Family of John Nicholas Garst Jr.
by Dwight Wrightsman
John Nicholas Garst Jr. did not move from Pennsylvania to Virginia as did his parents and his brothers and his sisters. He was mentioned in his father's will, written 1801, as living "a considerable distance" from Virginia. Indeed, he was probably living on the 146 acres on the north bank of Swatara Creek in Hanover Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, which he patented on February 19, 1813. This land was part of a tract of 368 acres applied for by Peter Wolf in 1765, of which 222 acres were patented by Wolf in 1768, the remaining 146 acres warranted, surveyed, and patented by "Nicholas Gerst" in 1813. In the following year, 1814, "John N. Kerst" warranted, surveyed, and patented a five-acre island in Swatara Creek, just offshore from his farm.
The family of John Nicholas Garst Jr. has not been documented in Pennsylvania records. There are no known birth, marriage, death, or burial records for him and his wife (or wives). It is only through his father's will written in Virginia, in 1801, that we have his name, and through land records recorded in Pennsylvania, in 1813, that we have his place of residence. We do not know whom he married. There are no baptismal records for his children. Five children are listed, however, in the 1950 Garst family book compiled by William Tell Garst, namely Jacob Garst, Mottelena Garst, Elizabeth Garst, John Nicholas Garst III, and Henry Garst.
Four of the five children named in the Garst book can be documented by Pennsylvania and Ohio marriage records and by Ohio land, death, and burial records. However, the evidence indicates that the child named "John Nicholas Garst III," as described on pages 200 and 296 in the Garst book, was not the son of John Nicholas Garst Jr. Still, there was a fifth child, named Anna Garst, who never made it into the Garst book. She, and her brother Jacob, married Aley siblings in Ohio after leaving Pennsylvania.
The oldest known child of John Nicholas Garst Jr. was Magdalena Garst. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1785, married Christian Zehring in Warren County, Ohio, in 1817, died in Warren County, Ohio, in 1878, and was buried in Woodhill Cemetery (Old Franklin Cemetery) in Franklin Township, Warren County, Ohio. She was 92 years of age at her death.
The second oldest known child was Jacob Garst. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1787, and died in Montgomery County, Ohio, in 1845. He married, first, Catharine "Eley" [Aley] in Greene County, Ohio, in 1815. He married, second, Clarissa Troup in Montgomery County, Ohio, in 1832. Both of his wives were buried with him at the Germantown Cemetery, German Township, Montgomery County. Jacob Garst was a member of the United Brethren Church.
The third oldest known child was Elizabeth Garst. She was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in 1794. She married William Zehring (brother of Christian Zehring) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on April 27, 1819. The couple moved to Butler County, Ohio, in 1819, but ended up living the greater part of their lives in Montgomery County, Ohio. Elizabeth died and was buried in Warren County, Ohio, in 1885. William and Elizabeth [Garst] Zehring joined the German Baptist Brethren Church in 1830, and remained members until death.
The fourth oldest known child was Anna Garst. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1796, married Jacob Aley in Montgomery County, Ohio, in 1827, died in Greene County, Ohio, in 1844, and was buried in the Aley Chapel Cemetery, Beavercreek Township, Greene County, Ohio. The land for the church and cemetery was donated by her husband, Jacob Aley, who was buried next to her. The land was part of the Isaac Aley estate that son Jacob Aley bought from the heirs, his siblings, one being Catharine [Aley] Garst, wife of Jacob Garst.
The fifth oldest known child was Henry Garst. He was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in 1801, and died in Montgomery County, Ohio, in 1887. He married Elizabeth Wenger in Jonestown, Lebanon County (formerly Dauphin County), Pennsylvania, in 1826. They moved to Ohio and settled in Mad River Township, Montgomery County, near the line with Greene County. Elizabeth [Wenger] Garst died in 1886. Both were buried in Hawker Cemetery, Beavercreek Township, Greene County, Ohio. This cemetery was one mile south of the Aley Chapel Cemetery where Henry Garst's sister Anna [Garst] Aley was buried.
All five children of John Nicholas Garst Jr. moved from Pennsylvania to the area of Ohio where Montgomery, Greene, and Warren Counties meet. Although they ended up close together, they came at different times. Oldest son Jacob arrived before his marriage in 1815. Youngest son Henry arrived after his marriage in 1826. There is no record that their father, John Nicholas Garst Jr., ever set foot outside of Pennsylvania.
Draft of Nov. 1, 2004, revised Dec. 6, 2005 (© 2006) Dwayne Wrightsman, used by permission.