Deep roots: Family enjoys Natchez

Published 12:03 am Monday, July 11, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Members of the Thomas family gathered this weekend for a reunion in Natchez. Family members include, top row from left, Steven Thomas, Larry Hall, Benita Thomas, Devin Lafford, Adrian D. Thomas, Ernest Bell Jr. and Jason Lafford; middle row from left, Jasmine Thomas, Susan Thomas Hall, Stephanie Thomas, Gary Bracey Jr. and Deirdre Lafford; bottom row, Daisha Lafford and A. Devon Thomas.

NATCHEZ — While the Thomas family may be spread all around the United States, their roots are based in Natchez.

With family members in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Illinois, California, things can be a little difficult trying to get everyone together.

But when The Dart landed on Hampton Circle in Natchez Friday, the Thomases were gearing up for a family reunion weekend full of fun and catching up with approximately 35 of the family members.

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“We try to have a family reunion once every two years,” family member Larry Hall said. “And we try and come down to Natchez once every six years.”

Hall said the family swaps between the different cities where the Thomas family has spread over the years.

“There are quite a few of us,” he said. “We know everyone can’t make it to every reunion we have, so we try and swap up the locations.”

Hall’s wife Susan Thomas-Hall said the trip from Milwaukee to Natchez to see her family members is always something special.

“There is just something about getting together and seeing your whole family,” she said.

With family members ranging from 2 years old to 86, Thomas-Hall said the family is a diverse, close group.

“If we weren’t, people wouldn’t be driving all over the country to see each other,” she said.

Thomas-Hall, who spent the first 12 years of her life in Natchez, said the reunions in the city are always a little more special than the rest.

“It’s home,” she said. “This is where it all started. The Thomas family is from here, so it just always means more.”

While the majority of the family has moved to different cities, Natchez resident and family member Jasmine Thomas said she and her parents Willie and Virginia Ann Thomas still remain, and their house is where the family stays.

“It always feels good to see everyone come in,” she said. “I don’t get a chance to see many of my family members, so it is good just to have a chance to catch up.”

Thomas-Hall said the family planned to spend the whole weekend celebrating with each other, with the first stop being the Natchez Convention Center for a family get-together.

“We are just going to be touring around the city, hanging out, having picnics and a banquet,” she said. “It is going to be a great weekend.”

While the family is scheduled to head back early this week, Thomas-Hall said she hopes to one day be back in her hometown.

“I love Natchez,” she said. “Maybe someday we will be able to come back here and stay.”

Thomas-Hall said the family will be leaving Natchez earlier than expected to attend a funeral, but she knows her time with her family in Natchez is going to be something she will never forget.