Greenbury GaitherA framed, unsigned silhouette, depicting (according to family history) Greenbury Gaither (1792-1838) of Washington, DC. He was descended on both sides from prominent Maryland families, the Gaithers and the Warfields; although both his parents (Zachariah Gaither and Sarah Warfield) were from Ann Arundel County, the families also have a major presence in Montgomery County. (I believe, if my genealogies are straight, that Zachariah was the cousin of Benjamin Gaither (1764-1838), for whom Gaithersburg is named.) The silhouette and a scrapbook created by Greenbury Gaither’s daughter, Matilda Gaither Rawlings, were donated to the Historical Society by Linda Lashua.

According to a handwritten note in this scrapbook, our man was born in 1792, and as an adult “went to Alexandria, Va and learned the jewelry business, then opened a Jewelry store on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington City. Afterward he married Margaret Bromley… and they had six children.” I’ve found little else about this branch of the Gaither family, other than a few names and dates in various sources, but our man himself does have a presence. A Greenbury Gaither, watchmaker and silversmith, can be found in the 1827 Washington Directory with a shop on Pennsylvania Avenue, and an internet search pulls up other references to his silver work.

Matilda’s daughter Lillian noted her connection to the silhouette’s subject, with names and dates, on the back of the frame; without this, our man would probably remain a mystery. Even just his name would not have been enough; one might think “Greenbury Gaither” would be one of those unusual names that make a genealogy search easier, but no so! In addition to “our” Greenbury and his son Greenbury Gaither Jr., there’s another father-son pair with the name, the father born in Montgomery County in 1751; that branch of the family moved to Kentucky. There’s at least one more 18th-19th century Greenbury Gaither (apparently nicknamed “Dockie”) in the large, spreading Gaither family tree. And that’s not counting the many other distant relations named [Something] Greenbury Gaither, or Greenbury Gaither [Something], in Kentucky and in Maryland. The more you say it, the better a name it is. I can totally see how it would be the kind of family name that sticks.

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