Together again for reunion 2022

For three days, 47 Stanton cousins and family members gathered in the near-perfect weather of early fall Stonington, Connecticut, to enjoy walks, talks, tour, displays, a brief business meeting and, most  important, a kinship that’s best savored over shared meals.

2022 officers
Elected at Reunion 2022 to serve as Thomas Stanton Society officers were (from left) Nancy Ryan, vice president; Tom Mennillo, secretary/membership chair; Rick Stanton, president; and Donna Amentt, treasurer. Tom subsequently stepped down, and Lynn Alexander was elected to the board

They came by air from California or by car from Iowa and points east and south for the first  in-person Reunion since 2016. The COVID-19 pandemic had cheated them of opportunities in 2020 and 2021 to gather, but the third attempt was the charm.

Separate stories in this issue will deliver the details, but here’s an overview of how the Sept. 23-25 weekend unfolded:

Early arrivals dined at the shoreline on Thursday evening the 22nd.

The next morning and early afternoon, cousins who had signed up for tours of the Denison Homestead were shown around the renovated 1717 dwelling by Julie Soto, herself a Stanton and Denison descendant. 

Then attendees began filtering into the Stonington Community Center (COMO) to greet one another, register, and peruse displays that had been lovingly put together by cousins.

Viewing exhibits
Brett (back right) and Lauren Stanton and sons Zachary and Connor take in the exhibits

Many of us made our way from there to the Lighthouse Museum, jumping-off point for an exhaustive (and, for many, exhausting) walking tour of Stonington’s historic downtown area. 

Some also made trips to various area cemeteries in which Stanton family members are buried.

Dinner back at COMO was followed by three talks to close out a busy day. 

Tom Mennillo traced his Stanton ancestors’ journey to Nova Scotia in the mid-1700s. He also presented cousin Brian Bonner’s research on the western migration of Stanton descendants. 

Robert Stanton sketched his research into Thomas Stanton’s origins. See the July 2022 issue of this newsletter for details.

And Pam Lyons from the Charleston (RI) Historical Society told of Thomas and Anna’s son Joseph and the succession of Joseph Stantons who became leading citizens of Rhode Island.

Saturday proved to be another day chock full of information and fellowship. It began with coffee and mingling. 

One group of attendees then headed to Pawcatuck Rock, where ships once docked to trade with Thomas Stanton. 

Society members at Pawcatuck Rock
Reunion attendees explore Pawcatuck Rock

Current property owners Pam and Mark Wright graciously allowed us to traipse through their backyard and wend our way, a few at a time, to a point overlooking the Pawcatuck River and the Rhode Island shore beyond.

The rest traveled to the Stanton-Davis Homestead. Gil Bliss, president of the Stanton-Davis Homestead Museum board led us on a tour that pointed out the dwelling’s three phases of erection in the 17th and 18th centuries and the patient work being done now to make the home ready for room-by-room restoration.

Before the two contingents traded places, the traditional group photo in front of the Homestead was taken – with attendees proudly sporting their nifty Reunion T-shirts.

Stanton Society 2022 reunion
Reunion 2022 attendees assemble in front of the Stanton-Davis Homestead for the traditional photo

One last opportunity for cousins who hadn’t done so on Friday to take a guided walking tour of Stonington rounded out the afternoon.

Dinner at COMO led into the TSS business meeting and the final talk of the weekend. 

The talk, by archaeologist Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni, described the intersection of Native Americans, English settlers and enslaved peoples on the Stanton-Davis farm.

Sunday morning saw cousins attend services at the Road Church, the congregation the Stantons co-founded.

By Tom Mennillo