Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mr. Geissler, the drown, unknown peddler: you are not forgotten...

Mr. Geissler was a German immigrant.

He was a ‘peddler,’ traveling patch town to patch town selling perhaps necessaries for the ladies, perhaps pots and pans.

There was a chance that he was an honest man, trying to make a living, trying to establish himself as a man you would do business with.

Maybe he was saintly or maybe he was a scoundrel.

We do know he died on June 1st, 1858. His body recovered from the Weigh Lock along the Lehigh Canal.

Mauch Chunk was a bustling, slowly boiling boom town. It didn’t have the quick flash of San Francisco or Deadwood. But it did attract men seeking their fortunes.

Asa Packer came here near penniless and worked his way through contracts of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, building the Upper Grand section of the Canal to White Haven. This “sizeable” profit was parlayed into coal interests, and eventually the Lehigh Valley Railroad, creating Lehigh University from scratch, dying in the 1880s with 54.5 million dollar estate, the 10th wealthiest man in the world.

So what was Mr. Geissler’s story?

Was it a violent end?

Did he have a wife and children?

Did they ever find out about the particulars?

Were they left holding the bag, wondering if they had been forsaken, deserted? Did they know the true measure of this man, did they know he was doing the best he could?

Were they on his mind as he plunged into the dark, coal-sooted water?

Was their memory of him clouded by his furtive demise?  Did people say he got what he deserved?  Did they scoff at his widow in her black, the crape lingering on the house too long?
All we know is from one newspaper story. It said you are buried somewhere in the Upper Mauch Chunk Cemetery, in an unknown section, an unknown plot.

This weekend, near the anniversary of your death, I hope you come to my mind as I pass the Weigh Lock on my bicycle. I hope your spirit is at peace.

I hope you know, you haven’t been forgotten.


  1. A simple story that cannot not attract sympathy - eventually, your German was seeking for the American dream, and, for all we know, he might have actually achieved it prior to his death, he might have actually lived to see his dream (the dream) come true...


    PS If you ever pass by his grave, be sure to give him my greetings! Not for the man he was, nor for the man that he could have been, but simply for having occasioned you story!

  2. Imola, once again your elegant simplicity sums things up nicely...Thank you and I'll be sure to give Mr. Geissler your regards...thanks, Ron.