Hundreds expected at historic familys reunion

SHIPSHEWANA, Ind. –  The Fourth of July is a popular time for family reunions, but one Shipshewana family is coming together this weekend in a very big way.

At the Blue Gate Garden Inn, descendants of Ruben and Harriet Yoder are gathering this weekend. There are more than 1200 living relatives and 200 are attending the reunion.

Chris Yoder traveled from Michigan to organize a centennial Yoder family celebration.

"I'm a descendant of Ruben Yoder's oldest son Samuel and he was one of six brothers and two sisters that lived to adulthood,” said Chris.

Others came from all over the country.

Mahlon Burkhard drove with his wife from Maryland.

"Ruben Yoder was my great-grandfather,” said Burkhard.

This group of Yoders shaped history in northern Indiana. They were among the first Amish settlers here more than 100 years ago.

"We're part of history and the Yoders of the early days during the formation of the Amish, they were there,” said Chris.

Their American story is an important one on this 4th of July - the most patriotic of all holidays.

"They were faithful to their God. They came and they worked hard, they lived well, they were good parents and grandparents, and they provide us that special heritage that I think we can all honor today,” said Chris.

A legacy to cherish for this extraordinarily large family.

"It's an activity that doesn't happen very often, and many families don't have that opportunity, so I think it's a wonderful thing that we can all be together to have such a great occasion,” said Burkhard.

This is only the third time the family has ever had a gathering this size. Activities are planned for the Yoder family through the weekend including an ice cream social, a trip to Ruben's original homestead about three miles south and a graveside memorial service at the cemetery nearby.

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