120th annual Horn Family Reunion held at Crenshaw County Lake

Published 11:25 pm Thursday, August 18, 2022

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

The 120th annual Horn Family Reunion, held every third Sunday in July, took place July 17 at the Crenshaw County Lake pavilion, where descendants of Richard Whitehead Horn and Rebecca Cox Horn, pioneers that settled in the area in 1826, joined together in remembrance of their ancestors and family who have passed on and to honor the family’s unique history. 

The Horn Reunion’s history dates back to 1903 and was initially held at Providence Church in Glenwood before later being held at the historic Horn shelter nearby. 

The reunion holds the record for being the oldest consecutive family reunion in Alabama. 

The gathering began at 11 a.m. with a brief business meeting and recognition of special attendees before the potluck style feast of home-cooked food and fellowship, sharing of old family photos, and catching up began. 

Opening remarks and a welcome were given by Mary Frances Garner, who also thanked those that worked to make the reunion a success. 

Garner, daughter of Frances Horn Boswell and Equality resident, said that she is honored to be part of a family with such a legacy. 

“Our Horn family members are so very proud of our rich heritage and deep roots in Crenshaw County, our family’s memories, and the great times we’ve shared at our annual Horn Family Reunion,” Garner said. “We enjoy being able to recognize our family’s long history with the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s department. For fifty years, the position of  Crenshaw County Sheriff was held by a Horn family member.”

Lennie Franklin Horn served as chief deputy sheriff from 1935-1939, and was elected sheriff in 1938, 1942, and 1946, serving three terms. After his death in 1944, his son, Homer Green Horn, was appointed to serve the unexpired term. In 1950, another son, Ray M. Horn, was elected and remained sheriff until 1971. 

Sheriff Ray M. Horn and his family lived on the bottom floor of the jail, and his daughter, Becky Horn Rogers can recall some interesting memories. 

“I grew up living in the jail,” Rogers said. “We lived on the ground floor and the prisoners were upstairs. Like Otis on Mayberry, we would have weekend guests that were there because they knew they could get a hot meal and a place to stay. Momma cooked for all prisoners and for us. There was unrest up there at times, chanting or carrying on, but I was never scared. 

“My Horn cousins,my fellow 1970 LHS graduates, and myself would have fabulous ‘spend-the-night” parties in the jail. I love talking with my cousins about how much fun we had in the jail.  I hope our reunion continues so we can keep these memories and stories alive.”

Donations were taken to help offset the cost of the reunion and to be used for upkeep of family cemeteries. Ray Horn, grandson of Ray and Gyneese Horn, of Luverne, provided the family prayer and blessing. 

Some drove in and some flew into the event with Horn descendants from Panama City, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Altoona, Florida; Kingsland, Georgia; Cookeville, Tennessee; and regions all over Alabama gathering together to reminisce, reflect, and reconnect. 

During the earlier years of the reunion, attendees came by train, and when the first reunion was held in 1903, all came by wagon or on foot. 

Although most aspects of life have changed drastically just like the modes of transportation used to get to the reunion, the Horn family remains steadfast with their tenacity, dedication to the reunion, the family’s unparalleled history and the pride from continuing to preserve and share the family’s distinct legacy.

The Horns hope that the reunion will continue and that the family can keep the connection to their heritage alive. 

“We’re very proud of this family,” Garner said. “No matter what’s going on in your life, it’s amazing to have this identity that goes back so far and to feel so connected to so many people. We always pick up right where we left off and welcome each other back home, where you can go back to your roots and for one day and not think about work or all the trouble in the world. 

“You always know you are welcomed back home to your family. We are from all over, but you always know you can fall back home, go back to your roots, and cope with the crazy world. It gives us some sanity. We are a very strong family based on faith and Chistian family, and the fact that we can come back here in a manner of love to honor our family history really bonds us together.”

Special attendees recognized were: oldest Horn relative attending – Sara Martha Horn, 87, of Luverne.Youngest in attendance – Lauren Grace Hathaway, 6, of Ohatchee; Longest married couple – Sylvia and Wayne Gibson, of Glenwood, married 62 years; Becky Horn Rogers and her husband Danny Rogers, from Panama City, Florida, have been married 50 years; and Donna Alford Spivey, and her husband, Glen Spivey, of Mobile, have also been married 50 years. Attended the most reunions – Donna Alford Spivey, of Mobile, who has attended 68 Horn Reunions. 

The “Horns-a-Plenty Family Genealogy” was published in 1966, and the Horn family is working on updating and republishing the book and plan to have them distributed at an upcoming reunion.

Plans are underway for the next Horn Reunion scheduled for July 16, 2023. 

The 2023 Horn Family Reunion will be held at the Crenshaw County Lake Pavilion in Luverne. Follow the Horns on Facebook at Horns-a-Plenty Descendants of Richard Whitehead Horn.

For more information, contact Mary Frances Garner at (334) 318-0596, Becky Horn

Rogers at (334) 300-2581 or Ray Horn at (334) 315-1112.