In a late-June morning in 1910, about 1,000 members from a widely spread family converged in York’s Centre Square.

These folks bearing the last names of Laux, Loux, Lauck, Laucks, Louck, Loucks, Louks and other variations boarded cars for the 7-mile trolley ride to Dover Township’s Brookside Park, where they would spend the day.

There, they picnicked, told stories and listened to what must have seemed like endless speeches.

York County industrialist Israel Laucks was there, welcoming the contingent to his home county for this 200th reunion of the Laux family in America.

So was his son S. Forry Laucks, who would later lead his family’s York Safe & Lock to international renown.

At day’s end, Augustus Loucks bid farewell to this family – including scores of Lauxes from York County.

“There may be with us today many who will not met (meet) with us at another reunion,” the York Gazette reported, “but let us hope with the faith that was so well founded in our progenitors of God, that we will meet at the great reunion in the everlasting world.”

***

On a June day 100 years later, more than 100 folks bearing the same range of family names had a great reunion at the West Manchester Holiday Inn.

Their conference room, loaded with laptops and genealogical resources, was but a short distance from Trolley Road, the route their ancestors rolled along on their way to Brookside.

It was indeed a much anticipated coming together of this venerable American family.

Such family reunions are a rite of summer around York County.

But this was the first Laux reunion since 1914.

And this particular 300th reunion day – the first of three – was no picnic.

Family members heard speeches about descendants of the Laux immigrant families in 1710, forerunners of many in that packed hotel banquet room.

One intriguing presentation by Orie Loucks was titled “Was Thonges Laux the Father of Five 1709er’s?” He demonstrated how DNA testing can be used in genealogical research.

From that 1710 group that traveled from the German Palatinate to New York, the family spread across North America, as indicated by the title of Quebec’s Terry Loucks’ dinner speech: “Pa German/Dutch’s Trek to Ontario.”

***

Of course, the Laux family trekked to York County, too.

I addressed the reunion on those local links.

A hearth for the York County edition of the family in the 1700s was centered in and around Freysville in Lower Windsor Township.

York County history best remembers father and son, Israel and Forry Laucks, and grandfather and grandson, Jacob Loucks and Jacob Loucks Devers.

Forry Laucks came back into the headlines in the past decade after his bucolic former estate, Lauxmont, became the topic of that heated preservationist-development debate.

This land-use controversy was predictable because Forry

Laucks, in his day, could land in hot water with both feet.

One account remembers the widower’s parties at the estate.

“He entertained sumptuously at Lauxmont,” Fortune magazine reported in 1942, “and gave big stag parties whose echoes still rock the Lutheran piety of York.”

But by the time of his death in 1942, he had catalyzed the York Plan, an organized effort to bring massive defense contracts to York County industries in World War II.

And his York Safe & Lock contributed mightily to the war effort, making Bofors, those naval ack-ack guns that brought down many Axis planes in World War II.

Even now, York Safe & Lock is back in the news, sort of. Harley-Davidson is selling the Forry Laucks-built former Bofors plant as part of consolidation efforts.

***

Jacob Loucks was there with S. Morgan Smith at the 1870s beginning of York Manufacturing Co., later York Corporation and now Johnson Controls.

Smith left to form the industrial empire that bore his name, and Loucks ran into lean years in the late 1880s.

Papermaker P.H. Glatfelter rescued the company and his brother-in-law – Jacob Loucks. That business/family link up joined the Loucks and Glatfelter families, whose heirs must cover half of York County’s population today.

Anyway, at about the time these businessmen were remaking York Manufacturing, Loucks’ grandson was born.

Sixty years later, Jacob Loucks Devers’ leadership in World War II would parallel his late grandfather’s York Corporation on the home front as forces against the Axis threat.

The chief engineer of that plan was York Corporation chairman W.S. Shipley, bringing another prominent York County family into the picture.

At one point, York Corporation and S. Morgan Smith Co., working in adjoining factories, jointly made a massive mobile siege gun that could lob a shell for 30 miles.

That reunited the industrial heirs of Jacob Loucks and S. Morgan Smith, who had started the whole thing in 1874.

****

Amid all such family talk, the Lauxes displayed a keen sense of humor.

I took the risk as an outsider to ask the group about a characteristic long attributed to the family, well, that they had long noses.

Charles W. Loucks put that quality on the table after his 1910 Brookside speech:

“The speaker has since the address been reminded of the long noses of the Louxes, which is a marked physical characteristic of them.”

As I showed slides of young York County Lauxes, family members preferred to point out the commonality in the chins. And I learned that Laux family members are often tall.

And good looking, of course.

***

Such were the happenings at this 300th Laux family reunion.

Reunion coordinator Ginger Loucks said the group would meet again in two years – back in York County.

Family members had exchanged cards bearing e-mail addresses and websites that would foster family research between now and then.

And she also generously offered me an honorary membership into their accomplished family.

Let’s see: Jim McLoucks.

That’s about right.

Link to the Phillies

After my speech at the 300th Laux reunion, a family member asked me about baseball’s Jamie Moyer.

I told him that his family had produced so much local history that I couldn’t get in the Phillies lefthander’s link with the Lauxes.

The Laux family reunion website, http://www.freewebs.com/300th, says Moyer’s grandmother was Miriam T. Loux, wife of Leroy M. Moyer. They are descendants of John Loux, son of immigrant Peter Laux.

I later thought about the 47-year-old Moyer, who is on track to win 20 games this year.

Indeed, the ageless hurler might capture 300 career wins by the Loucks’ next reunion in 2012.

Or 400 by the 400th Laux reunion in 2110.

Ernest Loucks

A member of the Laux family told me before the reunion that I’d find those attending would have a good sense of humor.

That quality jumped out when I came across a York Daily Record article about 100-year-old Ernest Loucks in 1991.

Ernest Loucks told the story about his eventful and expensive first date with a new girlfriend:

The horse he rented from the livery stable fell over dead, and he had to borrow $25 to pay the stable for the loss.

And then, he commented about two things:

  • The Persian Gulf War: “I’m not interested in the war. I won’t get in it at 100 years old. I know that.”
  • His life: “I’m in good shape. For 100 years old, I know enough.James McClure, editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday New, blogs daily at yorktownsquare.com. He has written five books on York County history. E-mail: jem@ydr.com.