Traditionally on this day, August 19th, a large family reunion which has grown into a community celebration, Daniels Day, was held on the grounds of the Bethany United Methodist Church at the entrance to Wanchese. In recent years the weekend closest to that date has been the celebration date, and this past Sunday this year's event was held. I remember it as a boy, visiting my aunt and grandmother who lived directly across the street from the church and attended on several occasions. For a little fishing village like Wanchese was back then, it was amazing to see cars from all over the United States bringing people of Daniels lineage home for this special day.
In days past, a huge picnic was held. Almost anything imaginable to eat in a wholesome country setting was in abundance, and I can remember walking back to grandma's with a stomach full. My mother, wasn't a Daniels, but her mom had Daniels blood in her lineage and the large numbers in attendance represented the background and development of the community of Roanoke Island. And members of the Daniels family have done amazing things and added much to the richness of American society.
The celebration dates back to 1934 and has been held every year since. I haven't been back in nearly fifty years, but I was glad to see that it was a success again this year. As I read about it I was reminded of a quieter time, a more simple time, when extended families were much closer and it wasn't unusual to see three and four generations of the same family attending the event together. Sadly, that's not something that is common these days and I think children lose much of their family history by not having that opportunity.
I find it interesting that Daniels Day falls in immediate proximity to another date which is famous in Roanoke Island history. August 18th, the day prior to the traditional Daniels Day date, is the celebration of the birth of Virginia Dare, the first child of English parentage born in the New World. Unfortunately, little Virginia, along with her parents Eleanor and Ananias, were members of the colony that disappeared and were never found.
If you have the opportunity during tourist season on the Outer Banks, try to attend a presentation of Paul Green's production, The Lost Colony, presented nightly during summer months at beatiful Waterside Theater north of Manteo on the Island. It is a wonderful performance in a beautiful outdoor setting and offers a view of one of the great events that led to the ultimate founding of our great nation.
And to the Daniels family, with its many descendants scattered throughout the world as well as back home on Roanoke Island, congratulations on another year of reminiscence. I hope to make it back to Wanchese and see what I've been missing one of these days. God bless you all.