Select Geary Miscellany



Here are some Geary stories and accounts over the years:


Geary Origins in Ireland


The O'Ghadra clan first emerged in county Sligo.  They were descended from Tiachleach, Lord of South Leyney, who was killed in 946.  They were closely assoiated with the O'Haras from an early time and the chiefs of the two septs alternated as rulers of Luighne. 

The Leyney territory in Sligo was the early center of the family and by the 13th century the O'Garas, as they were then called, has possessed themselves of the eastern part of the barony of Costello in Mayo county.  Their castle was Moygara on the shore of the lake still called Lough Gara.  Two archbishops of Tuam in Galway were O'Garas.

A branch of the Mayo sept moved to West Munster and there the name became Geary. 


William and Elizabeth Geary - from Ireland to London


William and Elizabeth Geary had emigrated from Ireland in 1818 as part of a group known as Richard Talbot's Settlers.  Talbot, a relative of Thomas Talbot who distributed land west of London, had obtained land north of London in Middlesex.  Geary was dsignated a "gentleman" on this list of settlers. 

He chose the north half of Lot 14, Concession 5, and built a home called Wilton Cottage.  Their five children helped develop the area in what was then open country.  Sons John and William built log cabins and constructed roads and bridges for the early settlers of Adelaide township (now the London suburb of Northdale).

Later Gearys prospered in business, in London and elsewhere.  John's son Robert inherited 100 acres after his father's death in a buggy accident in 1873.  He built there "a handsome two-storey brick pleasantly located in a grove of forest trees."  This Geary house has subsequently had just two owners, the Rubinoffs and, since 1956, the Pooles.


John and Sophia Geary - from Leicestershire to Utah

John Geary was born to a well-to-do family in Atterton, Leicestershire.  He married well and practiced law in London. 

However, his and his wife's lives were to change after an elder from the Mormon church knocked on his door in London one day in 1851.   They subsequently attended many meetings of the church and soon both he and Sophia were baptized.  This caused "such a commotion" that his Geary family turned them out "without a single copper."  They also "disowned him entirely and wished never to see him again."  John and Sophia became fugitives, John even having to shave his head in disguise.

They went to Liverpool where church members took them in, and John worked on the docks at night loading and unloading freight to pay for the passage to America.  They then crossed the Atlantic to New Orleans, made their way up the Mississippi River, and then crossed over to Council Bluffs, Iowa (where a son was born and died).  They finally arrived in Salt Lake valley through the snows in late 1856.

Sophia Geary wrote in her diary:

"After a long pull and a strong pull and a pull all together, we have managed to fight our way through rivers, roads, creeks, over hills, and dales and snpw, and everything else which is good and bad.  I am thankful we are here."


John White Geary

John White Geary cut an interesting figure.  Born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania  in 1819, he stood six foot five and 1/2 half inches tall and weighed at least 200 pounds.  Photographs show Geary with a full and luxuriant beard; which he kept black with a preparation that some say led to his death by poisoning in 1873.  Deeply religious, Geary was a teetotaler and abolitionist who would do anything to serve his country and maintain the Union.  But he also sported a very bad temper, was egotistical to a fault, and was a tireless self-promoter.

After fighting in the Mexican war, Geary moved his family to San Francisco where President James K. Polk appointed him as the city's postmaster.  In 1850, he became the city's first mayor and spent two stormy years doing things his own way, then returned home to Pennsylvania because his wife had become deathly ill.  She passed away in 1853.

Three years later, Geary accepted President Pierce's offer to become governor of the bloody Kansas territory. Although a Democrat, Geary opposed slavery, which made him a target of repeated threats of assassination. Geary resigned in 1857 when James Buchanan became president, and returned to Pennsylvania where he farmed, practiced law, and remarried in 1858.

When the Civil War began, Geary got himself commissioned a colonel and raised the fifteen-company 28th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry regiment. Promoted to brigadier general in early 1862, he was seriously wounded at the Battle of Cedar Mountain.  He returned to duty as commander of the Second Division, Twelfth Corps. and was to lead his division in the fighting at Lookout Mountain, throughout the lengthy campaign for Atlanta, Sherman's March to the Sea, and into the Carolinas in 1865.



A Tale of Two Convicts

There were two William Gearys transported to Australia of which we have significant records.  It is important not to confuse them because their experiences in Australia were completely different and their outcomes were different.

The first William Geary arrived in Sydney on the Surrey in 1814.  He was a violent man who escaped twice from prison.  The second time he was at large for two years, the leader of a notorious gand of bushrangers. He was eventually captured and executed. The following is this William Geary's trail through Australia according to the official documentation:

1814      
On list of convicts diembarked from the Surrey and forwarded to Windsor for distribution.
1817
Prisoner at Newcastle.  Stabbed two men.  Thought to be insane.
1819
Runaway from Newcastle.  Recaptured (sentenced to 100 lashes).

Planned a murder in Newcastle so that he could be sent to Sydney.
1821
Leader of bushrangers.  Recaptured.

Escaped from Sydney jail.

Recaptured and executed.

The second William Geary, a framework knitter from Nottingham, had an unpromising start, being holed up in a hilk on the Thames for almost two years.  He eventually arrived in Tasmania on the Jupiter in 1833.  But he served out his sentence without problem and joined a whaling fleet.  The captain of the whaling fleet then helped him set up in New Zealand.  He married a local Maori girl there and became a successful farmer in South Island.



Francis Geary - Native of Ratby

Imagine children playing where cars now scream along the M1, where a horse called 'Captain' used to give three boys a lift to the field before ploughing - Francis Geary, the ex 'bowser boy,' gave his remembered account about climbing around Tigermoth 'planes until two o'clock in the morning and diving "under the table" when a stray wartime bomb went off nearby ... "all the bums sticking out from underneath this table - it was quite a laugh really."

On his bike as a twelve year old paper boy Francis used to cycle daily from Ratby to Groby, Newtown Linford and Woodhouse Eaves, often delivering telegrams to the WAFF's and WAC's at the wartime airbase.  Recalling how Newtown Lane used to be a lonely stretch with no houses, Francis described some of the changes that have happened in the landscape around the Ratby area in the last 60 years. 

Do you find yourself quoting the age old refrain: 'kids wouldn't have acted like that in my day.'  Well perhaps things haven't changed that much as Francis 'confessed' to getting "chucked out of the Scouts for fighting."




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