New Brunswick

Smith family reunites in Waterville to honour 3 Loyalist brothers

Mark Smith says he wouldn't mind if 100 or more of his relatives show up Sunday for a visit.

Family helped settle Rusagonis and Geary

Three Smith brothers fought in the American Revolution before settling in Canada. (Shutterstock)

Mark Smith says he wouldn't mind if 100 or more of his relatives show up Sunday for a visit.

That's because Smith families from all over will gather at Sunbury-Oromocto Park grounds in Waterville, N.B., at 2 p.m.

As the family computer guy, he helped set in motion today's event. He said it all started several years ago when he, an IT specialist, did a favour for his 90-year-old great aunt.

He researched and created a family tree for the Smith family of New Brunswick and beyond.

A favour becomes a passion

His one-time favour turned into a full-time passion.

In the process, Smith said he learned that hundreds of Smiths were descended from three Loyalist brothers — Andrew and Thomas Smith, who settled in Rusagonis, and Samuel Smith, who settled in Geary.

The three brothers were fierce British patriots who originally settled in the American colonies and fled north when talk among their neighbours turned to whispers of rebellion and revolution.

But Smith said the brothers also did their part, working undercover for the Crown as part of a counterfeiting ring before leaving.

'Cloak and dagger'

"It was basically meant to destabilize the economy and destabilize the revolution. And so, yes they were farmers, but they had a little bit of cloak and dagger in them as well," said Smith.

Mark Smith says over 100 relatives will reunite on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. in Waterville. (Submitted by Mark Smith)

The three brothers were jailed toward the end of the American Revolution and a woman at the jail slipped them a key to escape, Smith said. 

Smith said he was proud to have helped unearth those checkered elements in the Smith family's past.

He's also proud to claim partial responsibility for the naming of Geary. According to family lore, a relative returned from a visit to Ontario and suggested naming the settlement "New Niagara". In those days, it was pronounced "Ni-a-ga-ree" and that morphed into Geary.

Interactive gathering

For today's event, Smith said he will be setting up a big-screen display of the family tree and some of the information on the Smith family website. 

Relatives will be given an opportunity to add more people, places and dates to the site, he said.

Smith said he will provide access to laptops and a scanner as well, so people can bring old family pictures they would like scanned and added to the website.

"And a USB memory stick for a take-home copy," he said.