Family Reunion in Buffalo Junction, VA

August 15, 2016

One of the things I’ve inherited in marrying Jordan is his family’s annual tradition of a reunion in Buffalo Junction, VA — the birthplace of his grandmother. It’s a tradition that has stood for more than 25 years, and it’s one the family looks forward to every year.

If you’ve never heard of Buffalo Junction, well, that makes sense. It’s a tiny town close to the southern border of Virginia where you’ll encounter long stretches of farm land, no traffic lights, and no cell phone service (seriously, you might as well just turn it off).

StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-20Every year we spend our time in Buffalo Junction staying at the house in which Jordan’s 89-year-old grandmother was born in 1927. This year it was 17 of us who took up residence in the house (and somehow managed to share one bathroom that relies on well water).

The house isn’t fancy, but that, of course, isn’t at all what this trip is about. This trip is about the acres of space outside of the house, as opposed to inside. It’s the kind of setup that allows for running and whiffle ball in the yard and allows for laughter and reminiscing and board games that come from being on top of each other in the living room.StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-9The front porch of the house has a swing I could sit on for hours, and Jameson apparently loved it too. StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-11StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-12And for fun, here’s a photo of Jameson on the same porch swing last year. It’s crazy to see what a difference a year can make.StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-22Back to this year — Jameson was over the moon to spend so much time outside, especially with his every-increasing speed. The running was only interrupted by popsicle breaks.StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-13StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-14StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-16StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-15 There was lots of quality time with his big cousins, who are seven and four-years-old. He’d wake up each morning and start calling their names before he’d make it out of the bedroom.StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-10And the family horse, named Lightning, had to be the biggest hit.

“Mommy, look! It’s a horse!”StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-5StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-8StoriedStyledBuffaloJunctionStoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-3StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-4This kid was having the time of his life.StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-2StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-6StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-7In addition to all of the time outside, we had an afternoon dedicated to the Jamieson family reunion, which is for all of the descendants of Jordan’s great-great-grandfather, Oliver Jamieson, who was born into slavery in 1853. The reunion was full of more laughter, good soul food, family updates, and games. But for me, the very best part of the day was reading through a thorough family history put together by one of our relatives. It included genealogies and important documents, like a sharecropper agreement signed by Oliver Jamieson (slavery ended in Virginia with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865, when Oliver was 12-years-old).

I’m not sure why knowing the story of your ancestors is so powerful. But we were all incredibly inspired to know our ancestors persevered through so much. And Jordan and I left with even more pride in having chosen to give Jameson the family name (though we altered the spelling for simplicity sake).

The final day of the reunion always involves attending Sunday service at Wharton Memorial Baptist Church, which Oliver Jamieson helped start and generations of his descendants attended as members. StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-17StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-18The music was the highlight for Jameson, and perhaps for me too (although just slightly ahead of the warmth and sincerity of the people who welcome us back into this church every year). At one point, Cousin George, our grandmother’s first cousin who is 96-years-old and amazingly spry, led the congregation in his rendition of “This Heart of Mine.” StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-21I’m easily moved by music, but there’s something that takes things to a whole ‘nother level when you hear an elder, who you know has lived through so many ups and downs, sing about things like, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and his righteousness. I dare not trust, the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus’s name.”

Time in Buffalo Junction makes me grateful for many things. For open spaces that contrast NYC. For family that helps chase my little boy around. For no phone service that forces me to unplug. For the retelling and creation of family stories. For such an empowering history and rich tradition of love and faith. StoriedStyledBuffaloJunction-19Until next year, Buffalo Junction.

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  • Reply
    August 15, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I love this so much! You have such a gift for blogging and story—how fortunate of Jordan to marry someone who can continue to tell the stories of Oliver Jamieson and his family! Love the photos, too!

    • Reply
      Jessica Rice
      August 17, 2016 at 11:33 am

      Thanks so much, Renee. I’m glad your birthday twin gets to experience all of this! :-)

  • Reply
    Ma Rice
    August 16, 2016 at 1:38 am

    I have relived every aspect of our amazing time in Buffalo Junction through this post; it is sheer perfection!

    • Reply
      Jessica Rice
      August 17, 2016 at 11:32 am

      Thanks, Ma! Glad I was able to capture it.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    I love this & the history behind Jameson’s name!! Also, I don’t think I’ll ever get over Jameson’s cuteness…he’s so darn photogenic!

    • Reply
      Jessica Rice
      August 17, 2016 at 11:32 am

      Thanks all around, Amanda! :-) Jameson certainly knows how to give it up for the camera.

  • Reply
    Karone Cleveland
    September 2, 2016 at 5:37 am

    What beautiful telling of your husband’s family history. I love that his family tree is alive in well in the memories passed from generation to the next. I also adore your blog…..

    • Reply
      Jessica Rice
      September 2, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks so much, Karone! So glad you enjoy the blog, and I’m so grateful to know Jordan’s family history as well. It’s such a gift.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    You totes hafta take a shot of Jameson on that porch swing every year until he’s an adult!

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