Special to The Hays Daily News

NATOMA -- Hackerott descendants from as far as La Grange, Ill., and Las Vegas joined native Kansans for a reunion June 2 and 3. They came to reunite and celebrate their family's history of determination, perseverance and freedom on the Great Plains. A German immigrant, August Hackerott and his family arrived in 1872 by oxen-drawn wagon, settling in Osborne County for the purpose of homesteading. A sister, Lisette (Hackerott) Pfortmiller, her husband and children joined them in 1877, with a brother, Ernest, and his family arriving in 1878.

The celebration began Saturday with a six-hour tour of homesteads and farms north of Natoma in Osborne County. Roger Beisner led the tour using a family history book compiled by Mary Ann Beisner.

Forty-five family members from the original pioneer families gathered Sunday morning at the Natoma Community Center for a social hour, dinner, business meeting and music. Activities included an antique quiz game, displays regarding the family's history, a family portrait and Sunday dinner.

Special recognitions were given for various honors, including gratitude and applause to all veterans and two young men who will serve in the United States military.

Natoma High School sophomore Seth Hachmeister read his Voice of Democracy essay. Natoma High School graduates announced their honors and future plans. Jared Hachmeister has been appointed to the United States Naval Preparatory Academy in Rhode Island. He reports in July.

Seth Johnson was honored for the Governor's Scholar Award Program recognizing the top academic 1 percent of Kansas high school seniors. He will enter the United States Marine Corps' Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego on Aug. 21.

The eldest gentleman was Arthur Hachmeister, 92, Natoma; the eldest lady was Lillie (Hackerott) Morrill, 78, Portis; longest married were Roger and Mary Ann Beisner, Natoma; youngest were Hudson Hamilton, 1, Las Vegas, and Milo Allen Schreuder, 1 , Cawker City. Traveling the greatest distance from Las Vegas were Brian, Monica and Hudson Hamilton.

The 2013 celebration will be June 1 and 2 in Natoma with newly elected officers: President, Laah Tucker, Natoma; vice-president, Alice Marie Tritsch, Hutchinson; secretary, Ginger Reinert, Osborne; historian, Mary Ann Beisner, Natoma.