President’s Message

Charting a new course.  That’s what Gaithers will be doing when the Society holds its next reunion in June 2017 on an Alaskan cruise.  The 34th Reunion and Annual Meeting will be held aboard Celebrity Cruises’ ship, the Infinity.  For seven days, Gaithers will be cruising the majestic Inside Passage and visit Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan, as well as the Hubbard Glacier.

Shaped by the staggering force of massive glaciers millions of years ago, Alaska’s Inside Passage boasts wildlife-filled fjords and lush island scenery — habitat for bald eagles, sea lions, porpoises and whales.  Its mountains are carpeted with majestic forests. Inside Passage Alaska is home to Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Indians whose history is reflected in towering totem poles.  Russian settlers left a legacy of onion-domed churches gleaming with icons.

Tall, wide and generally massive, Hubbard Glacier is a mesmerizing natural wonder framed in striking glacial blue.  The largest tidewater glacier in North America at a whopping 76 miles long and 1,200 feet deep, Hubbard has been nicknamed the "galloping glacier" because of how quickly it's advancing toward the Gulf of Alaska through Disenchantment Bay.  Rapid advancement results in major calving -- the dramatic breaking off chunks of ice at the edge of a glacier.  Watching ice melt has never been so exciting! This area is also rife with wildlife

This is a great opportunity to take a trip of a lifetime and combine it with a family reunion.  If you have not attended a Gaither Reunion, this is your opportunity to chart new opportunities that you will cherish for a lifetime.  And if you have attended before, make this an extra special event by getting your immediate family, close cousins, and even friends to join you. 

I promise you’ll have a wonderful time, meet new cousins and make so many great memories.  Check out the details here on this website and register soon.

Best wishes,
Mack Gaither

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.

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.

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!

Obituary – David Alan Crater

David CraterDavid Alan Crater passed away on Tuesday, August 18, 2015. Born in Greensboro, NC on July 1, 1957 David was the son of Henry Crater and the late Dorothy Cox Crater. He fought a long and courageous battle with cancer and died at Hospice of the Piedmont in High Point, NC.  David was the son of Henry Crater, Grandson of Ruth Gaither Crater Weir, in the Gaither line of William Henry, Elijah, Zachariah, Benjamin, John III, John II, and John I. Continue reading

Obituary – Mary Francis Gaither Logan Rupard

Mary Frances Gaither Logan Rupard, 68, of Harmony, passed away Thursday, June 04, 2015 at her residence. She was born in Iredell County on January 12, 1947 to the late Roy A. Gaither and Mary Templeton Gaither, who survives. Mary's lineage is Roy, Sr.; Alexander Milton; Noah Spurgeon; Milton; Zachariah; Benjamin III; John IV; John III; John II, and John Gater. Continue reading