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View Tree for Johan Nicholas GerstJohan Nicholas Gerst (b. 01 Nov 1727, d. Bet. Oct 1801 - Oct 1803)

Johan Nicholas Gerst (son of Johan Theobald Gerst and Magdelena Catharina Bueckin) was born 01 Nov 1727 in Sembach, Pfalz, Bavaria, Germany, and died Bet. Oct 1801 - Oct 1803 in Botetourt Co, VA. He married Mary on Abt. 1748.

 Includes NotesNotes for Johan Nicholas Gerst:
Note provided by Dwayne Wrightsman: There are 25 spellings of Garst invarious records, including--Gerst, Gherst, Gast, Gorst, Karst, etc.,

The Brethren Encyclopedia
The Brethren Press, Elgin, IL (1983)
p. 532
Garst Family. John Nicholas Gerst I arrived in Philadelphia on the Isaac in September, 1749. John Nicholas became Brethren and helped form the Little Swatara congregation on Little Swatara Creek in Lancaster Co., PA. He moved to Botetourt Co., VA, before his death in 1803. Four of his daughters married four sons of Michael Frantz II and Magdalena Zug Frantz. Other families related by marriage include *Bashore and Peffley. Many descendants migrated to Tennessee, Ohio, and points west, continuing in the Brethren churches as members and ministers, including *Elder J. 0. Garst. LAG

W. T. Garst, Our Garst Family in America (1950); E. Pennsylvania (1915) 445; R. B. Strassburger and W. J. Hinke, eds., Pioneers (1934) 1:427, 415; E. C. Frost and M. M. Frost, Garst, Sherfey, Graybill Genealogies (1940); R. F. Flory, Lest We Forget (1974) 2:399; Some Who Led (1912) 113-15; California (1917) esp. 148-49.

John Nicholas Gerst Sr.
Given Name: Johan Nicolaus

Johan Nicolaus arrived in Philadelphia [from Germany/Switzerland] 27 Sep 1749 with his wife, and settled near Jonestown, Bethel twp, Lancaster Co., on Little Swatara creek. Little Swatara creek - Northern part of what is now Lebanon Co., then Lancaster Co. His father immigrated a year later 11 aug 1750 at Philadelphia. Granted land transfer in 1752 in Bethel Township (next to Philip Woolf's land.

This family group on "Our Garst Family", pp.15-16. Christening p. 10B (see Notes for his father), as Johan Nicolaus s/o Theobald Gerst and his wife Magdalena.

Birth: 1 NOV 1727 in Sembach, Pfalz, Bavaria, Germany
Death: OCT 1803 in Botetourt Co, VA [see will information below, death date between 10/1801 and 10/1803]
Christening: 5 NOV 1727 Sembach, Pfalz, Bavaria, Germany

Father: Theobald Gerst b: 1702 in Schwenckhausen, Bavaria, Germany
Mother: Magdelena Catharina Bueckin b: ABT 1704 in Sembach, Pfalz, Bavaria, Germany

Marriage 1 Marie Elizabeth [name refuted: Statthalter] b: ABT 1732 in Germany
Frederick Garst b: 1752 in Lancaster Co, PA
John Nicholas Garst b: 1755 in Bethel Twp, Lancaster Co, PA
Mary Garst b: ABT 1761 in Bethel Twp, Lancaster Co, PA
Magdalena Garst b: 11 JAN 1763 in Lancaster Co, PA
Anna Garst b: 1 MAY 1764 in Bethel Twp, Lancaster Co, PA
Catherine Garst b: 1765 in Lancaster Co, PA
Jacob Garst b: 14 JAN 1766 in Lancaster Co, PA
Marie Elizabeth Garst b: 29 MAY 1768 in Lancaster Co, PA
Abraham Garst b: 4 MAR 1770 in Lancaster Co, PA

1749 Isaac
Captain: Robert Mitchell
From: Rotterdam
By Way of: Cowes
Arrival: Philadelphia, 27 Sep 1749
206 freights.
Johann Nickel Gerst

Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s Record
Name: Johan Nickel Gerst
Year: 1749
Place: Philadelphia
Source Publication Code: 7820
Primary Immigrant: Gerst, Johan Nickel

Source Bibliography: RUPP, ISRAEL DANIEL. A Collection of Upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and Other Immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727 to 1776, with a Statement of the Names of Ships, Whence They Sailed, and the Date of Their Arrival at Philadelphia, Chronologically Arranged, Together with the Necessary Historical and Other Notes, also, an Appendix Containing Lists of More Than One Thousand German and French Names in New York prior to 1712. Leipzig [Germany]: Page: 213

Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s Record
Name: Johann Nickel Gerst
Year: 1749
Place: Philadelphia
Source Publication Code: 9041
Primary Immigrant: Gerst, Johann Nickel

Source Bibliography: STRASSBURGER, RALPH BEAVER. Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808. Edited by William John Hinke. Norristown [PA]: Pennsylvania German Society, 1934. 3 vols. Vols. 1 and 3 reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1964. Repr. 1983. Vol. 1. 1727-1775. 776p. Page: 415

Several illuminating
excerpts from
Johann Nicolaus arrived in Philadelphia along with other German immigrants who settled in Penn Woods, near Jonestown, Bethel Twp., Lancaster Co., on Little Swatara creek. This is where Johann brought his father, Theobald (Dewald), from Philadelphia, with the brothers, sisters, nephews, and nieces, who came the following August in 1750.

The names of the offspring of Johann Nicolaus the 1st were taken from a probated will dated 20 Oct 1801. Tax records indicate that Johann owned land and paid taxes on 174 acres in Lancaster Co., PA from 1771 to 1790.

The Garst farm was 174 acres on both sides of Little Swatara Creek in Bethel Township, Lancaster County. A complete description of the Garst farm is recorded in Patent Book AA, Vol. 5, page 505. (A transcription of this patent is given on pages 25-26 of the Garst book, and a photo-copy of the original is in the possession of this writer.)

by Dwayne Wrightsman
posted on
The first Brethren Garst was John Nickel (Nicholas) Gerst (born 1727 in Sembach, Pfalz), son of Theobald Gerst. John Nicholas was baptized in 1727 in the Reformed Church in Sembach, but he converted to the German Baptist Brethren faith sometime after immigrating to America, in 1749, and settling in Bethel, Lancaster, PA, shortly thereafter. His father (Theobald) and his siblings (Dewalt, Engelina, Magdalena, Catharina, Margaretha, and Elizabeth) immigrated the following year, in 1750, also settling in Bethel, but they kept their ties to the Reformed Church. We know this from baptismal records of various Reformed Churches (Swatara, Kimmerling's, and Tabor) located in and around Bethel Township in the 1700s. John Nicholas is the only Gerst/Garst whose name is conspicuously absent from these church records.

Exactly when John Nicholas Garst became Brethren is not known, but he may have converted fairly soon after arriving in this country. His oldest son Frederick is reported to have been born in 1752, and his youngest son Abraham, in 1770. Seven other children were born of John Nicholas Garst, yet not a single one of the nine is recorded as having been baptized at birth, nor baptized in a Reformed Church.

Nicholas Gerst and wife were listed, in 1770, as belonging to the Little Swatara Congregation of German Baptist Brethren, so we know that he was a member by that date at the latest. The Little Swatara Congregation was organized as a church, in 1757, by Michael Frantz and others. Michael Frantz and John Nicholas Garst had been close neighbors in Bethel since the beginning of Garst's arrival. The Frantz and Garst farms were both on Little Swatara Creek with only two other farms separating them. Other than Frantz and Garst, the only other known Brethren living in Bethel, Lancaster, in 1770, was Jacob Meyer.

