John Garard Rev

Rev. John Garard

Thanks to Robert and Carolyn Gerard Authors of Garard/Garrard/Gerard/Gerrard/Girard Descendants of Rev. John, Elias & William the following is available:


The following excerpts from various works are included so the reader may decide when John Garard first settled in the part of Frederick County, Virginia that became Berkeley County in 1772 and where he came from.

The records of the Mill Creek Primitive Baptist Church of Berkeley County, Virginia are in the possession of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society whose records are kept at the University of Richmond, Richmond Virginia. Among the papers is a suggested inscription for a marker at Gerrardstown, as follows:


Here is the site of the first Baptist Church planted between the Potomac and the

James Rivers. It was organized in 1743 by Edward Hayes, Thomas Yates, and their

Company from Sater's Church in Maryland. John Garard, for whom the town was

Named, was its pastor from 1755 to 1787.

HOPEWELL FRIEND'S HISTORY, 1734-1934 states that, "On this tract of land stood the Mill Creek Baptist Church, the first of that denomination in the Shenandoah Valley, and probably the first in Virginia. It stood in what is now the village of Gerrardstown and was organized about the year 1743. Soon thereafter the Rev. Henry Loveall became its pastor. Other leaders soon succeeded him, notably Elder John Gerrard, in or about 1753."

James B. Taylor's BAPTIST VIRGINIA MINISTERS says that John Garrard migrated from the state of Pennsylvania, to the county of Berkeley Virginia in 1754. That part of the country was sparsely inhabited and subject to the assaults of the Indians. Having been frequently annoyed by them, most of the church, with Mr. Gerrard, removed below the Blue Ridge and settled in Loudon County, a part of Fairfax until 1757. During his stay there he was instrumental in the conversion of many sinners. Another church was constituted and was called Kentockton. John Garrard returned to Berkeley County and continued to serve the Mill Creek Church until his death.

THE BAPTISTS OF VIRGINIA 1699-1926 by Garnett Ryland, 1955, states that in 1743

Edward Hayes and Thomas Yates from Chestnut Ridge in Maryland settled on Mill Creek, which was then Frederick County. Henry Loveall, their minister, followed them. He organized the Mill Creek Church, sometimes called the Opekon, as Mill Creek was a tributary of the Opequon Creek. When Loveall left them the people requested the Philadelphia Association to assist them. Four men were sent to evaluate the church at Opekon or Mill Creek and at Ketocton, which had been constituted in 1751. Samuel Heaton became the first pastor of the Mill Creek Church in 1752 but gave up the pastorate before 1754 was over and moved to Konolowa. To succeed him the Philadelphia Association in 1755 authorized the ordination of John Garrard at Mill Creek. Garrard, who had come from Pennsylvania, was pastor for thirty-two years until his death in 1787.

Gardiner's CHRONICLES OF OLD BERKELEY states that a Baptist minister by the name of Mr. Stearns in the company of a number of others, removed from New England. They first stopped at the Opequon in Berkeley County Virginia where a Baptist Church was formed under the care of Rev. John Gerrard. This was most likely the first Baptist church founded west of the Blue Ridge. The HISTORY OF BERKELEY COUNTY says that a Baptist Meeting House near the Opequon Creek was erected in 1754 through the efforts of Rev. John Gerard who came from New Jersey.

J.E. Norris' HISTORY OF THE LOWER SHENANDOAH VALLEY says, among the earliest settlers of this region at the time of the organization of Frederick County were a colony of Baptists, consisting of fifteen families, that came from New Jersey in 1742 and settled in the vicinity of where Gerrardstown was later built. Rev John Gerrard formed the first Baptist organization in the valley and the society shortly afterward built their first church. It is stated in Cartmell's SHENANDOAH VALLEY PIONEERS AND THEIR DESCENDANTS that the Baptist appeared with the formation of Frederick County in 1743 and then they came with a large "immigrant train" from New Jersey and settled at the point of Gerrardstown when the Rev. John Gerrard organized them.

The first land records that place John in what was to become Berkeley County, Virginia was in the year 1762. He received two land grants from Lord Fairfax south of the present Gerrardstown: 227 acres dated 11 Dec 1762 and 251 acres dated 29 Aug 1766. Ninety acres, excluding one acre for the Baptist Meeting House, which adjoined the two original tracts was purchased 28 May 1770, Frederick Co. VA Deed Book 3, p.478, 481. The one-acre tract was deeded to the Baptist Congregation the same day. Another tract of 235 acres on the drains of Middle and Tuscarora Creeks was purchased 12 May 1769, Frederick Co. VA Deed Book 13, p.40. John and his wife, Mehetable, sold this tract 19 Apr 1774. They sold 150 acres of the 1766 grant to their son David 4 Apr 1769, Berkeley Co. Deed Book 3, p.88. and the 90 acre tract to David in 1779, Deed Book 5, p.268.

John's first wife, Mehetable, died sometime after 18 May 1779 when she and John sold 90 acres to their son, David. To date no one has been able to prove Mehetable's surname, although several assumptions have been made. By 1781 John had remarried to Mary Gray and their first child was born 31 Jan 1782.

Rev. John furnished wheat for the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War and he is listed as a Patriot. He left a will that was written 19 Aug 1787 and recorded 18 Sep 1787 in Berkeley Co. Will Book 1, p.460. The will names his wife, Mary, his children, the children of his daughter Mehetable and Isaac Gerrard, the son of William.

Additional source:


Don Wood, researcher.

From the Tenmile County and its pioneer families-A Genealogical History of the Upper Monongahela Valley by Howard L. Leckey


The History of Berkeley County, Virginia, tells of the founding of Gerrardstown on land owned by Rev. John Gerrard. This was the ancestor of the Garard Family of Big Whiteley Creek; the name having changed spelling to the generally accepted form now used by most branches of the family. Rev. John Gerrard was born about 1720, and died in Berkeley County, Virginia, where on August 19, 1787, he made a will, which was proven there on September 18, 1787, so it is evident that he died between the two dates in 1787. Records show that he was twice married, the first wife being Mehetable .......; the second, who with John Gray were executors appointed in his will, was Mary, said to have been a sister of John Gray. The first wife died about 1778-79. At least three children. Who were minors at the time of Rev. John Gerrard's death, were of the second marriage. (Berkeley County Will Book 1. pp. 460)