Cyrena GilstrapThe Gilstrap Reunion has its roots in the Gilstrap Family Chain letter. The chain letter was started many years ago among the descendants of Joseph and Cyrena Gilstrap. It was a way for family members to keep in touch as the family grew and moved away from each other. The letter was circulated among family members with each family adding a new letter when the chaJoseph Gilstrapin arrived at their house and removing their old letter. It took many months for the letter to circulate among all family members. When a new letter was added to the chain it would contain information that would bring everyone up-to-date on what had happened with that family since the last letter was written. Photographs were often included in the chain letter. Since the family had spread out to many different locations, this was the way they all kept in touch with each other. It was an exciting day when the Gilstrap Chain Letter arrived at your house!

For several years it had been mentioned in the chain letter that we needed a reunion. Finally, Jack Gilstrap and Myron Gilstrap took the bull by the horns and started one. Jack was on the Camp Salvation Board and suggested that the reunion could be held there. There was plenty of sleeping space, but meals had to be planned and cooked by those attending.

The first reunion was held in 1968. Some attendees stayed in the camp dorms while others brought campers or tents. It was decided at the first reunion to hold them all in Colorado and to hold them every four years (presidential election years). Although some didn't like KP duty, all enjoyed it enough to hold the next reunion there in 1972!

Among those attending the first reunion were: Grover and Mary Gilstrap, Anne (Don) Gilstrap and children, Myron Gilstrap and family, Wayne and Joyce Gilstrap and children, Esther and Howard Gray and children, Marie and Denton Rossell, Jack and Dorothy Gilstrap and family, Bill and Fay Gilstrap, Jack and Nadine Coe, Myrna and Vinton Carver, Franklin and Pauline Farnham, Joe and Nell Taylor, Margaret Coe, Claire Gilstrap, Ethel Clem, Billie and M.C. Crawford, Leroy and Grace Gilstrap and children, and Naomi and Delmar Huffman. (If you were there and we left you out, please let us know.)

1968 GroupSubsequent reunions have been held at Star Ranch; Christ Haven; Pueblo, Colorado; Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri; Cunningham, Kansas; Branson, Colorado; Red River, New Mexico; Chama, New Mexico; Wichita, Kansas. In the late 1980's it was decided to begin holding the reunion every two years since many family members were getting up in age.

What started out as a reunion among the descendants of Joseph and Cyrena Gilstrap has grown to include descendants of Benjamin Gilstrap, Hardy Gilstrap, and others. People come from all over the United States to attend this gathering.