From the Soapbox

Harmony, NC, October 15, 2017 - Another year is quickly coming to a close. I know this because this is the second newsletter for the year and I usually have to fight with the printer to get it in before Christmas materials. Not this year due to the prompt response from the folks you see submitting articles, many thanks! There have been some changes in the way our group operates that are not apparent to the average bear. For the first time in many years, all the officers are first and foremost, board of director members. This cuts down on the number of people necessary to do the business of the group. This also means if you want to have a say, you have to do so through being a board of directors member. If you want to have a say, volunteer to be a board member.

There have been no reports for new findings on the father of Alice Gaither Hyatt. I had hoped someone would find a clue hiding in a dusty old family Bible or a flaming law suit.. I did however find the connection of her husband Frank Hyatt to the Gaithers in western NC. Frank just looked too much like a cousin of mine not to be related.

Continue reading

Obituary – John Francis Gaither

John Francis Gaither, 98, of Evansville, Indiana passed away Tuesday, August 29, 2017, at St. Vincent Hospital. He was born October 26, 1918, in Louisville, KY, to Thomas R. Gaither and Maurice Francis Gaither. John was the grandson of Thomas Richard Gaither in the Gaither line of James Edward, John Richard, Edward Brisco, Greenberry, Edward, Benjamin, John II, and John Gater.

John served on the first Board of Directors of The Society of John Gaither Descendants, and was the third President of the Society. He has the distinction of serving the Society in official positions longer than any other member. The Society will miss his service and dedication.

As a teenager, John was a pilot in the early days of aviation. He graduated from University of Notre Dame in 1941 and was captain of the Fencing Team. He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII as a communication intelligence officer.

Continue reading

Obituary – Paul Shew

Paul Shew, 89, of Mocksville, N.C., passed from this life Monday, June 26, 2017. He was born March 25, 1928, in Iredell County to the late Mancy and Nora Parker Shew. Paul was the husband of Margaret Ann Cartner Shew, a longtime member of The Society of John Gaither Descendants.

Mr. Shew was a graduate of Harmony High School, Class of 1947. He was drafted into Military Service in 1950, serving in the Company A 175th Military Police Battalion in Germany during the Korean Conflict. Mr. Shew attended Barber School in Winston-Salem and began his career at Cooleemee Barber Shop in 1958, and retired in 2009. Continue reading

Obituary – John Burgess Fisher

John Burgess Fisher, 97, of Salisbury, North Carolina passed away Tuesday, December 20, 2016 at the NC State Veterans Home. Born September 19, 1919 in Salisbury, he was the son of George A. and Iula Beall Cheely Fisher of Salisbury. John is the grandson of James Burgess Cheely, great-grandson of Mary Elizabeth Virginia Morrison, great-great grandson of Mary S. C. Gaither in the Gaither line of John Gaither IV, John III, John II, and John Gaither I.

A graduate of Boyden High School, Class of 1936, and Catawba College, Class of 1940, as well as a graduate of Rutgers University School of Banking.

Continue reading

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

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

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!