Family Accounts - Descendants of Anna Rosine Fetterman & Heinrich Gernhardt

Jeremiah M. M. Gernerd (5)
b. July 22, 1836 - 1910

Son of Lydia Mohr and David Gernerd (4), Jeremiah married Louise C. Sieger of Allentown, PA, on July 15, 1862. One child was born of this marriage:

  1. Lydia Sieger Gernerd (5).

“A word about myself. If to pass so many of the family without special notice of their lives and narrate some of the facts of my own, may seem unseemly, let it be remembered that everything of interest respecting others that could be obtained without the opportunity of personal interviews has been given, and that what I failed to get I could surely not give. Years have been spent in gathering and arranging the data for this imperfect history, and no one can realize how irksome such an undertaking is without experience. In many cases, I failed to secure even complete family records. At least two hundred letters must have been written that were never answered, and numbers were returned bearing the post office stamp, ‘unclaimed.’ What I write of myself are facts ready at hand, and required no effort to get. Allowance should, therefore, be made because this valuable space is not devoted to others. I attended our common schools until twelve years old, but seldom enjoyed the privilege. Was a sickly, nervous, wayward youngster. When a year or two old was so puny that Grandmother Gernert declared I would never grow up, but—such is the mystery and hap of life—the frail boy has already lived to be much older than both his parents and three of his grandparents, and now at an age when his other grandparent was a physical wreck is engaged in the laborious task of compiling a Family History. If allowed to live more in the open air and sunlight, and not forced to go to school so much against his will, the boy might have grown more robust and liked school better. But a fond and well-meaning father, who himself had but a few months schooling, and no knowledge of physiology and hygiene, made him go, thinking that going to school was the all-essential thing to prepare a boy for a useful life—a very great mistake. I remember well how, more than sixty years ago, I was called up several times each day merely to say my letters, and by and by to spell words of one and two syllables from a primer, and then compelled to keep quiet during all the rest of the school hours—an outrage on child nature. How I did hate school! Herbert Spencer said, ‘The first requisite is to be a good animal,’ but I was not even that. Once an irate and unreasoning teacher held me up by my feet and bumped my head roughly on the floor, but a stout, broad-shouldered pupil, incensed by this unwonted exhibition of rudeness, pulled off his coat and rushed forward to turn him upside down if he did not instantly desist and reverse my position. The upright posture to which mother nature gives every boy an absolute right was immediately restored, and—there was peace. My protector became a great man in my eyes. Several years later another impatient and unthinking teacher tried to help me in arithmetic, but because I was rather dull in comprehending what he said he became greatly enraged, and gave me a terrific broad-side with his big, heavy hand that gave me the sensation for a time that either my cranium was smashed, or that my neck was broken—and perhaps it would not have mattered much which had happened. There were many things that prejudiced me against school. I got entirely too many lickings. There were some competent and considerate teachers in those days as well as now, but many were not qualified for teaching young ideas how to shoot. The day of rigid examinations, of teachers’ certificates, normal and model schools, moral suasion, pictures on the walls and flowers in the school rooms, had not yet arrived.

“But life is from first to last the great and real school. Every one can by choice and chance have good and efficient schoolmasters. There is always opportunity to make good use of ones time, brain and hands, and learn. Two years after marriage, and after having served eighteen months as a clerk in the postoffice at Muncy—a postoffice is a good school to learn some things—I started out in business for myself in a small way, opening a music and variety store, with which I soon combined a circulating library, and continued the business until 1872. Also served two terms about this time as school director, three terms as a notary public, and at different times, about ten years in all, as book-keeper in the First National Bank of Muncy.

“While keeping store I purchased an amateur printing outfit and started to publish a little serial, with the only idea at first of advertising my business. As the intention was only to issue it once-in-a-while, as business and inclination prompted, I entitled it NOW AND THEN. A taste was suddenly acquired for collecting and preserving items of local history, an intellectual diet that proved very acceptable to its indulgent readers. A number was launched forth every now and then until May, 1892, when the third volume was completed—the three volumes together comprising a total of forty-three numbers, and consisting of 520 double column pages. Brown, Runk & Co.’s History of Lycoming County, on page 479, says:

“ ‘A little historical magazine, called Now and Then, was started by J. M. M. Gernerd in June, 1868, and published irregularly up to February, 1878, when it was discontinued. During the ten years of its existence nineteen numbers were published, and it became very popular on account of the valuable local historical matter it contained. After a rest of ten years Mr. Gernerd resumed his Now and Then in an enlarged form as a bi-monthly July-August, 1888, and continued it up to May, 1892. It largely increased in popularity and value during the four years it was published.’

