Emily Geiger

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Emily Geiger
Born 1765
Lexington District, South Carolina
Died 1825
Spouse(s) John Threwits
Children Elizabeth Juliet Threwits

Emily Geiger is an American Revolutionary War heroine who was captured by the Tories while on a military mission as a civilian. She was carrying an important message across enemy grounds when she was captured and questioned. The Tory matron could find nothing on her because she memorized the message then physically ate the message, so they had to let her go. She proceeded to verbally deliver the message.

Family History[edit]

Emily’s family was from the village of Wydnau, Zurich Switzerland. Her great grandfather, Hans Jacob and grandfather, Herman, left Switzerland on December 5, 1736 and arrived in Charleston, SC on February 1, 1737 aboard “The Prince of Wales”. The family settled in Saxe Gotha, Lexington District, South Carolina.[1] Her father was John Geiger and her mother was Emily Murff. The family and the Geigers of South Carolina pronounced their name with the G as in "go" and the EI as in "eager." She was an only child. She married John Threwits. She had one daughter named Elizabeth Juliet Threwits.[2]

Revolutionary War Involvement[edit]

Due to Emily's father's infirmities, he could not go to the battlefield, so when the opportunity to deliver a very important message for General Nathaniel Greene across enemy grounds arose, Emily jumped at the chance to serve for her country and defend her father's beliefs. The general, both surprised and delighted, consented to her proposal. He wrote a letter and gave it to Emily, and at the same time communicated the content of it verbally, to be told to Sumter in case of accidents and/or capture. Emily pursued her journey on horseback on a sidesaddle. She traveled under the disguise of being on her way to her Uncle Jacob's house many miles away. But on the second day, Lord Rawdon's scouts near the Congaree River intercepted her. Coming from the direction of Greene's army and not being able to lie without blushing, Emily was suspected and confined to a room. The officer had an old Tory matron search Emily. When they weren't looking, she tore the message to pieces and ate it all. When the matron went to search her, they found nothing. They let her go and had someone accompany her on her journey to her Uncle Jacob's house. Once she arrived there, she made her way to Sumter and delivered the message verbally.[3]

Burial[edit]

Emily's grave marker was moved to the Geiger Cemetery in 1958. The State newspaper stated on April 13, 1958 that "A granite marker to Herman Geiger, a pioneer citizen of the Congaree area, is to be dedicated at 3:30 p.m. May 11 [1958] at the Geiger (formerly Tyler Field) Cemetery. This historic spot is near the line between Calhoun and Lexington counties, on the Calhoun side, a quarter of a mile west of U.S. Highway 176 on a county road half-way between Geiger's store and the county line."[4]

Memorials[edit]

Two South Carolina chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution have been named for her, but only one is currently in existence. That chapter is based in Bluffton, SC, and has members from Bluffton, Hilton Head Island, and other areas of Beaufort County. To honor Emily and commemorate her heroic ride, the woman holding the laurel branch on the South Carolina State Seal is designated as Emily Geiger.[5] There are also monuments to her at the Cayce, South Carolina history museum and at the South Carolina state house (Capitol).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Geiger, Percy. The Geigers of South Carolina. 1st ed. Madison, Wisconsin: A Press, 2007. 191. Print.
  2. ^ Geiger, Percy. The Geigers of South Carolina. 1st ed. Madison, Wisconsin: A Press, 2007. 191. Print.
  3. ^ Chadwick, Patricia. " Emily Geiger: Teenage Revolutionary War Heroine ." n. pag. History. Web. 28 September 2011. <http://www.historyswomen.com/earlyamerica/EmilyGeiger.html>.
  4. ^ Cain, L.M. State newspaper 13 04 1958. 12-A. Print.
  5. ^ Hudsick, Lydia. "Emily Geiger DAR." South Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution. 3 October 2009. Web. 22 September 2011. <http://scdar.org/emily_geiger_dar.htm>.