A FAMILY TRADITION ABOUT EMILY GEIGER OVER MANY GENERATIONS

  1. Two generations after Emily: reported in 1893

    Source: John A. Chapman, History of Edgefield County from the Earliest Settlements to 1897. Newberry, SC: Clearfield, 1897. Pages 272-3.

    [The author believed that his contemporary, Mrs. Elizabeth Juliet Threewits Nicholson, was either the daughter or the granddaughter of Emily Geiger. Some later traditions assume a mother-daughter connection between Emily Geiger and an Elizabeth Juliet Threewits.]

    The Blocker family, which is one of the oldest in Edgefield County, is of Prussian origin. The name was originally Blucher. Michael Blocker was the first of the family who came from Prussia; and, after living here a few years, he sent his only son, John, back to the fatherland for others of his countrymen...The children of John Blocker were seven sons and one daughter…Major Bartley Blocker, the sixth son, married a sister of Colonel Whitfield Brooks…Young John Blocker, grand-son of Bartley, is the only one of the name now living in Edgefield County. He is Captain of the Edgefield Rifles. He is a decendant (sic) of the celebrated Emily Geiger, General Greene’s Courier to General Sumter, and the Heroine of Newberry in the old Revolutionary War.

    Emily Geiger has other descendants now, 1893, living in Edgefield County. After the war she married a planter named Threewits—moved down the country and lived and died at Granby. Miss Elizabeth Threewits, a daughter of, or a grand-daughter of Emily Geiger, married John Nicholson, brother to Benjamin.

  2. Three generations after Emily: reported in 1922

    Source: Letter to Editor, The State, Columbia SC, 17 Sep 1922

    [The writer (18 Jan 1835 – Jan 1926) was the son of Dr. John Oliphant Nicholson (7 Jan 1808 – 23 Jan 1851) and Elizabeth Juliet Threewits Nicholson (5 Mar 1812 – 14 Jul 1898). Elizabeth Juliet was the daughter of Llewellin Williamson Threewits (born 1789) and Catherine Daniel. Llewellin W. Threewits was the only child of Llewellin Threewits (died 1796) and Eleanor Fitzpatrick.]

    South Carolina,

    Saluda County.

    Personally comes the undersigned, John Threewits Nicholson, who on oath says that he is now 87 years of age and was born and reared in Edgefield county, and has for a long number of years resided where he now lives, to wit, near Ridge Spring, in Saluda County. That Saluda county was formed out of Edgefield county. That deponent has heard his father and mother state that they had seen and talked with numerous people who knew Emily Geiger or knew of Emily Geiger. That deponents mother was a Threewits and it was the common reputation in the family of deponent’s father and mother that Emily Geiger married John Threewits, a blood relative of deponent’s mother and of deponent. Furthermore, that it was the general reputation in deponent’s mother’s family that Emily Geiger carried a message during the Revolutionary War and was captured by the British while carrying said message. That after the Revolutionary War, it was the common reputation in his mother’s family, and said reputation was accepted as being true, that she married John Threewits, and lived in Lexington County, a few miles west of Columbia, and died there.

    John Threewits Nicholson.

    Sworn to before me this Sep. 9, 1922, Henry C. Smith, Notary Public for S.C.

  3. Five generations after Emily: reported in 1927

    Source: Letter to Editor, The State, Columbia SC, 13 Nov 1727

    [The writer, Sallie Lou Watson Strother (3 Nov 1884 – 16 Feb 1946), was the granddaughter of John Threewits Nicholson (author of the previous letter). She was aware that her grandfather’s grandparents were Llewellin W. Threewits and Catherine Daniel. However, she believed that Llewellin W. Threewits was the son of Eleanor Fitzpatrick and John Threewits (rather than Llewellin Threewits). The 1842 will of Maj. John Threewits shows that he and his wife Mary Thomas had no children or grandchildren.]

