Remembering Their Roots

By Matt Porter

September 17, 2012 Updated Sep 17, 2012 at 10:11 AM EDT

Great Bend, PA (WBNG Binghamton) Tingley family celebrates centuries of history at 128th Annual Family Reunion.

Four children, 11 grandchildren, and more than 20 great grandchildren later, 91-year-old Maybelle Oakley knows the importance of family.

"Where would the United States be? Where would we be as a country?" asked Oakley. "We need families, we need fellowships with each other. We need to find out who's who."

That's why she came to the 128th Annual Tingley Family reunion. The reunion celebrates the Tingleys, who came to the US almost 400 years ago.

But not everyone always knew of their historic origins. Frank Whitney, from Binghamton, only found out five years ago that he had connections to the Tingleys.

"Someone from the Tingley family came to the funeral of my uncle," said Whitney. "So I found out my great-grandmother was a Tingley."

Nikki Schake, from Dimock, traces her heritage 17 generations, something important for her kids.

"It's something that he can share with future projects that he can talk with at school," said Schake, "And I think it's important to know where you can come from."

Although the young are less present at reunions, the Tingleys believe the reunion's long history will go on.

"At some point in your life, you'll realize the importance of coming back," said Aubry Elbrecht, president of the reunion committee, "And at some point they will come back."

For the 91 year-old Oakley, she's had many ups and downs, but is thankful for her long life.

"The lord has seen me through it all and strengthened me through it all," said Oakley. "He's been with me all the way and I just praise him for all of that. He's my life."

After 128 years, a family that hasn't forgotten.