Rev. John J. Geer was born in 1833, in Rockbridge County, Va., where his father and grandfather were native born, the family having been established there prior to the Revolutionary War. Grandfather Geer became convinced of the injustice of slavery and after liberating his Negroes came to Ohio and in the late 30’s settled near Sidney, in Shelby county, where he died in 1870. He and wife were Wesleyan Methodists.
Their son, John J. Geer, grew up mainly in Shelby County and when he united with a religious body it was with the Protestant Methodists, in which he became a preacher and was pastor of the old George Street Church, Cincinnati, when the Civil War broke out. In May, 1861, he enlisted as chaplain in the 48th O. Vol. Inf. At the battle of Shiloh he was captured by the Confederates and with his unfortunate comrades was afterward incarcerated in Andersonville Prison. In some way he managed to escape but was pursued by the bloodhounds kept by Capt. Werz for that purpose and was recaptured and again made to suffer within that terrible Stockade. When he was finally exchanged there was little hope entertained by his friends that he would recover his health, but his constitution at that time was strong and in 1863 he determined to again face the dangers and hardships that so many of his follow men were bravely enduring. Although he had enlisted as chaplain it was his own wish that he be given an active place in the command and the company elected him captain and later became adjutant general on the staff of General Buckland.
He enlisted a second time as a member of the 183rd O. Vol. Inf. and at the close of the war was made chaplain and superintendent of the Geer Hospital at Wilmington, N.C. and was honorably discharged in 1865. He was the author of a stirring story of those memorable days, relating his personal experiences, the title of it being “Beyond the Lines” or “Yankee Prisoner Loose in Dixie.” These hardships had shattered his health to such an extent that he never recovered and two years after the close of the war, on Aug. 25, 1867, this brave and good man passed away, a true martyr is the cause of his country.
From the History of Crawford Co. Ohio, submitted by Martin Stewart of Troy, Ohio, a Geer descendant. Use granted by Martin Stewart 2012