial conferences, beginning in 1995 in Asheville, NC, has already begun.

At the Portland Conference A. Wm. Eller of Lakewood, Colorado, who led the organization as President for the past four years, relinquished the gavel to Lynn Eller of Atlanta, GA. The Association expressed its appreciation to Bill for his leadership by presenting to him the EFA Distinguished Service Award for 1993. Everyone regretted that family commitments took him away from the conference after the second day.

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Bill's last contribution, as President, was his assistance in implementing a long range planning report for the conference. A significant part of this plan was to attempt to make no final business or policy decisions at this conference, but to consider informally the report of the long-range planning committee ( J. Gerald Eller, Charlotte Marshall and Lynn Eller) and defer final action until the report could be circulated to the full membership. We hope and expect Bill's service to the EFA to continue well into the future. He helped bring the EFA through its formative years to its present level.

Following informal discussions of the long-range plans, the Board directed that the plans and recommendations be made available for comment and suggestions from the full EFA membership before the Board takes final action. (The Long-Range Planning Committee Report appear elsewhere in this issue) This action by the Board demonstrates their intent to keep the membership informed and involved in the decision-making processes of the organization.

Words are inadequate to convey the level of enthusiasm, and warm feelings generated at the Portland conference. We believe each of the 108 attendees from 24 states left the conference with the same feelings expressed by one member, "this was a high point in my life which I shall never forget." Ed Eller of Dalton, GA said, "I did not believe it possible that I could fly from Dalton to Portland, check into a motel where I knew only my sister, and spend four of the happiest days of my life with over a hundred people that I had never met before." Others have expressed similar sentiments.

Thanks to the many hours of advance planning by Charlotte Marshall and Lynn Eller, every phase of the conference ran smoothly, setting a standard that will be difficult to achieve at Conf. IV. The advance work and the assistance of many members made this a memorable event in the history of the EFA and the life of all who were in attendance. The EFA should declare Charlotte and Lynn "Conference Coordinators" for all time.

The all-day tour, inserted into the program for the first time, proved to be very popular. Two loaded motor coaches left the hotel at 9:00 A.M. on Friday and traveled along the spectacular Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway adjacent to the Columbia River. Frequent stops were made to enjoy the many scenic attractions and make pictures. The stop at Bonneville Dam to see the fish ladders and many exhibits was instructive and enjoyed by all.

After lunch at Cascade Locks, we boarded the stern-wheeler "Columbia Gorge" for a 2-hour narrated cruise on the mighty Columbia River. This provided for much intermingling, visiting, and good fellowship. On the way back to Portland we stopped at Multnomah Falls and Crown Point Vista House. From Vista House we had a panoramic view for miles of the majestic river and gorge.

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Winnie Green. Chairman of the Elections Committee, presented the new slate of nominees, and there being no nominations from the floor, all were elected unanimously. Officers are: President - Lynn Eller (Atlanta, GA); Vice-President - Charlotte Eller Marshall (Independence, OR); Secretary-Treasurer - Nancy Eller (Crowley, TX); New Board Members: Winnie Eller Green (Lawton, OK), Henry R. "Hank" Eller (Spokane, WA), and Joe C. Eller (Houston, TX). They join Bethel Eller Stolte (Atwood, KS) and Walton G. Eller (Crowley, TX) who agreed to serve another term as members of the Board. When the new Board convened on Thursday evening, it marked the first time that all Board Members had been present for a meeting. The new Board wasted no time in getting to work; another new EFA record will be set this fall when the Board meets in late November in Texas. This would be the first board meeting apart from a biennial conference.

Under the new By-Laws the Board is organized with its own Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Secretary. Henry C. "Hank" Eller was elected as Chairman, Joe C. Eller as Vice-Chairman and Winnie Eller Green as Secretary. This allows President Lynn Eller, and other EFA officers, to concentrate on implementation of policy and project management while the Board will concentrate on policy development. This new arrangement is already paying dividends by speeding up organizational activities.

