Geiman Family History
For more than 124 years the Geiman name has been synonymous with quality and craftsmanship in custom home building and stone masonry in Northern Kentucky. On Saturday, September 15, 2007, (one hundred and twenty four years and a day after the birth of Joseph Jacob Geiman—September 14, 1883)—father, grandfather, and great, great, grandfather) 500 plus Geiman descendants will be gathering for a long overdue family reunion at the Knights of Columbus grounds in Claryville, Kentucky. The exact count of the Geiman population is being compiled for genealogy purposes and will be added to the Geiman family history, thanks to family historian Keith Geiman of Ft. Thomas and his sister, Kathy Emerson of Clermont County, Ohio.
Almost two years ago, while attending cousin Gene Geiman’s funeral, I realized it had been more then nine years since our last family reunion and I was compelled to plan one. I contacted my brothers and sisters and cousins with the idea. Over the course of the past year and a half, a planning committee and I have met quarterly to get the reunion up and running. Five hundred and twenty tee shirts have been ordered to date. This fulfills the idea for all Geiman offspring, from each of the 14 clans represented, each clan having selected a designated color tee shirt, to be worn the day of the reunion. The colored shirts will indicate who our parent/grandparent was or is. And as colorful as September 15th will be, so also is the history of the Geiman family origination.
According to family history, Konrad was employed as groundskeeper and gardener to a “high German” family of royalty. The employer was Baron von Stein. In the year of 1833 the young housekeeper, Margaretha Wolf, became pregnant by either the baron himself or one of his sons. Konrad was asked to marry Margaretha and in return Konrad was paid an unknown sum, and given many valuable gifts, including a Gutenberg Bible in a red velvet cover case trimmed in gold and encrusted with precious gems. (All of the priceless gifts were eventually destroyed in a fire at the home of John Geiman, Adam Geiman’s son.) My great great grandfather, Konrad Geimann and Margaretha Wolf emigrated from Bavaria Germany to the Northern Kentucky area. Konrad came first; we have no dates. Margaretha Wolf, three year old son Adam, her father, sister and brother-in-law immigrated through New Orleans in 1836. Documents show that Konrad eventually marries Margaretha in 1837 at Holy Trinity Church in Cincinnati. Adam took the Geimann name at the age of 3 or 4. Konrad and the Sendlebach family purchased 100 acres on Three Mile Road and split the acreage. Konrad died in 1848, 12 or so years after living in Campbell County. The Geimanns never had their own biological children. Margaretha, married twice after Konrad. Both Konrad and second husband, Antonio Reis died in a time of a typhoid fever outbreak in Northern Kentucky that lasted from 1840 to the 1850’s.
At the approximate age of 27, Adam Geiman, my great grandfather, biological son of Bavarian royalty, married Kunigunda Leib in 1860 and they lived on Three Mile Creek and raised 40 terraced acres of grapes. He sold his produce to Cincinnati wineries that supplied hotels and restaurants. Adam and Kunigunda had nine children and the tradition and production of large families was carried on to and through their youngest son, my paternal grandfather, Joseph Jacob Geiman, who was born eighty three years after the immigration of his grandfather, Konrad Geiman and fifty years after the birth of his own father, Adam.
Joe Geiman learned from his father and older brothers, the skills of grape arbor farming and stone masonry. The stonework and walls found even today along Ft. Thomas Avenue by the fort as well as the stone walls at St. Stephens Cemetery are a few reminders of the craftsmanship of Grandpa Joe Geiman. These skills and talents would eventually be handed down to several of his sons, one being my father, the late Andy Geiman. Joe Geiman married Rosa Keller. They would have 14 children and as of this past July, sadly, only three of these children remain living: Johanna Siegrist, Frances Kappes and Lionel Geiman. Joe and Rosa built their stone house, which still stands today, halfway down Pooles Creek Road #1, Cold Spring, Kentucky, also known now as Geiman Connector.
In addition to farming and stonework, Grandpa Joe Geiman had to find other ways to feed 13 living children. Joe was involved in moonshine bootlegging in the 1920’s and into the early 1930’s. Like his father, Adam, Jo was well known for his homemade whiskey. Stories have included reviews such as “the best moonshine ever known to man.” Even thirty years after Joe quit making whiskey he would still have folks dropping by to see if they could purchase that “fine drink”. During prohibition years it was particularly dangerous times for my grandfather. Between the “revenuers” and the competition, Joe Geiman found himself in harms way on many occasions. Stories from uncles include drive by shootings by the competitors; hiding the hooch under manure piles; and one close call arrest that was stopped through the help of a family priest.
During the years of World War Two, while in his late 50’s, Joe went to work in a local machine shop, while at the same time, five of his sons and 1 son in law fought in that war. Several of Joe’s sons started and operated their own Geiman Brother Custom Home building company for many decades. Of the 13 living children, 10 would marry and produce a crop of sixty six first cousins. At the Geiman family reunion we suspect we will experience a crowd of 600 or more Geimans milling around. We will be graced by families from each of these clans as well as clans that are offsprings of Grandma Rosa Keller Geiman. They include the Al and Andy Keller families, as well as the Popovich family.
The Geiman reunion will certainly be a Technicolor event and everyone is getting excited about the big day. The Geiman family may certainly have a lot of skeletons in their closets but the history and the legacy of the Geiman family also includes a very deep and fervent faith in God, love of family, a strong work ethic and a fierce competitiveness on the playing field. The Geimans all give their best, whether at play, work or worship. These traits continue to be passed on to the next Geiman generations. Although I have been a resident of Kenton County for more then 24 years, I will always have a special place in my heart for Campbell County, Cold Spring and Ft. Thomas.