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Every year, five generations (and sometimes six) of the Porter Family return to White Lake. They come from a dozen states to reminisce, exchange pictures, and brag about children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The Porter Family House Party is held every July at the FFA Camp, and began with a reunion of eight siblings in Kelly in 1941. See the story below.


Porter House Party a big annual event


The Porters invaded White Lake last week, as they have for decades.

Descendants of the eight children of Preston and Mary Porter originally met at the family home in Kelly. They later moved the event to White Lake, where it’s been held ever since.

“Some of the family from out of town felt it was too much of an imposition on the ones who lived at the home place,” said Linda Henry Robins, whose mother, Rubye, was one of the eight. “They offered to rent a cottage for a week at the lake, and the rest is history.”

What started at the family farm, then at a small rental cottage, grew to fill the N.C. FFA Camp facility.

Around 150 of the 200 known descendants of Troy, Alton, Hugh, Leslie, Bunny, P.S. and Julia now attend the event every year. Relatives come from a half-dozen states as well as Kelly and White Lake for a week of cookouts, fellowship, and family fun.

The first Porter Family House Party was held in 1941. After a brief interruption due to World War II, the event became a regular, then annual event.

We’ve done it consecutively for probably 60 years,” said Bernice “Aunt Bunny” Porter, 91, the last surviving member of the original family.

“The children especially seem to enjoy it,” said Robins. “They meet cousins they would probably never see otherwise.”

The event is organized with the precision of a military camp. Boats carry families to Goldston’s and other locations around the lake, and daily trips and activities are posted on the walls of the dining hall. Other activities included a trip to the White Lake Water Park, and plenty of time in the water at White Lake.

Adults enjoy golf, day trips, boating and skiing, and an auction that helps fund the family Web site, among other events.

Earlier house parties weren’t quite so elaborate, Aunt Bunny said.

“I remember one time we decided to have a barbecue,” she said, “and my brothers decided to cook it in the ground. We were worried to death it would never get done, but then he eventually pulled a bone out of part of it, and it was the tenderest meat you ever saw.”

Many of the house parties hearkened back to the family’s rural roots.

“One year we cooked chickens,” she said. “We killed and cooked all the chickens right there at the cottage.”

Sign-up sheets for talent shows, trips to the family farm, and other activities are posted at the end of the serving tables in the dining hall, and each family member is expected to take a shift at cooking, cleaning, or other duties.

“Once you turn 60 you can retire,” Robins said, “but everyone else does their part.”

Before the group leaves, Robins said, next year’s committees will be organized, and work will be under way on the next event.

“A lot of people thought when the older generation died out, the house party would die out, too,” Robins said. “Even Aunt Bunny thought she might not make it this year. But it keeps on getting stronger and bigger.”

The house party is an important part of the family’s close ties, despite being scattered across the country.

“We always have a lot of fun,” Robins said. “It’s just a good chance to get together, where you can reminisce and meet new people at the same times.”

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