Shirley Convention June 1979
By Betty Shirley
The following was written by Marion Shirley of Indianapolis, Indiana in 1979 about our first Shirley Convention.
"Are you holding a reservation for Shirley?" The
good natured Mr. Sharp, manager of the Holiday Inn at Hopewell
Virginia barely blinked before asking, "Which one?"
The first Shirley Convention was not in the least deferred
by the gasoline shortage. Forty-three Shirley's from fourteen
states converged on the Inn by auto, air and motorcycle; and
enough of us had arrived by Friday evening to start getting acquainted.
("How do you do. I'm not a Shirley-- I'm just an 'outlaw'.
") Pen pals met each other face to face while Betty and
Guy moved graciously from group to group and then to their preparations
for the next morning's meeting.
Sharing of family notes and pictures began seriously and was
resumed during every spare moment through out the week end. Striking
family resemblances were noted too often to be coincidence!
Saturday morning, Betty asked us to be seated by lineage --
the Walter Shirley group, the Kentucky Shirley's and the other Shirley
descendants. We munched on
California Bing cherries, compliments of Betty and Guy, while
formally introducing ourselves. (My husband Walter said, I'm descended from the Barren
Co. KY Shirley's and I'll turn you over to my mouthpiece--my
wife." Marion) --Obviously the the so called "outlaws"
play an important role in the Shirley Association!). [I THINK
MARION MAY BE REFERRING TO THE FACT THAT I TOO AM AN OUTLAW...JUST
MARRIED INTO THE FAMILY].
We learned more about our common English ancestry from an
enormous wall chart arduously prepared by Betty. In addition,
she announced that a limited number of these charts and books,
containing relevant portions of the "Stemmata Shirleiana",
are now available.
Mr. Hill Carter, present owner by descendancy of Shirley Plantation,
climaxed the morning with a capsule history of the land--starting
with the foundation of the "West and Shirley Hundred"
in 1610, and capping it off with Louisa Carter's breathtaking
eyewitness account of events at Shirley during the Civil War
when the plantation was protected by the Union against destruction
by both sides. He concluded by reciting from memory two letters
to the Carter family from Robert E. Lee, whose mother was a Carter,
written after the Civil War. Mr. Carter's presentation was a
sober reminder that Shirley's lived on both sides of the Mason
Dixon line and leveled guns at each other as we so often hear,
that families were divided by the terrible war.
After lunch we went by caravan to visit Shirley Plantation.
Carter's personal attention to the historic significance of the
house and surrounding lands, and the beauty of the gnarled old
walnut trees on the banks of the James River was most interesting.
If our group picture taken at Shirley reflects emotions other
than interest and pleasure--such hilarity or suspense, these
reactions were the result of watching the photographer sprint
to position in the picture after setting a delayed shutter release!
We reconvened later in the afternoon for more ancestral-record
swapping and an informal buisness diescussion which dealt with
such mundane matters as the format of the Shirley News; Betty's
deficit (she does have one!); the necessity for accuracy and
authenticity in reporting our genealogical information--documented
whenever possible and ways and means of broadening our association
membershipd and general interest in active research into Shirley
Looking forward to a growing interest in Shirley relationships,
ancestry and future Shirley gatherings, we all sensed a warmth
and congeniality which can only bear out the truth in the old
addage that blood is thicker than water.
Introducing Betty and Guy!
Guy is handsome, personable and modest. His ancestors start
in Pennsylvania, move on to Ohio, to Arkansas and finally to
California where he is now in the construction business. He gallantly
bowed to Betty's leadership at the Convention but was a tireless,
informed partner and host, a necessary ingredient in our first
Betty is a woman with one gear; "Full speed ahead!"
A mover and an organizer, she has conducted a successful bridal
service including everything from the engagement to the last
grain of rice. She recently became interested in her own family
origins and moved on to Guy's family and Shirley's in general.
Her ambitions for the Shirley Association together with her organizational
abilities encouraged us to believe that we cannot only enlarge
our membership and scope of research, but have fun doing it.
It was fun to meet Betty and Guy and their two youngest daughter,
Delaine, 15 years, and Debbie, 12 years.
(Mrs. Walter L. Shirley of Indianapolis, IN)
Note and Update....
Marion's husband, Walter, passed away several years ago. She
remarried and lives in Florida. She is now Marion Porter. I hear
from her every few months. She provided the Smith info that we
posted on our surname web page about a year ago.
Marion and Walter attended several Shirley gatherings over
those earlier years. Marion also went to England with us in 1986.
Marion... a note to you!
Typing this took me back to those early days. I've been thinking
about all the great friends we have made over the years and how
many of them that are no longer with us. I am so pleased to have
met them and to have learned of their family info. Marion, this
was one of the best things I have done in my lifetime. I had
no idea how long we would do this NEW Shirley Association thing.
I guess I have surprised myself. It's been fun!