SET A COURSE FOR
"The 71st Annual Chenault Family National Reunion"
Cancelled due to Pandemic
July 17-19, 2020
Chenault Family National Association
A Brief History
A "national" reunion of Chenault/Chennault family cousins was first held Sunday, September 30, 1950 in Dallas, Texas. The site of the reunion was Glendale Park. Arrangements were handled by W. R. "Bill" Chenault and Ancil D. Chennault, both of Dallas. Registration began at 11 a.m., and lunch was served at 12:30 p.m. The program, presided over by David Chenault, included allowing every attendee to introduce themselves followed by a presentation by W. S. "Bill" Chennault, brother of General Claire Chennault and former "Bronco Busting" Sweetwater, Texas, mayor. Entertainment was provided by the Morton's Potato Chip Magicians. It must have been an enjoyable afternoon, for they all agreed to do it again in 1951.
The second reunion was held Sunday, September 2, 1951, at the picnic grounds at Dallas' Fair Park. Lunch was furnished by the local family members, who brought plenty of fried chicken to feed the large crowd that gathered for the afternoon festivities. Arrangements were again handled by W. R. Chenault and Ancil Chennault. Cousins from Maryland, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Texas shared history on their branches of the family. Dr. Frank Chenault, longtime historian who had amassed a remarkable collection of information about the family, was one of the featured speakers.
The first printed program of the reunion was available at the third reunion, Sunday, August 31, 1952 at the Texas State Fair Grounds in Dallas. Although Gen. Claire Chennault had planned to attend, a last minute emergency in the Far East demanded his attention. In addition to lunch and introductions of guests, a musical program was directed by David Chenault, and all cousins joined in an old-fashioned family sing song. Following the third reunion in Dallas, there were three reunions held in Memphis, Tennessee before the site began to be moved to a new location each year. Following the 33rd reunion in 1982, the date of the reunion began to change moving into the summer months, and finally being set to the third weekend of July after about four reunions.
The Golden Anniversary (50th) of the annual reunion was celebrated in Jackson, Mississippi, July 16-18, 1999. Although attendance has fluctuated through the years, interest in the annual gatherings has remained high among family members scattered across the country. One of the most popular reunions was the 2001 reunion held in Williamsburg, Virginia, when the program centered around the 300th anniversary of in America of Estienne Cheneau aboard the Nassau.
However, whether attendance is high or low, the attendees seem to thoroughly enjoy the fellowship with their cousins, recounting the history and stories from their branch of the family, and a chance to meet newly-found family.
A Family Treasure
In the early 1990's, a new feature made its first appearance at the annual reunions. Alma Deurene Oates Morgan (RB# 11142.31751) brought a large round tablecloth with the Chenault coat of arms in the center and spread it out on one of the tables. Attendees signed the cloth while at the reunion. Following the reunion, she embroidered each signature to preserve it. The cloth was displayed at subsequent reunions for those who had not previously signed it to add their signature, which was then embroidered to preserve it. This practice continued for a few years, but when Deurene passed away the cloth was temporarily mislaid.
In 2000, at the reunion in Dallas, it was once again made available for signing, and a volunteer was solicited to embroider the names that had been added but not stitched after several reunions. Ovie "Granny" Chenault volunteered and took the cloth with her. Prior to the next reunion in 2001 in Williamsburg, VA, Granny embroidered more than 300 names to complete the cloth. She continued to do the embroidering for about five years when she was forced to give it up due to her failing eyesight. During the time Granny was responsible for embroidering the cloth, her daughter, Carolyn Sue, re-touched the painting of the coat of arms which was beginning to fade. Peggy Shinault Miller stepped in for a couple of years to assume the embroidering task before passing it briefly to Susan Farmer Wachter. Names added at each reunion are now embroidered by Elizabeth Ann "Libby" Chenault.
The cloth has become a Chenault Family treasure among reunion attendees and will continue to be displayed for additional signatures of attendees as long as there is space to sign.
2020 NATIONAL REUNION INFORMATION
The most current information regarding the 2020 national reunion will be published below as it becomes available. Details concerning the site, travel information, registration, schedule of events, the silent auction, and memorabilia are reflected below. Also, do not overlook the Things To See On Your Reunion Visit that is included at the end of this page. Mark your calendars now and plan to attend!
DATE - Friday, July 17 through Sunday, July 19, 2020
CANCELLED due to Pandemic
PLACE - Hot Springs, Arkansas
REGISTRATION INFORMATION - Hotel reservation information as covered below is the responsibility of the individual attendees. Registration for the reunion is handled separately and can be done by email or by completing a registration form and forwarding it to Carolyn Sue Chenault (address included on form). Click here for a PDF version of the 2020 Registration Form. (2020 registration form is not available at this time, but will be posted here when it is finalized.)
HEADQUARTERS HOTEL -
HOTEL INFORMATION - T
RESERVATION CUTOFF DATE FOR THE GUARANTEED CHENAULT REUNION RATE IS JUNE 16, 2020.
MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS:
GETTING THERE – Maps/directions will be provided upon registration if attendees do not have GPS or other sources of directions.
PROGRAM – The following is a general preview of reunion activities. More information concerning events and speakers is included in the President's message on the Officers Page of this site.
The Program Committee is currently beginning work on the program for the 2020 reunion. If you plan to attend and would like to make suggestions for the program or if you would like to work with the committee in arranging the program, please email the association secretary at email@example.com or the association president at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hospitality room will open at 1:00 p.m. for visiting and display of silent auction items and memorabilia. It will remain open until 11:00 p.m. except during the Friday night activities.
Friday from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., our customary get-acquainted gathering will include introductions of attending family groups, refreshments, and an informal program with a guest speaker.
Saturday morning the hospitality room will open at 8:00 for late registrations, visiting, silent auction bidding, etc. It will be closed during the business meeting and other activities, but will reopen late in the afternoon.
The morning session will begin at 8:30 and will include our annual business meeting and a guest speaker.
Saturday evening, at 7:00, attendees shall gather for dinner which will be followed by a program that will include entertainment, results of the silent auction, presentation of the annual memorial honor roll, and the installation of new officers.
SILENT AUCTION - Items donated by family members will be auctioned to help defray association expenses. Handmade crafts are especially welcome, as are artifacts, books, copies of photos, news articles, etc., especially those having historical and/or Chenault connections. These are displayed in the hospitality room. The auction will close at 5:00 p.m. to allow time to process the bids before the start of the dinner Saturday evening, with the winning bids to be announced at the dinner.
Members are invited to bring photos, books, and other family mementos to share with others. These items are not for sale. Place a descriptive label and owner’s name on the items before leaving them on display. Also, on display will be mementos from previous reunions and several collections of correspondence, news clippings, and other items from the Association’s historical files.
THINGS TO SEE ON YOUR REUNION VISIT
The attractions of Hot Springs and the surrounding area are many and varied. Fortunately, many of them are within a short distance of the hotel hosting the reunion. The list is currently being compiled and will be posted here as soon as it is available.