Why Annapolis, Maryland?

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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!

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

NOTICE: 2015 Slate of Directors

The Secretary of The Society of John Gaither Descendants apprises the members of the Corporation of the following slate of directors to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Corporation on May 31, 2015.  If any member wishes to designate an additional slate, please send such slate to the Chairwoman of the Nominating Committee, Catherine Allison, at cga67@swbell.net prior to May 31, 2015. Continue reading

President’s Message

Re∙un∙ion(Noun)

  • an instance of two or more people coming together again after a period of separation
  • a social gathering attended by members of a certain group of people who have not seen each other for some time

We will come together this May for the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Society of John Gaither Descendants to not only conduct the business of the Society, but also to REUNITE, as in REUNION. We will not only RENEW old friendships with our cousins, but we will likely make new acquaintances within our extended family. We can also use this opportunity to REMEMBER those that have passed. Continue reading