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Mumphord family celebrates legacy, freedom

By Camille Doty
June 18, 2011 at 1:18 a.m.

Audrey Mumphord Cook, 78 and Frances Mays, 90 speak about their family history at the 107th Mumphord family reuinion Saturday. Mays was the oldest member of the Mumphord family at the reunion and grew up in the spot where the family reunions are held, on the Mumphord land north of Placedo in Victoria County.

PLACEDO - Janet Eldridge traveled cross-country to attend her family reunion.

She traded the cool breeze of Oceanside, Calif., for warm family hugs at the Mumphord family reunion. The breast cancer survivor said she has a newfound appreciation for life and family.

"You appreciate every minute of every day," she said. "I've learned not to sweat the small stuff."

Eldridge credits her family for helping her get through tough times through their prayers and support. The year she battled cancer, she went home for the family reunion and Christmas.

Three years later, she's able to laugh with her younger sister, Cathy Mays, of Austin. When Mays announced she was turning 50 this year, her older sister jokingly said, "Man, you're getting old."

The five-year difference between the sisters almost didn't seem to matter. Neither did the distance because Mays.

Five generations of Mumphords laughed, sang, and prayed at their family home. After blessing the food, they all sang, "Amen," while clapping their hands. Songs like, "Let's Stay Together," by Al Green played in the background. The song's theme was so timely because Sercy Mumphord asked that of his family before he died.

The Mumphord family has reunited every Juneteenth weekend since 1904. They did not celebrate one year because many men in the family were in service.

"My father didn't think it was right. We just worried and prayed they would come home," said Audrey Mumphord Cook,

She also said it was important the family gets together once a year.

"It's great. Most of us don't live here," she said.

The family reunion takes place the weekend closest to the Juneteenth. This holiday commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas.

Silas Mumphord, a formerslave from West Virginia, bought the land near Victoria. Now, his descendants own 118 acres of land. And they still get together to celebrate freedom and family.

Frances Mumphord Mays, at 90 one of the oldest people there, said: "It makes me so happy."

She began to reminisce about her childhood home. Mays also started talking about the family's barbecue legacy.

Eldridge said she's grateful to be able to have a good time with family. But she hopes the young people will continue their family heritage.

The mother of one left the Crossroads in 1976 to travel with her husband in the military. It was a difficult adjustment for her because she no longer had the comfort of family. But, she did say she experienced many teachable moments.

She expressed some interest in coming home, but admitted many things have changed. It wouldn't be a problem for her to return home.

"Family will always be here. I can always come home," she said.

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