John Gabby

An account of John Gabby who married Jean Brownlee and their sons, William and Joseph Gabby.


JOHN GABBY became a land owner in Leitersburg District in 1769 by the purchase of 166 acres of land from Peter Good, originally embraced in The Resurvey on Well Taught and Perry’s Retirement and now owned principally by Hiram D. Middlekauff.  The orthography of the name was then “Gebby,” a corruption of the original Scotch form, “Gebbie”.  The name also appears in connection with the early settlement of Letterkenny Township, Franklin County, PA., where Robert Gabby, probably the father of John, was the patentee of a tract of land in 1749.  In 1773 John Gabby purchased from James Brownlee one hundred acres of land, formerly embraced in Rich Barrens on the opposite side of Antietam from his first acquisition.  Before the Revolutionary War he built the oldest part of the house on the farm of Mr. Middlekauff, and here he resided for many years.  Eventually, however, he returned to Letterkenny Township and there he died in 1810, leaving the following children:  Archibald; Joseph; John; William; James; Janet, who married James Burns, and Jane, who married Samuel Cooper.  He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and probably the earliest representative of that denomination in Leitersburg District.

NOTE:  John Gabby married Jean Brownlee 3 Jan. 1757 at Muddy Run, Lancaster Co. PA (Journal of Rev. John Cuthbertson).  Jean was the daughter of John Brownlee, born 11 April 1699 at Torfoot Farm.  In addition to the seven children of John  and Jean Brownlee Gabby listed in this article  were David, Thomas and Marion.

WILLIAM GABBY was born on the 25th of April, 1762, the son of John Gabby.  In 1795 his father divided his plantation in Leitersburg District and sold it to two of his sons, John and William; the former received the part upon which the improvements were located, now owned principally by Hiram D. Middlekauff; the later received a tract of unimproved land on the opposite side of Antietam creek, now owned principally by the estate of the late Joseph Strite.  Here he erected the present substantial farm house and resided until his death, September 5, 1841.  He married Emily McCormick of Leesburg, VA, who died on the 9th of July, 1833, without issue.  They were members of the Presbyterian Church at Hagerstown and there both were buried.  William Gabby was a Whig in politics and held a number of responsible offices.  He was justice of the peace, member of the orphans’ court and the levy court, member of the House of Delegates, and presidential elector; he was also a member of the commission by which the present site of Washington County court house was purchased and the first court house erected thereon, and was associated in a similar capacity with the building on the second jail of Washington County.

JOSEPH GABBY was born in Leitersburg District, April 25, 1779, the son of John Gabby.  He was reared in his native District, but removed to Letterkenny Township with his father’s family in 1795 and there engaged in farming ten years later.  His brother John died in 1806 and the farm he had purchased from his father in 1795 reverted to the latter; Joseph Gabby located thereon about the time of his father’s death, after which he purchased it, and here he resided in the house in which he was born until his death, November 30, 1856.  In 1805 he married Ann Cummins, whose birthday was the same as his own, April 25, 1779; she died on the 6th of January, 1852.  Their children were Elizabeth, who married Dr. Thomas B. Duckett; Jane, who married Dr. James Johnson; Emily, who married Nathan McDowell; John, and William, both of whom died in infancy.  Joseph Gabby was a member of the Presbyterian Church at Hagerstown, in which he held the office of elder.  In his later years his hearing became impaired and he was accustomed to occupy a high chair near the pulpit in order that he might hear the sermon; his chair now constitutes part of the furniture of the Washington County court room and has been used for years by the court crier.  Mr. Gabby operated a distillery in connection with his farm and was one of the corporators of the Hagerstown and Waynesboro Turnpike Company.  He was a Whig in politics and an active supporter of his party.  He was identified with public affairs in various official capacities, serving as a member of the Governor’s council, of the House of Delegates, and of the county levy court.

Extracted from the History of Leitersburg District, Washington County, Maryland, by Herbert C. Bell.  Published by the author, Leitersburg, MD, 1898. Information supplied by Betty Rudolph.

Back to Biography index