Janine Eller Porter, Chairman of the Awards Committee, announced recipients of the top two EFA awards for 1993: Dr. Byron H. Eller (Oroville, CA) - the prestigious J. W. Hook Memorial Award and A. Wm. Eller Lakewood, CO, - the EFA Distinguished Service Award.

Nancy Eller, Bethel Eller Stolte and Frances Eller Olson (The Handicraft Fair Committee) managed the very successful and interesting events. The sale of chances on two beautiful quilts (donated by Charlotte Marshall and Winnie Green), two oil paintings, one by Mary (Mrs. Hank) Eller, and another by Janine Eller Porter's mother, a valuable rug (donated by Ed Eller) and a silent auction on a large range of other crafts, including unique folding stools made by master craftsman Myrrel Baldwin, clowns, dolls, and other crafts by Bethel Stolte, Nancy Eller and Frances Eller Olsen, cleared over $2000 for the EFA Research and Restoration projects. The committee extends their warmest thanks to all who brought crafts for sale and to all who purchased chances and bid on the various other crafts. The Fair and raffles added much to the enjoyment of the occasion as well as money to support EFA worthy projects.

Sales of the Eller Family Cookbook were brisk with over $600 worth sold. This, with previous sales, allowed Lynn and Juanita to more than recoup their expenses. All funds beyond costs, goes to the research and restoration projects of the EFA. Members who want additional copies for Christmas presents, etc., should order soon because all copies will soon be gone (See Order form in this issue). As announced earlier, all future copies are now priced at $15.95 (this includes shipping - send orders to Lynn Eller, or Juanita Eller, addresses on back cover). When all copies are sold several hundred additional dollars will have been added to the EFA research and restoration funds.

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Some new trends are evident at EFA conferences that we hope will become a tradition. One is the increasing number of young people who attend. Another is the family vacations and re-unions of extended families, planned to coincide with the EFA conferences. The increase in the number of such family groups at Portland was a major factor in arousing the enthusiasm and warm feelings that pervaded the entire affair.

At each conference several members came early or remained afterwards to tour the surrounding region. This practice in 1995 will likely increase because few places offer more spectacular vacation opportunities than Western North Carolina. Why not plan a family vacation or reunion to coincide with Conf. IV? This is exactly what several members announced they were going to do - go home and convince their relatives to join the EFA and make plans for a family vacation-reunion at Conf. IV.

Another welcomed change at this conference was the increased number of members who volunteered their assistance for future conferences and other EFA activities. This is taken as an indicator that interest in and support of the EFA continues to increase, especially among those who attend an EFA conference. With the bold planning now under consideration by the Board, many opportunities for involvement of more members in the EFA activities will certainly be evident in the near future.

We were especially pleased to see Margaret W. Eller (Vero Beach, FL) again. She attended the Salisbury Conference but missed Estes Park. Margaret and four other members of her immediate family were one of the groups enjoying a family vacation-reunion. She told us of her success in tracing her deceased Eller husband via Canada and back to England. In view of recent stories in the Chronicles about the Ellers of England, this was welcome news. Margaret promises to prepare a story on her successful search for a later issue.

Also welcomed back were Clifton and Paula Eller (Wasilla, AK) who missed Estes Park. Paula is serving as National President of -- (the title escapes me) but it has to do with telephone companies; she and Clifton owns a telephone, power, and TV Satellite Company in Alaska and she is busily traveling this year all over the country to attend and speak at meetings. Clifton contributed generously to the handicraft sales as the highest bidder for the two oil paintings. Paula has promised to provide a story of her and Clifton's life in Alaska. Clifton, my 2nd cousin, left my home county as a young man and exhibited much of the same courage and spirit that must have characterized our early immigrant Ellers by going to Alaska long before it became a state where he has built a very successful life for himself and his family.

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Because of the announced plans of several members to bring their families and relatives, conference planners for 1995 have been warned to expect a huge increase. For example, Ed Eller (Dalton, GA), and John and Herman Eller (Skiatook, OK), (Jacob2, Jr., Jacob1, Sr. Eller line), have begun already spreading the word among their siblings and other relatives to join the EFA and attend the next conference. Also, Frances Eller Edwards of Sterling, VA, and her sister Louise Eller Tomlinson of Nottingham, PA (Calvin3, Peter2, George1 Michael line), Anna Marie Eller Laurich OH) and Clara Jean Eller Davis (OH) (Jacob2, Jr., Jacob1, Sr. line), all very enthusiastic Eller genealogists, announced similar plans for Ellers in PA and OH.

