Family Accounts - Descendants of Anna Rosine Fetterman & Heinrich Gernhardt

Jacob Garnet (3)
about 1773 - about 1813

“Of Heinrich’s eldest son, Jacob, we have learned but little besides the few facts already mentioned. After finding him mentioned in his father’s will, several years elapsed, despite of constant inquiries, before it was ascertained that he had settled and spent the rest of his days in the township of Fayette, Seneca County, N.Y., and that he had many descendants in New York, Ohio, Michigan and other states. Many months after having learned what had become of all his brothers and sisters, there was still no trace of him, and finally it became a common thing among the members of the other branches to refer to him as the ‘Lost Jacob.’ How soon a mortal may thus be forgotten by his own kindred in this world of never-ending changes. But at least a clue was happily found that brought the forgotten back to remembrance. A correspondent of the author wrote that she had heard that there was an old man living in Lockport, N. Y., by the name of Jacob Garnet (since deceased), and wondered if he were not of that branch of our kindred. A letter addressed to him was dispatched forthwith, and in due time it was found that he was indeed a scion (a grandson) of the long ‘lost Jacob.’

“The state of New York after the War of the Revolution acquired a large area of fertile territory by a treaty with the Cayuga and Onondago Indian tribes, and in 1790 and later this very desirable land was laid out into townships (or ‘towns,’ as such divisions are called in that state) and lots, and at the close fo the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries there was a rush of settlers to occupy these lands. Among the colonists were many Pennsylvania Germans. A partial list of the early German settlers of Seneca County from this province was furnished by the Hon. Diedrich Willers, of Fayette, in 1898, to ‘Notes and Queries,’ edited by Dr. William H. Egle, of Harrisburg, Pa. It is reproduced here as being of general interest to the descendants of Heinrich and Rosine, not only because it contains the name of Jacob Gernet (the original family name, Gernhardt, is in the church and court records of Seneca County found spelled in various ways, as Gernert, Gerner, Gernhart, Garnhart, Garnart, Garnet and Garnett, the same as it is represented by alphabetic characters by the other branches of the lineage), and all are familiar Pennsylvania names, but because of the family intermarriages with so many of the families they represent, and also because they serve to illustrate the mutations to which family names have been so liable, as explained in a preceding chapter…” ( from Heinrich Gernhardt and His Descendants, published 1904, pp. 97-98).

“…The precise date of Jacob’s settlement in Fayette—then known as the ‘town’ of Washington, but changed to Fayette in 1808—is not known, but it was probably about 1804, as his name still appears on the assessment list as late as April, 1803, as the tenant of 270 acres of land owned by James Hammond, in Turbot Township, Northumberland County, Penn’s, and according to the Lilley family Bible his daughter Susan was born in Northumberland County October 29, 1803. As his son John was born in Fayette, Nov. 3, 1805, he must have migrated at some intervening date. With his wife and three little children, George, Jacob and Susan, the eldest but six years old, he must, therefore, sometime during the interval mentioned, probably in the spring of 1804, have left Turbot Township to seek his fortune in the still newer and wilder territory that had so lately belonged to the once powerful and troublesome Iroquois. It would be a pleasure to relate the circumstances of Jacob’s migration, to describe the conveyance with which he traveled and crossed the streams and mountains, the fellow-settlers with whom he may have journed, and say how long a time it took him to make the trip, of what his personal estate consisted, and mention the particulars of the changed conditions under which he hopefully struggled to make a home of his own in a country so new, but these are all matters that must be left to the imagination of the kindred who would be pleased to know. He and his family it is certain had few of the luxuries that are now regarded as among the necessities of life.

“A record found in the office of the Seneca County Clerk shows that on the 18th day of May, 1808, he had entered into an agreement for the purchase of 168 acres of land in the town of Fayette, said land being part of what is described as Lot 40 in the Military Tract, and that on the 21st day of August, 1817, four years after his decease, a deed for the land was made by Mary Vredenbaugh and Charles Burnett to his eight children, as ‘heirs of Jacob Garnart, late of Fayette, deceased.’ Whether he occupied this tract as tenant prior to the agreement, or lived on other land in the vicinity during the four years he had already been in Fayette, is also now but a matter of conjecture.

“But the stuggle of life did not last long for him, as not more than nine years elapsed after he arrived in the new land of promise when he was called away to the silent land whither we all go, and where the weary all find rest. His first wife—Anna Maria Kramer—preceded him to the world unseen but a few months after the birth of their daughter Clarissa, Aug. 10, 1809, and when the firstborn of their six children was barely twelve years of age, a bereavement and loss of counsel and companionship that no one without the same mournful experience can fully realize. In 1811 he married Miss Mary Shetterly, with whom he had two daughters, and near the close of 1813, but several months before the birth of Anna Maria Elizabeth, the second of the two daughters, and when he was himself probably yet under forty years of age, he was cut down and fathered by the Great Reaper who sooner or later claims every one formed of clay…” (Ibid, pp. 100-101).

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