BECKLEY, W.Va. — Saying the Lilly Family Tree is huge could be an understatement. It’s more like a Lilly Family Orchard or Lilly Family Forest, if anything.
To help folks find their way around the ever-growing branches of the family tree, a genealogy building was put in at the Lilly Family Reunion.
“There are a great deal of Lillys throughout the United States,” team member Sallie Williams said. “What it means, even to the young people, is that it gives them a place in history and it tells me where I came from, who I came from and the history that goes along with the people. The history is just amazing.”
Sallie said she already had a couple of folks realize they were cousins by using the new genealogy system. The system is computer-based and sheltered from the elements that seem to plague the reunion each year.
“We have a very interesting fellow called ‘Pleasant Lilly’ in our family,” Sallie said. “He brought in two Shrewsbury sisters onto his property and built them each a house. Pleasant’s wife didn’t like this so she left him. Pleasant married a Shrewsbury sister and he had children with them.
“When she passed away, he married the next Shrewsbury sister and had children with her. He finally ended up marrying the third Shrewsbury sister and he told everyone, ‘My children are finally legitimate.’ People get a chuckle out of him and his story.”
The Lilly Family Tree can be traced back to Robert Lilly, who settled near Flat Top.
“He provided supplies to the rebels, to the Americans, to fight in the Revolutionary War,” Sallie said. “We have Civil War heroes and fighters, too.”
Sallie said she loves meeting all of her cousins and finding out more about the family history.
“I’ve heard some tremendous stories,” she said. “I’ve met some relatives that I never knew I had. We’ve been able to expand our family history that way. To myself, that has been the biggest love.”
If you find yourself jealous of the Lilly Family and its many cousins, you might be shocked by your own tree, Sallie said.
“I think everyone’s family tree is large,” she said. “That tree will just grow person by person. You just have to do some research.
“I was the only child in my family, and I inherited 72,000 relatives. Once you start looking, that tree will grow.”
The genealogy building isn’t just for the Lilly Family…