The Brown and Fisher Families, formally known as the Brown-Fisher Association, Inc. (BFA), gathered for their 94th annual reunion on Saturday, October 15, one month later than originally planned as a result of Hurricane Florence. Though it was a misty and cloudy day, approximately 60 descendants and their kin attended.
Having been separate organizations previously, the two families joined together to form one association in 1925 due to the numerous marriages between the two families. The Association includes descendants of German immigrants who migrated to Rowan and Cabarrus counties from Philadelphia, Pa. in search of a better life. Original ancestors were: brothers Abraham, Andrew, Jacob and Michael Braun and Frederick, George Jr., and Sybilla Fisher. Rowan County’s Michael Braun is best known for his 1766 Old Stone house, now known simply as the Michael Braun House, which, after more than 50 years of repairs and restorations, stands as one of the oldest surviving residences in Western North Carolina. Cabarrus County’s Bachman Brown was known for serving several terms as Mayor of Kannapolis. Perhaps the most famous descendant is former Indiana Senator Richard “Dick” Lugar, who served as Mayor of Indianapolis and as Indiana Senator from 1977 to 2013.
The family reunion was held on the grounds of the Michael Braun House in Granite Quarry, which is now owned and operated by Rowan Museum, Inc. BFA President Stephen W. Brown of Durham opened the meeting on a somber note, remembering Juanita Fisher Lagg of Salisbury who passed away earlier this year at the age of 92. Mrs. Lagg had served as BFA Coordinator for over 30 years. He also recognized Pat Beck, also of Salisbury, who resigned from her position as Secretary after 18 years of service. Treasurer Larry Brown of China Grove reported that the organization was in good shape financially, though increased newsletter mailing, and production costs have stretched that line item in the budget.
President Brown noted that over the past year the Association has joined the digital world, establishing a website (www.brownfisher.weebly.com) which contains back issues of newsletters, creating a contact email address, and a new Facebook page.
Newly appointed Coordinator Doug Robinson of Salisbury reported 2018 membership numbers as follows: Lifetime ($250 and above) – 172 (124 living members); Sustaining ($50 to $250) – 18; Donor ($25 to $50) – 131; Annual ($10 to $25) – 128 for a total of 401 members which is a decrease from 2017. He reported that the 2019 annual membership drive will begin in a few months and encouraged everyone to join in advance using the form on the website. Additionally, he noted that the website contains a form to assist the group in its effort to gather recent births, deaths, marriages, etc.
President Brown told the group about Rowan Museum’s exciting plans for enhancement of the Michael Braun House and grounds. After upcoming removal of the 1960s caretaker’s house, the Museum seeks to expand their storytelling capabilities by adding a cabin, donated by the family of the late NC Rep. Eugene and Jean Fisher McCombs, to the site which will be used to reenact the lives of Michael Braun’s 18 slaves. Additionally, Mrs. Lagg and her late husband Elmer left a gracious gift to the Museum which will be used as a challenge to raise funds for a family center to be built on the hill above the house. The building as conceived will contain a long-planned family archives room, a kitchen, an office/gift shop and an events area along with other necessities. In addition, the building will be surrounded by a canopy overhang which will serve as a stage for the natural amphitheater created by the slope down to the house. At other times the canopy will serve as a picnic area for guests.
As has been the custom, President Brown recognized the following new Lifetime members: #168, Alice Jean Bostian Dale of Costa Mesa, CA.; #169, Kristy Eddleman of Charlotte, NC; #170, Ben G. Beeker of Cary, NC; #171, Wanda White Edmondson of Oak City, NC. Eighty-two year old and Charter Life Member Becky Burrows of Salisbury was the oldest person attending. Two year old Skylar Menster of Salisbury was the youngest person attending. Board of Directors Vice President Deane Brown of Spartanburg, SC travelled the farthest. Treasurer Larry Brown and Becky Burrows tied as the descendants with the most family members present with seven each. Youth attending included: Gavin Boyle, Layla Boyle, Berkley Brown, Brooks Brown, Cole Brown, Samantha Menster, Skylar Menster, Eli McCoy, Danelle Ribelin, Brianna Hunt, Greyson Hunt, Lacie Hunt, Bryson Walker, and Keely Walker.
The following members were approved as board members whose four-year terms begin 2018 and expire 2022: Candace Elliott Brown of China Grove, Hunter Alexander Fisher and Linda Shelton of Salisbury and Keith Wolf of Albemarle. The following were approved as officers whose two-year terms begin 2018 and expire 2020: Stephen W. Brown of Durham – President; Deane Brown of Spartanburg – Vice President; Paul Bryan Walker of Concord - Secretary.
As in the recent past, the reunion was held in conjunction with Germanfest, also held on the grounds of the Michael Braun House, whose attendance topped 3,000 last year. Germanfest included making of traditional 1700s German crafts, reenactors such as an apothecary, a beekeeper, etc., and serving German foods such as bratwurst and beer provided by New Sarum Brewery of Salisbury.
The 2019 event will be held on Saturday, September 21.