Saturday, April 6, 2013

Surname Saturday - Gast

A few years ago, a Gast cousin sent me an extensive family tree that went all the way back to the 1700s in  Ligsdorf Haut-Rhin, France. I was surprised to find out that the family came from France since my father had always thought they were German. Searching for Ligsdorf Haut-Rhin, showed that it is part of the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. This region has changed hands between Germany and France several times and most of the population had Germanic origins. I found that the family gave their place of birth as France in some census entries and Germany in others. I've put information from the family tree in italics in the text that follows.


Andre Gast and his family came to Baltimore, MD in 1828 and later settled in Minster, Ohio. Andre Gast was born on September 09, 1788 in Ligsdorf, Haut-Rhin, France, and died in 1854 in Maria Stein, OH. He married Therese Bendi on June 02, 1808 in Ligsdorf, Haut-Rhin, France, daughter of Pierre Bendi and Madeleine Meister. She was born on August 05, 1781 in Ligsdorf, Haut-Rhin, France, and died in Maria Stein, OH.

Andreas and Tracey Gast in 1850 Auglaize, Ohio census

I found a good possibility for Andre and Therese in the 1850 Auglaize, Ohio census where Minster is located. They have the correct ages and are from France. The census shows that Andre was a farmer.

Gast House and General Store
Andre and Theresa's son Mathias Gast was my 3x great-grandfather. He was born on October 28, 1813 in Ligsdorff, Haut-Rhin, France, and died on April 22, 1888 in Maria Stein, OH. He married Maria Katherine Hagedorn on September 12, 1839 in Maria Stein, OH. She was born on May 07, 1823 in Newkerchen (Hanover) Germany, and died on November 11, 1915 in Maria Stein, OH. I have also seen her name as Katharina Maria Hagedorn.

According to Wikipedia, Mathias was one of the earliest settlers in Marion Township in Mercer County, Ohio and he opened a shoe store there in 1833. The Gast house pictured above was built in 1852 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Mathias operated a store and hotel out of his house. In later years, younger members of the Gast family built a substantial addition to the rear of the house to accommodate increasing numbers of relatives. The house is still being used as a residence, while the store was destroyed. It's definitely on my list of places to see!

1870 census entry for Mathias Gast and family in Marion Township, Mercer County, Ohio

The 1870 census for Marion Township, Mercer County, Ohio shows Mathias and his wife Catherine with their children John, Henry, Mathias, and Frances. Their oldest son, John Henry was my 2x great-grandfather. His occupation here is "clerk in store", so I would guess he was working in the family store. Mathias' place of birth says France, while his wife's says Holland. In the 1880 census, her place of birth is given as Prussia, while the 1860 census said Hanover. Also, of interest, is that Mathias's mother's place of birth is given as Switzerland.

John Henry Gast was born on October 28, 1849 in Maria Stein, OH, and died in 1934 in Celina, OH. He married Catherine "Kate" Desch, daughter of Ferdinand Desch and Katharina Anthony. She was born in 1853, and died in 1918.

1880 census entry for John Henry Gast and family in Jefferson Township, Mercer County, Ohio

In the 1880 census, John Henry Gast is a farmer. John and his wife Catharine have four children, John, Andrew, Mary, and Emma. Mary is my great-grandmother. John's parent's place of birth is given as France and Catharine's parent's place of birth is given as Prussia. In the 1900 census the place of birth is given as Germany for both John and Catherine. Interesting how the place of birth seems to change from census to census!


In the 1920 and 1930 census, John Henry Gast's father's place of birth is listed as Alsace Loraine and his mother's as Prussia.

George F. Pulskamp and Mary Gast in Jefferson Township, Mercer County, Ohio

Mary married George F. Pulskamp on August 19, 1899. In the 1900 census, they are living in Jefferson Township, Mercer County, Ohio. George is working as an Editor. He later published the Mercer County Bote, a German newspaper.

While the family tree I received on the Gast family has given me a good head start on researching the family, I have not verified any of the data before the family came to Ohio. That's another item on my long "to do" list.

With this post, I've covered all of my great-grandparent's surnames in a Surname Saturday post! These posts have really helped me organize the data I have and show what is missing.

Thanks again to Heather of Leaves for Trees for her tip on using Excel for ancestor graphics.

No comments:

Post a Comment