Daniel-Bush Family Reunion History
Our father, John Emery Daniel, was born on August 17, 1883 in Johnston, South Carolina. His grandfather, Mobley, came over on a slave ship and was bought by a family named Daniel in South Carolina. This is how we got the last name Daniel, as it was customary that the slave would take on the name of his master. Our father’s mother was Annie Daniel, whose birth date and birthplace are unknown. Our father had four siblings: Gus, Clara, Florence, and Narcissus.
In 1904, John Emery Daniel married Ruby Jane Bush, who was born in Bolton, Mississippi on October 26, 1886. Our maternal grandmother was named Georgia Ann Bush. She had three other children—William (Sam), Hersena, and Virginia—but our mother was the oldest. We don’t know where or when Georgia Bush was born, but she died around 1946 at the age of 90.
John Emery Daniel and Ruby Jane Bush Daniel had thirteen children: Willie, Clarence, Isaiah, Alberta, Addie, Georgia, James, Preston, John Purvis, C. D., Ernestine, Christine, and Berniece.
Willie was born on September 8, 1906 in Bolton, Mississippi. After Willie was born, our parents moved to Johnston, South Carolina, where Clarence was born on August 7, 1908 and Isaiah was born on July 5, 1910. When Isaiah was four months old, our father left South Carolina and moved back to Bolton, Mississippi. He left his family in South Carolina and went to Bolton looking for work. Shortly thereafter, the family joined him in Bolton, where we lived on the Lord Geddie plantation. Bolton was in the hills of Mississippi, so it was difficult to raise food or cotton. The following children were born in Bolton: Alberta on September 7, 1912, Addie on July 20, 1914, Georgia on April 17, 1916, James on May 8, 1918, and Preston on March 4, 1920. Soon after Preston’s birth, the family moved to Shelby, Mississippi and lived as sharecroppers on the McCoy’s plantation. It was so far from schools and churches that the family moved again the next year to the Allendale plantation. It was there that John Purvis was born on November 23, 1922. At the age of 4, John Purvis died in the hospital in Jackson, Mississippi from surgery. Ernestine was born on January 8, 1924 and died at 5 years old from an operation. C. D. was born on June 10, 1926 and died at 8 months old from pneumonia.
The Allendale plantation was owned by the Wilkerson brothers, though they did not live on the plantation. The first boss they hired to run the farm was Ira Moore, who was very nice but who did not stay long before he purchased his own land. Mr. Mac McCully replaced him. After McCully came, we started renting the land instead of being sharecroppers, and we were able to raise our own food. Mac McCully claimed that our father owed him $50. Even though we knew it was not true, we all chipped in together and paid the debt. We took our three mules, one horse, one wagon, and our plow tools and moved to the Gardner plantation, where we again rented our land. We made a good crop that year, and we were able to pay off all our debts. We sold all our stock and moved back to the Allendale plantation, where Christine was born on February 9, 1929 and Berniece was born on July 8, 1933.
In 1925, on this Allendale plantation owned by Mr. L.B. Wilkerson, the family reunion began. The family brought 200 pounds of ice to make ice cream and lemonade for the first family gathering. Aunt Clara (Williams) brought goat and duck meat, and our father and mother had plenty of pickle beef and chicken. Ruby Daniel made plenty of plain cake, which was her husband’s favorite, buttermilk custards, potato salad, and many other foods. She was a very good cook and taught this to her daughters.
For many years the family would gather on the 4th of July for their annual dinner. However, the family began to marry, start their own families, and move away to other cities. Willie married Merdith Santford, and they had two children: Ruby and Lutitia. Isaiah married Lerotha Johnson, and they had one daughter, Thelma Lee Daniel. Alberta was married to John Williams, and she had two sons, Frank Walker and James Clifton Williams. Addie was married to Robert Butler, and they had seven children: Virgie Mae, Ethel Lee, Clarence, Lee Floyd, Erma Jean, Robert Jr., and Eloise. James married Dorothy Fields, and four children were added to that union: James Jr., Ophelia, Ernestine, and Ethel Jane. Preston married Marie Woodley, and they had four sons: Emery Jr., Willie Oliver, Darrell Eugene, and Andre. Christine married Willie Hill, and five children were added to that union: Willie Jr., LaVerne, Charles, Stanley, and Teresa. Berniece married Sam Williams, and three children were added to that union: Patricia, Edwin, and Michael. Clarence and Georgia did not have any children.
After the family began expanding and moving away, the annual dinner was changed to the Daniel Family Reunion. Later on, we changed the name to the Daniel-Bush Family Reunion and the date to the second weekend in August in order for all of us to attend our home church, Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Shelby, Mississippi. Most recently, the reunion date was moved to the month of July to better accommodate family and work schedules.
In later years, many more of the family members have taken part in the family reunion. We have traveled to different cities where our relatives live, including Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Greenville, and Memphis.
We have many family accomplishments. First and foremost, most family members are Christians. We are also truck drivers, lawyers, teachers, principals, postmasters, postal workers, and many other professionals.
Although our mother died on January 26, 1982, her memory lives on. She always told us to stay with the church, love one another, and to keep the family reunion going. We were taught to love, care, and share. This we have done, not only among the members of the family, but also with many, many friends. As we have reached our senior years, we are so thankful that we have instilled in our children the importance of family, and that our children are willing to keep the family reunion going. May the legacy of the Daniel-Bush Family Reunion continue for many generations to come.