John Eller (Skiatook, OK), has already visited a group of Ellers who live around Muskogee, OK. John found they were distant relatives of his to whom he is reported to have said, "I did not come to sell you anything - I did not come to buy anything - I came to give you a terrible disease --- finding your family roots." He passed out EFA application forms to them and invited them to Asheville in 1995. We hope others will follow John's example and seek out other local groups of Ellers within your state who do not know about the EFA. We hope local groups will then organize and bring bus loads to the next conference.

It is impossible to describe adequately the many great things which happened at this conference, you had to be there and experience it to believe it. For example, this was the first conference at which descendants of four of the five Eller immigrants (George Michael, Jacob, Henry, and Christian Eller) were present; only John Melchoir, so far as known, was not represented. Marjorie Barker McCormick and her daughters, Mary Beth McCormick and Janet Rice of Indianapolis, IN, were the first Christian Eller descendants to attend an EFA conference. They were also the sources for the Christian Eller material in the August, 1993 issue of The Eller Chronicles. Their new information on the Christian Eller line and presence at the conference was of great significance to the EFA. We look forward to more information on this line from Marjorie and other Christian Eller descendants who have recently joined the EFA.

The genealogical and family history presentations were excellent (See many of these reports elsewhere in this issue).

The initial speaker set a good tone for the entire series of presentations with her informative lecture on the early settlement of the Oregon Territory, the Great Migration, and Oregon's Early Government.. She was Mrs. Judy Juntensen, Assistant Director/Librarian Benton County Historical Museum/Library and Instructor at a local Community College. Her appearance was arranged by Ken McCall, son of Charlotte Marshall, who introduced the speaker.

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Dr. Byron Eller of Oroville, CA (George Michael line), gave another of his masterful lectures on Ellers in the Civil War, this time he dealt with the several Eller families, both from the North and South, who had two or more sons in the war (See his report elsewhere herein). It will come as no great surprise to readers of the Chronicles that Byron won the James W. Hook Memorial award for outstanding research.

Since Clarice V. Stanley of Martin's Ferry, OH (Henry Eller line) presented a copy of her voluminous research report to the EFA at Estes Park in 1991, we have tried to determine how best to publish this remarkable body of new genealogy. At this conference Clarice solved the problem by presenting a revised version of her report that is ready for publication. This is the most extensive new genealogy of descendants of the immigrant Henry Eller since the publication of J.W. Hook's 1957 book and we are committed to publishing it in some form in the near future. Clarice is a computer-user and presents some interesting information in her report on new computer programs.

This conference was the first to be attended by descendants of Leonard2 Eller (Geogel Michael Eller). They were: Van Eller of Fishers, IN and his wife Betty, Jean Oliver of Orrington, ME and her husband Phillip. Van, who still owns and farms part of the old Leonard Eller land in Hamilton Co., IN, presented much new interesting information on the Leonard Eller line. His report prompts this question - is the Leonard Eller grave the only known grave for a son of George Michael Eller? We believe this is the case, but would like confirmation. Van and Betty are preparing a more extensive report, including the many pictures which they displayed at Portland, for a later edition of the Chronicles.

Philip Oliver explained how the EFA can achieve tax-free status that will allow members to deduct contributions to the EFA from their income tax. (Note: I regret we published incorrect information on this subject in an earlier issue of the Chronicles, saying incorrectly that the EFA had already achieved this status. I misunderstood the details of the Tax-Exempt status negotiated earlier with the IRS by Charlotte Marshall. Under the existing status, only the EFA, as an organization, is now tax-exempt not the contributions to the EFA of its individual members.) Philip will work with Charlotte to achieve a different status with the IRS that should grant tax exemption to members who contribute to the EFA).

