The weekend of June 24, Shinns from Nebraska, Ohio, and West Virginia, gathered together in Shinnston for the second Shinn family reunion. Some stayed in RVs, one family booked the Gillum House, and others booked rooms at local hotels. According to Kathleen Panek, owner of the Gillum House, “even a small family reunion is great tourism for West Virginia.”
Karen Shinn and her husband, Roger Shinn, drove with their two great granddaughters who are 12 and 5, all the way from their home in Nebraska. Karen and Roger are the organizers of this second time event for Shinns, their first being in 2021.
Shinn said that her husband is “the fourth great grandson of Levi (Shinn),” and they decided to assemble the Shinn reunion in Shinnston several years ago after visiting the town. “His older brothers had been out here before, and we were just impressed with the city and cabin, so we just decided we were going to have a reunion going and meet some of the other Shinns around the area.”
Shinn said that the reunion is a way, “to find out about the history” of their ancestors, and each reunion “has been a good turn out,” with this year around 30 Shinns attending.
Shinn said that Sammy D’s auto shop allowed her family to park their motorcoach in the parking lot for their stay. “He let us park there so we got to see the sights and save a little money too.”
Driving not only saved them money, but Shinn said they were able to take their granddaughters to various historical spots on their way to West Virginia, including the Shinn bridge in Ohio and the Flight 93 memorial.
The festivities kicked off Friday evening in Shinnston as various Shinns continued to arrive in town, and a pizza party was held for the group at the Gillum House. Saturday, the Shinn families took the time to explore the town and the cemetery above Shinnston High School, and later that day, Panek dressed in 18th century garb as Elizabeth Shinn at the Levi Shinn log house in town. Panek took the time to answer questions about the history of the area, the town, and the home.
“Since it had been posted on facebook that ‘Elizabeth’ would be home to visitors, several people from the area also stopped in to tour the log house,” Panek said in an email to the News and Journal.
For Shinn’s granddaughters, one of the highlights of the trip was seeing Levi Shinn’s cabin. “They loved it,” Shinn said. “They loved the cabin. The 12 year old, she just fell in love with the cabin. She said, ‘did this really live like that?’”
Shinn said that her family, as well as the other Shinns visiting the area, also “went shopping in a lot of the little shops because we wanted to support the town and ate at various places.” Several from the group also traveled to Weston to see the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and explored outside of Harrison county.
Shinn said that “just relaxing and enjoying the scenery,” was appreciated by her family, “because where we’re from we have trees but nothing like this.”
Shinn’s family met new relatives at the reunion as others had heard about the 2021 reunion, and she hopes to see this only continue to grow. She said that they plan on “getting on facebook” to advertise for the next reunion and “see if we can get more to come and keep it going.”
Panek said she wished to thank “the Roger and Gary Shinn families for organizing two wonderful Shinn reunions (2021 and 2023) in Shinnston, West Virginia.”
According to Shinn, they will be back for a third reunion in the near future.