The 2012 Banks Family Association Reunion
Granville County, North Carolina
by Ed and Annette Jackson
The tradition of the Banks Family Association is to hold a biennial reunion every odd-numbered year at Coldwater United Methodist Church in Elbert County, Georgia, and to hold a “little reunion” in even-numbered years at various sites associated with the Banks Family throughout the Southeast.
This year’s reunion was held May 19-20, 2012, in Granville County, North Carolina. The date and location coincided with the 250th anniversary of the Banks United Methodist Church.
Early arrivers from the Banks Family Association pose for a photo Saturday morning
Granville County is located on the North Carolina-Virginia border, just north of Durham and Raleigh. The Banks United Methodist Church is located on state road 96, several miles north of the community of Wilton. Because the church does not lie within any town or city, its address can be confusing. A Google search for the church most often lists the church as located in Wilton, but sometimes its address is shown as Franklinton – and occasionally as Creedmoor. This confusion can be explained by the fact that until the 1980s, Wilton was the nearest town with a post office. But in the 1980s, Wilton lost both its post office and its status as an incorporated town.
As noted earlier, the location and date of the Banks reunion coincided with the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Banks United Methodist Church, which was built on land
donated by Thomas Banks in 1762. Thomas is an ancestor of many of those in the Banks Family Association today – particularly those with ties to Ralph and Rachael Banks.
Thomas Banks moved to North Carolina from Virginia in 1762, which was the final year of the French and Indian War. He settled in Granville County, where he purchased 253.5 acres of land.
In 1762, Banks deeded 1-2 acres of his land for establishment of a church, which became known as Banks Chapel. At the time, the Church of England was the official church of the
colony, so Banks Chapel would have been an Anglican church. However, during the American Revolution, the church became Methodist, which it has remained ever since. Initially
known as Banks Chapel Methodist Church, the church later was known as Banks Methodist Church, and more recently as Banks United Methodist Church.
Over the past 250 years, the Banks church has met in several different structures. The present church building was completed in 1911 and continues today as home of the church.
The 2012 Banks Family Reunion
Banks family members began arriving from Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida at the Inn at Creedmoor on Friday, while most North Carolina cousins drove in on Saturday morning. By lunchtime on Saturday, there were 23 cousins present, and by Sunday morning, the number had increased to 26. Those attending were:
George and Norma Banks – SC
Banks Edwards - FL
Ed and Annette Jackson - GA
Judith Young - GA
Bob Sullivan - VA
Rusty Terrell - GA
Cathy Cline and Jeff Johnston - FL
Cathy and Milt Redd - SC
Barbara Dayhuff - GA
Barbara’s sister-in-law GA
Richard and Pam Dayhuff - GA
Bob Franklin - NC
Sam Franklin - NC
Elizabeth and Darrin Paley -NC
Caroline and Billy Holliday -NC
Joe Scherberger – GA
John Sheftall– GA
Lamar and Gay Whitfield - NC
Located about 15 minutes from the Banks UMC, the Comfort Inn at Creedmore, N.C. served as reunion hotel.
On Saturday, the Banks United Methodist Church held a "Fun Day" to help raise money for a new fellowship hall.
Among the items for sale were a barbecue chicken luncheon, hot dogs, cakes, pies, cookbooks, church souvenir plates and ornaments, and pecans.
Saturday afternoon featured an outdoor performance by The Envoys,
a nationally known gospel quartet from Charlotte.
Searching for Thomas Banks’ Grave
Because Thomas Banks is the progenitor of so many Banks Family Association members, there has long been an interest in learning where he is buried.
According to tradition in Granville County, Thomas Banks and his third wife, Susannah Preddy (also spelled Priddy) Hurt, were buried locally in a small cemetery that belonged to Susannah’s family.
In her 1972 volume, Banks of Elbert, Third Edition, Sarah Banks Franklin states that Thomas Banks is buried in the Berry Preddy cemetery in Granville County, North Carolina. The basis for her conclusion traces to her visit to Granville County in August 1972 prior to the release of her book. While there, she met with Alberta Vivian Preddy, who was recognized as the matriarch of Preddy family genealogy. When Sarah Banks asked where Thomas Banks was buried, Preddy responded that she had always been told that he was buried in the Preddy Cemetery, alongside his third wife, Susannah.
