The frosts of sixty-eight winters have whitened the hair of Mr. Geiger, but in mind and body he is still vigorous and capa ble. His maternal grandparents were German. His father's people were of South Carolina, but of German extraction.
His father, John Geiger, was born and raised in Martinsburg, Virginia, but became a resident of Maryland. He became a soldier in the war of 1812. Shortly after the war closed he removed to the southern part of Bedford county, Pennsylvania. Exposure and hardships incident to army life brought on pleurisy, progressing with consumption, and terminating in death about 1825 or 1826. He was not a strong man at any time.
His wife, Elizabeth Kable, sons and daughters, after remaining in Hancock, Maryland, a few years, settled in Marion county, Ohio, where she, her sons (but John) and one daughter, have since died. John Geiger was born in Williamsport, Maryland, January 15, 1814, while his father was yet fighting the British. He was quite young when his parents moved to Bedford county. There, on the Little Licking river, under the shadow of one of the high eastern ridges of the Allegheny mountains, he passed his youth till seventeen years of age.
He says, in speaking of his school days : "Naturally studious and of a somewhat retentive memory, I led my friends and teachers to think me precocious. So I was unmercifully pushed deep into the intricate parts of arithmetic before twelve years old. But by the imperfect methods of teaching that prevailed at that time, I understood nothing of consequence beyond the operations of the ground rules." He further says: "Aided by some adverse circumstances, I escaped further attendance at school until nineteen vears of age."'
In 1831.young Geiger, in company with his oldest sister and her husband, Daniel Linn, crossed the Allegheny mountains via the national turnpike road to Ohio, assisting at times in caring for the team or driving. At that time the northwest and much of the interior of the state was wild and thinly settled. A new country presented dreary prospects to a lad seventeen years old, with naught of wealth to assist. But the love and good counsel of his mother were free. He began to plan and do for himself. He worked at whatever might offer, farmina: principally, although alternated with work in the stone quarry. Means of transportation were meager, oxen furnishing the larger part of the motive power. Wages were low, so that money making was tedious. His love for study continued unabated.
He attended school part of two or three terms, near Caledonia, Ohio, finishing arithmetic and gaining a fair knowledge of grammar and geography. His study of school books was interspersed with perusal of such works as natural philosophy, chemistry, astronomy, Goldsmith's Greece and Rome, Waison's Institutes, Playfair's Euclid, Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding, Good's Book of Nature, Butler's Analogue, Watts on the Mind, and other solid reading. In 1836, after five years' labor and economy, he had saved $200 in silver. This he expended in a quarter section of heavily timbered congress land, in Whitley county, Indiana.
During the ensuing winter he taught school in Huntington, remaining in the county one year, making improvements on his purchase. Land speculation at the date of his buying was at its height, but the crash of 1837 depreciated values leaving much land nearly worthless. After keeping his farm thirteen years and expending much labor on it, he sold just before the rise in prices caused by the railroad excitement. Mr. Geiger still made his home in Ohio, where he was much employed as an accountant in auditors' offices for a series of years, and in some four different counties.
Feeling the necessity, from experience, of some tables for computing taxes, he, in 1847, compiled and printed a small book of tables. This was sold almost exclusively in Ohio. In 1854 he prepared a much fuller work. This being too expensive for his limited means he memorialized the Ohio legislature, obtaining an appropriation of $3,500, to enable him to publish his work with dispatch, the state taking 300 copies in consideration of the appropriation.
The edition of 800 copies was sold mostly in Ohio. Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Minnesota. Mr. Geigers other literary work has embraced a few lectures, essays, poems, etc., some of which have appeared in the columns of the press. In politics he has been an unfaltering democrat through life. His first political activity was corresponding for Sam. Medary's "Ohio Statesman," in 1840, when he had the opportunity of seeing and hearing some of the greatest platform orators known to the public. In 1850 he became editor-in-charge of the "Mount Gilead Messenger," continuing a short time during the compromise session of congress of 1849 and 1850, and the canvass for the Ohio constitution of 1850.
Prosperity crowned the efforts of the industrious, so that in 1852 Mr. Geiger was able to purchase 1,000 acres of land in Mercer county, Illinois, buying in a body in Greene and Preemption townships, to which several hundred acres were added in 1853. In 1854 he planted five or six miles of osage orange fence, built plank fences, tenant houses, and made other improvements looking to its occupation as a grain and stock farm.
May 27, 1858, he was married at Wabash, Indiana, to Mrs. Martha P. Arthur, widowed daughter of the late Judge Parish, of Columbus, Ohio, a union that has ever been happy. With his wife and her two children, O. P. Arthur and the present Mrs. James H. Connell, he moved to hiis Illinois farm in October of the same year.
He carried on the grain and stock business till 1858, when he settled in Aledo. He still owns part of his farm. Since his residence in Aledo he has been successfully conducting the Aledo "Banner" and the Aledo "Democrat," some account of which appears in the history of Aledo. He also superintends his farm. Officially he has occupied a few local positions, but has more frequently declined than accepted opportunities as candidate for such honors. Without intending any special laudation it is but proper to say that Mr. Geiger's life has been one of success, and may teach to poor boys the lesson so often repeated, that even though poverty may be their lot in youth, they may, if willing to try, rise and become useful citizens.
History of Mercer and Henderson County
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