Family ties bind Daniels kin, N.C. history
Today, the Daniels family is hosting its 75th family reunion. Considering that the Danielses arrived on Roanoke Island 275 years ago, it’s no wonder that the name fills a page and half of the 2009 phone book. Some prominent Danielses:
Melvin Daniels Jr. likes to tell a story about President Franklin Roosevelt, his fancy touring car and a group of dazzled Outer Bankers.
Roosevelt, in town in August 1937 to see "The Lost Colony," was seated in the car next to Gov. Clyde Hooey and U.S. Rep. Lindsay Warren, a Beaufort County Democrat and family friend who liked to play checkers with the young Daniels.
Daniels and four other boys were standing nearby admiring the car when the congressman leaned to the president and whispered. Next thing Daniels knew, a stern man was walking up to them.
"The Secret Service man says, 'Which one of you is Daniels?' " Daniels recalled.
"Five of us raised our hands."
It was soon determined, Daniels said, that Warren wanted him to go over to the car. "He said, 'Mr. President, I want you to meet the best checker player on Roanoke Island!' "
Daniels' reaction to meeting the president?
"It was a beautiful car."
Laughing at the retelling, Daniels, 86, said the story illustrates not only the proliferation
of Danielses on the island but also the proud history of one of the Outer Banks' largest and oldest families.
Today, the Daniels family is hosting its 75th family reunion in Wanchese at Bethany United Methodist Church - the same place it has been held every year since 1934.
Considering that the Danielses arrived on Roanoke Island 275 years ago, it's no wonder that the name fills a page and half of the 2009 phone book and that nearly all natives of Roanoke Island have some Daniels blood somewhere in their roots.
Typically, about 250 to 300 people attend the reunion. Daniels said it is nearly impossible to guess how many people all over the country belong to the Daniels family tree.
"There are oodles and oodles of them," he said. "Not only do the Danielses have handsome men," he said, pausing for a self-deprec ating chuckle, "but they also have beautiful girls. And they married Tilletts, Midgetts, Austins, Etheridges and Hookers. That has really added to it."
Those Danielses regularly on the court docket?
"We don't look in that direction," Daniels said dryly. "We don't recognize them."
Prominent members of the Daniels family include state Sen. Marc Basnight, a Manteo Democrat and longtime Senate leader.
Basnight's mother was Cora Mae Daniels, who played Agona in "The Lost Colony" for many years.
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