COVINGTON — Every year since 1984, the Society of John Gaither Descendants has held a special gathering hosted by a different member. This year, Roy Gaither was in charge of planning the event and chose to have the lunch at Gaither’s at Myrtle Creek Farm in Newton County.
A total of 22 members attended, including Clinton Daly from Baltimore, Marilyn Gaither Ray from Leesburg, Virginia, and Steve Beardslee from Seattle.
Attendees were given a tour of the Gaither farmhouse as well as the church and other sites on the property.
“It is important to know your family history,” said Beardslee. “I remember when my son asked me where do we come from ...That’s when I decided to find out.”
The Society of John Gaither Descendants is a family organization, founded and incorporated in 1984 in Maryland.
In most instances, the Gaither family members in America can trace their ancestry back to John Gater I.
John Gater I, born 1599, was the first Gater/Gaither in America, arriving on the ship “George” in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1620, where he appears on the Muster in 1623, sixth on the list under Sir Francis Wyatt, governor, and again in 1636 on the “Assurance” when resettling in Maryland at the invitation of Lord Baltimore.
It is believed Gater’s first wife was named Joan Morley, and they had two children: Elizabeth, born 1632, who married first John Freeman and later Robert Proctor, and John, born 1634, who married Ruth Beard, daughter of Richard and Rachel (Robbins) Beard. The family remained in Maryland until about the time of the Revolutionary War when some members moved south or west.
Next year for the 400th anniversary, the society will have its annual gathering in Jamestown, Virginia.
To learn more about the society, visit www.johngaither.org.
Gaither’s at Myrtle Creek Farm, previously known as Gaither’s Plantation, is a Wildlife Management Area and events facility owned by Newton County where a number of festivals and private events take place.
Newton County acquired Gaither’s Plantation in 1996, and there have been several attempts to make it a more marketable events facility. The property is described as one of a few remaining examples of mid-19th to late 20th century farms and cotton plantations in northeast Georgia. On the site are the Gaither house, circa 1855, a church building, a cabin and some barns. Some of the buildings were moved to the site from other parts of the county. There are also two 19th century cemeteries, the Gaither family cemetery and a slave cemetery.