LAURINBURG — Approximately 80 descendants and family members of Alexander Long James and Mary Patterson gathered for a reunion June 17-19 at the home of Jim and Frances James Willis on Prince Street.
The group included residents of the two Carolinas as well as Maine, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Florida and California. Richard B. Wathen won the prize for the longest journey arriving from Sweden for both Friday and Saturday activities. Descendants ranged in age from 93 to little Stephen Hinton Aberle at two months. Alice Mende and Mary Lois James Hilliard represented the third generation.
Alexander Long James arrived in Laurel Hill from Salisbury around 1875 joining John F. McNair in business there. After his marriage to Mary Patterson, daughter of Dr. Archibald Patterson, an early physician in the area, the couple moved to Laurinburg where James opened the first bank in the city as well as the first textile mill.
The union produced a daughter, Eliza Patterson James; and seven sons, Hinton, Alexander Long, Jr., Fairley Patterson, Archibald Hand, Walter Scherer, Barrie, and Marshall Prince. Contributions in medicine, commerce, agriculture, and government were made by these offspring.
The family gave kudos to Frances James Willis and Beth Barrett Lamar for arranging this reunion. Hallie Willis produced an on-line family tree where relatives could add information.
Photographers for the event were Roney Hilliard and Eliza James. Pat Adams Furlong’s ode to the Alexander Long house near Salisbury was imprinted atop a photograph of this historic house on tee shirts furnished to all attendees. Family musicians, Charles Barrett, Marshall Hilliard, Kyle Flanary, Emily Adams Aberle, and Lori Hilliard charmed the group with an impromptu concert following Saturday supper.
The family placed flowers at the First Presbyterian Church in Laurinburg on Sunday, June 19 in memory of Alexander Long and Mary Patterson James.