Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Olmsted Family Reunion

Bob Olmsted and Ly Tran, two of the family members capture
some of the moments of the family reunion!

George W. Olmsted was one of the nation builders!
by Charlie Leck

George Welsch Olmsted (1874 - 1940)

There is a story to tell here. My wife's Grandfather, who died a few years before she was born, was a key player in the time of America's movement into the industrial revolution. He ended up owning high-percentage stakes in a good number of the lighting companies (today we call them power companies or energy companies) on the East Coast (such as Long Island Lighting), which lit nearly all of the island east of the New York City border. One day I'll tell the full story of Grandfather Olmsted, but, as of now, it still needs some looking into. A short version of it can be found at the Olmsted Manor web site (Olmsted Family History).

As part of his success, Grandfather Olmsted built an extraordinary residential estate in the Allegheny Forest of Western Pennsylvania, in his little and virtually unknown hometown of Ludlow. The manor house was grand and unusual (it had a bowling alley in the attic) and the gardens were expansive and exquisite. For the public he built, just up the road, a spectacular public playground and picnic area of nearly 100 acres (Wild Cat Park) that is still beautiful and well used by the village and citizens of the region.

In 1969, the family (the two children of George W. Olmsted, including my wife's mother) gave the land and buildings to the Methodist Church. Today, it is operated it as the Olmsted Manor Retreat.

Well, we retreated there over this past weekend, spending four days together as the Olmsted family. All of us flew by private jets, thanks to one family member, into Bradford Regional Airport, about 40 minutes from Ludlow. It was our first family gathering since a similar retreat there in 1984. The family had grown and changed enormously in character since that gathering over 25 years ago. There were a number of cameras documenting the weekend and mine was only one of them. Here, I share just a few of the lovely and marvelous moments we had together. It's impossible to tell the entire story of the wonderful weekend, but it will give you an idea. [In yesterday's blog I shared some of the more artistic photos of the reunion that were taken by my daughter, Cynthia.]

Louise, Anne's sister, waves from the steps of the jet that carried us to and fro the reunion.

Strategy is planned by one of the teams in a game of Capture the Flag!

There was time for quiet things, like fishing in the brook that runs along the south property line of the estate.

The four grandchildren of Robert and Iva Olmsted remember the times they spent at Olmsted Manor. Mary Olmsted (center), who began working in the manor house at the age of 12, also spoke of her memories.

Families introduced themselves and allowed us to catch up on what they're doing and how they've grown. Here Tad and Meg are showing off their beautiful children.

The Methodist Church built two attractive dormitories and a conference center on the estate grounds.

The old manor house still stands and is used for retreat guests as well.

Our family is international now and reflects the character of the family.

Our own Mark organized a smoors grilling and gathered the children to enjoy the heat and roasting experience.

The youngest of the children in the family was constantly in the spotlight.

On a visit to the cemetery, to remember her mom and grandfather, Anne was surrounded by her children (from left), Mark, Cynthia, James, and Lisa.

The four grandchildren of George Welsch Olmsted and Iva Olmsted, lined up for a photo: Bob, Nancy, Anne and Louise

Mary, began working at Olmsted Manor when she was 12 years old and, in 1997, became a part of the family when she married George Welch Olmsted's son, Robert Olmsted, in the later years of his life. She is a dear part of our family now.

At the grand cemetery in Warren, Pennsylvania, high on a hill and overlooking the Allegheny River and the city of Warren, we visited the Olmsted plot and paid respects to members of the family, including the industrial giant, Anne's grandfather, George Welch Olmsted.


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1 comment:

  1. As someone who was raised in Ludlow and still maintains a home there, I enjoyed reading this story in your blog. Mr. Olmsted was gone by the time I was born, but I remember Mrs. Olmsted and her generosity to all of us living there.

    Thanks for the story,
    Bruce Olson