Mrs. T. S. Crayton
South Carolina 1933
The Legend of Emily Geiger
In June, 1871, when Greene retreated from Ninety Six, placing the Saluda and Enoree rivers between himself and Lord Rawdon, it became necessary to send a message to Sumpter. He was puzzled, for Sumpter's camp was a hundred miles away and the region between swarmed with British and Tories.
In the neighborhood of Green's camp lived John Geiger, a well-to-do Whig, but bedridden with disease, who had a daughter eighteen years old named Emily. Having been reared on the frontier, Emily Geiger was strong, daring, and self-reliant, and she was accustomed to riding long distances alone. Someone having told her of Greene's perplexity, she went to him and boldly offered to carry the message. She believed that a woman might be able to pass where a man could not.
Greene accepted the offer, and the young woman with a letter to Sumpter hidden in the bosom of her dress, set out. At her father's farm she changed her saddle to the best horse on the premises and rode on. But very near the Geiger's there lived a Tory named Lowry. This man, while pretending to be a non-combatant, was really in the pay of the British and kept several men in Greene's camp to spy on the Americans.
It was only four hours after Emily's departure when one of these spies reached Lowry's with intelligence of all that had happened. Lowry ordered the fellow to pursue her immediately. The spy said that the girl was so well mounted that he could scarcely hope to overtake her, but Lowry brought out the best horse in his own stable and urged him to hurry on.
Then a thrilling race began. Emily was riding rapidly and the spy was spurring a good horse on to overtake her. But when evening came on and his horse began to tire, the spy thought of another plan. In the neighborhood which he had reached there lived another of Lowry's spies, named Billy Mink. Billy Mink had an excellent horse, so he went to Mink's house and told him to take up the chase on a fresh horse, and Mink, remembering that the girl did not know she was being pursued, resolved to ride rapidly to a settlement where he thought she would spend the night. Emily, however, did not care to expose herself to the questions that might be asked her in the village, so instead of stopping there, she circled it widely. Finally, being almost exhausted, she stopped at a house. She told. the people there that she was trying to get to the house of a man named Ellwood, who lived ten miles further on. The man of the house was a Tory, but he knew and liked John Geiger, and when they learned that the wayfarer was Geiger's daughter, both he end his wife insisted that she stop and spend the night with them. "Yes," said the kindhearted woman, "if you were the daughter of my worst enemy you should have food and shelter."
They cared for the tired girl. Her horse was stabled and fed, and she was given supper and a bed. She had been asleep about too hours when she was awakened by the hoofbeats of a galloping horse. Billy Mink, having failed to find her at the village, was hurrying to this place.
She sat up in bed. She heard a loud helloo and then she heard the front door open. She heard voices. Billy Mink was asking for her, and her host, torn between hospitality and allegiance to Lowry, was making a stammering and evasive answer. Then, through the window, Emily saw Mink dismount and enter the house. Quietly she dressed herself, tiptoed across the floor of her room, and crawled out of the window. A dog appeared, but she patted its head and it did not bark. She reached the stables, and by the light of the risen moon she found her saddle and bridle. Stealthily she brought out her horse and mounted, and then, going through the ploughed fields so that the hoofbeats might not be heard, she rode away. As soon as she reached the road she pressed on until she reached Elwood's house.
Elwood was a Whig, and at his house she ate breakfast and rested for an hour. A fresh horse was given her here and she rode on. At one place a bridge was gone and she swam her horse across the river. Toward evening, as she rounded a bend in the road, she came suddenly upon three men who wore the British uniform. Being too near them for flight, she attempted to pass them, hoping that they would mistake her for some country girl of the neighborhood, but they noticed her tired horse and halted her.
She was taken to the headquarters of Lord Rawdon, who questioned her. She said she was on her way to visit a friend who lived about six miles distant. Something about her, however, stirred Rawdon's suspicions, and he ordered her confined in a room until a woman could be brought to search her. As soon as she was alone she began to think of some plan for destroying the letter. She might tear it up, but the pieces would still be there. She began to eat it.
It was a dry morsel, and before she could finish she heard the woman coming.. She threw herself downward across the bed and began to sob holding her hands to her face, and while she cried she chewed and swallowed the remainder of the paper. Then the woman searched her and found nothing, of course. Then she was taken back to Rawdon; he was profuse in his apologies and sent an escort with her to the house of her friend. As soon as the escort was gone, with a fresh horse again and her friend's husband as a guide, she set out to find Sumpter. And it was just about that time that Billy Mink, riding a horse white with perspiration, galloped up to Rawdon's door.
But Emily Geiger was gone, and at three o'clock that afternoon she gave Sumpter, verbally, the message which Greene had written.
Mrs. T. S. Crayton
Cateeche Chapter (D.A.R.)
Copied from papers of Mrs. Annie Wolfe Roof by Sara Texas (Geiger-Geiger) January 30, l965
Mrs. Annie Wolfe Roof (Daughter of Frederica Geiger & J. Archibald Wolfe)
Alexander Milburn Geiger (Son of Lellan Caughman and Alexander Geiger)
William Henry Geiger ( " " Sara Texas Geiger & William Muller Geiger)
Sara Anne Geiger (Daughter of " " " " " " " )
|Return to Emily Geiger Outline|
|Return to Women of the Revolution in South Carolina|
|Return to SC Revolutionary War Outline Page|
This material was graciously submitted by Ms. Sara Texas Geiger-Geiger for inclusion on this web page at my request. All material so attributed to her is copyright ©2000 Ms. Sara Texas Geiger-Geiger, all rights reserved. Many thanks to Helen Skinner for obtaining and mailing this material!
I have run these copies through my OCR software, and all digitization errors are my errors alone, and are not to be attributed to the original authors. Please tell me where you find errors, apparent errors, and probable errors. Please send full original references for these articles if you have them or can locate them. Thanks in advance, Dr. Frank O. Clark, webmaster.