The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Hundreds return to Ridgway for Drone Daze

  • Hundreds of people are expected to gather in Ridgway the weekend of June 20 and June 21 for the worldwide family reunion of the Joseph and Margaret Bartel Drone family.
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  • Hundreds of people are expected to gather in Ridgway the weekend of June 20 and June 21 for the worldwide family reunion of the Joseph and Margaret Bartel Drone family.
    The reunion opens at 4 p.m. Friday, June 20 and ends at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday evening June 21, according to a press release provided by Mary Jo Morgan. The schedule is packed full of various activities designed to appeal to all age groups. Most of the activities will take place in and around St. Joseph’s Parish Center however those attending the fish dinner on Friday evening will enjoy that at the American Legion Hall in downtown Ridgway. One other activity is also scheduled for downtown Ridgway and it is the Friday evening dance at the Oasis Bar from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
    The Reunion Band will be playing and 50/50 drawings will be held. Most events are open to the public with the purchase of a “Drone for a Day Button” for $2.
    The theme is “Drone Daze Reunion Celebrating Faith, Family & Friends.” Representatives of the Drone family began meeting several months ago to develop plans for this upcoming celebration.
    The reunion will open with registration of individuals/families as well as auction items at 2 p.m. on Friday and continue until 9 p.m. that evening. Registration resumes again 9 a.m. Saturday morning and will continue until noon. Also on Saturday morning children’s activities will be available as well as games for both children and adults and time for visiting and walking around the area. Self tours of St. Joseph’s Cemetery will be available on Saturday morning and maps will be provided. There will also be special signage marking each grave of the original family members. Joe and Margaret Bartel Drone as well as all 10 children and their spouses are buried at this local cemetery as are many of their other descendants.
    A concession stand available by Eubank’s Custom Cooking will be located outside the Parish Center and more half pot drawings will be held on Saturday. The Parish Hall will be open for those who want to gather and visit. Coffee and Donuts will be on sale in the Souvenir Shop along with other specialty items. A silent auction will be held on Saturday morning and the ever popular live auction conducted by Jamie Scherrer will begin at noon and end about 4 p.m.A bountiful dinner will be served in the Parish Center by the KC’s to those who have already purchased meal tickets and group photos will be taken following dinner at approximately 6 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at 6:45 p.m. in St. Joseph’s Center. Then reunion goers will enjoy a dance featuring Taxi Band from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. in St. Joseph’s Center.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Drone family came from Alsace-Lorraine, France in 1831 to Clermont County, Ohio. It was in Clermont County that Joe met Margaret Bartel who had also emigrated from France and they were married in Milford, Ohio in 1838.
    Joseph made his first trip to Gallatin County in the spring of 1857 searching for a better life for his family. He traveled down the Ohio River to Cave-In-Rock and traveled north to Gallatin County before finding land suitable for farming. He bought 90 acres of densely wooded land in the Rocky Branch area east of North Fork Creek and by the fall of 1857 he settled his family into a log cabin in the little town of New Market until they had time to build another log cabin for the family on their land near Rocky Branch.
    Besides working hard and prospering for his family, Joe Drone was instrumental in getting a school built nearby and his leadership in the Catholic community resulted in the erection of a modest frame church in Ridgway. The Drone Family History is closely tied to the history of the growth of the Catholic Church in this area as described in “The Joseph F. Drone Family History” published in 1978. That book references an article in the 1917 edition of “The Messenger,” the Belleville Diocese newspaper, which tells best the part that Joseph Drone played in the history of the Church in Ridgway: “Additional families began to settle here and gradually the church was enlarged. This church carried the glorious and beautiful name of St. Joseph, the patron saint of its untiring, zealous, sincere and devoted builder, Mr. Joseph Drone.”
    Later a residence was built for the parish priest and eventually a school was added along with a convent for the nuns who staffed the school and then many years later a parish center/gym was built.
    St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and the rectory were destroyed by a tornado on Leap Day, Feb. 29, 2012, and a new church serving all of Gallatin County is being built on site where St. Joseph’s once stood. This new church and parish, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, was formed by the consolidation of four separate parishes that have served Gallatin County and beyond for years: Immaculate Conception in Shawneetown, St. Joseph’s in Equality, St. Joseph’s in Ridgway and St. Patrick’s in Ponds’ Settlement.
    In time the family of Joe and Margaret Bartel Drone grew to include 10 children including Frank, Joseph II, John, Alexander, Lewis, Mary Catherine, Josephine, Oliver, George and Caroline. This pioneer family settled into life here in Gallatin County where many of their descendants continue to live. Other family members moved away and now members of this Drone Family can be found around the world. However, later this month hundreds of them plan to return to their roots and will celebrate together at the 2014 Drone Reunion at St. Joseph’s Center in Ridgway.
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