One hundred thirty-seven years ago, 18-year-old Flora Manier and 21-year-old Will Geiger were college sweethearts. Will was an avid diarist and Flora had aspirations of becoming one. He was from Lowden, Iowa and she was from Carthage, Illinois.
The his and hers diaries they kept in 1878 while attending Carthage College were written when temperance was the talk of the town and Edison’s light bulb had not been invented, when slide projectors were called magic lanterns and women did not vote, when horses pulled buggies and the Greenbacks were still a viable party.
Flora and Will did marry after college and then moved to Tipton, Iowa to live in a home he had built specially for her. That home still stands today. Together, they had five children—a boy first and then four girls. Flora and Will both endured tragedies of lives lost too soon, but to the end of their days (as unbalanced as those scales were) they both remained “ever true”–Will’s own words.
Near the end of 2004, Flora and Will’s diaries were sold at an estate auction. They were sold again in 2006, but this time they found a home and a heart in me. There are signs the two diaries were once glued together—perhaps by one of them long ago. His had sealed hers in a protective, leathery embrace. And although that seal was broken sometime before coming to me, the residue of what kept them together remains and the page ends are still gilt in gold.
If not for the written records of these two, I question how much longer history would have remembered them. They deserve to be remembered. They have so much to teach. I am working on transcribing, researching, and publishing Flora and Will’s diaries. Until then, this website will introduce their fated lives in 1878,…and, after publication, it will be a companion index to all the riches the diaries contain.
In 1878, there was Flora and there was Will, and they have a story to tell,…and so do I.
— Susan Bennehoff