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A Garn Family History

By Philip G. Garn; 1989
(3 Volumes with index)

The history, titled History and Biographical Profiles of the Garn Family and Some of It's Branches consists of a series of three volumes containing a detailed Table of Contents. A fourth volume contains the index.

(Vol. 1; pp. 45-47) The earliest known Garn ancestor, Johannes Gern, was born 21 Mar 1738 in Europe. Records indicate that his name was anglicized by English scribes to John Garn. He boarded the ship "Chance" in Rotterdam, then crossed the Atlantic, and docked at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 1 November 1763, where Johannes was administered the Oath of Allegiance, as required of foreigners.

John next appears in Lancaster, Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania where on 21 June 1767 he was married to Margaret Lein (Seyn) in the German Reformed Church at 40 East Orange St., Lancaster, PA. The Garns then locate in Frederick County, Maryland. Records show that between 1773 and 1778 three of their four children were christened in the local Reformed and Lutheran churches in Frederick County, Maryland.

They next appear in Bedford County, PA, where on 7 June 1796 they pruchase land. On 26 October 1803 John Garn and his wife, Margaret, sold 4 acres and 15 perches of land to John Stoneking for $4.00. John continued to reside in the northern part of Bedford County until he died on 24 Sep 1808. Although John died intestate, he had divided his land equally between his two sons, John, Jr. and Frederick prior to his death. The sons legally settled this intestate inheritance by making token payments to each of their siblings in return for quit claim deeds which prevented them from contesting the land inheritance.

(Vol. 1; pp. 67-72) Barbara Garn was born in Frederick County, Maryland on September 10, 1773. (She was named Maria Barbara; however, she was always refered to simply as Barbara.) Maria Barbara was christened on 27 May 1777, with Johannes and Maria Shenk as her sponsors. She was married, probably in Maryland, to Thomas Croyle. A publication identified only as the Tribune published the following story about Barbara Garn and her husband Thomas Croyle on February 1, 1895. The story is told by Squire B. F. Slick of Conemaugh Township, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, who said that he lived beside the Croyles for eighteen years and dug both of their graves. Squire Slick states that these events were related to him by Mr. Croyle in 1852 at Summerhill, Cambria, Pennsylvania. It was a rainy day and they were inside a cooper shop:

Just a little over one hundred years ago, in the spring of 1794, Thomas Croyle and Barbara, his wife, took their wallets on their backs and set out on foot westward from Hagerstown, Maryland, to seek their fortunes They found often only ill broken footpaths to guide them on their journey, and sometimes not even those. The lonliness was broken once in passing through what is known as the Switzer settlement in Bedford.

Arriving at the site of the present town of Summerhill, this county, then but a barren laurel valley, they encamped for several days. Finding all kinds of game plenty and a soil that appeared rich enough to produce abundantly if properly cultivated, the old pioneer proposed to his wife that they settle down there and make it their home. His proposition was agreed to, and they built a cabin, and set to work to clear out the laure. At that time a colony from Wales had formed a settlement about five miles north of Ebensburg, which they called Beula.

In the spring of 1795 Mr. Croyle and wife concluded their new home would be more heartsome if they had some domestic animals, and, as the Beula colony was in their own condition in that respect, they set out for Hagerstown to secure the foundation of a barnyard family. They traveled, as usual, on foot, and after visiting awhile at Hagerstown, they returned to their mountain home in the same manner, each with a pig in a sack. By that autumn their family of porkers had increased to seven. The people of Beula heard of their neighbor’s affluence in the pig line, and Mr. Stephen Lloyd straightway visited Mr. Croyle and secured what proved to be the progenitors of all the porkers the Colony ever owned.

Mr. Croyle was, of course, adept with the rifle, and assures the writer that during the winter of 1795 he killed ninety-four deer, three bears, and sixteen wild turkeys, beside a great deal of other game not edible, and of which no account was kept. He said his attic was strung full of venison saddles, "jerked" or dried, and his wife told him not to kill any more deer, as they had enough meat to last them over a year. One day while they were working in the field, their log house took fire and burned down before they discovered it, and thus they lost all their meat and their household effects. Then Mr. Croyle was obliged to shoulder his old flintlock and procure a fresh supply of meat. In the meantime they built another log house, which met the fate of its predicessor three years later, at the hands of the Indians. Mrs. Croyle then took matters into her own hand, and said they would build a stone house and plaster the attic floor six inches deep. It was done and the house still stands.

They then built a grist-mill, from which the locality was called Croyle’s Mills until the Allegheny Portage railroad was completed, when Mr. Croyle’s place was called the Halfway House. In the meantime Mr. George Murray, who married Mr. Croyle’s daughter, built a large hotel and had a post office established, which was, and is today, called Summerhill.

The settlement began to grow and improve repidly after the Pennsylvania railroad was in operation. Plenty of people came into the community, and plenty of them went into debt to buy land and put up buildings. Mr. Croyle was a very kind and obliging man, and bailed almost everybody that asked him. As a consequence, he was compelled to pay out as bail money to such an amount that it almost bankrupt him. The "mother" as he affectionately called her in relating the matter, came to his rescue again, and thereafter he made a careful examination of every business transaction before it was consumated.

In addition, Mrs. Croyle was the only doctor in the community up to the time of her death in 1864, and served the people in that capacity for miles around. According to the good woman’s own account of herf age at the time of Cornwallis’ surrender...which she distinctly remembered...she must have been about one hundred and sicteen years old at the time of her death.

The importance of religion in the lives of these people is exemplified by Barbara Croyle who, in 1820, at her own expense, built and donated to the congretation the first Protestant church in Cambria Couty, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Summerhill. She and her husband are buried in that church’s cemetery.

The Croyles also recognized the advantages of an educated community and on March 8, 1838 they donated one quarter acre of land at Croyle’s Mill to the School Directors of Summerhill to build a school.

(Vol. 1; pp. 11-29) A background for the settlement of the Western Reserve began in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris, which deeded to the USA an area of 248,000 square miles called the "Northwest Territory." This region extended from the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the Great Lakes, including parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. (Ohio is an Iriquois word meaning "grand river") Ohio was admitted to the Union in 1803 as the 17th state; however, the original statehood papers were never signed by President Thomas Jefferson. It wasn't until 1952 that it became an official state when Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Ohio's statehood papers.

In 1796 a land purchase act was passed to raise federal revenue to help defray the expenses incurred during the Revolutionary War. Land sold for $2.00 an acre with a minimum purchase of a "full section" required. A full section consisted of 1 square mile or 640 acres, with a total cost of $1, 280.00. One half of the purchase price was to be paid down with the remainder to be paid off within a year. In 1807 congress passed the "Intrusion Act" to remove squatters from the land which had not been paid for.

(Vol. 1; p. 29) In the late 1820's and early 1830's several German families from Bedford County, Pennsylvania located in Sandusky County, Ohio in the Western Reserve. Among them was Joseph Garn (1831), Jacob Garn (1833) and several children of John Garn, Jr. and his widow (1833). The Garn family settled in Jackson Township, Sandusky County, Ohio.

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Web Site: Dianne Elizabeth's Family History, Created July 17th, 1999
Page Title: Garn Family History
Page Created: May 8th, 2002