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The ancestry of our father is a microcosm of the early European colonization of the northeast United States. One stream were among the earliest in Massachusetts, moving on to settle Milford and Branford Connecticut, and moving once again to create New Ark (Newark), New Jersey. They were probably all from the British Isles. Another stream arrived in New Netherlands (now New York), moving on to New Jersey in the next generation. These were primarily reformed church members from the Netherlands. The final streams were "Palatines" - members of the flood of (generally) Protestants from the region of the Rhine that developed after 1710. They settled in south central Pennsylvania (the Pennsylvania Dutch region around Lancaster) and the Germanna colonies in and around Culpeper county, Virginia.
As the area across the mountains opened (and in some cases before migration across the Appalachians was even legal) the streams converged on what became, after Mason and Dixon, southwestern Pennsylvania. Several fought in the Revolutionary War, at least one cousin branch on the British side. (They are now the Ruttan family in Canada.) Other branches settled in western New York and the Northwest Territories as they opened.
In each of those moves, most if not all were true pioneers having to clear land and build. The pioneer mode continued into the 20th century when grandfather Clyde Gamber came to Miami and helped clear the mangroves to create Miami Beach.
Tracing this ancestry has been difficult. Our maternal ancestry was easy to research - in the northern Netherlands you simply use the baptism, marriage and death records (increasingly available on line, and always available in provincial archives) to create a tree back to the beginning of the records around 1600. In North America there was no common form of record keeping. Many churches had no formal system for recording baptisms and other events. In most areas there was no real census until 1790 - and no census has found all the people. Some states did not develop a system for "vital statistics" until around 1900. And there were and are no general standards for preserving old records. Some units of government continue to destroy materials that would be invaluable to genealogists. (And of course travel to research sites takes more time and money than in the Netherlands.)
What you find in our family database is thus a patchwork from many and many different types of sources. Much is drawn from the work of others (see Acknowledgments and source notes), some church records, some government records (wills being particularly important and useful in Pennsylvania), family memories, diaries and family Bibles. Where we have borrowed from others, we constantly search for primary sources to prove - or disprove. The people included are mostly ancestors or cousins, but there is also a fairly complete record of all Gambers who appear in the records prior to 1850 plus some lines we explored but found unrelated.
We never make up names, but often have problems with spelling variations - e.g. Gamber, Gambert, Gomber, Gambar, Gamper and Gampfer are all found for our ancestral lines, along with the odd Campher and Kampher. Name shifts, not just at the time of immigration but also sometimes much later, are another problem. Someone baptized Johannes Michael in Germany may show up in the US as John or Michael. Someone baptized John Jacob in Lancaster is listed in all later records as Jacob. And of course there are the simple problems of reading old script, worn tombstones, census records for people who did not know how their name might be spelled, and documents written by officials who only spoke English concerning those who only spoke German.
The CONNECTIONS between names are sometimes assumptions based on date and place. If William was born 1818 East Hempfield township, and the only person with that surname in the 1820 census for East Hempfield is a Jacob, with no further information we presume that William is the son of Jacob. (And we keep searching for a confirmation.)
The current result is a work in progress, a draft. Many lines are well documented, but important unknowns remain. The most significant questions: the father of grandmother Ocie Pearl Day Gamber could have been another Stephen Day; and the father of great great grandmother Maria Jane, wife of John Gamber, is a complete mystery.
Attached for the curious we provide a timeline laying out our direct ancestry so far as now known, few genealogy reports, and a searchable copy of our paternal family tree data. (The maternal data is presented in a companion Hemminga site.) There are also a few pages discussing matters related to our family history. The European branch of the related but not ancestral family Be(a)bout is on a companion Bibau site.
Comments, corrections and additions will be welcomed.
last update 24 October 2007
Copyright 1999 - 2007. Blanket permission for downloading and reproduction for personal use is given. Any commercial use without explicit written permission is prohibited.
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9034 SW 62 Terr
Miami, FLA 33173
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