When he [Bro. Geiger] was discharged from the Navy and had returned to his home in Germantown; he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania- Wharton Night School- to study accounting. He got a job in an accounting department where he seemed to be advancing steadily. But it was there at his desk that he felt that the Lord was calling him to give his life to him to serve him. The call was so definite that he quit his job and school and enrolled at the Philadelphia College of Bible to study the bible. [Bro. Geiger] never doubted his calling by the Lord or his leading him to move to the mountains of Tennessee. Shortly before graduating from PBC, [Bro. Geiger] met an elderly man from Livingston who was looking for a young man to carry on the ministry he had been doing- distributing scriptures and holding Sunday school in rural areas. He visited Mr. W. in the summer and felt that this was where the Lord was leading. Henry and I met in the Spring of 1921 and were married on October 11, 1922. We had a honeymoon at Seaside Heights, N.J.- the gift of a family friend who had a cottage on the beach. Seaside Heights is in north Jersey, and the ocean was cold, but we went swimming in it as late as October 17, according to his diary!
We went to Livingston by train, changing trains at Knoxville and crossing the state to Algood- where we changed to a gasoline-driven train of sorts. Livingston had a population of about 2,000- and the county had nine miles of hard surface roads. In the square around the courthouse, there were wagons (mules and saddle horses). No cars or trucks. We went to housekeeping at the home of Mrs. Addie Roberts, who was Mrs. Benton Young’s mother and lived there about 5 months before moving to the Oak Grove community. There we rented the only vacant house, which was 100+ years old and made of logs. Our rent was $3.00 per month. This included a barn for our horses, pasture, and garden. The rent was later raised to $5.00. We fixed it up, and it was adequate for two people. We had to learn to live primitively, and with some help from some kind neighbors, we got to be pretty good at it.
During the three years that we lived there, we traveled horseback. We bought one horse and boarded a second one for a friend. Openings began to come for [Mr. Geiger] to preach and organize Sunday Schools in the communities not too far away. On Sunday’s we would ride to Howard’s Chapel for morning services- on to Smith’s chapel for afternoon S. S. and back to Oak Grove for evening service. This trip made a circle of about 20 miles and crossed Linder Mountain. The next week it would be a community off the Monterey highway (Liberty?) and over Gullet Mountain to Happy Hallow and back to Oak Grove from Christmas to April- extending the public school year, which lasted only five months due to the shortage of funds of the county. The people appreciated this, and we had between 40 and 50 kids. Many of them were and are among our friends to the end. There was a one-room schoolhouse- pot-belly stove- no desks, just benches. We turned half of the benches toward the back of the room, and I taught my subjects back there, and dad taught in the front. There were no desks. In those days, the children owned their books, and we continued where the county teacher left off. We were not paid, but many parents gave us eggs, milk, potatoes, etc. Since we weren’t under any rules, we also had a bible class, and the children loved it.
After we had taught for three years, the county could pay teachers for eight months, so we discounted our teaching. Teaching this free school was a good idea- it was the means of getting acquainted with the people, and it gave the people a good chance to look us over too. Many lasting friendships were made. About this time, we were expecting an addition to our family (and got two), so we decided to build a more modern and more adequate home. Mr. Emmett Copeland, our most encouraging neighbor, offered us about 1 and 1/2 acres of land for $50.00, and in 1925 we built the house. The twins were born in Bryn Mawr, PA hospital, where they and I had to stay for three weeks because they were so small. I had a private room and nurses ‘round the clock part of the time- and our total bill was $99.00. Because they were so small, the M.D. would not allow me to bring them to Tennessee until they were four months old, so we stayed at my parents; house, and during that time, Dad taught a course (I forget the subject) at Philadelphia College. He also had opportunities to minister in churches and people because they were interested in the work we were doing in Tennessee.
Keep following us for more journal entries from Mrs. Ruth Geiger! Coming next month 🙂