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Joshua Thomas
Nellis Family Association members listen to a fellow reunion attendee speak during Sunday's event.

Joshua Thomas
Nellis Family Association Reunion attendees are, front row, from left, sitting and kneeling: Melissa Nellis, Bob Van Slyke. Middle row, sitting: Kim Nellis Verrego, Courtney Verrego, Carolyn Nellis, Gerald Nellis, Willis Barshied, Mary Nellis Davis, Nita Padrick Bell. Standing: Sandy Nellis Lane, John Nellis, Christine Nellis, Sister Mary Cabrini (June Nellis), Carol Gollegly.


Nellis descendants come together for annual reunion

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - Updated: 6:37 AM


C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- On Sunday, 15 descendants of the area's famous settling family attended the annual Nellis Family Reunion at the Nellis Farm in Fort Plain, which has been in the family of current owners John and Christine Nellis since 1723 -- 290 years.

Attendees shared a potluck dinner, each providing a dish, on the shady, rustic porch of the farmhouse, which sits on 120 acres of land that houses 100 dairy cows and 100 head of young stock.

John, a ninth generation Nellis, currently operates the farm with Christine, and one of their three daughters. While their eldest daughter lives on a farm in Sharon Springs, their youngest daughter is currently enrolled in the agricultural program at SUNY Cobleskill with the intention of returning home to work on the family farm someday.

Many of the family's historic antiques still remain on the Nellis Farm property, including the first rubber wheel tractor that John's uncle purchased in 1944. An original wooden hay track remains in the barn -- still functional, but not used today. John and Christine are also in possession of the last horse drawn plow. In past years, reunion attendees were given tours of the property to view these unique, historical items.

This year was the third consecutive that the reunion has been held at Nellis Farm, with John noting that the NFA, which annually publishes a spring newsletter updating the Nellis descendants across the country of yearly happenings, is in a bit of a lull right now in terms of attendance, which he said naturally fluctuates depending on what's going on. 

Years ago, the Nellis family genealogy -- an 800 page, two volume document depicting the 14 generations of the Nellis family, featuring over 34,000 names -- was published. That year, when the event was held at the Canajoharie East Hill Elementary School's Nellis Pool, over 200 people attended.

John noted that in past years, people came from destinations as far as Washington and Utah. The furthest guest at Sunday's event travelled from Albany.

John -- who took over the family farm from his cousin in 1983, after it was passed down by John's uncle in 1973 -- said that his branch of the family tree has grown a bit slower than others, as his parents had him when they were around 40. His daughters mark the tenth generation of Nellis', while the book concludes with the 14th, which are spread out all across the nation.


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