Biography of John L. Geiger

John L. Geiger, a notable figure in the agricultural development of Nelson Township, Lee County, has transformed his 280-acre farm into a testament to diligent farming and innovation. Born in Pennsylvania in 1826 into a Lutheran family with Dutch heritage, Geiger moved to Illinois in 1853, embracing the pioneering spirit of the era. Through hard work and strategic land management, he has not only enhanced his farm’s productivity but also amassed significant wealth, including property in Dixon. Married to Anna Gregory, the couple’s life is enriched by three children, embodying the values of family, faith, and community contribution.

John L. Geiger has played an important part in the development of the agricultural resources of this county, and while thus adding to its wealth has acquired a handsome property, whereby he is enabled to live retired, although he still retains his beautiful and well-ordered farm, on section 14, Nelson Township, and makes it his home. Mr. Geiger was born in Somerset County, Pa., January 21, 1826, coming of the old Dutch stock of that State. His father, Richard Geiger, spent his whole life in Pennsylvania, dying there on the farm on which he had settled after attaining manhood, and which he had improved, his age at the time of his death being sixty-six years. He was sound in his religion and in his politics, a true Lutheran as regards the former, and a Republican in respect to the latter. He married a Somerset County lady, Mary Hess by name, who was descended from some of the early settlers of that part of Pennsylvania. She survived her husband some years, rounding out a useful life at the age of three-score years and ten. She too was a member of the Lutheran Church.

Our subject is one of eleven children, all but one of whom grew to maturity, and six of whom are still living. He lived on his father’s farm until he became of age, and the experience that he gained in all kinds of farm work was of value to him in his after career. He was ambitious and energetic by nature, with a faculty for hard and unremitting work, and wisely thinking that the broad prairies of Illinois, with their rich virgin soil, would afford an excellent field for his labors, he came hither in the fall of 1853 and identified himself with the pioneers who had previously settled in Lee County. He entered eighty acres of wild, uncultivated land, improved it and sold it advantageously, and then purchased his present farm, or a portion of it, afterward increasing it to its present size by buying additional land. In the busy years that followed, he made it into one of the best landed estates in Nelson County [sic Nelson Township]. It has an area of two hundred and eighty acres, but very little of which is not under the plow, and two good sets of comfortable and roomy farm buildings adorn the place.

Mr. Geiger has gained his wealth since he came to this county and has earned for himself a place among our moneyed men. Besides his farm, he has a valuable property on the corner of Hennepin and Ninth Streets, in Dixon, and recently spent four years in his residence in that pleasant locality. He is looked up to with great respect by his neighbors and all who know him, as his whole life bespeaks him to be a man of steadfast purpose, of good principles, and one who has kept his reputation unspotted in all his financial transactions. The Republicans of this section claim him as one of their number, while his religious affiliations are with the Lutheran Church, which he and his wife attend regularly.

Mr. Geiger was married after coming to this State in the town of Sterling to Miss Anna Gregory, and in her, he has a wife who fills in a perfect measure the office of helpmate, companion, and friend. Three children have added to their wedded happiness and make their home attractive by their presence, namely: Nellie E., a bright and well-educated young lady; and two sons, Thomas L., and Walter W.

Mrs. Geiger was born in Sullivan County, N. Y., March 9, 1852, a daughter of Ives and Mary (Davidge) Gregory, natives respectively of Hartford, Conn., and of England. Her mother had come to the United States when five years of age with her parents, who settled in Sullivan County, where she grew to womanhood and married. After marriage Mr. and Mrs. Gregory lived in that county on a farm near Liberty for thirty-five years. At the end of that time, in 1869, they migrated to Illinois and lived in Whiteside County, near Rock Falls, and there the father died February 21, 1881, when nearly seventy-five years of age. He was a Democrat in politics, and a Baptist in religion, as was his wife who survived him, dying in November 1891, and notwithstanding her advanced age, still took a deep interest in the affairs of the church. She was eighty years old March 31, 1891, and was at the time of her death quite sound physically and mentally. She made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Winfield Cone, at Thompson, Whiteside County. Mrs. Geiger is the youngest of nine children, of whom six are living, and all are married. She has four sisters, all of whom have been teachers, and one sister, who is a graduate of the Illinois State Normal School, was prominent in her profession in this State some years prior to her marriage. Mrs. Geiger was finely educated in the New York Normal School at Liberty, near her birthplace, and is a woman of superior culture. She, too, was successfully engaged in teaching before her marriage, entering upon her professional career at the age of seventeen years.


Biographical Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892.

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