History of the Counts Family Reunion Biographical Sketch John Counts Elihu J. Sutherland Meeting Minutes Photos  Directors Helpful Links Contact Us


In 1936, Dickenson County native and historian, Elihu Jasper Sutherland (1885 - 1964), organized the first annual John Counts of Glade Hollow Family Reunion in Cleveland, Virginia.  The Counts Family Reunion has been held every year since then, apart from four years during World War II, and is the longest-running family reunion held in Southwest Virginia.  

The reunion was created as a memorial and celebration of our ancestors, John Counts of Glade Hollow (circa 1725 - 1803), and his wife Mary Magdeline, who settled in Russell County, Virginia in 1789, a short distance north of Lebanon, Virginia in a place called Glade Hollow.  The Counts Family Reunion has been held at various locations throughout Southwest Virginia including Cleveland, the Breaks Interstate Park, Sand Lick, Clinchco, and at Sulphur Springs Primitive Baptist Church where numerous Counts kin have worshipped and preached.  

Although the number of attendees at the reunion has dwindled substantially since its heyday, the descendants of John Counts are still gathering yearly to remember our ancestors of the past and celebrate their memories and accomplishments.  

You don't need be a Counts to attend the reunion as John Counts of Glade Hollow has thousands of descendants that do not carry the Counts surname.  Below is a sampling of the surnames that trace their roots to John Counts.

Amburgey, Anderson, Arrington, Artrip, Bowman, Breeding, Bumgarner, Cantrell, Carter, Childress, Colley, Combs, Compton, Counts, Deel, Dingus, Dye, Dye, Edwards, Fields, Fleming,  Fuller, Green, Grizzle/Grizzel, Hay, Jessee, Johnson, Jones, Kelly, Kiser, Lang, Long, McReynolds, Mullins, Musick, Owens, Powers, Pressley, Rasnick/Rasnake, Ratliff, Robinson, Selfe, Skeen, Smith, Stanley, Sutherland, Sykes, Taylor, Turner, Viers, Wright, and Yates


Some Descendants of John Counts of Glade Hollow - the starting point of Counts research and history

Elihu Jasper Sutherland, creator of the Counts Family Reunion was the genealogist and driving force behind the book "Some Descendants of John Counts of Glade Hollow".  In the early part of the 20th century, Elihu researched and collected the genealogy of Counts' kin and related families, planning to put it into book form.  Data was obtained from records of bibles, censuses, churches, courthouses, and tombstones, as well as through personal interviews and correspondence with hundreds of people in all sections of the country. The amount of information he collected pre-internet was monumental.  Many related Counts kin eagerly awaited the publication of this book.  Unfortunately, Elihu (EJ or Li as he was affectionately known) passed away in 1964 before his labor of love could come to full fruition.   

Following EJ's death, Joshua H.T. Sutherland, president of the Counts Family Reunion in 1969, planned for EJ's work to be published in 1975 as part of America's Bicentennial celebration.  Unfortunately, his death on February 27, 1970, came without having fulfilled the hope of publication. 

EJ's wife, Hetty Jean Swindall Sutherland, served as the Counts Family Reunion genealogist and kept the Counts research alive.  She took the lead in compiling and publishing her husband's research.  Along with their son, Bill Sutherland, and his wife, Thora, the book, "Some Descendants of John Counts of Glade Hollow", was published in 1978.  The first edition sold hundreds of copies to Counts' descendants all across the country.  In 1998, a second edition was also published due to the demand.  Hetty, passed on June 6, 2004, at the age of 102 and was still attending Counts Family Reunions as late as 2002. 

Bill Sutherland, EJ and Hetty's son, continued the Counts research and has published a supplemental follow-up, Volume 2 of Some Descendants of John Counts of Glade Hollow, the "big book" of Corrections and Additions.  He also began the website sutherlandbooks.org.  Bill, last attended the Counts Family Reunion in 2016 but continues to inspire family members with his tenacity, generosity, and humility.  

The people of this area are heavily indebted to Elihu J. Sutherland and his family for their perseverance in research and collecting of family and local history.  His research was so monumental, that in the early 1980's, the Church of the Latter Day Saints visited his wife, Hetty, and copied his research for their collection.  





On August 3rd, 2024, the 83st Counts Family Reunion will be held at the Lebanon Recreational Center located at 45 Gibson St Lebanon, VA.  The reunion will start at 10:00 am with official reunion business starting at 11:00.  Following the reunion a trip to the John Counts of Glade Hollow Cemetery will be available to those who want to go.  A Zoom link for those wanting to attend virtually will be available in the near future.