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The Oregon Trail History of the Ragen Family

In 1847, at the age of 52, Joseph Carey Geer of Galesburg, Illinois contracted a serious case of "Oregon Fever" and decided to take the Oregon Trail westward. His extended family, including children and grandchildren, joined him on the journey. This page briefly describes our family's connection to the Oregon Trail and links directly to some of the relevant family documents that we have uncovered in the last few years. We also have some other links that describe some of the Geer family's activities in Oregon before it became a state and those are listed below.

Joseph Geer's path to the Oregon Trail is told briefly in Chapter 2 of Fifty Years In Oregon, a book written by T.T. Geer -- his grandson and Governor of Oregon from 1899-1903. Joseph was accompanied by his extended family several of whom (see below) also wrote detailed accounts of their trip across the Oregon Trail. At the time he died at the age of 86, he held the distinction of being the oldest living settler who had traveled across the Oregon Trail. At the time of his death, he was the patriarch of a large extended family (including Heman Johnson Geer) numbering somewhat more than 150 direct descendants.

Ralph Carey Geer, Joseph's oldest son, presented his recollection of their journey along the Oregon Trail to the Pioneer Association of Oregon in the Occasional Address for 1847. Ralph was also a leader of the Oregon pioneers during the Modoc and Klamath Indian wars of 1848 which followed the Whitman massacre and harassment of the Oregon settlers.

Calvin Geer, Joseph's grandson and Ralph's son, also documented his version of the same trip in his letter titled My Trip To Oregon. He was only ten years old at the time he crossed the Oregon Trail. This account of the Oregon Trail is remarkably vivid and rich in details!

Separately, and also in 1847, Elizabeth Dixon Smith also set out westward with her husband and her family in a different wagon train. She provided an almost daily journal of the highlights and lowlights of her travel across the Oregon Trail. Elizabeth's husband passed away just after they arrived in Portland; consequently, she became Elizabeth Dixon Smith Geer when married Joseph Geer.


For more information on other Ragen family history, return to the Ragen family history web page.

For more information on the Geer Family, visit the Geer Family website; the Geer's history has been traced to at least 1636 when they still lived in England.

Links To Other Oregon Trail Diaries and Information

bullet Oregon Pioneers - Emigrant Diaries and Journals
bullet Oregon Pioneers - Emigrant Rosters
bullet Overland Trails Diaries
bullet Oregon Trail Archive
bullet Oregon-California Trails Association


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