One theory of why John Nicholas Garst became Brethren is that he may have married Michael Frantz's sister Elizabeth Frantz (b. c1729). Some of the entries in the Ancestral and the IGI files of the LDS name a Mary Elizabeth Frantz as wife of Johann Nicolaus Gerst. There is no documentation, however, that John Nicholas Garst married Elizabeth Frantz, sister of Michael Frantz. Whether or not there wassuch a marriage, Michael Frantz must have had an influence on John Nicholas Garsts joining the Brethren. Michael Frantz was an old and close neighbor, an important Brethren leader, and four of his sons married four of John Nicholas Garsts daughters.

There are two Michael Frantz, born one year apart, are cousins, but lived in two different areas of PA: Little Swatarta (Lancaster, Dauphin and finally Lebanon County) and Cocalico Township, Lancaster County. It was thought that Michael Frantz of Little Swatara might have been the father of the four Frantz boys due to proximity, but it was later found likely that the Michael of Little Swatara was childless.

From Dwayne Wrightsman: "I have since uncovered documented evidence from the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg that the Michael Frantz of Little Swatara Creek was probably childless. I have also uncovered documented evidence from the Pennsylvania Archives, also in Harrisburg, revealing the names of all of the Frantz brothers, except for the youngest two, as living in that part of Cocalico Township wherein lived Michael Frantz of Cocalico... Future articles in "Brethren Roots" and in "Mennonite Family History" will lay out the documented evidence that I have uncovered which supports the traditional position which had the right Michael Frantz all along."]

John Nicholas Garst, the first Brethren Garst, had nine children who survived him. John Nicholas Garst died in Botetourt County, VA, in 1803. The Administration of the Estate, Will Book "B," pp. 178-179, dated 5 March 1808, lists his four sons and the husbands of his five daughters seemingly in birth order by sex:

(1) Frederick Garst (husband of Magdalena Rough/Rauch)
(2) Nicholas Garst (husband of Elizabeth)
(3) Jacob Garst (husband of Christina)
(4) Abraham Garst (husband of Mary Zehring)

Daughters of the Husbands named in the Estate:
(1) Mary Garst, wife of Christian Frantz
(2) Magdalena Garst, wife of David Peffley
(3) Anna Garst, wife of Daniel Frantz
(4) Elizabeth Garst, wife of David Frantz
(5) Catherine Garst, wife of Peter Frantz

Little Swatara
In 1770, the chronicler Morgan Edwards listed the membership of the Little Swatara Congregation of German Baptist Brethren in the Tulpehocken region of Pennsylvania. By his count there were 45 baptized members from 27 households. Peter Heckman was the elder in charge. He was also one of the original founders, who, along with George Beshore, Michael Frantz, John Frantz, and others (unnamed), were baptized by Elder George Klein. This group, with Klein's assistance, coalesced into a church in 1757. By 1770, the families at (or near) the top of the membership list were those with the following surnames: HECKMAN, FRANTZ, GARST, MEYER, BESHORE, MERKEY, BRENISEN, AND KLEIN. All lived on or near the Little Swatara Creek that ran through Lancaster and Berks Counties.

According to the book entitled "History of the Church of the Brethern," by M.G. Brumbaugh, the Little Swatara Congregation of 1770 consisted of Peter Heckman, minister and wife, John Heckman and wife, Michael Frantz and wife Mary, Nicholas Gerst and wife, Jacob Moyer and wife, George Basher, David Marge and wife, Simon Merrich and wife, John Frantz and wife, Christian Frantz and wife, Rose Schnables, Jacob Smith and wife, Eliza Kentzel, Adam Henrich, Mrs. Cryder, Philip Zeigler and wife(Regina Requel), Jacob Brandisen and wife, David Kleine and wife, Widow Benedict, Elizabeth Benedict, Sophy Kish, Leonard Sebalt and wife, John Grove and wife, Jacob Baker and wife, Jacob Deal and wife, Hans Stohner and wife,and Jacob Beashor and wife.

In the Pennsylvania Tax Lists for the County of Lancaster, Bethel Township, Vol XVII, can be found the following records:
For the year 1771, page 157, "Gerst, Nich's, 170 acres, 2 horses, 2 cattle, no servants, and a tax assessment of 6.0."

