Many years ago, I suspect during the slavery days, lived a man by the name of Freeman Westbrook. Freeman met and married a woman by the name of Ann [Kennedy]. Freeman and Ann Westbrook were blessed with 11 children: June, J.W., Jamy, Julia, Ella Mae, Lewis, William a/k/a Ben, Oscar, Parthenia, Rachel and Hattie
Of these eleven children, William a/k/a Ben lived the longest, past the age of 90. Also of these eleven children, one child in particular would be a beginning root of the Cooley-Westbrook family tree. That child was Parthenia Westbrook.
Parthenia later met and married Meb Cooley (this is why our reunion is called the Cooley-Westbrook reunion.
The first Cooley-Westbrook Family Reunion started more than 40 years in Douglasville, Georgia at the home of June and Mary Westbrook and became an annual family event. Our reunions are held every year on the third Saturday of July. Uncle June is best remembered as the uncle who always wore a white shirt and suspenders. Aunt Mary is best remembered as the aunt, who in spite of her medical condition , would sit in her chair and greet everyone with handshakes and hugs.
The Cooley-Westbrook was always a big deal. Each year everyone looked forward to that third Sunday in July. If you didn’t have a way to get there, Uncle Melvin, a/k/a Uncle Dick, could always be counted on for a ride (even if you had to sit on someone’s lap. The reunions were always very festive and were usually an outdoor event. Uncle June had build some tables between the trees in his yard and the family would dine together under the trees if the weather permitted. Mr. Gentie, affectionately known as “Sunshine” and Mr. Sam Brown, were very close family friends. They’d keep you laughing with their clowning around and toss their hats. They weren’t related, but they were just like family.
Back then, they didn’t have such luxuries like air conditioning, indoor bathrooms or such sprays like “Off” to keep the mosquitoes away. But what they did have was an abundance of food, lots of laughter and plenty of good times. Above all, they had each other… Family Unity!
The reunions ceased for a few years, but the family quickly got it going again. Since then the sites have been changed several times and in recent years it has become a tradition to host the reunion in the city or town of the elected chairman, thus bringing us to Peachtree City, Georgia.
Meb Cooley and Parthenia Westbrook were the parents of eighteen children. 13 boys - Woodrow, Winford (Wince), Jim, Willis, John Edward (Ed), Hudgen, Roosevelt (Jaybird), Elwood, Oliver, Hershel and Melvin (Dick) and 5 girls - Luella, Elsie, Cassie Lee, Lottie (Lida), and Mae. They are the ancestors of our children.
On the 31st day of January 2009 we buried Roosevelt Cooley, who was the last surviving grandchild of Freeman and Ann Westbrook. Uncle Roosevelt, affectionately known of us as “Uncle Jaybird” was the last of the first generation descendant(s) of Meb Cooley and Parthenia Westbrook.
It is with great pleasure to announce that the
2009 Cooley-Westbrook Family Reunion
will be held in honor of Uncle Jaybird!