Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5 v. (lvi, 2731 p., [228] leaves of plates) : ill., maps (some fold.), ports. ; 27 cm.

William Geiser

WILLIAM GEISER. An impressive illustration of what may be accomplished through industry, sobriety and persistent endeavor is furnished in the career of William Geiser, one of the well known oil producers of the Mid-Continent field and the directing head of the Geiser & Bogue Machine Shops at Neodesha. Without aid and relying solely upon his own inherent energy, perseverance and sound judgment, he has worked his way upward from the very bottom of the ladder, and has built up a business that is highly creditable to himself and the community of which he is a worthy member. While he has been so doing, Mr. Geiser has not been unmindful of the needs of the community, for on various occasions he has contributed cheerfully of his time and abilities to the furtherance of civic welfare movements, and in positions of trust has rendered services to the city of his adoption that have been of incalculable value.

Mr. Geiser was born at Sasbachwalden, Baden, Germany, May 23, 1847. His father died when he was still a small child, and when he was seven years old he was brought to the United States by his mother, Mrs. Helena Geiser, who was born in Germany and died at York, Pennsylvania, in 1886. William was the youngest of three children, the others being: Mary, deceased, who was the wife of the late Henry Schum of York, Pennsylvania; and Anthony, who still resides in that city and is now retired from active pursuits.

The family was in very modest circumstances, but the mother bravely endeavored to give her children the advantages of an education, and William was first sent to the public schools of Baltimore, Maryland, where the family settled on its arrival, and later to the York, Pennsylvania, schools. He was still little more than a lad, just entering upon his "teens" when the Civil war broke out, and he at once began importuning his mother to allow him to enlist. She would not listen to his appeals, and when he was only between fourteen and fifteen years of age he ran away from home, left his studies, and, being large for his age, succeeded in being accepted as a soldier of the Third Regiment, Maryland Volunteer Infantry, March 30, 1862. With this organization the youth bravely withstood the rigors of army life, army discipline and army experience. With it he took part in the long and dreary marches, the innumerable skirmishes, the patrols and sentry duty, and the thousand things that try the body and mind of the soldier. His battles were numerous and included some of the most important fought during the entire war, on the list appearing such formidable and sinister names as Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, Cedar Mountain, Cold Harbor, North Anna, Weldon Railroad and Poplar Grove Church. He was present at the siege of Petersburg, and one of those who took part in the charge when the beleaguered city's fortifications were blown up, July 30, 1864, and in all his engagements was always at his post of duty and gave a good account of himself as a brave and valiant soldier. He was mustered out of the service July 31, 1865.

Mr. Geiser, leaving home a boy, returned a man, hardened, experienced and with a spirit of self-reliance gained on many fields of battle where he had been compelled to test his strength against that of those who faced him. In search for employment he accepted a position with a railroad at York, Pennsylvania, but soon decided that this was not the field for him to win success in, and after nine days left and went to the oil fields. Necessarily he began life in this business in the humblest capacity, but as he learned more and more of the business he received succeeding promotions, and finally became a contractor and later a producer. He followed the industry in the Venango and Clarion County fields in Pennsylvania until 1895, when he came to Neodesha, Kansas, and here he has since been engaged, being known as one of the most prominent operators and producers here. Mr. Geiser sold the first oil to the Standard Oil Company from this field, to the fuel department of Chicago, that went to the Bolt and Nut Works, Kansas City, Missouri, this being sold by the William Geiser Oil Company, of which he was the sole owner. He now has productions north of Neodesha. Formerly Mr. Geiser was interested in the State Oil and Gas Company, the Union Oil Company, Ewers & Company, Geiser Oil Company (sole owner), Almeda Oil Company and Pen-Mar Oil Company, having been the organizer of all of these companies with the exception of the Almeda. Mr. Geiser disposed of all his interests in these companies in 1913. In 1910 he established the Geiser & Bogue Machine Shops, situated on Main and Ninth streets, Neodesha, in which he owns a three-quarters interest, in addition to being the owner of the adjoining property. This concern manufactures a patent oil barrel for the oil fields, known as the "Geiser Working Barrel," which has a large sale in the Mid-Continent and other fields. The business has grown extensively during recent years, and the company has a recognized place among business establishments of Neodesha.

Mr. Geiser is a republican and has long been prominent in the councils of his party. At various times he has been called upon to fill offices of public trust, and while a resident of Peru, Kansas, served as mayor of that city for two terms. In 1909 he was elected mayor of Neodesha, and his first term was so acceptable to the people that he received an unanimous nomination for a second term and was duly elected. After five years of worthy service, in 1914 he resigned, his business interests demanding his undivided attention. When Mr. Geiser first took up the reins of office the city, through poor administration of its affairs, was heavily in debt. His business acumen and energy not only enabled him to liquidate this indebtedness, but to secure funds for the installation of numerous improvements, in the way of paving, lighting, new schools, etc. His interest in his community has been steadfast and has been substantial in form. Mr. Geiser is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the owner of a residence at Indiana and Eighth Street, but makes his home at the Brown Hotel.

In 1872, at Oil City, Pennsylvania, Mr. Geiser was married to Miss Kate Wilson, who died in 1905, at Columbus, Ohio. In 1905 Mr. Geiser was again married, at Neodesha, Kansas, to Miss Vada Harrison of this city. They have no children.

Transcribed from volume 4, pages 2180-2181 of A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; originally transcribed October 1997 , modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.