For the year 1773, page 386, "Gerst, Nicholas, 170 acres, 2 horses, 3 cattle, no servants, and a tax assessment of 6.0."

According to Mr. Rolland F. Flory in his book, "The Garst and Frantz families had a very great influence in the beginning of the Donnels Creek Church and other Brethren churches as the second and third generations moved westward. The names of the Garst and Frantz families were inseparable at that early period as their parents, John Nicholas Garst and Michael Frantz, both born in German States, arrived in the Colony of Pennsylvania. Both families settled in the wilds west of Philadelphia in what was then Lancaster County.
"Four Frantz brothers married four Garst sisters. These four couples were married in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and lived in that vicinity until the early 1790's. During the early part of their sojourn in the settlement there, the families suffered greatly from the inroads and massacres from the Indians during the French and Indian War. They also suffered the hardships of the Revolutionary War. As young men, John Nicholas I and Frederick, sons of John Nicholas, Sr. and brothers of the Garst sisters, joined the patriot cause and served in the Colonial forces.

"In the last decade of the 18th century, the whole families of the Garst's and Frantz's moved to Botetourt County, Virginia. John Nicholas I died in that County in Virginia in the autumn of 1803.

Dwayne Wrightsman
Lee, NH

Little Swatara Congregation
The families listed as baptized members of the Little Swatara Congregation in 1770 were those of:
Nicholas Gerst (Garst)
Provided by Dwight Wrightsman
Also, see

John Nicholas Garst
by Dwayne Wrightsman
John Nicholas Garst lived on Little Swatara Creek in Bethel Township in northern Lancaster County from about 1749 until about 1790 when he and his children and his grandchildren moved to Botetourt Co., VA. His
birth family was German Reformed but he and his wife were baptized into the Little Swatara Creek Brethren Congregation, listed as members in 1770.

Indiana Daughters of the American Revolution
Garst, John Nicholas.
b. ca. 1725 Germany
d. will prob. fall 1803 Botetourt, Co. VA
m. 1748; Mary,
d. living Bot. Co. Va. 1803.

SERVICE: Private in Lancaster Co., PA. Militia 2nd Battl., 3rd Co. 7th Class, Capt. Casper Stoever's Co. (Nicholas Gerst)

Nicholas, Jr. b. 1755;
Frederick, b. 1752, m. Magdalena Rauch;
Jacob, b. 14 Jan. 1766, m. (1) Mary, (2) Eve Minter, (3) Magdalena Hickley;
Abraham, b. 4 March 1770, m. Mary Zehring;
Catherine, m. Peter Frantz; Mary, b. ca. 1761, m. Chritian Frantz;
Magdalena, b. 11 Jan 1763, m. David Peffley;
Anna, b. 8 May 1764, m. Daniel Frantz;
Maria Eliz., b. 29 May 1768, m. David Frantz. No. 551003.

Botetourt, VA
Kegley's Virginia Frontier, pages 545, 548 and 550 provides some details in land tenure on Carvins Creek and Glade Creek and about the Great Lick in early Botetourt County.

It reads:
1785. Grant, 70 acres on Carvins Creek, joining Jacob Garst,
Christian Harshbarger and Peter Frantz.
1789. Nicholas Garst, 33 acres by deed from Wm. McClenachan, other part of 150

1796. August 24, 1796, Jacob Garst and Daniel Dilman - Grant 230 acres
on both sides Carvin's Creek. Pat. Bk. 36,523
1793. Jacob Garst - Survey, 230 acres on Carvin's Creek."

Will October, 1801, proven October, 1803
Between October . 1801 and October 1803 (Age approx. 74-76) Botetourt Co., Va
Source: Dwayne Wrightsman (1118D151)

Note: The will of John Nicholas Garst was written October 20, 1801, and proven at Botetourt October Court 1803.

Will of John Nicholas Garst
"I, John Nicholas Garst, of the County of Boutetourt, being old and infirm and knowing the certainty of death and considering my duty to my wife and children, do constitute the following to be my will and testament.

