Seventy two years ago, John and Hattie Bothof started a tradition by getting their six children and their families together on Memorial Day. They all went to Lake Shetek by Slayton, Minn., fishing for the day.
“They usually went in the Chandler area because that is where they all lived,” said Hattie McCann of Belgrade, who were among 59 cousins who attended this year’s reunion at Dead Lake near Dent, Minn.
In 1953, when their son Gerrit moved to Belgrade, Minn,., the Bothofs started to find different fishing lakes. They went to Rice Lake and Lake Koronis close by and ventured up to Lake Mary near Alexandria, among others.
When the third generation started attending, the gorup got larger and larger. The reunion also got bigger.
“They would fish at one lake for a week and then go home to mow the lawns and go to church on Sunday,” said Hattie Jean. “Then fish one more week ending on Memorial Day.”
Then they found Dead Lake near Dent and discovered they could catch more fish and a variety of fish there. They camped at Hearts Resort for 15 years before it burned down. They switched to Kemps Kamp and have been camping there for 30 years.
There is one second generation son left, John Bothof, Sr., 94, from Slayton, and one second generation in-law, Connie Bothof of Minneapolis, 94. Neither was able to attend this year.
“There are now fourth, fifth and sixth generations coming to the reunion,” said Hattie. “Each year we have between 55-70 relatives getting together to eat, fish and visit. We eat fish two times a day and everyone gathers at the main cabin for meals.”
The group always gathers the week before Memorial Day and every cabin at Kemps Kamp is rented for the reunion.
“This year, we had family come from nine states… Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona, California, Iowa, Nebraska and Georgia,” said Hattie.