PAGE – Fifty years ago, the Lake Powell Chronicle covered one of Page’s most memorable events. Notable people traveled from across the country to attend, including Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater and Postmaster General Winton M. Blount.
It was the 100th anniversary of John Wesley Powell’s journey down the Colorado River. At the event, the U.S. Post Office announced a postage stamp in his honor. Powell’s legacy is broad. Buildings, landmarks, dams and even a rare mineral carry his name. None of this is as significant as the family drawn together by Powell’s impact on history.
In the entryway of Powell Museum in Page, is a photo of the Powell family. It was taken 50 years ago. On the top right is 9-year-old Walter Schrading. Monday, Walter returned to Page for a family reunion. The tradition began 112 years ago. This year, family member from nearby St. George, Utah, and as far away as Madrid, Spain, came to Page. During their visit to the museum, the family donated funds to help with water damage repairs.
Walter Schrading and Nancy Davis organized this year’s event. Nancy says distances and time schedules make it difficult to coordinate, but they usually get the family together every three years. Walter’s daughter, Catherine, is proud of her family’s heritage and along with her young cousins, plans to carry the tradition forward.
"These reunions and the merry-go-round began long before I was born and I will do everything I can to ensure they endure into the next generation and beyond. My family's recognition of our shared heritage goes beyond our admiration for John Wesley Powell's accomplishments. We are a family of artists, innovators, scientists, activists, and adventurers––studying our lineage helps us realize we always have been and, through the silent forces of familial bonds, we likely always will be. That's the kind of tradition I believe is worth carrying on. I hope this helps! Additionally, I threw together a video of our trip down the Colorado River - I'll admit it's not very focused on our lineage, it's just a fun recap of our time in the canyon. I think the use of digital media like this (digital photography, YouTube, Facebook, etc) will be the future of our family connection and provide mementos of reunions past to be enjoyed for years to come," Catherine Schrading said.
The tradition grew from a family chain letter dubbed the “Merry Go Round.” The family newsletter began in the 1880’s. A letter would be sent to a family member, then that member would send it to three more family members and so on. The Merry Go Round continues to this today.
John Wesley Powell has no direct descendants today. His only child was Mary Dean Powell who had no children, so much of the family traces its roots back to his older sister, Martha Ann Powell, who married John Davis in 1851.