About 200 relatives attended the Boggs, Mollohan and Sutton reunion this Sunday at Big Otter. The Charleston Gazette

Nearly All In The Family Reunion Calls Family Back To Clay County From All Over

Monday July 1, 2002

By Chandra Broadwater

BIG OTTER Larry Mollohan had no idea how thickly twisted the branches of his family tree were until he bought his great-great-grandfather's home.

"You can't believe the astonishment I had being related to so many people," Mollohan said as relatives, close and distant alike, roamed throughout his yard and home. "I have literally hundreds of cousins around here.

"I like to joke and say out of the 8,000 registered people in Clay County, I'm related to about 7,999 of them."

About 200 people gathered for the fourth annual Boggs, Mollohan and Sutton family reunion Sunday in Big Otter, about 40 minutes north of Charleston. Descendants of the families, most of whom are related by marriage, came prepared with nametags, lawn chairs and good stories to tell.

Mollohan bought the former home of his great-grandfather, James Martin Boggs, when the big white house was up for sale in 1997. He plans to renovate the 16-room, century-old home during his retirement.

Mollohan and his wife, Helen, along with other family members, decided to organize a reunion for the many relatives living in the area and across the country. "We've got people here from Arizona, Atlanta, California, all of the surrounding states," Mollohan said. "They're from all over." Following the first reunion in 1998, the family decided to keep the gatherings going as long as they could.

On Sunday, old and young members of the family enjoyed memories, food, live music, door prizes and an auction to help pay for the reunion expenses.

"It's really good because the younger generation don't have the heritage that the older people do," said Susan McCracken, great-great-granddaughter of one of James Boggs' children and the youngest of 15 children. "My mother was here with my oldest sister at the last reunion way back in 1927."

Dorothy Mollohan McCracken, 93, is Susan's mother. From her perch at the front door of her great-grandfather's former home, she said she thought Sunday's festivities were going well. Everything except the volume of the music. "They were making so much racket out there on the porch, if we were by a cemetery, we'd be raising the dead," she said, laughing.

In the midst of all the nametags, black-and-white photos, mentions of great-great-grandparents and third cousins, some at the reunion felt a little lost.

"I don't know half of them," said Sarah Pardue, 27, of Bastian, Va. Her mother was a Mollohan, she says. "My mother comes to these things and she knows everybody, where they live, how they're related. "I really don't know anything other that I'm mainly related to the Mollohans."

Dorothy McCracken, the only grandchild named after her grandmother, agreed. "It is confusing," she said. "But we're all connected."