Yes, I am definitely doing the genealogy happy dance today! Following my post of a few weeks ago on Civil War veteran William Withers, I decided to make good on my promise to go to Whitley County to get the death record for William, in hopes of learning his parents. Unfortunately, the information is only as good as the informant, and in this case the only thing I could glean from the document was that his mother's name was
Mary. That narrowed it down rather nicely, right?
Still, I had suspected that William's parents were Joseph and Mary Withers, who were shown in the 1850 census as being in Marion County, Iowa, and who were both born in Pennsylvania. Joseph was a shoemaker then. I didn't know where to go next, so I finally turned to the internet to try to trace down some of the brothers and sisters of William. Maybe there was additional information to be found there? I knew that John Withers, the oldest male sibling, was in Whitley County, Indiana by 1860, because he was married there in 1857. I eventually found that he was also married in 1886 in Huntington County, Indiana, to Maria Roberts. (His first wife was Linne Roberts, who was deceased, but I don't know how or if the two Roberts were related.) In that 1886 marriage record, John's father was named as Joseph Withers and his mother as Mary Dearhart, in the index. However, when I looked at the actual entry, I thought Mary's name might actually have been Gearhart.
With that hunch, I was able to pull up, on FamilySearch.org, a death index for Sarah Jane Mills. Sarah Jane Withers was 16 in the 1850 census, and born in Pennsylvania. She is listed as having been born in Pennsylvania, and her father was Joseph Withers and her mother was Mary Gearhart, on the death index. Bingo and happy genealogy dance! The only thing I can't explain is how she ended up in Newark, Licking County, Ohio.
I think something pretty drastic happened to the Joseph Withers family between 1850 and 1860. In the 1860 census, John Withers in Whitley County. His sister Mary Ann is living in the home of Oliver Quick, in Jefferson Township, Whitley County. Eliza Eunice, who is only 12 years old, is living in the home of Jacob Keiser, Columbia City, Indiana. I have not located marriage records for either of these young women, but I'm thinking they didn't marry in Whitley County. Where did they go? Why were they in Whitley County? Was big brother John looking out for them? Where were the other children, including William? Were either of the parents still alive? A man matching Samuel Withers basic information is actually in Perry Township, Richland County, Ohio in 1860. Is this our Samuel Withers, and how did he end up there?
While I pondered those questions, I of course could not stop wondering when and where Joseph and Mary had married. On Ancestry, in the Pennsylvania Church and Town Records 1708-1935, I found the marriage record for Joseph Whithers and Mary Gerchark, on May 24, 1832, at what is now the Allison United Methodist Church in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. By enlarging the actual image, I feel confident that the "Gerchark" is actually Gerhart, a very common name in that part of Pennsylvania. It's a German name, though, so I'm a little surprised to find the wedding in the Methodist church records. My working hypothesis is that these people are the parents of William and the other children, and this is their marriage record. I believe it is this family that was in Morris Township, Knox County, Ohio in the 1840 census.
Here are some other questions: There was a Mary Gearhart next door to a William Withers in 1840 in Jackson, Pickaway County, Ohio. Did this William Withers have any connection to our Joseph Withers? He is of about the right age to be a brother to Joseph, perhaps. Could this Mary Gearhart possibly be Mary Gerhart's mother? If so, there was a marriage between Peter Gerhart and Polly Wallace in 1805 in the Presbyterian church records, in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pa. Would "Polly" have been a nickname for Mary?
So, hurrah! I think I've found Joseph and Mary in 1832. Who were their parents? Were Mary's parents Peter and Polly/Mary? I'm not ready to make that argument yet, as there were a lot of other Gerhart's in the area. Peter is the only Gerhart of the right age in the 1840 Carlisle, Cumberland, Pa census, but he may have been an uncle or cousin or no relation at all. And as for the Withers/Whithers, there is a George Withers in Dickinson Township, which is not far from Carlisle. As best I can tell, he was a fuller, so having a son who is a shoemaker is not such a far stretch. That's not much to go on, though. I haven't located wills for either Peter or George, so at this point, they are mysteries.
However, a happy genealogy dance is in order, in honor of Joseph and Mary Gearhart Withers, parents of William and his brothers and sisters! And I'll be even happier if this post generates more leads or information, or even clues.
Here's the new line of descent:
Joseph Withers-Mary Gearhart
William Withers-Barbara Cook
William Withers-Della Kemery
Goldie Withers-Grover Harshbarger
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks