EMILY GEIGER HISTORY
DAR chapters are frequently named after historic places and people
pivotal during the Revolutionary War. We are fortunate to be named after Emily Geiger,
a young woman who delivered a crucial message to General Thomas Sumter by horseback.
Emily's exploits are probably part lore and part reality. Many accounts exist
but few are well documented or verified. We don't know if she was alone or accompanied by Elizabeth Starke
nor whether she knew the message contents before she traveled.
Regardless, we give tribute to the brave American women whose deeds capture our imagination, admiration, and hearts.
She lives in our memories as a young American patriot and heroine.
"The Arrest of Emily Geiger"
The Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution; Or, Illustrations, by Pen and Pencil, of the History, Biography, Scenery, Relics, and Traditions of the War for Independence, Volume 2
By Benson J. Lossing Published December 31, 1859 Public Domain
Upcountry South Carolina. Her father's home was on the east side of the Broad River near Cedar Creek in Fairfield County, near the southern border with Richland County.
Her father was John Geiger. "A deed of sale dated 27 Mar 1759 identified Barbara Zanger as the wife of John Geiger." Some accounts identify her mother as Ann Murff Geiger (1742-1831). Emily married John Threwits, a wealthy planter who lived on the Congaree River in South Carolina in 1789 and had one daughter, Elizabeth Juliet Threwits.
c 1763 - c 1793
Her grandfather, Abraham Geiger, father of John, arrived in South Carolina on 1 Feb 1737 on the ship Prince of Wales, Capt. Dunbar, per notice in the Gazette dated 5 Feb 1737. He arrived with his wife, three sons, and a daughter, and received a land-grant of 300 acres dated 1742. Her family were German-speaking Swiss immigrants.
The family and the Geigers of South Carolina pronounced their name with the g as in "go" and the ei as in "eager."
The chapter has generally pronounced the ei like "tiger".
EMILY GEIGER'S HISTORIC RIDE
Emily Geiger was just 18 years old, and living in South Carolina, when the Revolutionary War broke out. South Carolina was largely occupied by the British. But American General, Nathaniel Greene, was camped in the area near where Emily lived with her invalid father, a fervent patriot. General Greene needed to get a message to General Thomas Sumter, asking him to join Greene so together they could mount an attack. General Greene searched for someone to carry the message through enemy territory, as Emily's father was too ill to travel. Emily offered to carry the message for General Greene in her father's place.
General Greene not only gave Emily the written message, but told her what it said, in case she was accosted. Emily left on sidesaddle, under the guise of visiting a relative. On the second day of her travels, British scouts intercepted her and escorted her to nearby Fort Granby to be questioned.
While awaiting a female Tory matron to search her, Emily tore the message into pieces and ate it. According to some accounts, Emily was accompanied by Elizabeth Starke. This account from historical letters relates the girls' decision to share eating the missive:
“Emily Geiger exploit---Rebecca Starke a sister of Robt. Starke, Jr., about 17 year old probably in 96 or Edgefield --- went with Emily Geiger -were apprehended somewhere on the way and the girls put in a room, and women sent for to search them. The girls at once opened and read the letter, so as to know its contents, tore in 2, each agreeing to eat one half of it. Emily soon made way with her portion, the other failed-when Emily the good hearted, -Dutch girl, exclaimed "Blast your dainty stomach, Rebecca Starke, give it to me and I'll eat it." And she did.”
When she was searched, there was no evidence, so she was released. Emily was able to continue her mission, and once she reached General Sumter, she recited the message. General Sumter then was able to join General Greene.
Quote directly from the "Sumpter Papers-Draper Manuscripts, South Carolina, Series VV-Vol.11-13-Military Events, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Sumpter MSS, 11-13 VV, Volume 11, Sumpter MSS, Letters to Mr. L. C. Draper"