The friends and family of Bethania Hauser Williams Russell celebrated their 100th family reunion July 24-26. The history of the reunion dates back to 1915, when Martin Hauser held a birthday celebration for his mother, which became the first annual HWR family reunion celebration. Over the past century, the children of Bethania have celebrated family reunions in various locations across the country. This year they returned to North Carolina and the weekend began with a fish fry in Yadkinville at the local YMCA on July 24.
On July 25, the family embarked on a bus trip coordinated by the reunion Vice President Fay Hauser-Price, which stopped at local landmarks that were significant to the Hauser Williams Russell family. The first stop was the former Safe Bus Company, which is now the Winston-Salem Transit Authority. The Safe Bus Company was the largest owned and operated African American municipal bus company in the world with operations that started in the 1920s and continued until the 1970s. Bethania Hauser Williams Russell’s great-grandchild, Mary Ruth Miller Green, was one of the owners of the company and also served as president of the company in the late 1950s.
The group’s next stop was Winston-Salem State University, where they gathered at the Hauser Building, named for engineer Moyer Hauser, grandson of Bethania, who helped layout many of the campus buildings. Other stops included Bethania town, where the Hausers were part of the founding community in the 1700s and participants in the Revolutionary War, and Boonville, where the family helped spearhead the establishment of a high school in the 1940s for Yadkin County so that Americans of African descent could get an education. The bus tour concluded with stops in Yadkinville to see the house where Bethania lived with her enslaver Theophilus Hauser and also the family gravesite plots at Pleasant Grove Church Cemetery.
Saturday night the annual Dixie Russell Moore Banquet was held at the Village Inn Conference Center in Clemmons. Along with a buffet meal, the family was treated to a libation ceremony, a fashion show, and a piano rendition by 6-year-old Gracie Hauser of Mocksville, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Bethania. She played the song, “Come, Now is the Time to Worship,” by memory. Louis Price led the audience in a song he created entitled, “Family.” A group photo was taken that included more than 110 family members from various locations in the world.
On July 26, the family attended Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Yadkinville, where the Rev. Johnny E. Scott presided and welcomed the family. Sunday afternoon the family returned to the Yadkin County YMCA to have a picnic lunch with games, fun, and food for all. Purple and white balloons were released in memory of relatives who have died since the last gathering.
Raphael Hurley Hauser served as president of the 2015 reunion. The celebration of 100 years of family reunions was honored with letters from the White House, the N.C. Governor, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as many mayors, businesses, clubs and universities. Members of the family were provided with a historical commemorative booklet, created by Fay Hauser-Price of California. The historic event was covered by local and national media in print, online and broadcast TV.