Mercer County PAGenWeb


Down through the years, generation after generation, for more than a century and a quarter, the DeForeests have contributed faithful continuous service to the Methodist Church.

The first of this pioneer family, Isaac DeForeest, was born on Christmas Day, 1700, on a farm where New York City in part stands today, it then being called New Amsterdam. He was of French and Dutch parentage. His son, Abram DeForeest, born served under Washington in the Revolutionary War, Co. B, 139th Volunteer Infantry. He died in 1847 at the age of 98 years and 9 months and lies buried in the cemetery at Brookfield, Ohio.

Gershom DeForeest, the grandson of Isaac DeForeest, 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 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] 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."

Source: One Hundred Fifty Years of Methodism by Raymond H. Thoman, pages 18-20

gershom deforeest

Gershom DeForeest

abram deforeest

elenor deforeest

I deforeest
Abram DeForeestElenor DeForeestIsaac DeForeest

john deforeest
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John DeForeestSamuel DeForeestWilliam DeForeest

WILLIAM C. DE FOREEST, of the pioneer music house of Sharon, Pennsylvania, which house was established in 1868, was born in Brookfield township, Trumbull county, Ohio, December 17, 1838, a son of Gurshum [Gershom] Vandenburg and Elanor (Dunham) De Foreest, both natives of Somerset county, New Jersey.

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