Noah Webster Geer (nicknamed Webb) was born on the 2nd of August 1846 in Pembroke, Genesee County, New York. His father was Erastus M. Geer (b. 1819 Pennsylvania). The 1855 New York State Census indicates that both of Erastus's parents were born in Connecticut. Adelia Geer is listed in the same census as the wife of Erastus Geer and the mother of Noah Webster, but she may have been Webb's stepmother. When Webb was born, Erastus had two other children, Elizabeth Geer (b. 1841 in Genesee County) and Mary Jane Geer (1842 Genesee County d. 1919 PA) by another wife possibly who died. (Unknown name and date.) Erastus was a blacksmith and farmer and his son Webb assisted him in his work.
On 29 Feb 1864, the town of East Otto, Cattaraugus, New York, paid seventeen-year-old Webb $205 to enlist in the Civil War to fill the town's mandated quota. (Legally, he was underage for such recruitment.) The enlistment records describe Webb as a farmer, blue eyes, brown hair, dark complexion and 5'7" tall. On 11 May 1864 in Elmira New York Webb was mustered into Company D, 179th Infantry Regiment New York. 18 Jun 1864 in Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Virginia, Webb was wounded by a bullet in the left supra orbital region flesh (eyebrow area). Another inch back and the bullet would have penetrated his skull and killed him. After a brief convalescence, he returned to action and was wounded two more times in the Siege of Petersburg and the Battle of the Crater before he was mustered out on April 18, 1865, after the Civil War ended with the surrender of the Confederate army.
Webb returned to New York state and in September 1865 in Dunkirk he was interviewed by the Town Clerk regarding his service. The 1865 New York State census shows Webb living with Adelia and Erastus Geer who is working as a blacksmith. Subsequent New York State tax records show him farming alone in New York state. The 1870 census reveals that Webb has moved to Grand Valley, Warren County, Pennsylvania where his sister (possibly half-sister) Mary Jane Geer had moved with her husband Marcus Jeffords and their two children George and William, when Jeffords took a job in the lumbering industry . Warren County, located on the periphery of the Allegheny National Forest, provided many employment opportunities in the lumber industry. Webb took a job in a lumber planing mill.
On Saturday, the 8th of August 1874, at the age of 28, at the Grand Valley residence of Benjamin Mason, pastor of the Christian Church, Webb married the Grand Valley school teacher, Eunice B. Barton, daughter of Hulet Barton (1826–1895) and the late Roxcy L Denton (1828–1864). Witnesses were Florence Mason (the pastor's wife) and Zach Burnett. Webb and Eunice soon had two children, daughters Lena Bell Geer, born 6 Dec 1875 (Grand Valley) and Nina Grace Geer born 27 Nov 1876 (Garland).
When his two daughters were both less than 2 years old, on Tuesday the 4th of September 1877, in his home in Grand Valley, Webb died of injuries he'd sustained at the lumber planing mill. This event is described in a handwritten affidavit sworn by Edward L. Morris, 16 March 1891, in Garland, Pennsylvania, as part of Eunice Barton Geer's lengthy application for Webster Geer's Civil War pension. (Picture attached here.) Webb is buried in Garland Methodist Cemetery. The headstone, designed by Eunice, reads: Aged 31 years, 1 mo, 2 ds. Papa Has Gone Before.
Twenty-four-year-old Eunice, who at age eleven had lost her mother, was inconsolable. The responsibility of caring for her two babies, and supporting herself and them, helped her muster the courage to carry on, which she did admirably, working in gainful employment for the rest of her long life. In a poem she penned upon the untimely death of her daughter Lena Geer, Eunice wrote:
Oh! Webb! Our Beloved baby is gone!
Did she fly away to you?
Have the sweet blue eyes
Which were so sad when you went and did not return
Found you at last in your new home over the way?
Is she with you, Oh my love?
You were loathe to leave her so…
The official records documenting Noah Webster Geer's life, death and Civil War service can be found on ancestry.com. Anyone with information about Noah Webster Geer should write to [email protected]
Papa Has Gone Before
Eunice B. Barton Geer Davis
1853–1930 (m. 1874)