Gaar Mansion and Farm Museum

Gaar MansionFamily History

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 Abram Gaar
Clem A. Gaar
Fielding Gaar
John M. Gaar
Samuel W. Gaar
Oliver Gaar
Nettie Ruby Gaar

 

THE GAAR FAMILY
 
    If a complete account of the events which form the history of Wayne county were written no name would appear more frequently or figure more prominently in connection with leading events than that of Gaar. Through many decades representatives of the family have been important factors in the public life, especially that department bearing on the industrial and commercial development whereby the growth and prosperity of the county has been assured. From the Fatherland came the first American ancestors, who left their Bavarian home and crossed the Atlantic to the shores of the New World. Their first location was made in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, whence they removed at a later date to Virginia. In 1807 the first settlement of the family was made in Wayne county, then a wild western region on the very borders of civilization. The Indians had not departed for western hunting grounds, fleeing before the oncoming tide of civilization; the forests stood in their primeval strength, and the broad prairies had been unturned by the plow.
Such was the condition of the country into which Abraham Gaar made his way more than four score years ago. He was born in Madison county, Virginia, February 28, 1769, and was there reared to manhood. He married Miss Dinah Weaver, who was likewise born in the Old Dominion and was also of German lineage. In 1805 they became pioneers of Kentucky, and in 1807 they made their way to Wayne county, Indiana, locating in what is now Boston township, where Abraham Gaar secured one hundred and sixty acres of land from the government. A little clearing was soon made and a log cabin erected. Then other trees were cut down and such vegetables and grains planted as would supply the family with the necessaries of life. As the years passed, however, and the work of development was continued, the entire tract was placed under a high state of cultivation, and waving fields of grain were seen where once stood the uncut timber. The father of the family thus took an active part in reclaiming the wild tract for the uses of civilization, and was active in promoting the agricultural interests of the county. His untiring industry, energy and well directed efforts at length were crowned with success, and ere the end of his earthly pilgrimage he found himself in possession of a good home and a comfortable competence. His religious obligations were never neglected, and even in the days when churches had not been established, and when ministers had not found their way into the new region, he gathered his family around him for worship on the first day of the week, and was ever observant of his Christian duties as a member of the Baptist church. His wife was alike faithful and earnest, and they gave a generous support to the erection of a house of worship in their locality and to the establishment of a Baptist congregation. Having for more than half a century borne an important part in the development and up building of Wayne county, Abraham Gaar passed to his final rest August 20, 1861, and his wife died September 26, 1834, at the age of sixty six years, ten months and one day.
    This worthy couple were the parents of eight children: Jonas; Fielding, who died in Utah; Larkin, who resided on the old family homestead in Bos­ton township, Wayne county; Abel, who made his home in Michigan; Fansnie, deceased wife of William Lamb, of Iowa; Rosa, deceased wife of John Ingels; Martha, who was the wife of Jeptha Turner; and Eliza J., wife of Thomas Henderson, of Iowa. All of this family are now deceased except Eliza J.
    Jonas Gaar, who was the eldest, was born in Madison county, Virginia, February 1, 1792, and came with the family to Wayne county in 1807. He was therefore reared amid the wild scenes of frontier life, enduring many of the hardships and privations which fall to the lot of the pioneer. He pursued his studies in a log school-house, but acquired his education largely through self culture. He was a great reader and a close observer of men and events, and in the busy affairs of life added greatly to his knowledge. He and his younger brother, Fielding, were soldiers in the war of 1812, doing duty on the frontier in defense of the homes and lives of the border settlers. He assisted in the work of the home farm until attaining his majority, when he resolved to learn a trade, and took up that of cabinet making. In 1820 they established a little cabinet shop of his own in Richmond, where he carried on business for a number of years.
    In 1836 he extended his operations into other fields of labor by establishing a foundry and machine shop, in connection with Abel Thornbury and Job W. Swain. The plant was operated by a rotary steam engine, the first steam engine in the county, but the enterprise was conducted for only a few years, and for a decade thereafter Jonas Gaar was connected with other business lines. In 1849, in connection with his sons, Abram and John M., and his son-in-law, William G. Scott, he purchased of Jesse M. and John H. Hutton their machine works, which later became the extensive Spring foundry, then A. Gaar & Company and lastly the Gaar, Scott & Company's machine works. This was the foundation for the present mammoth establishment now conducted under the last mentioned title. Mr. Gaar, his two sons and his son-in-law, were all natural mechanics and soon the old foundry business was placed upon a paying business basis and its patronage steadily increased. Prior to this time it had never been a profitable enterprise. On the 1st of April, 1870, the name was changed to Gaar, Scott & Company, and Jonas Gaar continued to be identified therewith until his death, which occurred June 21, 1875. In 1870 the business was incorporated with a paid-up capital of four hundred thousand dollars. Abram Gaar then became president of the company, and so continued until his death.
    In 1818 Jonas Gaar was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Watson, a native of Kentucky, and they became the parents of eight children: Abram, born November 14, 1819.; Malinda, born November 11, 1821; John Milton, born May 26, 1823; Samuel W., born October 22, 1824; Fielding, born January 1, 1827; Emeline, born June 16, 1829; Elizabeth, born June 27, 1831; and Fannie A., born October 5, 1853. All have now passed away with the exception of John M., Fielding, Emeline Land and Elizabeth Campbell. The father died June 21, 1875, and the mother's death occurred November 8, 1863. Though his business demanded much of his attention, he yet found time to labor for the advancement of many movements and measures calculated to benefit the community and promote the welfare of his fellow men. He was a public spirited, progressive citizen, honored for his integrity in industrial life, for his fidelity to every trust, and his faithfulness to family and friends.  
 

 

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