John Paul Phipps (Orting, WA), in his talk on "Old" Peter Graybill and Connection to the Ellers" demonstrated that rare ability to present genealogical details in a remarkably interesting manner. His experiences with computers paralleled exactly my own - we both had hated and avoided them until we became hooked on genealogy. The Graybill connection is with the Henry Eller line.

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Janine Eller Porter (Coeur D'Alene, ID), presented another of her carefully prepared reports on her Buncombe County, NC, ancestors - this on her gr. grand-father, Joseph4 Michael Franklin Eller (Joseph3, Jacob2, Jr., Jacob1, Sr. line). Janine now has a computer so she plans to provide us with more of the data which she has been collecting for years on the Jacob, Jr. and Mary Biffle Eller line of Buncombe Co., NC. We hope prior to the Asheville Conference that a descendant chart of all known descendants of this line will be published.

Lynn Eller reported on plans for the dedication of grave markers in 1995 for the graves of John and David Eller at the New Hope Baptist Church in Wilkes County, NC. The EFA will contribute to this project as it has already done for two projects in Buncombe Co., NC. The new Board is working on guidelines by which members may apply for EFA support for other similar projects. The approach taken to the New Hope project provides an excellent model which we hope others may choose to put into action in their own local cemeteries. (See Lynn's report, "Project New Hope" in this issue.)

EFA Sec./Treas., Nancy (Troxel) Eller of Crowley, TX, gave us the benefit of her experiences in researching, writing and printing her book on her Troxel line. We hope more EFA members will gather up their courage and emulate what Nancy has done for her family history.

EFA Board Member, Joe C. Eller of Houston, TX, ( Jacob2, Jr., Jacob1, Sr., line) up-dated his story of the continuing contacts which he and his wife are pursuing with Hillar Eller and the Ellers of Estonia.

Ed Eller (Dalton, GA), (Jacob2,Jr., Jacob1, Sr., line), discussed Susanna "Sukey" Eller, progenitor of the north Georgia branch of the Jacob, Jr. and Mary Biffle Eller line. He explained how the nickname "Sukey" came to be and how he had come to be interested in family history and genealogy only since his sister gave him a present two years ago of membership in the EFA. Since then, he has purchased all back issues of The Eller Chronicles and began compiling a computer data base on all descendants of the Jacob Eller, Sr. line. He told of his mother who had kept a diary all her life including the day of her death and how he had published in the last year her diary in 12 large leather bound volumes. Ed has volunteered to computerize all data on the Jacob, Jr., and Mary Biffle Eller line.

J. Gerald Eller ( Whittier, NC), (Jacob2,Jr., Jacob1, Sr., line) gave a brief talk on the interrelationships of his Henkle-Biffie, and Ketchey - Eller ancestral lines. He emphasized aspects of Henkle family history, especially that of his 7th gr. grand-parent, the immigrant, Rev. Jacob Anthony Henckel, and his grandson, Rev. Paul Henkle. His report will appear in a later issue.

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It was a special pleasure to meet so many recent contributors to the Chronicles for the first time. Included: Kay Black (Bakersfield, CA); Iona Fisher Pilker (Tacoma, WA), Marjorie McCormick, her daughter Mary Beth and daughter, Janet Rice, (Indianapolis, IN), Jean Oliver ( ME) and Herman Eller (OK)

Several attendees met relatives unexpectedly whom they had not known before; some also were able through new contacts to find leads to their ancestral immigrant roots. One of the most dramatic unexpected meetings involved Ed Eller (Dalton, GA), his sister, Clara Jean Eller Davis (Mogadore, OH) and niece, Annie Marie Eller Laurich (Barberton, OH), and John and Herman Eller (Skiatook, OK) with their wives, Lucy and Bernadene.

Prior to the conference, Ed, and his relatives, had never known their Oklahoma cousins. The fun and joy shared by these Ellers throughout the four days was infectious and added immeasurably to the success of the conference. No newly discovered relatives meeting for the very first time could have enjoyed one another more. They had a 4-day celebration which kept everyone entertained with their constant bantering, jokes and stories. John was heard to say. "I learned early two things about life - you could hate it or you could enjoy it - I chose to enjoy it." So apparently had Ed and Herman.

