William J. Geisel

William J. Geisel, to a short sketch of whose life the attention of the reader is now directed, is well-known as one of Hancock county's most successful farmers and the owner of one of its most beautiful and complete farm homes. William J. Geisel has a wide acquaintance throughout this section and is known as a man of high ideals and liberal views, who stands for the highest and best in all that relates to private and public life.

William J. Geisel was born on Davidson street, In Indianapolis, Indiana, November 8, 1869, a son of Christina and Matilda (Ruschaupt) Geisel. Christina Geisel was born in Hesse-Dermstadt, Germany, February 5, 1838, in the village of Wollenroth, a son of Conrad Geisel. Conrad Geisel was born in that same place about 1800, and there he grew to manhood and was married. When a young man he was a shepherd and took care of his father's large and valuable flock. While still a young man he and his wife, with their family of four children, set sail for America. They crossed on one of the old slow-going sailing vessels, the voyage requiring three months, and they finally landed at the port of Baltimore. That was in 1840 and they immediately engaged a team and wagon to transport them to their destination in Hancock county. After several weeks of arduous traveling, they reached their journey's end, and here Conrad Geisel bought forty acres about one and one-half miles west of New Palestine. The farm at that time was practically virgin forest, there being but three to five acres cleared and the only buildings a log cabin and a stable. Conrad Geisel bravely set about making a comfortable home in the wilderness and later erected a hewed-log house of four or five rooms, which is standing today in an excellent state of preservation, owing to his skill as a builder. Here Conrad Geisel lived the balance of his life, with the exception of a short time spent at the home of his son, John, on an adjoining farm. Conrad Geisel died in 1884 at the age of about eighty-four years, having survived his wife some ten or twelve years. Conrad Geisel and wife were the parents of nine children, namely: Henry, Catherine, John, Christian, Elizabeth, Conrad, Mary, George and Henry.

Christian Geisel, father of William J., grew up on the family homestead in Sugar Creek township, receiving such education as the schools of this section at that time afforded, and at the age of eighteen started out in life for himself. For a time he was employed for many years in that capacity by Mr. Helwig, a contractor. He later was employed by the old "Bee Line" Railroad, now a part of the New York Central system, and in time became foreman of the car-building department. It was while he was living in Indianapolis that William J. was born. In 1881 Christian Geisel moved to Sugar Creek township and took possession of the farm of eighty acres which he owned there. This was situated about three miles northwest of New Palestine, and some eighteen months later he moved to "Poplar Grove Farm", containing one hundred and fifty-four acres and located in Franklin township, Marion county. On that farm he made his home from 1883 to the spring of 1908, when he retired from active labor and moved to New Palestine, where he has since resided. Christina Geisel won a gratifying degree of success in life, at one time owning one hundred acres of land in Hamilton county, eighty in Hancock county and one hundred and fifty-four in Marion county, besides city property in Indianapolis. Christian Geisel has been a widower since the death of his wife, July 8, 1913. He is still a member of Zion Evangelical Lutheran church, in Indianapolis, where both he and his wife attended for many years. In politics, Christina Geisel is a Democrat, although devoting no especial attention to that question.

William J. Geisel is one of a family of three children and the youngest. Edward resides in New Palestine and Amelia, deceased, was the wife of Ben Scheldmier and the mother of four children, Matilda, Edward, Frederick William and Benjamin. William J. Geisel received his earliest education in the public schools of Indianapolis, his first teacher being a Miss Lloyd. When he was eleven years of age his parents came to Sugar Creek township, and he them attended the schools of New Palestine and Poplar Grove. After his school days were over he became the assistant of his father in the farm work, remaining under the parental roof until twenty-six years of age. He started out in life for himself without any capital, but with a large amount of ambition and energy. He bought his first farm of sixty-nine acres without having a cent of money for it and by dint of hard work and excellent management he succeeded in paying for this place. He farmed that for a number of years and also his father's farm of one hundred and fifty-four acres. With the help of his father he erected a beautiful home of thirteen rooms on his farm, the heavy timbers for which he procured from his own land. He also built two fine barns, one eighty by fifty-four feet and the other forty-eight by forty-two feet, at the same time putting up other buildings in keeping with the style of residence and barns. William J. continued to make his home on his farm until 1908, having two years previous to that time sold his land to the Big Four Railroad Company and continued thereon as a renter. His father, also, at the same time, sold his farm of one hundred and fifty-four acres, and William J. Geisel, in September, 1906, purchased a farm of two hundred and twenty-nine acres in Sugar Creek township, Hancock county, where he has since made his home. Since taking possession of his new farm, Mr. Geisel has greatly improved the place. The residence he has made into a beautiful and modern home of ten rooms, has improved and enlarged the barn until it now has a floor space of eighty by thirty-three feet with an "L" fifty-six by thirty-eight feet. He has a combination corn crib and carriage house, a workshop sixty-five by twenty-five feet and a splendid hog house with cement floor and a large corn crib above. This hog barn is twenty-eight by forty-eight feet and is one of the most complete and perfectly designed in the county. There are also other buildings in perfect keeping with the surroundings. William J. Geisel is a strong advocate of diversified farming and usually puts fifty acres to corn, averaging about fifty bushels to the acre, and puts in from sixty to seventy-five acres to small grains. He has ready for the market on an average of seventy-five hogs each year, favoring a pure strain of Poland Chinas, and feeds out eight to ten head of cattle, keeping from twenty-five to thirty head on hand. These are purebred Shorthorns and Durhams, while his horses, of which he has ten to twelve head, are excellent Percheron draft horses. Mr. Geisel is highly successful in his chosen line and attributes his success to careful management and untiring energy.

When twenty-seven years of age, Willliam J. Geisel was married, in Indianapolis, to Anna L. Neuerburg, born in that city, October 1, 1876, a daughter of Leonard and Chrisina (Deitz) Neuerburg, the former a native of Alsace-Lorraine, and the latter born in Marion county, this state, of German parentage. To William J. Geisel and wife have been born four children, namely: Robert William, born on April 21, 1898; Gertrude, July 11, 1903; Leonard Christian, February 5, 1908, and Ruth, March 3, 1910. Mr. Geisel votes independently, voting always for the worthy candidate rather than supporting any one party's ticket.

Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Pages 1149-1152.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI November 28, 2001.

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