The collection of cousins trace their common ancestry back to Jesse Livingston Bennett.
His parents, Michael and Phoebe Bennett, settled in Walker County in 1840 and were among the first Bennetts to arrive in the area, according to an entry from “The Heritage of Walker County, Alabama.”
Bennett’s grandfather and namesake, Jesse Livingston, was the first known white man to discover Clear Creek Falls in Winston County.
Bennett was a veteran of the Civil War. He married into another of Walker County’s founding families in December 1864 when he wed Josephine Jones.
The couple had nine children. Their infant son, Jessie Livingston Bennett Jr., was the first person to be buried in Bennett Cemetery on Lamon Chapel Road in 1880.
Bennett died in August 1912 in a freak accident. As he drove his wagon past a field that was being plowed, the team of horses pulling him were spooked when the farmer snapped a bull whip. Bennett was thrown from the wagon and received fatal brain injuries.
Josephine Bennett died in June 1914. Both are buried in Bennett Cemetery along with hundreds of their descendants.
Jasper resident Gwen Pulliam began researching his lineage in 1986.
“I started on our father’s side. Our youth group was doing a vacation Bible school for underpriviliged kids in Atlanta. I saw Elbert County on the map of Georgia, and I told my wife, ‘I’ve heard of the place all my life, but I’ve never been there,’” Pulliam said.
The next morning, Pulliam started sorting through public records at the courthouse at Elberton.
He thought his research would be completed quickly based on the small number of Pulliams in Walker County, but he quickly discovered that there were thousands scattered across the United States.
The Pulliams also have connections to several other large families with ties to Walker County.
“Right now, with all of our families combined, we are kinned to over 18,000 people,” said Marlin Pulliam, who began helping his brother preserve all the documentation he had collected in a digital format in 1999.
“I was computer illiterate. He bought a Family Tree program, called and said, ‘Bring your brain and your boxes over here,’” Gwen Pulliam said.
Both of the men said their favorite part of genealogy is visiting long-lost relatives.
“You’re family when you walk in. If you’ve held that name or you’re kinned to some person that they’ve never even heard of, you’re not a stranger,” Marlin Pulliam said.
The Bennett family reunion will be held Saturday at Edgil Grove Baptist Church beginning at 11 a.m.