2017 John Gaither Society Reunion Location Announced

For the first time ever in the history of the Society, the 2017 Reunion & Annual Meeting will be held at sea on an 8-day Alaskan Cruise. The Society's Board of Directors decided at their quarterly meeting to break from tradition and to set sail June 18, 2017.  This is an excellent opportunity to combine the Gaither Reunion with a dream vacation to Alaska.

Gaze in wonder at the steep Inside Passage and visit the bucket-list wonder Hubbard Glacier. Tour the last frontier town, Ketchikan, famed for feisty salmon and Alaskan culture and Sitka, considered Alaska’s most beautiful seaside town.  Lastly, you depart from and return to Vancouver, BC, named the Top Destination in Canada in TripAdvisor's 2016 Travelers’ Choice awards. Arrangements are under way and details should be announced here within the next few weeks.

A “Chance” Encounter with “Gaither’s Chance”

Imagine my recent excitement when, while ‘playing’ on Google maps, a Coldwell Banker pop-up screen revealed a home sale listing for “Gaither’s Chance,” Clarksville, Maryland! Kismet! Needless to say, by the next morning my ever-helpful, very supportive hubby Mike was driving us there.

GaitherChanceFrontThis Gaither homestead was unknown to me. It is not the “Gaither’s Chance” of Prince George’s, now Montgomery County, Maryland, which was home of early Gaithers in the Benjamin line. Rather, the original 1747 patentee was billed as Samuel Gaither of Anne Arundel County, now Howard County, Maryland. WOW!!! Could it be that a Gaither home from 1747, unknown to me and in my home state was still standing? It was. It is. But, unfortunately, maybe not for long - - but, more on that later. Continue reading

Society Member Sue Vanzant Helps Researchers at Maryland Archives

It is timely during our celebration of our nation's independence, that SJGD member Sue Gaither Vanzant alerted us to an updated and expanded biography of Revolutionary War Captain, Colonel Henry Chew Gaither. The biography and an excellent account of Colonel Gaither’s life written by Burkely Herman is located on the Maryland State Archives site dedicated to the Maryland 400. Mr. Herman is a 2016 Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow. The blog and biography provide valuable insight into the times in which Colonel Gaither lived and his service to our country.

According to the biography on the Maryland State Archives site, Gaither participated in the Battle of Brooklyn, in which the Maryland First Regiment, later known as the Maryland 400, held off the British while the rest of the Continental Army escaped Long Island to safety. He served throughout the War, including Cowpens (1781), Guilford Courthouse (1781), spent the winters at Valley Forge, and Morristown, and rose in rank from Ensign to Captain. After the War, he rose in rank from Captain to Lieutenant Colonel, serving two years on the Western frontier in Ohio, seven years on the Georgian frontier, and two years in the Mississippi Territory. Colonel Gaither retired from the Army in 1802.

He was a successful plantation owner with land holdings in Washington, D.C.; Montgomery and Alleghany Counties, Maryland; and the Northwest Territory. Colonel Gaither died on June 25, 1811 at 61 years of age. His passing was “well honored” by the military and citizens alike.

Society member, Sue Vanzant, through her own research, played an important role in expanding the biography of Colonel Gaither. She said, “When researching the war and finding that the Battle of Brooklyn was Henry's first battle and the part the "400" [Maryland 400] played in it led me to the new site at the MSA [Maryland State Archives] regarding the 400. Seeing Captain Bowie's letter on the MSA "Finding the Maryland 400" and seeing Henry Chew Gaither's name as witness on the letter was the thing that confirmed that he was part of the battle.” Colonel Gaither was a witness to Captain Bowie’s last will prior to his death in the Battle of Brooklyn. Sue forwarded her research of War Department records to the team researching the “Maryland 400” at the Maryland State Archives, which resulted in the updated biography.

“I really like doing research and this is fun for me. I have finished Vol. I of my line of Gaithers up to the time we leave Maryland for Cincinnati. My next problem is finding all the people that I need permissions from to cite or quote their work,” said Sue Vanzant.

We'd like to hear about any family history research that you're doing.  Please add to the comments below.

Independence Day Greetings from The Society of John Gaither Descendants

As we celebrate this Fourth of July with picnics and fireworks, the Society would like to pay homage to our forefathers and mothers whose love of, and commitment to, America were so great, and their personal sacrifices so significant, that they are almost unimaginable today.

In 1776, 240 years ago, Gaithers from different Colonies joined the Revolution for Independence. In Maryland alone, no fewer than 50 were on the rosters. Gaithers joined militias, were Continental soldiers, were contributing food, goods and more - - sacrificing in so many ways. Some made the ultimate sacrifice.

Gaithers responded to the Revolutionary cause as a family that had called America home for 156 years. At least 5 generations of Gaithers had been born on American soil prior to the War for Independence. Our roots run as deep as any American family - - as do our family’s collective contributions to our Great Nation - - something of which to be so proud this Independence Day!

2016 Annual Reunion was “Outstanding”!

pensacola bch aerialAll that attended exclaimed the 33rd Annual Reunion as “outstanding”. Plenty of socializing, sightseeing, and dining occurred over the three days in Pensacola Beach, Florida, world-famous for its sugar-white sand beaches and emerald-green waters. Hosted by J.D. and Sandra Gaither, with the _DSC5016help of their adult children, Rebecca Yates and Frank Gaither, this year’s event attracted an impressive 36 attendees with one-third attending their first reunion ever. This included the two youngest attendees, Dylan and Logan Rothe, 10 and 8 years old, respectively. Also, you can see the record-breaking number of photographs taken throughout the event by clicking here.

