Jonathan May Garland

(All pictures at bottom instead of intersperred in text)

My great-grandfather, Jonathan May Garland, was born in Winslow, Maine, on September 7, 1835, the sixth of the seven sons born to Jonathan Garland and Olive Johnson Garland. He was a Methodist clergyman, who also became a miner, a farmer and an orange grower during the course of his life. One letter to his friend, Levi S. Heal, in Westport, written on October 28, 1861 says: "But for me to say that I am contented here preaching to this people, would not be a true saying, for my circuit last year was much more pleasant." The life of a circuit riding minister must have been both hard and unrewarding. His little church in Westport, now Baptist, is still standing in 1992.

He married Rebecca Heagan Jewett of Westport Island, Maine, who was four years his senior. The wedding took place on June 1, 1862, at the Methodist Episcopal Parsonage in Wiscasset, Maine with the Reverend William Robinson officiating. Three children were born to them; the eldest, George Erastus Garland, born July 30, 1863 (called Rastie); Willie May Garland, March 31, 1866 (changed to William May Garland, and called Billie) and Olive Rosamund Garland, June 26, 1870 (called Rose). George Erastus graduated from Colby College in Waterville, Maine in 1882, and from the Albany Law School, where he was selected to be one of the four graduation orators. Sadly he was to die four months later of typhoid fever.

Rose graduated from Smith College in 1891 as the class valedictorian, went on to New York Law College, and practiced law for many years in New York City. In 1891 she was presented formally in Chicago while living with her cousin, Louise Jewett Mitchell (Mrs. John J. Mitchell), along with another cousin, Hortense Mitchell (later Acton). This very social life, must have been a vivid contrast to the lives of her Methodist parents. Rose and her brother kept up a lively correspondence over the years, and evidently were good friends. She never married. Her final years were spent on a small farm in Litchfield County, Connecticut with an old friend, Harriet Higbee. She died January 27, 1945, and her ashes were scattered on her farm. There is a plaque in Pinewood Cemetery in Daytona Beach between those of her parents.

My grandfather, William May Garland, was educated in the public schools of Waterville (North Street Grammar School and 3 years at the Waterville High School) before running away to Boston to become a clerk in a dry goods firm. He was never to finish his education, but was very insistent that his two sons were to go to college: one to Harvard and one to Yale.

There are pictures of the two homes where my grandfather lived while growing up in Waterville. Jonathan served in Chattanooga, Tennessee as a delegate with the United States Christian Commission during the Civil War. He pledged to serve six months on the document he signed December 9, 1864, but the war was over in four months. He was employed as a chaplain in Virginia City, Nevada in 1866 when my grandfather was born. As a result of a letter from a Mr. Brooks, formerly of Westport, he accepted an offer of a position and took a steamer south, crossing the Isthmus of Panama and taking another steamer north to San Francisco. During a stop at Mazatlan, he was shot at, but successfully took refuge behind a cotton bale. My father drove us around Virginia City in 1949, trying to find a Methodist church which we could claim for the family, but I don't remember any success. There is no mention of how long Jonathan stayed in Nevada, nor of how he got back to Maine. He undoubtedly did some silver mining while he was there.

In 1884, Jonathan and Rebecca moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, where he founded a stage coach company, Garland and Matthews, and tended five acres of orange trees on Ridgewood Avenue. These trees were killed by a severe frost, ending that phase of his career. Their son, Willie, bothered by a severe winter cough, left his job in Boston to become a stage coach driver for a few months with his father's company. Told by a native that the only way some one with a bad cough left the humid climate of Florida was in a pine box, Willie moved on to try his luck in Chicago under the aegis of his mother's relatives, the Mitchells.

The Garlands lived in Daytona Beach at "The Cedars" (444 S. Beach Street). Jonathan died there February 22, 1907 of stomach cancer. Rebecca moved to New York City to live with her daughter, Rose, in her apartment at 34 Gramercy Park, where she died of pneumonia and Bright's disease on March 10, 1909. She and her husband are buried in the Pinewood Cemetery in Daytona.

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Methodist Church in Westport George Erastus Garland (1863-1884) Olive Rose Garland (1870-1945)
Methodist Church in Westport George Erastus Garland (1863-1884) Olive Rose Garland (1870-1945)
Jonathan May Garland (1835-1907) Jonathan Garland's Commission pg 1 Jonathan Garland's Commission pg 2
Jonathan May Garland (1835-1907) Jonathan Garland's Commission pg 1 Jonathan Garland's Commission pg 2
Garland Cottage in Florida Jonathan's last postcard to his son before he died Jonathan's last postcard to his son before he died
Garland Cottage in Florida Jonathan's last postcard to his son before he died Jonathan's last postcard to his son before he died
Jonathan May Garland (1835-1907) taken in 1864 Map showing Waterville and Westport in Maine Jonathan May Garland (1835-1907) taken in 1901
Jonathan May Garland (1835-1907) taken in 1864 Map showing Waterville and Westport in Maine Jonathan May Garland (1835-1907) taken in 1901