By Robert Lucke
It all started way back in 1935 when three Kegel brothers and two Kegel sisters from Turner, Mont., all attended Northern Montana College in Havre.
From that came a wellspring of Kegels attending what's now called MSU-Northern through the years and reunions every five years to celebrate ever more family members attending the Havre school.
This year there were 88 Kegel family members in attendance at Camp Kiwanis from July 6 to July 8. Of those 88 there, 42 Kegels have attended MSU-Northern from 1933 to the present and one, Greg Kegel, teaches at the institution.
A 1935 issue of NMC student newspaper the NOMOCO documents the first Kegels to attend the school. Not only that but they had much to offer to Northern.
"Ambitious to be useful as well as multitudinously ornamental, The Kegel clan is, without exception, musical and interested in activities. Alice and Marjorie sing in the Girls' Glee Club. Arthur plays the violin, clarinet and an imported concertina. Charlie plays the sax, and Fritz performs when sufficiently urged, on the violin, cornet and banjo. All three boys played in the Turner band and they expect to be members of Northern Montana College's new orchestra. Fred boxes and wrestles in his spare time. He taught summer school near his home, re-entering college again for the winter quarter."
"Those five Kegels waited two to three years for there to be a high school built at Turner. By then NMC had opened and they came up to classes in Havre High School, the Presbyterian church and some on campus," said Doris Kegel.
"We started these reunions in 1976," she continued. "We have them every five years."
Charles F. Kegel emigrated from Germany as a 6 year old and his wife Anna emigrated from Bohemia. They settled on the Big Flat in 1910 where grandson Dan Kegel is still farming.
The emphasis for the 2001 reunion was on heritage and the sacrifices made by their ancestors to provide freedoms and opportunities for themselves and their progeny. The family celebrated the place that education has held in their lives. All 10 of the original Kegel children from Turner attended Northern at some time or other.
"They all gathered at Camp Kiwanis in tents, cabins and motorhomes and RVs," Sibyl Kegel Hughes said.
Just cooking for the clan was no small effort. Hughes and a couple of her cousins planned the menus months ago and teams were appointed to go into the camp kitchen and prepare each meal.
"I was in charge of the sourdough pancakes," Hughes said. "I must have made sourdough starter for weeks in advance. The sourdoughs went over big and steak night was very popular."
This one is history now but you can bet that the clan that started out in the Big Flat country will have more going to MSU-Northern's hallowed halls five years from now.