Geary, John White, the third territorial governor of Kansas, was born in Westmoreland county, Pa., Dec. 30, 1819. From his Scotch-Irish ancestry he inherited all those traits which developed in him a man of unquestioned courage, great force of character, and a high order of executive ability. His early education was acquired under the instruction of his father, who conducted an academy, after which he entered Jefferson College at Canonsburg, Pa., where he graduated in 1841. The death of his father about this time made it necessary for him to contribute to the support of his widowed mother and her children. He clerked in a store in Pittsburgh for a time, taught school, and finally took up the work of civil engineera profession for which he had thoroughly prepared himself. He followed this occupation in Pennsylvania and Kentucky until the breaking out of the war with Mexico, when he raised a company known as the "American Highlanders," which became a part of the Second Pennsylvania infantry, of which he was made lieutenant-colonel. His regiment was attached to the army of Gen. Scott, and for his gallantry at the Belen gate, City of Mexico, he was promoted to the rank of colonel. After the capture of the Mexican capitol he was placed in charge of the city as commandant. The discovery of gold in California lured him to the Pacific coast, and on Jan. 22, 1849, he was appointed postmaster of San Francisco by President Tyler. After a few months' service he was removed by President Taylor, and was then elected by the citizens to the office of first alcalde of the city. He was also elected the first mayor of San Francisco under the charter of 1850. In 1852 he returned to Pennsylvania on a visit, but while there his wife died, and he never returned to California. On July 31, 1856, he was appointed governor of Kansas. Connelley, in his Territorial Governors, says: "He was selected for the position because of his firmness and recognized executive ability." He resigned on March 12, 1857, and like Gov. Reeder left the territory at night to escape assassination at the hands of members of his own political party, returning to Pennsylvania, where he lived quietly on his farm until commencement of the Civil war in 1861. Upon the first call for volunteers, he raised the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania infantry and was commissioned colonel of the regiment. Subsequently he was promoted to brigadier and still later to major-general. During the Atlanta campaign and the famous march to the sea he commanded the "White Star" division of the Twentieth army corps, and on Dec. 22, 1864, was appointed by Gen. Sherman military governor of Savannah. In 1866 he was elected governor of Pennsylvania, and at the close of his term was reëlected. Gov. Geary died at Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 8, 1873, eighteen days after the expiration of his second term as governor. His work in Kansas did much to break the power of the pro-slavery party and contributed materially to the admission of Kansas as a free state. Geary county was named in his honor.Pages 718-719 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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