By Geri Tate

These reunions have been held for some 50 years, inspired by the work of Louis and Melvina Hitzeman. Many years ago Dennis Vahsholtz and his mother Lillie wrote this brief history:

“This is what my Mom and I can remember. Aunt Meta Veerhusen thought it would be a good idea to get the nearby relatives together for a type of reunion every fall, just to stay in touch. These would have been the sons and daughters of Ida and Ed Vahsholtz, their 1st and 2nd cousins and Aunts and Uncles that were still living. This was started in the early 70s and was usu-ally held at local restaurants in Herington or Abilene. After a few years they started to invite more people and contact in-formation got shared. A couple of times pot luck dinners were held after a church service, but not very many. Lloyd and Ella Vahsholtz from Washington State started coming and also the Americus, Emporia and Council Grove relatives, and it just kept expand-ing. As more people got involved there started to be a little program or slide show each year.”

A highlight of these reunions was October 4, 1992 at the Rock Springs Ranch in Kansas, where several reunions have been held. Through the efforts of Duane and Joanne Vahsholtz and his Uncle Lloyd and Ella Vahsholtz, a connection was made with Martin Vahsholz from Remagen, Germany. Martin and his wife Hannchen came to Kansas to that year’s Vahsholtz Cousins Reunion. My brother, Les Vahsholtz and I met them, along with Lloyd and Ella, at Seneca, Kansas. We all traveled to Old St. John’s Lutheran Church #2 cemetery west of Bern where Christian Vahsholtz is buried. It was a very emotional experience for Martin.

He and Hannchen hung a banner on his ancestor’s tombstone . At the reunion, Les was Master of Ceremonies and Meta Veerhusen and Lloyd and Ella were hosts. I became involved after my parents, Martin and El-eanora Vahsholtz, couldn’t drive to the reunions. My husband and I took them to a restaurant hosted by Fred and Merle Vahsholtz in Abilene, Kansas. Another milestone was the reunion at St. Paul’s Lu-theran Parish Hall in Herington, Kansas in 2002. That was the year Bob & Marge Vahsholtz and a production team presented “The Road from Zwilipp,” the history of the Vahsholz family, built upon the Hitzeman research. In 2006, Les started the Vahsholtz website and Peggy Scott began this newsletter. That year Les and Carole Vahsholtz hosted the reunion in Rock Springs, and it was decided to hold reunions every two years.

Efforts were launched by Les to attract younger members through Facebook and other media. In recognition of the scattering of the family, it was agreed to go further afield, choosing vacation spots to attract families who might combine reunions with vacation trips. The 2008 and 2010 Vahsholtz Cousins Reunions were hosted by Allan and Martha Brockmeier in Bran-son, Missouri, followed by 2012 and 2014 reunions in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The big news for the 2012 reunion was when Les Vahsholtz, who’d been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), presented slides and made his farewell speech using his talking computer. He announced he’d be stepping down from his many leadership roles.