Alberta Preddy had never actually been to the cemetery because of its remote location and the fact that it was on private property. Had Sarah Banks been able to visit Preddy cemetery, she would have found no gravestone or evidence that Thomas Banks was buried there. But Alberta Preddy’s account led Sarah Banks to believe that Thomas Banks was indeed buried in Granville County.
In her second edition of Banks of Elbert, written in 1937, Sarah Banks had written that Thomas Banks had died at the home of his son, Ralph, in 1789. This would have been Coldwater Plantation in Elbert County. Although she did not specifically cite the location of his burial in this edition, presumably Thomas would have been buried where he died. However, after her 1972 interview with Alberta Preddy, Sarah Banks changed details as to Thomas Banks’ death in her third edition of Banks of Elbert. She now wrote confidently that Thomas Banks died in Granville County (specifically noting that this was a correction to the account in her second edition).Sarah Banks Franklin further stated (p. 296) that Alberta Preddy’s account of where Thomas was buried “is about as authentic as any information we will be able to find.”
Sarah Banks was an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and sometime in 1972 or 1973 submitted the paperwork on behalf of the Banks Family Association to secure a DAR marker for Thomas Banks’ newly discovered gravesite. At the same time, she applied for a marker to place at the Banks United Methodist Church.
Thomas Banks would have been 66 when the American Revolution broke out, so he did not serve as a soldier. However, DAR rules do not limit markers to veterans but also may recognize those who provided support to the patriot cause during the Revolution. Sarah Banks was able to document that Thomas Banks served as a justice of the peace but more importantly as a member of the Committee to Procure Arms (see http://services.dar.org/public/dar_research/search_adb/default.cfm). Committees to procure arms and ammunition were active in the American colonies during the early months of the Revolution, and as their name indicates, functioned to find weapons for the patriots in their fight against British forces.
The Banks Family Association funded the two DAR markers, and in 1974 scheduled dedication ceremonies in Granville County for the two markers.
This marked the the first of what would become known as Banks Family “little reunions.”
DAR grave marker placed in the Preddy Cemetery in Granville County, N.C. in 1974. It states, "Thomas Banks, Revolutionary Patriot, 1709-1789."
DAR marker placed at the Banks United Methodist Church in Granville County in 1974.
Visiting Preddy Cemetery
On Saturday of the 2012 reunion, a member of the Preddy family escorted several carloads of Banks family members to the old Berry Preddy Cemetery to view the reputed gravesite of their ancestor. The cemetery is located about a half mile from the nearest paved road. Thankfully, the landowner had bush hogged a path through the weeds and trees.
The Berry Preddy Cemetery is located on private property in the woods about five miles from theBanks United Methodist Church
There is no gravestone for Thomas Banks in the Preddy Cemetery, only the DAR marker
The Preddy Cemetery is a small cemetery, containing only seven or eight graves. It is here that Thomas Banks’ third wife, Susannah, is buried.
Banks Family historian John Sheftall did not arrive for the reunion until Sunday and missed the outing to the Preddy Cemetery (though he had visited it on a previous occasion). Several Banks cousins were excited about having seen Thomas Banks’ grave, but when pressed, John had to tell them that, despite the best efforts by Sarah Banks Franklin in 1974, the DAR markers at the church and Preddy cemetery are incorrect with respect to the burial sites of Thomas and Susannah Banks.
According to John, there is documentary evidence that Thomas Banks died at Coldwater Plantation in Elbert County, Georgia, and was buried in what would become the family cemetery behind the plantation house – rather than in Granville County, North Carolina. Unfortunately, no gravestone remains marking Thomas’ burial at Coldwater Plantation. Still, after so many decades of tradition, perhaps no harm is done by allowing Granville County, North Carolina to make a claim as the final resting place of the Banks Family’s progenitor.
2012 Saturday Dinner and Reunion Business Meeting
Saturday evening, Banks Family members met at Bob’s BBQ at Creedmoor for dinner. Bob’s BBQ was conveniently located next to the Comfort Inn, where most family members were staying.
