Three hundred people from 20 states, including at least 10 first-timers, signed the traditional registration book at the 150th Collett-McKay picnic.
Cousins started the annual picnic in 1866, partly to see who returned from the Civil War. In August 2015, descendants met again at the four-acre family picnic site at 5353 Gurneyville Road, northwest of Wilmington.
The 2015 picnic marked a huge increase in attendance, compared to the 167 persons from 11 states who signed the book at the 2014 picnic.
At noon, Susan Doster called the picnic group to order, and made a few announcements, encouraging cousins to support efforts to plant more trees. Rosalie McKay Beers led the prayer. The cousins mostly started eating from food on “their” table, before perhaps checking out food on other tables for a second course.
Thanks to cousins Steven Pidgeon (who missed because he and wife, Sandy, were in St. Petersburg, Russia), Doug Pidgeon, John Mothersole, Christian Collett, Steve Collett and Allen Inwood, the neatly mowed grass was beautiful and the bathrooms had water.
Several cousins came early and set up the 1878 tables, again in three rows. For the second time in 60 years, we had coffee brewed over a wood fire, in the traditional wrought iron kettle, again by the Steve and Karla Collett Family.
Barbara Doster and others collected $305 from “selling” commemorative picnic pins. The money will go toward planting trees.
We again had an inflatable rubber slide. One little cousin missed the carry-in dinner, for fear of losing his place in the slide line. Little kids also competed for ribbons in sack races and egg races. Five six-person young adult cousin teams also competed for ribbons on a newly created volleyball court on the grounds. Four horse shoe pits were nearby.
I will always remember watching the volleyball players, many of them wearing our family’s orange shirts. They reminded me of picnics when I was growing up. I then looked forward to playing softball with older men, a few of whom hit the ball all the way to the main gate.
Kathryn Luby distributed copies of her new “McKay” book, which includes stories of how the McKay Family got here. I displayed maps of two townships in each of Warren, Greene and Clinton County, along with the wills of Moses McKay and Daniel Collett, our ancestors who bought land here, starting in 1805.
I invited persons to mark the place on one of the maps where their ancestor first lived.
We did a test run of a farm tour this year. Brenda Stephens and her three adult sons drove into the picnic site on Friday from Maryland. Thinking they were descended from Moses and Rebecca Haines Collett, I took them to the 300-plus acres that Moses bought in 1806 on the east side of the Little Miami River in Warren and Greene counties.
On the south side of the Roxanna-New Burlington Road, in the yard of the Spring Valley Wildlife Headquarters, I pointed out the likely Moses Collett house. Then, we drove southeast to the Caesar Creek Quaker Meeting cemetery, where I showed them the grave marker for Pvt. Daniel Collett.
Though I’ve not found their graves, Howard Collett said Mary, who died in 1826; Moses, who died in 1823, and Rebecca, who died in 1847, were buried at Caesar Creek. Howard was then speaking at the 1914 100th anniversary of Daniel and Mary Haines Collett buying their 2,358 acres on the south side of, now, Jonah’s Run Baptist Church.
Next, we came to Moses McKay’s 1818 house — now, our home. While here, Brenda made me copies of several pages of her genealogy records that I did not have. And, she showed me a picture of little Daniel McKay Collett XI. What fun!
Late in the picnic day, several young adults took over the rubber slide; some did flips as they tumbled down the inflated incline. Before they left, these “older kids” dug up the volleyball net poles, and put them in the bathrooms so they can be used for volleyball at the 2016 picnic.
Dr. Maxine Keiter Hamilton, now 95, was again the oldest person present. Several first-timers competed for being the youngest, and Laci Billingsley, born March 2, may have won, although I heard there might have been a younger McKay.
We miss the late McKay Collett. Mary Keppler Dudley, McKay’s granddaughter, brought her new daughter, Candice. She also baked McKay’s favorite hickory-walnut cake recipe, and placed a little “150th” flag on top of each piece of cake.
Cousins attending the picnic from 19 states other than Ohio included the states of Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington state and Wisconsin.