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

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.

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

SALE – All Y-DNA Tests on Sale

For a limited time, Family Tree DNA is offering 20-25% savings on all Y-DNA tests and upgrades. This End of the Summer Sale ends 9/3/2014. Join the other SJGD members who have been tested and store their results on Family Tree DNA by CLICKING HERE. Remember, Y-DNA tests for paternal ancestry, father to son, and make wonderful gifts for the Gaither male in your family.  Family Tree DNA is the world's largest Y-DNA database.

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Gaithers – How Many and Where Do They Live?

Have you ever wondered how many Gaithers there are in the United States and where they live? Today, there are over 318 million people in the United States. From the 1995 and 2000 censuses, the U.S. Census Bureau published a list of surnames occurring 100 times or more.  The 2000 census found a little over 150,000 unique surnames.

The top 10 surnames and the number of occurrences, in order, are:

  1. Smith - 2,376,206
  2. Johnson - 1,857,160
  3. Williams - 1,534,042
  4. Brown - 1,380,145
  5. Jones - 1,362,755
  6. Miller - 1,127,803
  7. Davis - 1,072,335
  8. Garcia - 858,289
  9. Rodriguez - 804,240
  10. Wilson - 783,051

To check the ranking and number of occurrences of other surnames, you can view or download the list as a PDF file by clicking here or as an XLSX file by clicking here.

The Gaither surname ranked 3,202 on the list. The census found that there were 10,255 Gaithers in the U.S. or 3.8 Gaithers per 100,000 people. Continue reading

31st Annual Meeting & Reunion was Great Success

The "Queen City" of North Carolina, Charlotte, welcomed the Society of John Gaither Descendants for its 31st Annual Meeting and Reunion, hosted by Jo Ann Bondurant and Arleen McGinn. Thirty-four members and guests attended from as far away as Maple Valley, Washington. See photos from the event by clicking here.

This year's attendance included four new members. Many did not have far to travel as the State of North Carolina is home to the largest number of Gaither households in the United States, 558 or 12 percent of all the Gaither households in the United States.

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Dysons Celebrate 60th Wedding Anniversary

Robert and Patricia Dyson of Poneto, Indiana recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Robert is the great grandson of Martha Ann Gaither, daughter of Eli and Nancy Comer Gaither of Davie County, North Carolina.Dyson 2

The Gaithers and Dysons moved to Madison County, Indiana prior to 1850. Patricia is currently serving on the SJGD Board of Directors. Robert and Patricia have five children, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Read all about it!! Gaither Connection Past Issues Are Available

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Arleen McGinn all but one of the past issues of The Gaither Connection have been added to the Gaither website.  We are searching high and low for the Spring 1988 edition.  If you have it, we'd like to borrow it.  This brings the number of issues posted on the website to over 60 that have been continuously published since the Society was founded in 1984.  There is a treasure trove of information and interesting stories in the newsletters.  Past issues of The Gaither Connection are available only to paid members of the Society.

Interesting tidbits from past issues include:

  • Biographical sketches, histories, and photographs of prominent Gaithers
  • A listing of the 70 Gaithers that served during the Revolutionary War
  • Read about the report filed by Pat Garrett, Customs Agent and the alleged killer of Billy the Kid, about engaging in "fisticuffs" with George M. Gaither in 1903 on the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • Net membership increased by 14% to 293 in 1985, with a whopping 73 in North Carolina, followed by 29 in Indiana, 19 each in California and Texas.  Find out when membership topped over 400.
  • Incoming SGJD president Rowan Gaither, an attorney with the U.S. Department of State, implored members to "obtain as much information from your elders as possible" and to "record it in a format that can be preserved."
  •  Touring the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and hearing from gospel music legends Bill and Gloria Gaither during the 1989 Reunion
  • How the efforts of Benjamin Gaither changed the named of Log Town (c. 1765) to Gaithersburg in Maryland after he arrived in 1802, surveyed his tract of land he called "Self Preservation" and built his home, tavern-store, and blacksmith shop
  • The unpublished papers of George Riggs Gaither regaling stories of Ralph de Gader from 11th-century England.

To read the past issues, click on The Gaither Connection in the black band at the top of any page.

2014 National Genealogical Society Conference

Genealogists of all skill levels will meet at the NGS 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond,Virginia,7‒10 May 2014. The program features ten tracks per day covering a broad array of topics including records for Virginia and its neighboring states; migration into and out of the region; military records; state and federal records; ethnic groups including African Americans, Germans, Irish, and Ulster Scots; methodology; analysis and problem solving; and the use of technology including genetics, mobile devices, and apps useful in genealogical research.

For more information, visit