After dinner, family members convened at the Comfort Inn for visiting, followed by a business meeting.
George Banks (right) presides over the 2012 Banks reunion on Saturday night, May 19, 2012.
The first order of business was introductions. A total of 23 cousins from five states were present for an informal business meeting,
There was an announcement of a new book entitled Ralph Banks, by Charles Banks. It should be coming out soon, and word will be sent to association members when and where it can be purchased.
Cathy Cline shared information about her genealogical website (http://ludicy.tribalpages.com/tribe/browse?userid=ludicy). In her website is a section on the Banks Family (http://ludicy.tribalpages.com/family-tree/ludicy/103/surname/Banks). To request the access code (password) to view her website, send Cathy an e-mail at: email@example.com.
In other business, there was a discussion about the time and place of the next reunion. Ed Jackson noted that he believed the 50th anniversary of the Banks Family Association would occur in 2014. However, he subsequently was unable to document when the association was organized. He believes initial planning probably began in 1964 in conjunction with a desire to erect a monument to the memory of Ralph and Rachel Banks – but the only firm date that can be proven is that the association held its first reunion on July 24, 1965, at the Coldwater Methodist Church in Elbert County, Georgia.
The purpose of the 1965 reunion was to dedicate a granite monument at the church funded by the association in memory of Ralph and Rachael Banks and their 14 children.
The year 2014 will mark the 150th anniversary of Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. This has significance to the Banks Family because three sons of John Banks were killed in the Atlanta Campaign. Many events are planned to commemorate the Civil War Sesquicentennial, including a reenactment of the Battle of Reseca, and Ed Jackson suggested that we take advantage of this occasion for our 2014 reunion.
Another issue discussed was whether to continue the tradition of holding the Association’s main reunion every other year in Elbert County, Georgia. At last year’s Coldwater reunion, it seemed that the reunions were becoming a hardship for the small group of elderly women who prepare Saturday lunch for our group. Like many small, rural churches, attendance has declined at Coldwater in recent decades, so that only a handful of members are available to host our biennial reunions.
It was also pointed out that because so many members of the Banks Family Association have attended Coldwater reunions in the past, many members are either unable or unwilling to travel great distances time and time again. As a result, attendance has declined to the point that in the majority of cases, more people now attend the so-called “little reunions” than the “large reunion” in Elbert County.
There was a suggestion that the reunion perhaps should be held every fourth year at Coldwater, though one member felt that there are always people who are new to the reunions and want to see Coldwater Church and Plantation. There was no resolution as to the question, but the officers of the Association agreed to meet in August or September 2012 in Columbus, Georgia, to specifically discuss the frequency and location of future reunions, as well as how to increase attendance.
Joe Scherberger asked for new ideas to help attract the younger generation. There was much discussion about using email, Facebook, and other forms of social networking. Elizabeth and Darrin Paley agreed to help work on a Facebook page and perhaps do a demonstration on how to use it when we meet again.
Banks Edwards discussed the Banks Family Association website. Currently, the website is hosted without charge—but there is a limit of how much can be stored on the host server. He also mentioned the need for an Association logo.
The business meeting discussed the Banks United Methodist Church’s fund-raising drive to construct a new fellowship hall. Treasurer Banks Edwards reported that the Banks Family Association had $1484.50 in its treasury. A motion was then made and passed to contribute $500 to the church’s building fund.
Sunday Church Service and Reunion Events
On Sunday, May 20, Banks family members returned to the Banks United Methodist Church for the morning worship service. At the front of the church, there were 5 rows of seats marked with yellow ribbons reserved for the Banks family. The church was completely full for this momentous anniversary. Church pastor, Cliff Wall, and District Superintendent, Dr. Gray Southern, welcomed everyone.
John Sheftall gave a brief talk outlining the history of Thomas Banks and our connection to the church and community.
Bishop Alfred Wesley Gwinn, Jr. delivered the sermon.
Following the worship service, the ladies of the congregation provided a feast for lunch in the church’s picnic shelter.
Thanks to a sub-tropical storm off the North Carolina coast, there was a pleasant breeze and the weather was perfect both days.
On behalf of the Banks Family Association, a check for $500 was presented to the church for its fellowship hall building fund.