The Clan McAlister of America was founded by Paul Emmitt Towry, a retired Colonel of the U. S. Army. He was the son of John Ewin and Mary Julia (nee McAlister) Towry, of Lincoln County, Tennessee. His family lineage is indexed in the CMA database asA05, Andrew McAlister.
Paul and his brother, Bill Towry, had apparently run into a brick wall in the genealogy research of their McAlister family history and needed help. Paul, having worked with the Towry Family of America, had the idea that the same type organization could be formed by McAlisters to bring them together in an organization that would have the ability to collect and disseminate family history of McAlisters in America. The group would hold reunions to share in fellowship with their cousins and exchange family history.
To bring his idea into reality, Paul solicited the help of his McAlister and Towry cousins. Several hundred letters were sent to various McAlister families in several states, with a proposal that they meet May 26, 1990 at the Park Inn International Motel in Greenville, SC. It was a surprise to all that 79 were present. They came from nine States; AR, AL, FL, GA, MO, NC, SC, TN and TX.
Paul had the schedule very well planned. There was a period of get acquainted. Everyone introduced themselves and named their most distant ancestor. During the introductions some of the most remarkable family stories were told. It was a fun time to hear other McAlisters tell about their family. Dolly McAlister Elliott told of her trip to Scotland, the history of the McAlister name and the migration to America.
During the second day Paul described the organization and how he thought it should function. To perpetuate and glue the group together he suggested a newsletter and an annual reunion. Many names were suggested for the organization, but the group finally settled on Clan McAlister of America. An annual membership fee was set to cover the cost of the newsletter. The Board of Directors and Officers elected were:
President – Fred R. McAlister, Jr. – Charlotte, NC
Vice President – Wes McAlister – Mt. Carmel, SC
Secretary – W. S. “ Bill” Hines – Spartanburg, SC
Treasurer – Barbara Worsham McAlister – Palmetto, GA
Board of Directors;
Joan Martin Johnson – Mullins, SC
Phillip McCown – Fayetteville, TN
William P. Towry - San Antonio, TX
Lois McAlister Hartwick – England, AR
Lawrence Holcombe – Liberty, SC
Carl McAlister – Gastonia, SC
Foster McAlister had to leave early and a very solemn moment occurred when he said his goodbyes. His words were very emotional and touched many in the group. To quote from the minutes of the first meeting, “As the meeting began to draw to close it became obvious that all attendees had become better acquainted and that a warm sense of family relationship had formed. Early in the morning we had gathered more or less as strangers; but now that the details of each personality had emerged, everyone felt at ease, and a sense of conviviality spread over the meeting. Rev. Fred McAlister proposed that all join hands and sing Blest Be the Tie that Binds a fitting conclusion to this the first gathering of the Clan”. The meeting adjourned with unanimous decision to meet again in 1991.
During the remainder of the year; a newsletter was mailed by the President and more memberships were received by the Treasurer. Members mailed in their family history and lineage. To handle the work load, Paul solicited some of the Towry family to help. Della Guise of the Towry family was editor of the journal and John Towry’s printing company,” Printcraft”, did the printing. By April of 1991, enough family history and lineage had been collected to produce and print the first journal, known as “Mac-Alasdair Clan”.
The first journal contained proposed bylaws for the Clan McAlister of America. The journal also contained several interesting articles, family history and lineage. Although the family lineage was not identified at that time, they would later receive CMA ancestral index codes of A05, A09, BE01,C01, CR01, J01, J02, J26, JAC01 JW01 to just name a few.
The proposed bylaws contained in the first journal were adopted at the second reunion held at the University Inn at Huntsville, AL, May 24-25, 1991, where over 100 were in attendance. At Huntsville the 100th member, Guy McAllister, joined and by the time Volume 1 Book 2 was published in July 1991, membership had grown to 137. The President, Fred McAlister, proposed a committee form of administration. The first committee selected was the Reunion Committee to find a location for the reunion to be held in 1992. Members selected were Joe McAlister of Palmetto, GA, Wes McAlister of Mt. Carmel, SC and J. A. McAlister of Lonoke, AR.
Joe and Barbara McAlister hosted the third reunion at the Ramada Airport Hotel in Atlanta, GA on July 24-26, 1992. After the welcome address by Joe and a prayer by Glen McAlister, the get acquainted period begin. Each person introduced themselves and named their most distant McAlister ancestor. Several family connections were made during this period. Other events included smaller groups that were formed to discuss family history and the migratory trail of their ancestors. Dolly McAlister Elliott held a workshop for beginners in genealogy.
Also, Joe and Barbara had a hospitality room set up for after-hours. This was a popular place to hang out and get acquainted, one-on-one. Some tall tales were told here and Joe could tell some good ones. During the business session of the reunion, new officers and directors were elected. Those elected are as follows:
Wes McAllister – President, Mt. Carmel, SC
Faye Jamison Lane – Vice-President, Jonesboro, AR
Frances McAlister Kiser – Secretary, Charlotte, NC
Barbara Worsham McAlister – Treasurer, Palmetto, GA
Membership Chairman – Paul E. Towry, Holiday Island, AR
Carl E. McAlister – Two years, Gastonia, SC
Phillip McCown – Two years, Fayetteville, TN
Anna Page Fields – Two years, Russellville, AR
Lois McAlister Hartwick – Four years, England, AR
William P. Towry – Four years, San Antonio, TX
Paul E. Towry - Four years, Holiday Island, AR
The reunion program by Joe and Barbara for the third reunion set the agenda for future reunions. The Clan McAlister of America was off and running. No one really knew the success the CMA would have in the years to come.
The first four years kept Paul busy with phone calls, data entry of family lineage and assembling the information for the journals. Using the program "Microsoft Works", Paul had created a database for his family lineage. For the CMA, he expanded this database and indexed the various McAlister families. At this time very few computer genealogy programs were on the market and internet had not come into existence. It is unknown just how many phone calls Paul made, but almost every call resulted in a new member and additional material and pictures of McAlister families. These phone calls also resulted in the connection of McAlister family lines.
By the summer of 1994 the CMA had grown to nearly 800 members. The Treasury coffer had steady grown to a balance of $5,536.48 at July 2, 1994. The founder, Paul Towry was elected President at the reunion in 1994. Under his administration the CMA adopted new bylaws and the organization was incorporated March 20, 1995 in the State of Arkansas as a Non-Profit, Mutual Benefit Corporation with members. CMA received the blessings of the State of Arkansas and the IRS as a 501 (c) (7) non-charitable, tax exempt, not for profit organization.
After many years of work and devotion to the Clan McAlister of America, Paul Towry and his wife, Nita have retired in San Antonio, TX. If you would like to express your appreciation and word of gratitude to the Founder of Clan McAlister of America you can write to Paul & Nita Towry, #1Towers, Park Lane #609, San Antonio, TX 78209.
J A McAlister