The Smart Aleck – Christiane Friedericka Geiger

As I continue to work on cleaning up my tree and source citations, I will continue to transcribe write-ups for certain ancestors covered by Great-Aunt Eileen in The Smart Aleck. I have transcribed the articles for Charles Aleck, his father, Xaver, and grandfather, Lorenz. So let’s see what Eileen had on Charles’ wife, Christiane Friedericka Geiger.

Christiane was born on 9 July 1839 in Cannstatt, Wuerttemburg, Germany to Joseph Friedrich Geiger and Christiane Magdalene Eisele. In 1854, fifteen-year-old Christiane emigrated from Germany to America with her parents and sister. It took six weeks for the sailing vessel to cross the Atlantic Ocean. They settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where her father resumed his trade as a master baker. Christiane and her sister supplemented the family income by working as domestic help in the fine homes around the City.

The same year she arrived in America, she must have met Xaver who had only recently arrived in Philadelphia himself following his brief sojourn in New York. Xaver had heard of some cheap land out West and set plans in motion to provide for a future family. He had applied for his citizenship in July of 1854 and saved up money working in his old-world trade as a tailor. In March of 1855, he felt he had saved enough money and said goodbye to Christiane, boarded a train to anywhere (starting in Chicago), and went looking for a future home.

It took Xaver two to three years to find land of his choosing in Iowa, clear it, and build a rudimentary home for his future bride. In 1858, he returned to Philadelphia and filed his final papers for citizenship the following year. But before she would marry him, Christiane insisted he take not only her, but her family to Iowa, and so he did. Christiane married Xaver on 18 February 1860 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Photocopy image of their wedding picture from The Smart Aleck digitally available on Three original copies are in the possession of my father, uncle, and aunt.

From Xaver’s writeup: George Aleck, Xaver’s brother, and Johann Geiger, Christiane’s uncle, were witnesses. They had a fine wedding picture made and sent it back to Xaver’s mother, Agatha. Christiane was a small thin woman, her dark hair parted in the middle and drawn back into a bun. Her dress was black silk with long sleeves, a full pleated skirt, a white lace one, and a black tie at the neck. Xaver wore a long coat, white shirt with a high stiff collar, and a wide bow tie. The vest was piped in satin and the trousers were pin-striped with dark horizontal stripes. He is holding her left hand with the wedding ring in his right hand ready to slip it o Christiane’s finger. His long dark hair, receding at the temples, comes to the center of his ears. He is wearing side-burns, a mustache, and a beard. He would look very much in style in the 1980s [when The Smart Aleck was published].

Eileen doesn’t record when they made it back to Xaver’s homestead in Iowa, so I assume it was within the year of marriage and that their first of many children were born in Iowa. Together they had twelve children, Charles being the eighth.

By what accounts we have for review, Xaver and Christiane lived a very fulfilling life together. Christiane lost Xaver on 28 June 1903. Christiane just fell apart. She could not cope by herself. Xaver had always told her what to do. She was taken to St. Bernard’s Hospital in Council Bluffs where she died on 3 December 1903 in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa of heart failure, and is buried in the Logan Cemetery in Logan, Iowa.