“In 1875 I undertook to raise money by one dollar subscriptions for the erection of a monument to the memory of the bold pioneer of the West Branch Valley of the Susquehanna, Capt. John Brady, who was killed by the Indians near the site of Muncy Borough, in April, 1779, and I finally succeeded in thus raising about $1,600. In the centennial year of his death, 1879, the plain but gracefully proportioned cenotaph of Maine granite was erected on a large circular lot in, and that was donated by, the Muncy Cemetery—hardly two hundred rods from the site on which the hero had built his houses and the stockage around them, as a place of refuge for the then harassed inhabitants of the neighborhood, known as Fort Brady. The memorial was unveiled on the 15th day of October, in the presence of the greatest gathering of people ever seen in the Muncy Valley. The Hon. John Blair Linn, the orator of the occasion, in a foot-note to his oration, which, with much other matter relating to the monument and the day, forms the contents of a pamphlet published soon after the dedication, says:

“ ‘Meginness, in his History of the West Branch Valley, November 1st 1856, on page 239, says: “The people of Lycoming County cannot show a better appreciation of true patriotism than by erecting an humble slab, at least, in perpetuation of the memory of the gallant Brady. Let the sacred spot where his ashes repose be marked in this way, with a table, on which to inscribe the many virtues of the noble dead.” The praise for carrying out this suggestion all belongs to J. M. M. Gernerd, of Muncy, who, by days and nights of toil, has carved from Mr. Meginness’ slab a cenotaph of wondrous beauty.’

“It may be proper to add here that I likewise soon afterwards raised a sufficient sum to provide also the ‘humble slab,’ of granite, which now marks the spot, at Hartley Hall, three miles northeast of Muncy, where the ashes of the hero repose.

“This was not my first monument venture. Thirteen years previous I had raised money for the erection of a Soldier’s Monument—one of the first, if not the first raised in Pennsylvania, to the memory of the defenders of the Union—by means of a gift-concert, a method of raising money not then so unfavorably regarded as now. The ladies of Muncy had by festivals and dramatic entertainments already raised about $500, when I announced the scheme of selling 10,000 tickets at $1 each, and proposed to give to the ticket-holders $8,000 in pianos, organs, music boxes, spy-glasses, microscopes, etc., and $2,000 to the monument fund. The undertaking was a success. The cause was unselfish, appealed to the patriotism of the people, and the scheme was endorsed by the best citizens. But times have changed, the people have changed, I have changed, and the laws have been changed, and there are now well-understood reasons why all such chance operations should be discouraged, no matter how honestly conducted, nor what the object may be. The money raised was put out at 7 per centum per annum interest, until the fund amounted to $3,000. In 1869 the beautiful marble monument in the Muncy Cemetery was dedicated. Seventy-one names of the gallant boys—many of them companions of mine in my boyhood—who went to the war from their neighborhood, and fell in battle or died in hospitals, are enrolled on the four sides of the dado supporting the shaft, and the bodies of nineteen of the numbers are mouldering back to earth around its base.

“At the age of 13 I began to make a collection of curiosities—rare, and not rare, just as happened—and in time had a museum that I valued highly, if no one else did, consisting of fossils, minerals, insects, Indian relics, and various other objects. This became a rather serious and expensive hobby. Making collections of little practical benefit, either to the collector or to the public, or to science, more from a kind of craze, or selfish gratification of personal taste, often to the neglect of business and the duties of life and family, and often, too, to the annoyance of people who have chanced to find a few relics, is not an uncommon thing, as examples of such importunate hobbyhorsical relic-hunters may be found in almost every community. To tell the truth, I was one of them. A witty writer has said that ‘Modesty is only egotism turned wrong-side out.’ My kindred must not think this is too much of the wrong side out. Not having the time required, nor the means and knowledge to make good collections of so many kinds of objects, I finally devoted my recreation hours to gathering such imperishable things as stone axes, arrow points, celts, gorgets, pestels, drills, pipes, pottery fragments that the aborigines have left scattered over the soil on which they hunted, fished, ate, slept, played, danced, loved, hated and fought, precisely as our own untutored ancestors did in ancient Brittannia, Germania and Gallia; and as many even in the civilized world are now practically doing, with hardly a better conception or greater enjoyment of intellectual life. Of one thing well informed people are now general well convinced, and that is, that the red man is by nature just as good, is, under equal conditions, just as capable of civilization, and is as truly made in the Divine Likeness, as the white man. As to the collection of Indian relics, Meginness, the eagle of historians of this section, thought it worthy of notice, and in his revised History of the West Branch Valley, 1889, said:

“ ‘The largest assortment, consisting of about 7,000 specimens, is found in the magnificent collection of J. M. M. Gernerd, of the borough of Muncy. His museum is methodically arranged and carefully classified, so that those who have any taste for examining and studying the rude and peculiar handiwork of a race now extinct in this part of the country, can go there and spend an hour or two in it with profit. The proprietor, who is a gentleman of intelligence and culture, always takes pleasure in explaining the curiosities. Many friends have assisted him in making the collection, by contributing articles found by them at various times, because they knew that he not only appreciated, but greatly prized such contributions, and would label and place them where they could be seen and studied. His collection of spear and arrow heads is very full. These implements were fashioned in many styles by the manufacturers, which show that they possessed some definite idea as to what they were doing in their rude workshops. The study of these relics alone affords a pleasant and profitable pastime. His collection of gorgets, pestels, sinkers, gouges, stone axes, tomahawks, pipes, and ceremonial weapons, is also very large and many of the specimens are exceedingly rare and valuable’ ” (from Heinrich Gernhardt and His Descendants, pp. 183-189).

To read about Jeremiah’s service to our country, click here.

Back to Family Accounts
Questions or comments: Email me and include Gernhardt or Genealogy in the subject line.
Gernhardt Family Accounts of War Family Accounts Gernhardt Pictures Centralia Remembered The Family of Marie Tracing Our Family Roots fettermans.org home