Albert County, New Brunswick



Colpitts Family Reunion at Little River, Albert Co. (c1933)

The following text was transcribed from an undated article which appeared in an area newspaper of the past (name of newspaper is unknown). The article was in the possession of the Margaret Moorehead who so gratiously agreed to contribute it to the Albert Co. GenWeb pages. Althought undated, clues from the article would appear to place the year of the reunion in the early 1930s. The article mentions that the founding father of the family, Robert Colpitts, emigrated from England "a century and a half ago". Later in the text it states Robert "coming here to settle in 1783".


Little River, Albert County, is Scene of Remarkable Gathering - Honor Founders Who Come from England a Century and a Half Ago

Little River, Albert County, Aug. 25--The many hundreds of members of the Colpitts family, when they arose this morning, prepared to participate in the big family reunion and picnic which took place at the family homestead at Little River, Albert county today found the weather not so bright as they had hoped, but not unfavorable.  Early in the morning the throngs commenced to gather and the roads leading to the place of meeting were soon thickly dotted with motor cars and other vehicles filled with members of the family and their friends all set for a happy celebration. Soon after sunrise a few clouds appeared and had the effect of making the weather a little dull, but the crowds did not seem to mind that and continued on their journey despite the clouds. For those who did not find it convenient to make the trip by motor car, and therefore traveled by rail, automobiles were in attendance at the railway station at Salisbury, which conveyed the travellers to the site of the picnic, some three miles away.

An Enjoyable Programme

An elastic programme, more or less impromptu, had been prepared for the visitors by a capable committee in charge of the affair. The Salisbury band had been engaged for the occasion and rendered a splendid programme of music during the day. Other musical entertainment was provided by the girls who are spending the summer at Camp Hermit Thrush, near Elgin, who gave a splendid concert in the afternoon, and will give another, of the camp fire variety, early in the evening.

For those who did not bring picnic baskets for dinner and supper, arrangements were made for these two meals by the ladies of the churches in the vicinity, who served most appetizing meals at a most reasonable cost, devoting the proceeds to church purposes.

A Contrast

The crowds began to gather at the picnic grounds by nine o'clock and all during the morning and early afternoon they continued to arrive with more expected in the evening. At noon there were some 100 cars on the grounds and from 500 to 600 people. It was noted that on the occasion of the first gathering in 1900 there was only one car present and today, by contrast, there was only one horse and carriage outfit.

Luncheon was served at noon by the ladies of Parkindale and Forest Glen churches, the proceeds destined for church purposes. Light refreshments also were on sale on the grounds during the day, and this evening supper will be served by the ladies of Colpitts Settlement church with other ladies assisting.

The afternoon's proceedings were begun at two o'clock when an excellent entertainment was given by the Girl Guides from New York who were camping nearby. Following this was a programme of field sports in which the young people took part with enthusiasm.

Memorial Plans Discussed

Following the sports there was to be a business session at which one of the principal matters to be discussed was the proposal to erect a memorial to the founders of the family. That a memorial will be erected may be taken for granted, judging by the enthusiasm displayed, for early in the day some $400 had been voluntarily subscribed for the purpose.
There remains the question of the site. Some of the members from a distance favor the location of the old homestead. Some of the local people want the monument placed in the new burying ground, and some favor the graves of the first Colpitts as the most suitable situation.

A feature of the afternoon's proceedings was an address by Rev. E. S. Weeks, of Salisbury.

From Distant Places

The distance traveled by some of the members of the family to attend the reunion was indicated by the license plates of the cars, some of which showed that their owners had travelled from all three of the Maritime provinces, many from Massachusetts, some from New York State and some from Michigan.

These re-unions have now become an institution in the Colpitts family. The first of the gatherings was held in 1900, and proved to be such a success that it was determined to hold them at intervals of every five years, and so far this programme has been adhered to with the exception that the 1925 picnic was postponed until this year owing to the death of the secretary Rev. R. J.  Colpitts. At today's celebration it was planned to complete organization for the erection of a suitable memorial to the founders of the family, in this country.

