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Did the pandemic kill the reunion?

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
“Fond memory brings the light of other days around me.” – Thomas More

Ladies and gentlemen, summer has arrived, so vacation season has arrived – along with reunion season. Or has it?

In my lifetime, there has been one reunion I’ve attended more than any other (by far) – the Gossett Reunion in Pricetown, a reunion that dates back more than a century.

The reunion is held the third Saturday in June by the descendants of James Worth Gossett (1847-1922) and Sarah Ann Roberts Gossett (1843-1932), who are my great-great-grandparents.

The Gossetts had eight children that survived to adulthood, and each June for as long as anyone alive can remember, the reunion was an annual get together to fellowship with family and celebrate the birthday of “Grandma” Gossett, who was born June 4, 1843.

Actually, the reunion wasn’t always held in Pricetown/Salem Township, and it wasn’t always held in June. In recent years, it has been held at the Pricetown Church of Christ, but when I was a child, it was at the Lions Club Park in Lynchburg. For many, many years, it was held at Fort Salem, which was across the road from “Grandpa” and “Grandma” Gossett’s home on Certier Road. It’s also been held at the homes of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Steritz and Mr. and Mrs. David Steritz, among other places.

The first reunion was held in August of 1899 after members of the Gossett and Faris families met at the local town hall in April of that year to formulate plans for holding a family reunion. At the meeting, R.S. Chaney was chosen as president; L.L. Faris as vice president; Anna Faris and Cinda Chaney as corresponding secretaries; and J.S. Faris and Frank Foust as historians.

It was decided to hold the reunion at Fort Salem, one and a half miles south of Pricetown on the lands originally owned by Jesse Faris but now owned by James Worth “J.W.” Gossett. It was written by John S. Faris in July of 1899 that, “This ancient fortification is probably one of the most picturesque in southern Ohio, being three-fourths of a mile in circumference.

"In the center are two mounds. The larger is nearly 300 feet in circumference and 10 feet in height. The eastern side of the fort overlooks a beautiful valley and is washed by the waters of the Whiteoak. The western side is flanked by Mound Run, thus giving the place an elevated, breezy position. A more beautiful grove to spend a day, aside from its historical associations, can not be found. Relatives of these families, in large numbers, are living in Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, and a great many of them have signified their intent to be present. A splendid program is being arranged for this occasion and will be published later. An immense concourse of people is expected, so let everybody remember the date, Thursday, Aug. 17.”

Mr. Faris was right, and people did show up in large numbers and “was such a decided success” that the Faris-Gossett Reunion would be held on Aug. 18, 1900 at Fort Salem and that plans were being made to “make this reunion eclipse the former.”

Then in 1901, the Faris-Gossett Reunion made the front page of the local newspaper, with its "success eclipsing all former ones, both in interest and attendance" with the article saying, “A conservative estimate of the crowd would compel us to place the number at 2,500 people.” A band and orchestra furnished music, and some of the songs “brought forth round after round of applause.”

Year after year, the reunion was held. At some point by the 1930s, the Faris-Gossett Reunion had become the Gossett Reunion, with “Grandma” and “Grandpa” Gossett’s eight children organizing the reunion after matriarch “Grandma” Gossett had passed away in 1932 at the age of 89.

The last of those children, my great-grandmother Lavina “Mom” Gossett Roush, passed away in 1978, but the Gossett Reunion would continue as descendants of the eight children’s families would take turns organizing and hosting the reunions – through 2019. Covid-19 hit, and the reunion, like many social events around the country, was canceled in 2020. There was talk of having in on the third Saturday in June of 2021, but that didn’t happen, either. There has been some talk of possibly trying have one in 2022. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t.

This is just one reunion, but it makes one wonder if the coronavirus pandemic has delivered a potential knockout blow to other reunions and the like. My high school graduating class should be having a reunion this year (I don’t feel like giving the number of years!), but to date, there has been no word of one actually happening, at least to my knowledge. Another reunion I have attended several times over the years, the Marshall School Reunion, hasn’t had a reunion since 2019, and I am not aware of any plans for this year.

Let’s hope that’s not the case. It’s been said you die twice. Once when you stop breathing and the second, a bit later on, when somebody mentions your name for the last time. Well, I’ve mentioned the Gossett family one more time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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