Rueben R. Geery               -- mini bio


Rueben R. Geery

Rueben Robert Geery was born on 17 Aug. 1842 in Peno township, Pike County, Missouri to Robert and Sarah “Sally” Parks Geery.  He was the fourth of seven children born to this couple.  His father was a tanner by trade, as well as a farmer.  Both of his parents were from Tennessee.  Their farm was located near Sugar Creek and just a few miles from the Mississippi River, about twenty miles south of Hannibal, Missouri.  In many ways his early life would have had some similarities to that of the legendary character, Tom Sawyer.

The Geerys were close friends to their neighbors, the George R. Waddle (Waddell) family, which had seven daughters and four sons.  Rueben couldn’t help but notice one of these daughters, Lucy Frances “Fanny” who was almost two years younger than him, being born on 14  April, 1844 on Sugar Creek, Peno, Pike, MO.  

Rueben was just a boy when gold was discovered in California, followed by strikes in Nevada and Colorado.  Many young men from his community headed west in each succeeding gold rush hoping to strike it rich.  Most returned home bringing exciting stories of those wild towns and the opportunities lying there.  Although too young to go at that time, these stories registered in his memory.

By the time Rueben was 19 years old the country was ripped apart by a violent Civil War.  Missouri was a “split state” with about half of the residents coming from the southern states and half from the north.  Even though the Geerys and the Waddells were both from southern states, they were still in favor of maintaining the Union as one country.

After watching thousands of young Missourians leave to fight on both sides of the war, the Governor of Missouri formed local militias.  Their function was to remain at home and keep the peace by combating militant rebels who were roaming the country side destroying property of those who favored the Union.  Such units were known as “Enrolled Missouri Militia” and on 14 Aug. 1862, just three days before his twentieth birthday, Rueben enlisted in the “1st (or Pike County) Battalion as part of the 49th Regiment—Company C”.  He was made the 7th Corporal in his unit, which seems to indicate his enthusiasm for the work.  He was called up for a 25 day stint for training and drilling, but it does not appear that he ever had to actually fight.

A year and a half later, on 25 Feb. 1864 Rueben married Lucy Frances Waddle.   The war was still raging but Rueben and “Fanny” settled down to begin farming and to raise a family in Cuivre township, not too far from both of their families.  Over the next seven years four children came to join this family, including a daughter, Cora Bell Geery, their third child, born 30 March 1869. 

Most of the good farm land had been claimed by the time Rueben and Fanny started their family. They decided to try their luck somewhere else.  At about this time another mineral strike had been made in Butte, Montana.  Rueben and Lucy packed up their belongings and their children sometime between 1872-1875 and headed to the high country near Butte.  Here he worked as a freighter hauling ore, with his horses and wagon, from the mines in Butte to the railroad in Anaconda.  He also bought a farm in Browns Gulch, about five miles northwest of Butte.

In 1875 there were only about 350 residents in Butte, but by 1880 there were 5000, and by 1890 there were 30,000.  In addition to the wild times in this boom-town, there were a number of Indian uprisings in Montana including Custer fighting the Sioux in 1876 and Miles fighting the Nez Perce in 1877.

In 1876 Rueben and Fanny had their fifth child.  They were a loving family and active in the Methodist faith.  Their three oldest children married and settled in the local area.  But only their two daughters ever had any children, and of these Mildred’s two died without giving her any grandchildren.  Only Cora Geery has any posterity today.  She was married on 4 Aug. 1887 to James J. Fitzpatrick in Butte and they raised seven children, including Pearl Belle Fitzpatrick (Grandmother of Bette McDonald Nebeker). 

Rueben and Fanny continued to farm in the area but eventually moved into the town of Rocker, just a few miles west of Butte, where Rueben died on 5 April 1918, at the age of 75.  Fanny then lived with her daughter, Mildred in Buxton, Montana, until she died on 26 May 1931.  Both Rueben and Fanny lie buried in the Mt. View Cemetery in Butte.  



Lucy Frances Waddle – age 16                                   

Rueben R. Geery & Lucy Frances Waddle

Rueben Geery (right) panning for gold near his home in Browns Gulch, MT

Identity of the man on the left is unknown, but may be one of his sons.


Rueben R. Geery and Fanny Waddle

In their older age in Butte, MT

Sugar Creek School House in Peno Township, Pike Co., MO

Rueben Geery and Fanny Waddle attended school here together.

(photo taken in 2003)

Robert Geery

Father of Rueben Robert Geery

Sarah “Sally” Parks

Mother of Rueben R. Geery

Cora Bell Geery

daughter of Rueben & Fanny Geery

great-grandmother of Bette McDonald Nebeker

Cora Bell and her sister Mildred Geery

children of Rueben and Fanny Geery

Cora Bell Geery