Biography of Elias H. Geiger
FROM: History of Livingston County, New York
By James H. Smith
Assisted by Hume H. Cole
Published By D. Mason & Co. 1881


The life of Mr. Geiger is a fine illustration of what energy, honesty, industry and economy, moved by strong common sense, and unaided by wealth and influence, can attain. It proves that every young man holds in his own hands the issues of success, and that the business world is made up largely of young men, who have improved such opportunities. Elias H. Geiger was born in Northampton county, Pa., Nov. 25, 1819. His parents, John and Mary Geiger, were natives of Mt. Bethel, Pa. He was the fourth child of a family of seven children. When Elias was seven years old he sustained an irreparable loss by the death of his father, which, at that tender age, cast him out upon the world with no one to shield him from the storms of adversity. But as Providence tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, so in this case, the child found a home and protector through a farmer named Ridanour. He continued to reside with them until he was twenty years old, enjoying such advantages for an education as a limited attendance upon a common school afforded. He devoted his time and energies in aiding Mr. Ridanour in working his farm, and as he soon developed into a well-formed, strong and muscular man his services proved of great value to his employer, and he learned the art of agriculture well and practicaily and this he never has forgotten. Through all his early years he evinced a strong love of mechanism, which gravitated to the calling of a carpenter and in his twenty-first year he apprenticed himself to Mr. John Levis, a carpenter of Bethlehem, Pa., remaining with him two years and becoming a very competent carpenter and joiner. Leaving Mr. Levis, he settled at Lima. attended school there one winter and devoting himself to his studies finished a good common school education. In the following spring he removed to Dansville, where, with great energy, he entered upon the duties of his occupation. For a time he was employed by “boss” carpenters who paid him a fair salary, but at length he commenced the business of a master builder, and in his turn employed men by the day. He entered largely into the business of building dwelling houses and then selling them; many of the pleasant and commodious dwellings of Dansville having been erected by him in this way.

In 1852 he erected a steam saw-mill near Ossian Center, and such was the capacity of the mill for furnishing lumber, that the great demand for it was fully supplied. At this time the town of Ossian was, to a large extent, covered with splendid material for building purposes. A few years later he formed a co-partnership with Hon. Alonzo Bradner, in the manufacture and sale of lumber, building a large steam saw-mill near Bisbeetown in Ossian, which, in 1863, they moved two miles west of Ossian Center on Sugar creek. This relation continued with great pecuniary success to both parties about six years, when it terminated by mutual consent. Mr. Geiger’s wealth continued to increase until he became one of the largest lumber dealers in the county. In 1865 he erected a large steam saw-mill not far from Canaseraga. This mill is now in successful operation, turning out a large amount of lumber. In 1871 he built another large steam saw-mill, near his present home in the town of Ossian. In politics Mr. Geiger is a Democrat, though always at his post of duty as a voter, he never sought office. Forty years ago he united with the Lutheran church at Dansville, and has since been an unassuming and exemplary member of that church. Tested by the standard of those the world calls learned, Mr. Geiger is no scholar, but tried by what people call safe, practical, and useful, he certainly is learned. February 22, 1844, he was united in marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of William and Susan Gilger Haas. She was born in Northumberland county. Pa., July 11, 1820, and moved with her parents to Dansville in 1823, where she was subsequently married. This union has been in every sense a happy one, as Mrs. G. possesses all those amiable and attractive qualities which constitute the true, faithful and affectionate wife. Through all her married life she has been an intelligent, useful counsellor and advisor. Her father died in Dansville, December 8, 1873. Her mother is still living at the advanced age of 81 years. Mr. Geiger’s mother died at Hazelton, Luzerne county, Pa., in 1871.

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