Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Governor Geer, Commemorated by Geer Park, Died 100 Years Ago

Back in 2006 Council named Geer Park for the "pioneer Geer family."

Gov. T.T. Geer, 1899-1903
(State Library of Oregon)

This includes Ralph Carey Geer, whose farm has recently been operated as Geercrest, out on the end of Sunnyview Road at the t-intersection with Cascade Highway.

March 28th, 2006

Here we have a very special fondness for Governor T. T. Geer, nephew of Ralph. He rode a bicycle and signed the first bicycle path legislation in 1899.

Geer died 100 years ago today.

February 22nd, 1924

From the paper the next day, on Washington's Birthday:


Former Governor of Oregon Passes Away in Portland After Brief Illness with Paralysis


Native Son Achieved Highest Honors in Power of People to Give

Portland, Or., Feb. 21—Theodore T. Geer, pioneer and native son of Oregon, and on whom Oregon has showered in his lifetime' higher honors than she has accorded to any of her other native sons, is dead after a life that has wrought powerfully in the civic and political development of this state.

Ex-Governor Geer was stricken with paralysis a short time ago and did not rally from the stroke. A few days ago his condition became critical and he rapidly sank to his death.

Death came at 1:30 o'clock this afternoon. Funeral arrangements will be made by Finleys.

Pure American from the colonial days was his ancestry and his personal contact reached back to the formatlve days of the American republic, for his grandfather, a pioneer of 1847 in Oregon, was also a veteran of the war of 1812, and was born In the preceding century while the 13 colonies were engaged in solidifying the liberty that they had gained in the revolution into the form of a permanent republic.

George Geer, his first colonial ancestor, came to Connecticut in 1630 and Theodore T. Geer is sixth in the direct line of descent from George Geer.

Born in Oregon in 1851

Joseph Cary Geer, his grandfather, came to Ohio in 1818 after his service in the war and in 1840 moved to Illinois. Seven years later a man past 50 years, he gathered his family of 10 children and set out with the emigrants across the plains to Oregon.

Herman J. Geer, the father of T. T. Feer, was 19 years told when they reached Oregon and a year later married and settled to farming in Marion county, in the Waldo hills, where Theodore T. Geer was born March 12, 1851.

Theodore T. Geer left his schooling when 14, after having been in the public schools and in Willamette university in Salem, and for a year he was employed with his uncle, Ralph C. Geer, in Marion county after which be went to Union county where he engaged with his father in horticulture. His father was one of the earliest horticulturists on a large scale in the state.

He returned to the Waldo hills in 1877 and began farming "on his own," but in 1880 he was called to the legislature and for the 44 years following he has been identified prominently with the political life of the state.

His legislative service Included terms of 1880, 1889, 1891, when he was speaker of the house, and 1893.

Republican Elector

In 1896 he was named one of the republican electors for Oregon and in the following year carried this state's vote for William McKinley to Washington. D. C.

A year later at the state republican convention in Astoria he was nominated for the office of governor by acclamation. His election followed and his term of office marked a period of sound and conservative progress.

While he was in the governor's chair he was invited to Ohio to canvass that state for Governor Nash, and made a swing of that state, delivering 16 speeches.

After 1903 be bought the Salem Statesman, which be edited for tow years, and then took the Pendleton Daily Tribune, which he edited until 1908, when he sold his interests and came to Portland.

His father died in Union county in 1903 and his mother in Portland in 1909, the year after his removal to this city.

He continued an active figure in civic and political work after coming to Portland. Professionally he was engaged in real estate activities and was a member and leader in the Rose City Park Improvement league.

He was always a leader in the Oregon Pioneer association and a patron of the Oregon Historical society and its work in behalf of the preservation of Oregon history.

Wrote Reminiscences

In 1911 he contributed to Oregon history in his book. "Fifty Years in Oregon," which gives a comprehensive and interesting view of the formation and growth of this state from pioneer days from the viewpoint of a man who was active in that process while it was going on.

He was twice married. His first wife, who was Nancy Duncan, died in Omaha in 1898. His second wife, who survives him, is Isabelle Trullineer Geer, daughter of John C. Trullinger, also a prominent Oregon pioneer. They were married In 1900.

He is survived by two children, Theodosia Little of California and Fred Geer of Tacoma.

T. T. Geer was a member of the Unitarian church. His lodge affiliation was the Elks.

The county grand jury, on hearing of the death of Geer, adjourned, not to convene until after the funeral. Geer was bailiff of the Jury.

The genealogy, native son, purity in "pure American..." is all characteristic of the period. A little more than a decade later the Daughters of the American Revolution marked the Riding Whip Tree as part of the project for the Pioneer Myth.

July 6th 1936

In a lesser way, it is also interesting, but not surprising, that the obituary does not mention the bike path law, which failed to fund and build anything durable.

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