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We had a family reunion this weekend! It was not a large reunion, but a special one. It was a gathering of the descendants of Gesephine Appleman and Josef Georg Rampp. The family had its beginnings in Tettnang, Germany, on the shores of Lake Constance, which is shared by Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Five descendants from Germany were here to share German history, customs, language and family history.

Matriarch of the family is Gisela Rampp. I “met” her in 1987 after contacting all of the Rampps that could be located in the United States. A letter had been sent to her brother-in-law, and he sent it on to her and the relationship began.

We corresponded a few occasions annually, each time sharing a few more tidbits of our joint history from each side of the Atlantic. Her son, Brian Rampp, who worked in the U.S. for several years, contacted me and we arranged a small reunion last July at Canaan Valley.

Gisela was visiting them in January, so he brought her to Canaan Valley for a two-day visit. We were immediate friends. Her son was born the same week as my son, Bob, and her daughter, Diana, was born the same month as my son, Jim. Her grand-daughter, Larissa, was born the same month as my son Joe’s daughter, Drue.

A reunion was again organized for Canaan Valley for July 2011. This was a favorite vacation spot for our Rampp and Morris families.

The reunion got an early start with the arrival of Jim and Karen Hart of Virginia and Gerry Rampp of Medina, Ohio. We shared a simple meal of hot dogs and homemade ice cream. We had hot dog sauce, but when Diana asked for ketchup that was the first sign of our joint heritage. Our grandpa ate ketchup on everything! Many questions kept the excitement at a high level until almost midnight.

The next morning started everything up again with the arrival of Jim, Lynn, Sally and Levi Morris of Grantsville, Tom Brinkley of North Carolina, Joe and Aren Morris of Pennsylvania, Carleen and Doug Webb of Virginia, Barbara and Jim Full and Stan Whitaker of Parkersburg, and Brian and Christina Rampp of Germany and Virginia. Jim took one group to the Sinks of Gandy, some went shopping with me, four went canoeing/hiking, and a few relaxed in the cool mountain air at the house.

Everyone gathered again in the evening for Tom Brinkley’s North Carolina barbecue, leaving the wide array of Rampp chocolate and fruit desserts until after the flying trip up the mountain to see the spectacular sunset.

Sunday morning, the group gathered for a leisurely breakfast. Some attended an outside worship service overlooking Blackwater Canyon. The whirlwind of clean up and departures ended this part of a memorable weekend.

But this was not the end. Our three ladies from Germany came back to Grantsville to stay the night, and Larissa, 23, got to hold a turtle and began to have thoughts of becoming a veterinarian. She had seen turtles in the zoo, but never in nature. Her mom, Diana, liked the four-wheeler ride along the ridge, and they experienced the smell and feel of oil from a well and heard the sound of gas pressure.

Jim’s dog climbed into the car with Larissa, with all intentions of cuddling, when she was leaving for the night. Monday morning, the group left for Marietta to visit the graves of Gesephine and Josef Rampp and also Marietta History Society’s library. Gisela found proof of her husband’s Rampp family living there, before the family left Ohio for the oil and gas fields of Oklahoma. She shared her research with the library to give them more accurate information on the family.

The finale of the reunion was a visit to the Flag Shop in Marietta. It was really touching to see foreign visitors making selections to take back to their families. Their car storage was loaded with red, white and blue items of all designs.

We all headed for I-77. They took the north bound exit, with arms waving goodbye until they were out of sight. We felt twinges of sadness to see our new loved ones departing, but, as we left the south bound exit, we knew that we had good memories to sustain us for another year.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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