I ran across some old Gearhart land deeds the other day. They do not have any connection to the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company, but they are notable for being the oldest original documents in the archives. The three land deeds, dated 1819, 1832, and 1837 are also noteworthy to me for their geographic references and for their colonial handwriting style. They also contain the only known signatures of John Gearhart (1788-1871), whose grandfather, the mysterious Mordecai Gearhart (1725-1786) migrated from the Alsace-Loraine region of France/Germany and established the family in America. I say mysterious because he has no history, or none that anyone can find other than a list of his children and his dates. I wouldn’t mind finding some more John Gearhart (1788-1871) documents that could shed some light on the mysterious Mordecai.

John Gearhart was 31 years old when he purchased the land described in the 1819 deed, so we do know that he could read and write, and he had enough wealth to buy a substantial piece of land for farming. Given this, I’d say the odds are good that there may be more information about him from others. I’d very much appreciate corresponding with anyone who might have details about his life.

Wow, now I’ve really diverged from the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company. Might as well keep going while I’ve got the chance.

I must say, I’ve always liked colonial handwriting. Both the Gothic and Italian style handwriting described in Reed Digital Collections are very appealing to me. If I could find this typeset, I’d probably use some of it in my postings. It would, however, take a lot of patient reading to digest the text. In fact, I’d even feel free to put my own spelling to words, just like they did back in the early 1800’s. It wasn’t for lack of education; its just that spelling wasn’t fixed until the middle of the nineteenth-century.

So anyway, here is the oldest document in the archives. Its an 1819 land deed for 100 acres, at $1.50 per acre, located in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania. This land would be located within driving distance of Penn State University. Its very beautiful and green there!


… a certain Tract or Piece of Ground situate in Clearfield County, beginning at an old Pine corner on the South side of balentine Floyd thence North 60 degrees West eight eight perches to an old post corner, from place of beginning one hundred and forty perches to a Spruce half corner, thence South 30 degrees West. On hundred fourteen and a half perches to a Spruce half corner. Thence South 60 degrees East one hundred and forty perches to a white Oak corner. Thence North 30 degrees East one hundred fourteen and a half perches to the place of the beginning.