"First, I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Mary Garst, One Hundred Pounds in silver or gold; further I give and bequeath unto the said Mary Fifty Pounds gold or silver out of the bonds that Abraham Garst is to pay (to wit; five pounds yearly until she has received the sum of Fifty Pounds).

"Further, I give and bequeath unto the said Mary the house wherein I now live, the stove therein, two beds, two chests and all the linens, the kitchen dresser, the furniture therein, the pans and cooking utensils; to wit: ladels, flesh forks, tenbuckets of wood in buckets and pails, one churn, one beer cask, one vinegar cask, one whiskey cask, one coffee pot, one stone jug with honey, one molasses jug, one quart jug, one vinegar jug, one quart mug...two bottles and one pint bottle, one half-pint bottle, one copper kettle, one small copper kettle, one frying pan, the crocks, one wooden bowl, three bread baskets, one scraper, one roller, one table with knives and forks, the arm chair and the other chairs, one spinning wheel, one cotton wheel, one pair cotton cards, the spinning truck, three bags, one Bible, one Testament, one new Hymn Book and book entitled "The Flowery Garden", one Psalter, one bushel basket, a half-bushel basket, a peck basket, one bread pan, one pair smallbellows, one fire shovel, one pot rack, one lamp, one candle stick, one pair snuffers; further, salt fat or lard meal, all that is now in our possession, and potatoes, all that are here, flax seed, two cows and fodder. After my death my son Abrahamshall feed one of said cows and pasture her likewise as he shall his spice box with the spice therein, one wooden sugar box with the sugar therein, one tapping tub, one small tub, two heckles with the screws;

"Further, what is then remaining of my property shall be valued and divided in peace, as my son John Nicholas Garst lives a considerable distance from me and it is my will that there shall be no vendue. [Vendue: the public sale of something to the highest bidder.]

"Further, I appoint Messrs. Leonard Houtz and John Myer (Myers) to be executors to this my last will and testament, and lastly, my children shall heir equally one as much as the other."

Oct. 20, 1801
John Nicholas Garst
Recorded Botetourt Oct. Court 1803

Sources for information:
Bomberger, Christian, Memorandum, unpublished, undated, photocopy of a transcription from German to English in the possession of this writer.

Brumbaugh, Martin Grove, A History of the German Baptist Brethren in Europe and America, Elgin, Illinois: Brethren Publishing House, 1899.

Davis, Richard Warren, Emigrants, Refugees and Prisoners, Volumes I, II, III, copyrighted 1995, 1997, and 1999, respectively, by Richard Warren Davis, distributed by Masthof Bookstore, Morgantown, Pennsylvania.

Durnbaugh, Donald F., The Brethren in Colonial America, Elgin, Illinois: The Brethren Press, 1967.

Edwards, Lorraine Frantz, Frantz Families Kith & Kin, Volumes I, II, III, 1996, published by Lorraine Frantz Edwards, Lancaster, California.

Edwards, Morgan, Materials Towards a History of the Baptists in Pennsylvania both British and German, Volume I, Philadelphia: Crukshank and Collins, 1770.

Flory, Rolland F., Lest We Forget and Tales of Yester-Years

Additional Sources
1. Strassburger and Hinke, "Pennsylvania German Pioneers"
2. Brumbaugh, "History of the Brethren"
3. Durnbaugh, "The Brethren in Colonial America"
4. Harold Frantz, et. al., "Genealogy of the Matthias Frantz Family of Berks
5. Pennsylvania State Archives, "Pennsylvania Land Warrantee Township Maps"
6. Wolfson, "Warrant, Patent & Survey Records, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania"
For the entire article, see

More About Johan Nicholas Gerst:
Christening: 05 Nov 1727, Evangelisch, Sembach, Pfalz, Bayern [Bavaria].

More About Johan Nicholas Gerst and Mary:
Marriage: Abt. 1748

Children of Johan Nicholas Gerst and Mary are:
  1. +Anna Garst, b. 01 May 1764, Bethel Twp, Lancaster Co, PA, d. 19 Jun 1821, Clark Co, OH.
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