    Emily Geiger was the first wife of John Threwitz, (sic) not the wife of Llewelyn. She died when still a very young woman of childbed fever, and is buried, as she had every right to be, in the old Threwitz burying ground near Columbia. Her only child, a little girl, named Elizabeth Juliet Threwitz, lived to be only a few years of age. After Emily Geiger’s death, John Threwitz married my great-great-great grandmother, Eleanor Fitzpatrick. John and Eleanor had only one child, a son, named Llewelyn Threwitz. Llewelyn Threwitz was living with his mother at the time of his death, he and his wife having separated, and is buried in the old Threwitz burying ground near Columbia. He was the husband of Catherine Daniel, daughter of William Daniel, Sr., and they had three children, namely: Eleanor Fitzpatrick Threwitz, born in 1810, was reared and educated by her grandmother, who resided in Columbia, and for whom she was named. She married Dr. Marsh, moved to Ala., and later Miss., where she died, leaving a small son, who also died when very young. John Llewelyn Threwitz, 2nd child of Llewelyn and Catherine, was born, July 5, 1811; died Oct. 17, 1834. He is buried near Edgefield, and a tombstone marks his grave; Elizabeth Juliet Threwitz, the youngest child, was born Mar. 5, 1812, and died July 14, 1898. She was named for the child of Emily Geiger and repeatedly told her descendants of this. She later became Elizabeth Juliet Threwitz Nicholson, having married my great grandfather, Dr. John Oliphant Nicholson. The names of John Threwitz and Elizabeth Juliet are still in our family; the former being that of my grandfather, John Threwitz Nicholson, who lived to be over 90 years of age and distinctly recalled and related these facts, and the latter that of my mother.

    Accounts of Emily Geiger’s life and noble deeds are not of recent origin. Grandmother related to her children and grandchildren, repeatedly, facts concerning Emily Geiger, her ride and family connection and the origin of her name. We, her descendants, know that these facts have been handed down from a most trustworthy and intelligent source. I have in my possession an autograph letter from the historian, Lyman C. Draper, to great-grandmother and her sister, Eleanor, dated August 28, 1872; requesting them to supply him with what information they had concerning Emily Geiger and her husband, so that he may use it in a work on Gen. Sumter of S.C. for which he had been collecting material for many years.

    Whatever the route may have been, Emily Geiger must have made a perilous ride; and one truth stands absolute and worthy our credence, that she is not a myth but was indeed a personality. She has, and deserves, a place in the history of our state, and let no unworthy act remove her.

    She was a member of the Threwitz branch of our family, of which there were few members.

    Sallie Lou Watson Strother

    Ridge Spring, S.C., Nov. 13, 1927

  4. Eight generations after Emily: reported in 2001

Online genealogical materials show that the family tradition has continued to evolve. Some descendants of Llewellin Threewits believe that their ancestor was his brother John; some state that Emily Geiger was a second wife of John, or possibly Llewellin, Threewits (John’s wife Mary lived until 1840; Llewellin’s wife Eleanor survived him), or that Llewellin was the son (rather than the brother) of John Threewits, etc.

[The father of John and Llewellin was Joel Threewits, who had moved from Virginia to South Carolina with his wife Jemima Williamson and their four oldest children. Two other children were born in South Carolina. He applied for a land grant of 350 acres in Dec 1766. In 1778, Joel was listed (along with John Geiger) as a Grand Juror for the section of Camden District called "Between the Broad & Catawba Rivers." Joel’s oldest son John (1753-1842) was a Petit Juror in 1778, meaning that he lived in a separate household for which he paid property taxes, so he was presumably married to Mary Thomas by that time. In 1783, Joel’s two oldest sons were listed as jurors for the Camden District (east of the Broad River), John as a Grand Juror and Llewellin as a Petit Juror. Joel Threewits (died 1782) and his sons John (died 1842), Llewellin (died 1796), and Williamson (died 1782-84) served in the Revolutionary War; fourth son Joel was too young to join the militia. Daughter Elizabeth (died 1841) married Major Hicks Chappell in 1780, and younger daughter Martha (died 1820-25) married Wood Tucker.]

Summary: Different generations of a single family have described what they believed to be an unbroken family tradition from the time of the Revolutionary War. Nevertheless, each generation reports a different version of what that tradition is.

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