Richard & Mary Geiger of Larimer Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania

When I was a youngster in the 1960s, my grandmother Gladys Edna (Bittner) Korns drew a family tree for me from memory that indicated my great-grandmother Mary (Geiger) Korns was a daughter of Aaron Geiger and his wife Lavina. My grandpa Irvin Henry Dietle lived on the farm that had been owned by Aaron Geiger's son Ephriam Geiger and Ephriam's wife Mary (Dietle) Geiger. That farm was located on White Oak Hollow Road 1.3-miles northeast from the White Oak Churches. The approximate location of the now-gone farmhouse is 39.78348073, -78.8966618. Grandpa Dietle had the 1890 draught of Ephriam Geiger's farm, and it showed that Ephriam's farm was located between and adjoined the property of "Aaron W. Geiger" and property that was "Formerly Richard Geiger". The obituary of Ephriam Geiger indicates that he had a sister Mrs. Mary Korns of Southampton Township, and indicates he was born on August 9th, 1859 on the farm adjacent to where he lived his married life. Taken together with what my grandmother told me, that means Ephriam was born on the farm marked "Aaron W. Geiger" on the draught of Ephriam Geiger's farm. It also tells us that the property that the property that was was "Formerly Richard Geiger" was located on the northwest side of Ephriam Geiger's farm.

The birth records of the Reichards/White Oak Church, Larimer Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania reportedly indicate that William Aaron Geiger was born on November 4, 1829 to Richard and Mary Geiger. The 1940 book "Pastors and People of Somerset Classis" reports that the first recorded list of baptisms at that church (known as Grace, White Oak in 1940) indicates that William Aaron Geiger was baptized on July 18, 1830.

A transcript of the 1817 Triennial Assessment of Southampton Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania that was performed by Jacob Martz includes a "Giger, Richard (single freeman)". The Larimer Township chapter of the 1894 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" indicates that Richard Geiger was an early settler and includes a Richard Geiger in a transcript of the 1854 Larimer Township assessor's list of taxables.

The websites I have visited indicate that the maiden name of Richard Geiger's wife Mary was Shockey, but I'm not sure I believe that. The following biography is primarily about (and is probably by) a John L. Geiger who was born on January 21, 1826, and who was a son of a Richard Geiger of Somerset County, Pennsylvania. It is from the 1892 book "Portrait and Biographical Record of Lee County, Illinois" (click here to see title page). It reports Mary's maiden name as Hess. Dan Floyd reports that the death certificate of Richard Geiger's daughter Susan also reports Mary's maiden name as Hess. I can't say for sure if this pertains to the Richard/Diederich and Mary Geiger of Larimer Township, but so far I don't know of any other early Richard Geiger in Somerset County during the first half of the 1800s, and neither does Dan Floyd.

Geiger Reference, page 217

Geiger Reference, page 218

In the December 3, 1824 inventory of the estate of Michael Korn, Sr. of Southampton Township, Richard Geiger owed the estate $2.00. At the public sale of items from the estate of Michael Korn, Sr., Richard Geiger purchased 60 bushels of Rye for $19.40 and 1 stack of hay for $4.83. These purchases are documented in the 1949 book "The Genealogy of Michael Korns, Sr. of Somerset County Pennsylvania".

The article "1837 Estates In Somerset County" in the August 1984 issue of the "Laurel Messenger" indicates that estate No. 13 of 1837 was for John Walliser of Greenville Township, and the Executors were his friend Richard Geiger and his wife Elizabeth.

In the genealogy community, many seem to believe that Richard Geiger is the Diederich J. Geiger who shares a tombstone with a wife named Mary at the White Oak Cemetery in Larimer Township. I think that belief is based on Dr. E. C. Saylor's 1936 transcript of the WPA survey of the White Oak Cemetery. According to page 5 of that transcript, "Richard (Detrich) J. Geiger died Jan 6, 1856 aged 66-11-18" and "Mary wife of R. Geiger died Nov 28, 1871 aged 72-11-26". Although the tombstone is eroded, it is still legible enough to know that Dr. Saylor's transcript is not a direct quote of the information provided on the tombstone that Diederich and Mary share. It is clear that the first line on the tombstone is "Diederich J. Geiger" and not "Richard (Detrich) J. Geiger". Somehow, Dr. Saylor had concluded that Diederich was known as Richard.

In his transcript, Dr. Saylor also reports that the oldest burial in the White Oak Cemetery is that of John R. Geiger, son of D & M Geiger, who died on October 12, 1827 at the age of 3 years, 5 months, and 9 days. The name, date, and age information on the tombstone is still quite legible in a circa 2013 photograph, and a modern tombstone that repeats the pertinent information and also incorporates the statement, "oldest known grave in cemetery". At first, it seemed suspicious that this son was named John R. Geiger, if there was already another son named John L. Geiger who was born January 21, 1826. Then I remembered seeing documentation regarding another Somerset County family where every son had the first name John.

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