At Reunion, Family Tree Covers A Lot Of Ground

Harford Couple Plans For About 100 Relatives

August 04, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

Blanche Doolittle Webb wasn't intimidated by the thought of planninga reunion for 100 of her kinfolk.

After all, the family's motto is: "Do a little more a little bit better."

The reunion, Aug. 6-8 at a Towson hotel, is expected to draw about 100 Doolittles -- from 26 states and Canada.

As president of Doolittle Family Inc., the Harford County resident has planned tours of Baltimore and Fort McHenry, and a family meeting as part of the family's three-day biannual reunion next week in Towson.

The Doolittlesare descended from Abraham Doolittle, founder of New Haven and Wallingford, Conn., said Webb, 74. The extended Doolittle family has had meetings every two years since 1933.

Webb and her husband started attending in 1973. Their two children will join the clan at this week's reunion.

The reunion is as much a celebration of forebears as itis of those who show up every two years.

The family tree measures160 feet by 3 feet, and lists more than 10,000 names covering 13 generations, said Webb. It will take her husband, Spike, about three hours to hang it in the family's meeting room at the hotel.

"We tape it along the wall, and then you find your name and begin to trace it back to see how you are related to Abraham Doolittle, and the person next to you is doing the same thing. All the family lines meet at oneperson," she said. "It's interesting to meet new kissing cousins."

One of the kissing cousins Webb met is Verna Doolittle, who will probably win the family prize for traveling farthest to the event. It took Doolittle six days to travel from Victoria, British Columbia.

"I'm very interested in genealogy, and I was hoping to find somebody more closely related," said Doolittle, who is staying with the Webbs at their home near Eden Mill. "I once met a gal whose grandfather wasmy great-grandfather's brother."

Part of the fun of having the family in Baltimore will be the chance to teach them "Bawlmer-ese," said Webb, noting that sometimes the cultural exchange is as important as the exchange of genealogical information.

"When Verna came I asked her if waitresses or salesclerks called her 'hon' in Victoria, andshe said 'No, why would they do that?' " said Webb, laughing. "And I'm going to teach them words like 'warsh' for 'wash' and 'zinc' for sink."

Webb and her husband live in a three-story mill house that dates to the early 1800s. Inside there is a table of Doolittle memorabilia, including photos and a gavel once wielded at a family gathering.

"This is probably the largest family organization in the countrybased on the number of names we have on the chart," said Webb. "We even have a family news sheet, 'Doolittle Doings,' that comes out twice a year."

Webb said the best part about being a Doolittle is belonging to a family with such a deep history.

"It's so unusual to have so much genealogical information," said Webb. "So many times you have to go to cemeteries and do grave rubbings. We've been fortunate that the individual families have kept track so there hasn't been any need for extensive research."

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