Welcoming Party
547067_532241_1463884234839A pizza party kicked off the Reunion Thursday night in the Reunion’s Hospitality Suite, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico from the ninth floor of the Hilton Pensacola Beach. The sound of Gaithers becoming acquainted with newly found cousins and catching up with long-known ones filled the rooms. The party lasted until late into the evening.

Getting to Know Pensacola Beach
547067_532241_1463883959652The next day, rain and wind battered Pensacola Beach for most of the day, but that did not deter many of the Gaithers from exploring the areas many sites, restaurants, and history. By mid-afternoon, the skies had cleared, and the clan took to the water and cruised Pensacola Bay. Highlights of the expedition included many dolphin sightings, seeing historic Fort Pickens and the Pensacola Lighthouse. After the cruise, Gaithers found many of the area’s best restaurants to quench their thirst and satisfy their appetites, including McGuire’s Irish Pub, famous for “Feasting, Imbibery, & Debauchery” and over one million dollar bills hanging from its ceilings. Continue reading

Obituary – Sara Gaither O’Neal

Sara Gaither O'NealSara was born on July 16, 1927 in Charlotte, North Carolina and earned her angel wings on May 23, 2016 surrounded by her three loving children and Jay Mize, who was like a son to her. She was a child of the depression which shaped her entire life and how she loved and cared for her family.  Sara was born to Coite Martin Gaither and Sara Edna Bowers and is in the line of Amos Spurgeon, Thomas Alexander, Asbury, Zachariah, Benjamin III, John IV, John II, and John Gaither.

After graduating from Tech high school in Charlotte, Sara began her business career at Parnell Martin. She married Edward M. O’Neal in April 1950 and moved to Durham. She was a pillar in her church community while her children were growing up. Sara supported her husband and children in all their endeavors.

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Obituary – Joe Walker Gaither, Sr.

Joe Walker GaitherJoe Walker Gaither, Sr., 82, of Huntersville, North Carolina passed away Monday, May 30, 2016, following complications of a stroke. Mr. Gaither was born in Iredell County on November 8, 1933, and was the son of the late Marvin Frederick Gaither and Margaret Morrison Gaither. Joe was the grandson of Marvin Fredrick Gaither in the line of Newton Jasper, Milton, Zachariah, Benjamin III, John IV, John III, and John Gaither.

He grew up in the Wilkesboro Road area of Statesville, and was a graduate of Scotts High School, and a veteran of the U.S. Army. Mr. Gaither was Owner and President of Southeastern Exterminating Co., Inc. He had served as a Regional Director of the NC Pest Control Association, was a member of the Duck Creek Gun Club where he served as past president, and also the past chairman of Iredell Friends of the NRA. He loved the outdoors, beings a Sportsman, Collecting and people.

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SJGD Director Catherine Allison Saluted for WWII Oral Histories

Long-time member and Society Director, Catherine Gaither Allison of Cape Girardeau, Missouri was recently recognized in the Southeast Missourian newspaper for her work in preserving the oral histories of the greatest generation, the veterans of World War II.  You can read the complete story HERE.  The idea came to Catherine while attending an American Legion barbecue in 2015 and talking with veterans about their experiences.  She joined fellow friends interested in history and began recording sessions at a local library.

Catherine is no stranger to the military.  Her late husband, Paul, spent 20 years serving in the U.S. Air Force.  Catherine is the daughter of Emmit Gaither, granddaughter of Ernest Floyd Gaither, and in the line of Christopher Columbus Gaither, Silas Thomas Gaither, Dr. Abner Gaither, Rezin Gaither, Benjamin Gaither IV, and John Gaither IV.

See Photos from the 2015 SJGD Reunion

2015 SJGD Reunion Chattanooga

2015 SJGD Reunion Chattanooga

The photos from Chattanooga are finally here online.  Yes, it has taken much more time than it should, but the wait is worth it.  From everyone greeting each other in the hospitality room, to the riverside picnic, battlefield, education session, and family dinner, there is proof in these photos that we had a great time.  Be sure to find the hot air balloon that some of our members rode at sunset.  CLICK HERE TO ENJOY!

Colonel Henry Chew Gaither, Revolutionary War Hero

Until recently, I did not appreciate fully the extent of the service in the Revolutionary War of our patriotic ancestor, Colonel Henry Chew Gaither. By happenstance, I had the pleasure of encountering Colonel Gaither in two Revolutionary War settings this past summer that “book-end” his illustrious service. First, when paying a family visit to Greensboro, North Carolina, I learned that he was an officer in the battle of Guilford Courthouse in which the Patriots weakened and delayed a superior British force, directly leading to their final defeat at Yorktown.

My second surprise encounter was at a Maryland State Archives seminar about their research into the Battle of Brooklyn (also known as the Battle of Long Island). This British-won battle was the first major engagement of the Revolutionary War. The Archives’ project is to identify and formally recognize the Marylanders who fought in that horrific battle, holding their line and earning the appellation adopted by Maryland as the “Old Line State”. The project has identified Henry Chew Gaither as one of the heroic “Maryland 400” soldiers in that battle.

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