200 years in Perry County

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Esarey family members near and far mark 100th family reunion, bicentennial of settlement in Perry County

By Vince Luecke

More than 250 descendants of a pioneering Perry County couple returned to their family's Oil Township roots Saturday and Sunday for the 100th Esarey Family Reunion. The event also marked the 200th anniversary of Jonathan Davis Esarey's migration from Kentucky to land in what would become Perry County. Weekend events were held at the Schergens Center in Tell City and Branchville Conservation Club, with family members proudly wearing Esarey hats and shirts. There were even Esarey buttons. The gathering of Esarey descendants near and far has been held each year since 1910 and old newspaper clippings show that first event drew some 1,500 people in a time when traveling was much more difficult than today. Photographs taken from the 1910 event were on display at the Schergens Center and to preserve the centennial for posterity, relatives gathered for new photos in groups of 50 or so. They gathered a final time for a group shot.  In 1810, Jonathon Davis Esarey, born in 1783, moved from Kentucky to what became Oil Township of Perry County and that's where many Esarey descendants live today. That led to the 1910 reunion and family members have been making the pilgrimage to the county each year.  The Esarey family traces its roots to John Esserey and Sarah Hester, whose nine children, 45 grandchildren and 245 great-grandchildren dispersed into a growing nation. The family's surname underwent variations, with Esarey, Esry, and Esrey becoming the most common.  Activities during the weekend included family history presentations by family members, a towering, multi-branched family tree that filled a community center wall and lots of photos of relatives.  An auction before Sunday's luncheon included treats from relatives' hometown and a copy of Logan Esarey's "The Indiana Home."  Logan Esarey, born in Perry County in 1873, was a longtime professor at Indiana University and edited the Indiana Magazine of History.  Esarey, who at the time was dean of Winona College, was a speaker at the 1910 reunion. His interest in learning more about his state and his people's journey lives on in the Esarey family. An Esarey Family Reunion Web site can be found at www.esarey.us/reunion. More photos can be found in the Slide Show area of this site.