Stephen F. Austin State University

Three-day reunion draws over 3,000 (December 2012)

Three-day reunion draws over 3,000
By Wanda Bobinger

In the early part of 1929, John Henry Kirby, oil and timber tycoon, conceived the idea of honoring his old schoolmaster, Professor Frank Crow. Mr. Kirby attended school at Peach Tree Village when Professor Crow was the teacher in 1879, and in 1929 being the golden anniversary of that event so important in his life, it was decided to hold a reunion for all living pupils of Professor Crow.

The event began on a Friday morning of July 12, 1929. By 10 o'clock, John Henry Kirby was surrounded by 35 former pupils reminiscing with each other and their teacher. In addition, at least a thousand guests gathered.

Old Glory floated from a high steel flag pole at the front gate and every magnificent pine stood at attention. A large pavilion had been erected, with an enclosed barbecue pit capable of holding 40 beeves. The auspicious gathering included men and women from four states, all looking back upon scenes of their childhood, bygone days when they were care-free boys and girls at Peach Tree Village.

The speech to honor Professor Crow said in part that he was 'finer than any description of scenic beauty or marvels of grandeur, a true account of a strong man who instilled hope, and a determination to win, into the lives of others. This princely teacher will be remembered and loved till the song of the saw is forever hushed and the virgin groves of pines are but a memory.'

An interesting feature of the reunion was the greeting of the Alabama Indians.
Chief Sun-Kee addressed the crowd, speaking in the Alabama language and Clem F. Fain Jr. translated.

"My friends, my white-faced brothers: I come from my reservation back to my old home, what you call Peach Tree Village.

My tribe lived here many years before white men came. With bow and arrow we kill the deer and the bear. We danced and lived happy beneath these very trees. When the white man came, my people gave them home and food. Then my people moved away, gave up our fields, and looked for new grounds. I come today with a hand out-stretched and bow unstrung. I give to you arrows without points to signify that there is no need for the bow and battle axe. I present this as a token of peace.

I also bring a different gift, the ancient ball sticks of the Alabama Indians. Before Columbus came, the Indian played this game. Many times we played on this very ground. We give the ball and sticks to say, 'Come play with us.' I see today, many men, songs of my father's friends. I am glad to be here, glad to say songs of my father's friends, that I am your friend."

Chief Charlie Thompson or Mikko Sun-Kee's group consisted of fifteen men and boys and ten women and girls, most wearing tribal costumes. Sallie Poncho; Lutie Thompson, daughter of the chief; and Dorcas and Ester Battise were among the women. McConico Battise, who would later become chief of the tribe, was also a part of the group.

The three-day celebration ended on Sunday with a sermon and a basket picnic. Over the three-day period more than 3,000 people attended this event at Peach Tree Village.