Bookmark and Share
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

GEERS, CHARLES W.

GEERS, CHARLES W. (1840–1921). Charles W. Geers, pioneer Texas journalist and publisher, the son of Charles and Caroline (Perkins) Geers, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on May 27, 1840. He began his newspaper career at the age of sixteen as a printer for the Lexington Observer and Reporter. The Civil War, however, interrupted his apprenticeship; at the age of twenty-one, he left the paper to follow John H. Morgan into the Confederate Army. For three years he served in Morgan's cavalry, participating in Morgan's famous raids into Kentucky and Ohio. Geers was captured in 1863 and spent the remainder of the war as a Union prisoner at Camp Douglas, in Chicago, Illinois.

After his release in 1865 he returned to Kentucky and began a three-year journey through the South, during which he worked as a printer and reporter for five newspapers in three states. His first job as a journalist after the war was with the Louisville Democrat in 1865. The following year he worked for the Shelbyville News and the Glasgow Times, both in Kentucky. In 1867 he left his native state to take a job with the New Orleans Crescent. He also worked briefly with the Shreveport News before leaving Louisiana for Greenville, Texas, in 1868. In Greenville Geers formed a partnership with Thomas R. Burnett and began the Greenville Independent. In April 1868 the two men moved their printing press to Denton. There they published the Denton Monitor, the county's second newspaper. The county's first newspaper, the Denton Review, was four years old when Geers arrived, but before the year was out it was purchased by Geers and Burnett. In late 1868 or early 1869 Burnett sold his interest in the Monitor to Geers.

For forty-one years the eight-page weekly served county residents, and in the process became one of the oldest newspapers in continuous publication in North Texas. During the Monitor's existence Geers also published four other papers: the Citizen at Meridian and the Banner at Clifton, both in Bosque County; and the Legal Tender at Sanger and the Headlight at Lewisville, in Denton County. The Monitor, however, received Geers's personal attention and served as a forum for his political views. He was openly antagonistic towards Reconstruction. Advertising in the Monitor had to be paid for in specie, as Geers would not accept greenbacks. The pages of the Monitor became the voice of protest for Southern whites, especially farmers and industrial workers. The Farmers' Alliance, the People's party, and the Knights of Labor received support from the editorial columns of the Monitor.

Geers supported these groups not just with his pen but by his personal involvement. In 1872 he served as a member of the state executive committee of the Democratic party and was a delegate to the national convention in Baltimore. Eight years later he was on the platform committee at the Democratic state convention in Dallas. Although he never officially severed his relationship with elements of the Democratic party, Geers was active in a number of third-party movements. He served as the chairman pro tem of the convention of farmers, laborers, and stock raisers held in Waco in May 1888. Two months later he was at the Nonpartisan convention held in Fort Worth. The following month he chaired the Committee on the Good of the Order at the Farmers' State Alliance convention in Dallas. A year later he served on the executive committee of the Eight-Hour Convention of the Knights of Labor in Dallas. In June 1896 Geers returned to the Democratic party to serve on the Committee on Platforms and Resolutions of the state convention of "gold" Democrats in Austin. Two months later in Waco they selected him to be a member of the executive committee at their state convention.

Geers was instrumental in organizing the First Christian Church in Denton and, with his wife, Louisa Sophia (Blount), assisted in bringing the church's first minister to the town. The couple married on November 23, 1870, and had eight children, two of whom entered the newspaper business.

In 1909 Geers decided to retire the Monitor. Since the turn of the century, a half dozen newspapers had competed with the Monitor, and one, the Denton Record-Chronicle, had replaced it as the county's dominant paper. After the closing of the Monitor's offices, Geers wrote for a number of Texas journals and lived for a short time in Fort Worth. He returned to newspaper publishing, however, as publisher of the Mill Creek Herald in Oklahoma. In the offices of the Herald, on May 19, 1921, the eighty-one-year-old newspaperman died of a heart attack. His body was returned to Denton, where he was buried in the International Order of Odd Fellows cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

C. A. Bridges, History of Denton, Texas, from Its Beginning to 1960 (Waco: Texian Press, 1978). Buckley B. Paddock, ed., A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis, 1906).

David Minor

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

David Minor, "GEERS, CHARLES W.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fge19), accessed August 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Recent Additions