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Gershom DeForeest    

Gershom DeForeest. Click to enlarge

Gershom DeForeest, [born December 20, 1787, Somerset Co., NJ, and died April 4, 1882], the grandson of Isaac DeForeest, [born December 20, 1787, Somerset Co., NJ, and died April 4, 1882], was a New Jersey farmer and came to Mercer County, Pennsylvania, in 1832, having made the trip from New Jersey by team and wagon with his wife and eight children. He was not a well-to-do man and purchased in New Jersey a team of horses, wagon, and harness for $36.36, borrowing $400, which amount he was to pay within four years with interest.

The family was six weeks en route and located in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, near the Ohio state line where Mr. DeForeest rented a piece of land with a log cabin upon it. In the year 1836 he purchased 157 acres of land over the county line in Trumbull County, Ohio, for which he paid $6.25 an acre, paying $100 down and getting time on the balance.

Gershom DeForeest was a thrifty and successful farmer. He saved up money from all sources of revenue so that he was able to pay off the original $400 loan within the four year period with interest. Indeed a proud day in their lives was the pay-day on their farm in the west. They continued farming in a highly profitable manner so that at the date of his death he left an estate of $28,000.


In 1855 he built a frame house, moving from the old log cabin. He was considered one of the most enterprising farmers of his day and locality. He was a school director for many years and a devout member of the Methodist Episcopal Church throughout his entire

Elenor Dunham DeForeest, click to enlarge

life. The closing words on the life of Gershom DeForeest in the History of Mercer County read: "This truly hard pioneer and excellent gentleman who blazed his way from the far away coast to the wilderness of Ohio, lies buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Sharon, Pennsylvania."


There were five sons and several daughters born to Gershom and Elenor DeForeest. The sons were Abram, Samuel, John, Isaac, and William. All were active members in the First Methodist Church. Abram was the teacher of the DeForeest Bible Class [at the First Methodist Church, Sharon, PA] for twenty-five years. William joined the church in 1854 at the age of sixteen when Rev. C. W. Reeves was the pastor. He served for many years on the Official Board and the Board of Trustees. He was an active layman in the Annual Conference sessions and was a lay delegate to the General Conference in session in Baltimore in 1908 presided over by Bishop J. W. Hamilton. He was active in establishing the Methodist Church in Masury, Ohio, in 1910. He had a continuous membership of 67 years in the First Methodist Church of Sharon.

The DeForeest women were also faithful workers in the Master's Vineyard Rev. John H. Vance, who in 1850, rode the Clarksville Circuit of which Sharon was a part, returned sixty years later as a guest speaker and delivered a sermon at the Centennial Celebration. That day he spoke of Mr. and Mrs. Gershom DeForeest in these words:


"Mother DeForeest was one of the most saintly women I have ever seen since my mother died. She was one of the most devoted Christians I ever knew. I was glad she was here when I came here to dispense the word of life. I am a better man than I would have been had she not been here. There was something grand about brother DeForeest. He was strictly honest and devout."

One Hundred Fifty Years of Methodism by Raymond H. Thoman, pages 18-20. Search Hundreds of 1880s-1890s Pennsylvania County History Books for biographies and historical information on your ancestors.  View the book page images on line and print them out for your genealogy file!  Free Access to the old history books - plus birth & death records, census images and ALL other records at ancestry.com

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