Ralph Carey Geer

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Ralph Carey Geer
Ralph C. Geer.jpg
Member of the Oregon Territorial Legislature
In office
Constituency Marion County
County Clerk
In office
July 1868 – June 1870
Constituency Marion County
Personal details
Born March 13, 1816
Windham County, Connecticut
Died January 9, 1895(1895-01-09) (aged 78)
Waldo Hills, Oregon
Spouse(s) Mary Catherine Willard
Relations Homer Davenport

Ralph Carey Geer (March 13, 1816 – January 9, 1895) was an American farmer and politician in what became the state of Oregon. A native of Connecticut, he lived in Ohio and Illinois before taking the Oregon Trail west to Oregon where he started a nursery and later raised livestock and grew flax. At times a Republican and later a Democrat, he served in the Oregon House of Representatives and as the clerk for the county. He was related to both Homer Davenport and T. T. Geer.

Early life[edit]

Ralph Geer was born in Windham County, Connecticut, on March 13, 1816, to Joseph Carey Geer, Sr. and Mary Johnson Geer.[1] The family moved to Madison County, Ohio, when he was still a boy.[2] On January 8, 1837, he married Mary Catherine Willard there, and they had five children.[2] Geer and his wife moved west to Farmington in Knox County, Illinois, after they were married and lived there for ten years.[2] In 1847, Geer and his family immigrated to the Oregon Country over the Oregon Trail.[3]

Geer settled east of Salem in the Waldo Hills and began building a nursery using seedlings he carried with him over the Oregon Trail.[1] His nursery started with pears and apples.[1] In 1848, during the Cayuse War against Native Americans in retaliation for the Whitman Massacre, Geer served as captain of a company of men protecting the Willamette Valley.[1] In March, he led those troops into battle at the Battle of Abiqua Creek.[4] Also that year he worked as a teacher.[1] Geer imported English sheep to Oregon in 1858 and later became an early farmer of flax in the Willamette Valley.[1]

Political career[edit]

In 1854, he was elected to the Oregon Territorial Legislature to represent Marion County.[5] He served during the 1854 to 1855 session in the lower House of Representatives.[5] In July 1868, he was elected to the office of county clerk for Marion County.[6] Geer served in that office for a single term, leaving in June 1870.[6] Originally a Republican, he later switched party affiliations to the Democratic Party.[2]

Later years and family[edit]

Ralph Geer was the uncle of Oregon Governor Theodore Thurston Geer.[7] He was also the grandfather of political cartoonist Homer Davenport.[1] Ralph Carey Geer died in the Waldo Hills on January 9, 1895, at the age of 79 and was buried at Mt. Hope Pioneer Cemetery east of Salem in the Waldo Hills.[8] Geer's house, still located on his original Donation Land Claim is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the R. C. Geer Farmhouse.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Corning, Howard M. Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing, 1989. p. 97.
  2. ^ a b c d Marion County Record, January 11, 1895, 8:3.
  3. ^ Waite, E. M. (1880). "Occasional Address for the Year 1847". Transactions of the Ninth Annual Re-union of the Oregon Pioneer Association for 1879. Salem, Oregon: Steam Printer and Bookbinder, Oregon Pioneer Association. pp. 32–42. 
  4. ^ Down, Robert Horace. The Battle of the Abiqua — March 5, 6, 1848. A History of Silverton Country. Berncliff Press, Portland, Oregon.
  5. ^ a b 1854 Regular Session (6th Territorial). Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on December 22, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Bell, Sue. Marion County Commissioners. Salem Online History, Salem Public Library. Retrieved on December 22, 2008.
  7. ^ Geer, Theodore Thurston. Fifty Years in Oregon: Experiences, Observations, and Commentaries Upon Men, Measures, and Customs in Pioneer Days and Later Times. The Neale publishing company, 1912. p. 235.
  8. ^ Geer, Ralph Carey. Mt. Hope Pioneer Cemetery. Retrieved on December 22, 2008.