Why Annapolis, Maryland?

Featured

With our upcoming Reunion taking place in Annapolis, Maryland, you may ask yourself - - why was it that John Gaither relocated to Maryland from his Virginia homestead? What could possibly have forced him out of that valuable holding, which he settled as virgin land, and had held for 14 years? Was it a natural disaster, need for better land, adventure? The answer is a broken promise of freedom.

In Virginia, John was part of a community known as Non-Conformists who had come to America for land and freedom from the restraints of Royal rule in England. They sought religious freedom, representation in governance, and relief from taxation. By the 1640s, many of these Non-Conformists were followers of Oliver Cromwell, supporters of the English Revolution, and increasingly chafing at an abridgment of their freedoms under the rule of Virginia's Royal Governor, Sir William Berkeley.

When England’s Civil War broke out in 1642, Governor Berkeley, ever loyal to the Crown, became nervous about the Non-Conformists in his midst and began to take increasingly severe actions against them. Those actions included banishing their ministers, fining those who did not attend Anglican services, forbidding assembly, jailing Non-Conformist leaders, and finally requiring Non-Conformists to sign an oath of allegiance or be banished from the Colony.

The leaders in the Non-Conformist community took their case to the Virginia General Assembly and lost. Governor Berkeley ruled that they must "conform" by the end of 1649, or have their property confiscated or worse. Fortunately, the Non-Conformists, anticipating this terrible outcome, had been exploring a solution in the Colony of Maryland.

During this period of unrest in Virginia, Cecil Calvert, the Lord Baltimore, was having difficulty colonizing Maryland. Without colonists, and the revenues they generated, Lord Baltimore's Royal charter was in jeopardy. And so, in a fortuitous confluence of events, Lord Baltimore invited the Virginia Non-Conformists to Maryland. The colonists negotiated for, and were granted by Lord Baltimore, greater liberties than in Virginia, and acreage equal to their Virginia land grants.

And so, it was that in 1649, the entire Non-Conformist community of Virginia, comprising some 200 families out of a Virginia population of about 2,200 Colonists, moved "en masse," to the frontier, virgin lands along the Severn and South Rivers of Maryland - - the lands around, and including what is now Annapolis.

Abington – The Gaither Family Seat Since 1649

Featured

At our June 2018 Reunion in Annapolis, Maryland, a highlight of our activities will be visiting "Abington", the Gaither family seat beginning in 1649 - - 369 years ago!

John Gaither and Robert Proctor were the original patentees of the 875 acres of what they named "Abington". Its size and Gaither family ownership has waxed and waned over the succeeding centuries. While I have not yet completed my research into the chain of title for the property, as late as 1855, a Thomas and Rebecca Gaither sell 46-1/2 acres of Abington, which were conveyed to them by Rezin and Sarah R. Gaither in 1853. Gaithers, by far, have enjoyed the longest period of ownership at over 200 years!

Today, Abington is a horse farm in private hands, with a fraction of the original acreage remaining under that name. In 1975, it was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places. The land's wonderful fundamentals, which surely motivated John Gaither's astute selection, are still apparent.

Continue reading

IT’S REUNION TIME !

Featured

We hope you'll join us at the 2018 Society of John Gaither Descendants' Reunion in Annapolis, Maryland, June 14 - June 17! We've planned an exciting time in the land of our earliest forefathers. Visit historic sites where John Gaither, and his children from whom we all descend, made their home in 1649 - - 369 years ago! As a 'first family' of Maryland, we all share our deepest American roots in this region.

We'll kick-off on Thursday evening with a delicious barbeque dinner at Mike and Nancy Jones' house to 'meet and greet' and stoke ourselves for a packed itinerary over the next three days.

Friday, we'll celebrate our heritage with a visit to the historic All Hallows, Old Brick Church where over 60 Gaither births, marriages and deaths are recorded from its establishment in the 1600s. We'll then have lunch at a classic Maryland Crab House on the shores of the South River, in the heart of South River Hundred. This is where John Gaither and Robert Proctor chose their 875 acres of land after leaving Virginia. A highlight of the day will be our visit to that original Gaither homestead, which they named "Abington," at the headwaters of the South River. Remarkably, "Abington" was occupied by Gaithers for at least 200 years.

Continue reading

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

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!

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.

Continue reading

Did you know . . . you can get lots of Gaither documents on the Maryland State Archives website?

The Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, Maryland has a treasure trove of historical documents on the Gaither family. Fortunately for genealogists, Maryland claims to have digitized more documents than any other state, and many gems on the Gaither family can be found on line.

Maryland’s State Archives’ Internet address is www.msa.maryland.gov, and the homepage provides an overview of its contents. Two particular sites that are especially helpful for conducting research are: 1) Archives of Maryland Online www.aomol.msa.maryland.gov, which contains a variety of records, including probate, judicial, and military records; and, 2) www.mdlandrec.net, which contains digitized land deeds back to the 1600s.

You won’t be disappointed in what you’ll find on these sites.  To whet your appetite check out Volume 10, pages 194-195 (beginning at the bottom of p. 194). It is the record, often referenced, in which: “Letters of administration were issued to widow Mary on John Geather’s estate, 24 November 1652.” As a researcher, it’s exciting to have the source of that oft-quoted synopsis, and to read the entire court entry, which is as follows:

Continue reading

2015 Reunion Major Success

Chattanooga, Tennessee was the site of our 32nd Annual Reunion, and what a wonderful time we had! Our three days together were packed with plenty of socializing, sightseeing, dining, meeting, and learning. President Mack Gaither, our local member/hostess Deb Cates, Reunion Committee members Rebecca Gaither, Linda Beardslee, and Arleen McGinn, and Rita Allison really know how to have a Reunion! Continue reading

Did you know . . . about the huge discovery at John Gater’s first American home, Jamestown?

If you haven’t heard, there’s been a huge discovery at the ongoing archaeological dig at Jamestown Fort! The Jamestown Rediscovery Team, in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution, has identified the names of the four men buried within the Chancel of the 1608-1617 original Church. All four were leaders in the earliest years of the Colony: Reverend Robert Hunt, Captain Gabriel Archer, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, and Captain William West. Continue reading

Did you know . . . a Gaither once owned the home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence . . .

Did you know that a Gaither once owned the home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence? According to accounts prepared by the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties, "Thomas H. and Sophia B. Gaither of Howard County, Maryland, purchased the house at 207 Hanover Street , Annapolis, Maryland in 1896, which was once owned by Maryland Signer of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Stone. A veteran of the Civil War, Thomas, and wife Sophia, purchased the house as a wedding gift for their daughter, Georgiana, who married 'Collector of the Port" James Lawrence Bailliere. The 1900 Census lists Mr. & Mrs. Bailliere and two sons as living there. With the death of Bailliere in 1917, Georgiana moved to Baltimore to be near her family."

Continue reading