They surely demonstrated this philosophy and in the process make everyone else feel great. No one who was on the tour bus will soon forget the "Ed, John, and Herman Eller Show". The three of them are planning a reunion with other relatives on Labor Day in Hiawassee, GA, which is only a short distance from my home. Lynn, Juanita, and I are invited and we plan to be there.

The Saturday night banquet, for the second time, featured Solveig Sperati Korte and daughters, Kendra and Kirsten, her father Dr. Carleton Sperati and her brother William Sperati. This time they played, sang, and lead the group in singing old songs of the Oregon Trail period. Other high points of the banquet were the presentation of the J. W. Hook Memorial Award to Byron Eller, the announcement of winners of the raffles for the rug, quilts, and oil paintings and the presentation of a huge wedding cake by Ed and John Eller to the very surprized Gerald and Juanita Eller on their 50th wedding anniversary. Also, for the first time the EFA met Charlotte Marshall's husband Jack, her three brothers, Henry R. "Hank", Harold, and Ray, and two sisters Frances Olsen and Lola Inez Smith, plus spouses. Inez had attended the 1989 Conference in Salisbury, NC.

Leon Korte, husband of Solveig of the musical Korte family, gave a computer demonstration and offered to assist the EFA in organizing a computer-user group which is now being planned among EFA members.

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The rather elaborate Saturday night banquets are now part of the tradition at Eller Family Conferences. For many the interesting evening of good food and song planned and carried out so professionally by Lynn Eller and Solveig Korte was the high point of the conference. Much planning is ahead for those working on Conf. IV if they match the Portland banquet. Lynn Eller brings a special flair and theatrical talent to the banquet as master of ceremonies. He was in good form again in Portland as he was in Estes Park, and so were the Sperati and Korte families.

The last session on Sunday morning was a breakfast followed by a simple but moving devotional service led by Lynn Eller, Byron Eller, and Leetha Renwick. Good-byes were said and the Eller descendants scattered to their homes across the U.S. with fond memories of a great family gathering that none will soon forget.

Sadly, one event brought shock and a heavy sense of loss to many. On the first day came word that Dr. Klaus Napp-Zinn on his way to the airport in Frankford, Germany to board a plane with his new wife, Asta, for the flight to Portland was stricken and taken to a hospital. The first report was not ominous.

The next day came the second report that he had died without regaining consciousness. The loss of this enthusiastic and popular EFA member, who had attended the first two EFA conferences and was on his way to the third, was a heavy personal blow to those who had known him since the first EFA conference in 1989 when he enthralled everyone with his pictures and reports of German Ellers. Ironically his wedding announcement appeared in the last issue of the Chronicles.

He was our house guest for a week following the 1989 conference and was scheduled to be with us a few days following the Portland conference. During his first visit, he and I found our interests and philosophies about many things so remarkably similar that we became very close friends. We both had careers in biology and each had come to genealogy near the ends of those careers. His plan, he explained, was to devote considerable more time to genealogy after his retirement. He mentioned that his father, who had preceded him as a professor at the University of Koln, had always planned to do genealogy in his retirement but death came too soon for that.

Klaus in the last year had remarried and retired from the University. He wrote that he was looking forward to doing more genealogical research. I am convinced he hoped to be the one to find the connections between the U.S. Ellers and their place and family of origin. I believe he also hoped that his and our Eller ancestors would prove to be related. Flowers, on behalf of the EFA, were sent by President Lynn Eller, and others have extended condolences to his wife, Dr. Asta Napp-Zinn, his 94 year old mother, and his children.

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I count Klaus as among the most intelligent and able scholars I have ever met. Only when his name was invoked by Leetha Renwick during her prayer at the Sunday morning breakfast did the full shock of his loss strike me. I hope someday to meet Asta and other members of his family either in America or Germany. It is with a very sad heart that I remove his name from the EFA European liaison team.

This summary of the 1993 conference omits much that happened that was special to many in attendance. Attendees are invited to please share any special memories, omissions or pictures for the next issue......... J.G.E. (Ed.)

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