Devoted to the history of the Kiger family of Salem County, New Jersey
This Web site is dedicated to the memory of my Kiger (originally Geiger) ancestors who risked their lives and left everything and everyone who was dear to them in their homeland of Lembach, Alsace, France, to make a better life for their family by coming to America in 1738 on the Snow Two Sisters. They settled immediately in Salem County, New Jersey where the family name remains well known to this day.
I am Joan Myers Young. I started doing family history research in 1990 after my father died. At that time I realized it was too late to ask him again about the people in the pictures I could not identify but he could have. My father was Pennsylvania Dutch and all of his ancestors were of German and Swiss ancestry. All were in Pennsylvania by 1763 or earlier. I didn't know that when I started my research, but found the Pennsylvania Dutch history and genealogy fascinating to study.
I then turned my attention to my mother's ancestors. My maternal grandfather was of English Quaker descent and most of the ancestors on his side could be found in books. This was interesting, but not much of a challenge. I finally turned my attention to my maternal grandmother, Mary A. Kiger.
The Kigers intrigued me from the very start. I had no information on this family from oral "tradition." I started to dig to find some answers and found a bit of "lore" that my Kigers were German and that my great-great-grandfather Kiger had most certainly been a German sea captain who spoke with a thick German accent. I was told there were three brothers who came to America. One brother went west, one went south, and one remained in New Jersey. Yet no one could offer proof of any of this. As it turned out it wasn't true which is the reason it couldn't be supported with facts.
I knew my Kiger ancestors had lived in Salem County, New Jersey; so I set out in search of them. I happened upon a book called Old Houses of Salem County by Sickler. In this book was a picture of an old house in Mannington Township dating to 1720 according to the book. The house was called The Kiger (Geiger) House, or Jesuit Mission House. The story of this house can be read by clicking on the link below for The Geiger House. The story of the house taught me two things: first of all that the Kiger name had originally been Geiger; and secondly, that the Kigers were in Salem County much earlier than the family tradition had stated. I decided that the name Kiger was not common enough for it to be likely that there was more than one family of that surname in the county. Of course, I needed proof to back up my suspicions that I had found my "roots."
I started with my great-grandfather, Job Kiger, since I knew where he was buried, and when he was born and died. I found him as a child on the 1850 census record living with his parents John M. Kiger and his wife Mary Ann. Next I found the marriage record for John M. Kiger and Mary Ann Lewis. I learned that John M. Kiger had served in the Civil War and had died a widower just two weeks after being discharged due to "debility and old age" in February of 1863. He had become ill while serving as a Union Volunteer and was a nearly forgotten casualty of the War. Other members of this Kiger family served along with John in the War, including two brothers who were John's cousins. They were Richman and William H. Kiger. Both brothers were captured and taken to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. William H. Kiger died there and a tribute to him can be found by clicking on the link for him below.
Next I obtained a death certificate for John M. Kiger and learned that his parents were Matthias Kiger and Rebecca Lindmeyer. At this point I was back far enough to find Matthias Kiger (Geiger) in Catholic Church baptisms, although I had never known prior to reading the Old Houses book that the Kigers had ever been Catholic, or Geigers. Those were facts that had been lost over the years.
point on tracing the Kigers was an easy job. There were wills and church
records giving great detail. However, it was only recently, with the help
of Marion Bale and Diane Krumrine researching their ancestor Moritz Lorentz
that I was able to learn of my Geiger/Kiger ancestral roots in Lembach,
Alsace, France, the same town from which Moritz Lorentz had emigrated some
years before the Geigers. The genealogy of the Geiger/Kiger family of Lembach,
Alsace, France; and Salem County, New Jersey, can be read by clicking on
the link below for NJ Geiger/Kiger.
The family history is related on the pages found here:
William H Kiger
Copyright© 1998 by Joan M Young
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