Christoph Geist Genealogy

From: The Geist Relation by Frank Geist, published in 1940:

This Christoph Geist was the great-grandfather of Mrs. Amelia Geist-Erdman and she being an Aunt to the writer has told him many interesting things, and who knew nothing but the Pennsylvania German Language, would refer to this ancestor in a broken English as “Christo” or “Christel” from “Gomery Co.” meaning Christoph Geist from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

He did not come to America on account of persecution, although that may have had some influence, but he came for the purpose of mining copper along the Perikomen Creek in Philadelphia County – now Montgomery County. A piece of this copper ore out of the pits which he had in his care at one time is held by the writer as a token from our Ancestor. The writer had the privilege to visit and see these pits and tunnel twice.

Christoph Geist was born in the State of Würtemburg, Germany in 1717. The month and day we do not know, neither the place of his birth. In his younger days he learned to be a mineralogist. In 1720 copper was discovered in the northern part of Philadelphia County – now Montgomery County – and this was developed by the Perkiomen Mining Company who had a great deal of trouble to extract the copper from the rocks. They had different people trying it and eventually they sent a challenge to Germany for some men who could do this work. Christoph Geist accepted the challenge and came to America, took charge of the copper mines but the extraction of the copper was never successful in the colony. They sent some of the copper ore on the backs of mules to Philadelphia, a distance of about thirty-five miles, there they loaded it on vessels which took the ore to England. The English had a process to extract this copper but they would not tell the Germans how to go about it. Some of these copper ore laden ships were lost at sea and eventually the idea of mining copper and of shipping ore to England was abandoned.

Christoph Geist left Würtemburg, Germany, and went down the Rhine River by boat on his way to Holland. Going down the Rhine there were no less than twenty-six custom houses and it took from five to six weeks to get to Holland. At each custom house the boats were stopped and had to be inspected by the custom house officials who would do it at their convenience, and this cause the long delay in reaching Holland and at the same time was expensive to travelers. When finally they reached Holland they were again held back for weeks before getting passage to England. All these delays were on purpose to get the passengers to spend their money. After they received their passage papers in Holland they either left for Rotterdam or Amsterdam but mostly from the former place.

They now sailed for Dover, England, where the ships were equipped for the journey across the Atlantic. The sufferings of these early emigrants on such a trip was tremendous. They had no good drinking water, nor the proper food, nor the medical attention they should have had and after a disease broke out in one of these groups of emigrants, it was very severe. The ship on which Christoph Geist came was called “Lydia,” had seventy-one passengers on and was commanded by James Allen.

Captain James Allen had to take an oath before the Supreme Court on the same day they arrived that the list of names of passengers was correct. They landed on September 27th, 1740, on the banks of the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Christoph Geist and all the other passengers but nine took the oath of allegiance to the King of England on the same day they landed. On the same day sixty-four out of the seventy-one took a similar oath to be loyal to the Province of Pennsylvania. Christoph Geist was one of the sixty-four and thereby became a loyal citizen of Pennsylvania and a subject to the King of England. He signed his own name in German in both affidavits. The names of the people witnessing the signing of the affidavits are also given. The Captain of the ship spelled Christoph’s last name “Kyst,” but he wrote it plainly as G-E-I-S-T. The place where these people took their oaths an thereby became English subjects and Americans took place on High Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is now Market Street and the Custom House was between Second and Third Streets on Market.

Now we have our Ancestor Christoph Geist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as an American citizen, and he starts out as a pioneer, settling in Frederick Township, Philadelphia County – now Montgomery County – and taking charge of the copper mines. He was instrumental in locating a number of these copper mines and pits from which the ore was taken. He was a young man of twenty-three years where he came to America and after he had located himself at the copper mines for a couple of years, he married. His wife’s name was Anna Margaretha ________, but her last name was never found. They had a family of nine children, eight boys and one girl. They were:

  1. Conrad Geist
  2. Christopher Geist
  3. Mathias Geist
  4. John Geist
  5. Andrew Geist
  6. Elizabeth Geist
  7. Samuel Geist
  8. Valentine Geist
  9. George Geist

Besides following the mining business he also became a farmer and tradition tells us that while out in the harvest field cutting grain, he hurt himself and this injury caused his death. He died in 1766 at the age of forty-nine years, ten years before the Revolutionary War broke out. Farming at that time was a hard job as everything had to be done by hand work. The grain had to be cut with the sickle, the grass with the scythe, the plowing and harrowing with plows and harrows which today are shown as souvenirs or early farming. Their new fields were just cleared of the woods and had plenty of stumps and rocks in them for these pioneers to cultivate around them and finally had to get them out of the way by digging them out or blasting them.

Christoph Geist’s burial place is not exactly known. Some of his children were confirmed and admitted into the Reformed Church at Falckner Swamp Church and chances are that he is buried there but has no tombstone.