More Discovered

The acting secretary of the organization Sherman L. Colpitts, of Forest Glen, has lately returned from a trip to Vancouver and there he located 25 families, descendants of the pioneer, Robert Colpitts. He found 12 more families in Winnipeg and, three or four in Fort William. The large majority of the descendants have remained in the Maritime Provinces and they are now like the descendants of old Abraham of old, become as numerous as the sands of the sea.

Founder of Family

The original Robert Colpitts was born in England in 1745 and died in New Brunswick in 1813. His wife Margaret Wade, was born in 1747 and died in 1794. She was the daughter of wealthy people and was cut off with the proverbial shilling because she chose to come to Canada with her husband. Robert Colpitts had been a captain of militia in England and had visited this country previous to his coming here to settle in 1783.

On that earlier visit he had made a small clearing on what is now the Charles Trites, farm above Moncton. He returned to England, settled up his affairs there and made ready to come back to Canada but had to wait seven years because of the Revolutionary War which made it impossible for settlers to make the journey to this country. During those seven years he was keeper of a toll bridge. The family consisted of himself, his wife and seven children. The father and the two oldest boys walked most of the way when their vessel had landed in Halifax to Moncton the other member of the family traveling by boat to Dorchester. Robert Colpitts found that the farm he had first selected had been taken by other settlers and he made his new selection of the site at Little River with a rock maple forest on intervale land. The family had settled in its new home by summer.

700 In Third Generation

It is not strange that there are many descendants in the present day as in the third generation there were already many more than 100. The eldest son John was born in 1768 in Norton Durham. England, and married Eleanor Foster, of Amherst. He died in 1792, leaving two children, John and Margaret, and John married Miss Goodwin of Baie Verte and had a large family. Among his descendants is Fred W. Colpitts, the president of the reunion organization.

The second son, Robert, married Rachael Steeves and had 13 children four boys and nine girls, and his descendants are scattered throughout Kings county, their family names including Hayes, Fenwick, Weymen, Cochrane, Morrison, Pierce and Sherwoods. Lieut-Col. E.C. Weyman, of Saint John, is one of these descendants.

This Robert Colpitts' oldest daughter married George Jonah, from whom Judge Jonah of Sussex is descended.

Allied With Smiths

The third child, Elizabeth, married Lewis Smith and had five children. Many of the New Brunswick Smiths are descendants. The third son, Thomas, married Eunice Reynolds and had 10 children. Numbered among the descendants are Sherman Colpitts the secretary of the reunion organization. Captain Nathaniel Colpitts, in New York, who is a relative of the engineer who built the cantilever bridge in Saint John across the Reversing Falls.

The fourth son, William, married Elizabeth Cummings, better known as the widow Stiles, and had eight children. Among his descendants are W. W. Colpitts, president of the Canadian Club in New York, and his brother Charles of New York.

The fifth son, Ralph, married Mariah Jones and had 10 children and from this branch there are many families in this province and elsewhere. The sixth and youngest, George married Elizabeth Foster, sister of his brother John's wife and had seven children. The second daughter, Margaret, married Jacob Day of Wickham, Queens county, and had four children and there are many Queens county families that are her descendants. The youngest child Jane, married Christopher Horsman and had eight children and her descendants are found scattered throughout Westmorland county and in Elgin.

In Luxury Class

The original settlers had apparently been in comfortable circumstances in England, judging by the articles of the luxury class that they brought with them when they came to settle in the wilds of New Brunswick. The family Bible is still in existence and is at the home of Ray Horsman, The Glades, Westmorland county, a great grandson of the youngest daughter Jane. There were three grandfather clocks among the possessions of the original Robert Colpitts and one of these is now owned by Edwin Colpitts, a descendant of the son, Robert Colpitts.

The first reunion of the members of the family was held at the homestead, Little River, in 1900 and proved so successful an event that another reunion was held in 1902. The second reunion was at Forest Glen, Westmorland county, the home of the present acting secretary of the organization and at that time 350 were present. The third reunion was in 1905, and the fourth in 1910, both being held at the homestead in Little River. The fifth in 1915 was at Forest Glen, and the sixth at Little River.

The interest in these grand rallies of the members of one family has grown steadily throughout the years and the gatherings are believed to be the only ones of their kind in this province.




Note from coordinator:

If you would like to report on a reunion you have attended, please contact me.

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