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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You Can’t Tell the Players Without a Scorecard!

The old baseball phrase is especially true if your name is Henry Chew Gaither! There are more mix-ups about the Gaither men in the family who carry this name than most other names.

We’ve recently read about the first Henry Chew Gaither (1751-1811) in articles by Nancy Jones. This Henry Chew Gaither was the son of Henry Gaither (1724-1783) & Martha Ridgely Gaither. Right away there are historical mix-ups between father Henry and son Henry Chew Gaither. Henry Chew Gaither (HCG) was the first to carry the maiden name of Henry, Sr.’s grandmother Sarah Chew, spouse of Benjamin Gaither. The Chews were an influential family in Maryland history. 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

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:

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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."

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Did you know . . . two Gaither homesteads are listed on the National Register of Historic Places . . .

Did you know that at least two Maryland homesteads settled by Gaithers are on the National Register of Historic places? “Abington” was patented 365 years ago, in 1649, by John Gaither and Robert Proctor after arriving in Maryland, from Virginia. It is located in Anne Arundel County and was listed on the National Register in 1984.

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Did you know . . . two Gaither homesteads are listed on the National Register of Historic Places . . .

Did you know that at least two Maryland homesteads settled by Gaithers are on the National Register of Historic places? “Abington” was patented 365 years ago, in 1649, by John Gaither and Robert Proctor after arriving in Maryland, from Virginia. It is located in Anne Arundel County and was listed on the National Register in 1984.

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Did you know . . . about the entrepreneurship of James H. Gaither?

James H. Gaither, an early entrepreneur in the express package delivery business, when horses and wagons provided all of the "express", was also the owner and operator of one of the largest livery stables in the Baltimore area. Today's “Did You Know . . .” story was submitted by Nancy E. Gaither of Elkridge, Maryland, the great-great-granddaughter of James H. Gaither.  Thank you Nancy for sharing. You can read the entire story, which appeared in the Catonsville Patch by clicking here. Be sure to look for the pictures of James Gaither at the top of the story.

If you have more information on this topic, please comment by clicking on the “Leave a reply” or “Reply” button below. If you have a “Did You Know . . .” story you would like to share, click here and complete the entry form.