Hopkins and Big Macs

Burlington Gazette - History by Helen Langford

Hopkins and Big Macs
Tues., May 16, 1978

Recent disregard of the crypt at Nelson Village (Guelph L. and Dundas St.) has renewed interest in the Hopkins family.

Two weeks ago, you may have noticed that Silas Hopkins was the first person to draw a location ticket for Nelson Twp. It was Lot 3, Conc. 1 N.D.S. A widower, at retirement age (65) he must have left the American colony with reluctance especially when some of his grown children remained behind.

Silas was born in Wales in 1741, emigrating to America as a young adult.

During the Revolution, he fought on the British side, ending up in a rebel prison for three years. He was released upon paying a 1000 pound fine. Silas was a drover by trade, driving horses, cattle and other animals from New Jersey to Niagara. He knew many families along his route and influenced some to come to Upper Canada, the Van Normans amongst them.

In 1801, Silas and some of his thirteen children moved to Upper Canada, three sons owned land in Nelson Twp. along Dundas Street soon after the land was allotted to them in 1806. Ephraim, Joseph and Caleb all farmed.

Some of the family purchased land long the bay in East Flamborough, where Unsworth's greenhouses now stand. Apparently, Silas and others were buried in a family cemetery close to the bay. Later the bodies were moved to Hamilton cemetery and are marked by a large cairn.

Caleb was the most colourful of the family as you will see in the next article. However, Ephraim should not be ignored. His original land grant was broken lot 19 and 20, Conc. 1 S.D.S. The farm bordered the top of Brant's Block. Ephraim and Martha had seven children before Martha's death in 1823 or 24 - probably from giving birth to twins in November of 1823. Ephraim remarried the widow Catherine Crocker and had seven more children.

In 1830, the family moved to Van Wagner's beach and a new farm. Following, Ephraim's death, Catherine married for a third time - this time to Isaac Van Norman, another early settler in Nelson Twp.

Descendants of Silas Hopkins still live in Burlington today. You can even eat your Big Mac on an old Hopkins farm on the Guelph Line!

Source: Langford, Helen. Burlington Gazette [Ontario], 16 May 1978. Microfilm. Burlington Public Library - Central Branch. Reel No Missing.