The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Reunion bringing in crowd


July 7, 2019

PORTALES — No, that’s not a convention in town next weekend at Portales’ Memorial Building, and it’s not open to the public. It’s just a big family reunion.

For the first time since 1979, when the Elliott family tradition first started, descendants of Seymour Elliott will meet up in Portales. Elliott, originally from Tennessee, homesteaded on a ranch west of Floyd in 1906.

“The other side of the Melrose bombing range, right there beside of it,” his granddaughter Burma Stark told The News. “We had milk cows and range cows, it wasn’t a real big place, two and a half sections, and he raised all of us out there, all 12 of us, of course we all had to work out in the field with him when we got old enough.”

The reunion runs Friday through Sunday.

Stark is the 10th of 12 children from Seymour Elliott’s son, Robert Henry Elliott.

The Elliotts and their kin held their first family reunion 40 years ago in Portales at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds, and while much of the descendants are still in eastern New Mexico the reunion venue hasn’t returned to Portales until this year. In the past decades the reuion has taken place either in other states where relatives live — Virginia, Wyoming, Kansas — or at campgrounds in New Mexico.

“We all took turns hosting it, so every 12 years it rolled around to me,” Stark said. “Well, the campground out there is not suitable for such a big bunch, and some of my sisters and their husbands, it’s kind of hard for them to get around and about.”

As of Friday there were 183 confirmed attendees for next weekend’s reunion, with ages ranging from two months to 92 years at the family-only event.

The group has family-friendly programming in stores, with “stickhorse races for the kids, three-legged races, sack races, board walks and a tortilla toss, volleyball, horseshoe pitching.” They start off the afternoon of Friday, July 12, continue all day Saturday in the memorial building and adjoining park, and wrap up Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday afternoon they hold a craft auction of homemade goods.

Stark has lived in Portales much of her life, managing the household goods departments of two different stores, marrying and having three children. She said she likes the simple and wholesome quality of life in Roosevelt County. For her grandfather, it was the openness of the country.

“They just looked at the country and there was lots of dead mesquite and wood, and they knew they would have wood for fire and to cook with, and they just liked it,” Stark added.


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