March 26, 2021
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
Fans of Corey Geiger’s writing can rejoice.
Geiger's Homesteaders' Hope, the popular column in The Brillion News, is the foundation for Geiger's new book “On a Wisconsin Family Farm: Historic Tales of Character, Community and Culture.”
The book will be released this coming Monday, March 29, and knits together the Homesteaders' Hope columns in story format in chronological order to capture six generations of local tales.
Geiger says that as a young boy, he always heard stories from his grandparents.
“I look at the world around me where I grew up in Brillion and Reedsville so differently,” Geiger said, adding that when he drives by a piece of land, he knows who owned it generations ago.
“I would hear it from my grandparents and then I would go verify it,” Geiger said.
Geiger is proud of his family farm’s history, how it passed through six generations, often with the female family members as gatekeepers.
“A hundred years ago a farm passing through women was almost unheard of,” Geiger said.
When Geiger’s family farm turned 150-years old in 2017, his parents were not interested in hosting a celebration. Geiger’s celebration of 150 years of family farming without an in-person party is what led to the Homesteaders' Hope column idea that would later appear in The Brillion News.
“I basically told my wife, ‘Let’s have a party in the paper,’” Geiger said.
When he first started, Geiger wanted to write around 20 columns. He wound up writing 93, prior to the latest columns that appear in this week and next week's newspaper.
Geiger spent hours on weekends researching and writing, and each one took at least 10-12 hours of work.
“I just kept pulling strings and more stories came and as more stories came, more people in The Brillion News would send me notes, and it just kept growing,” Geiger said. “Really, this whole book was birthed from The Brillion News and birthed from the readers of The Brillion News.”
Geiger was unsure others would want to read his column when he first started. It turned out that it became must-read material for readers.
Geiger’s desire to pursue more columns escalated as he heard other families learning of their own family history.
“I started hearing people talking about their families, and I’m like, I’m onto something here,” Geiger said.
The very first Homesteaders' Hope columns, Geiger describes as more “historical type documentaries.”
As he wrote more, he changed his writing style to more storytelling.
“I quickly learned that people reading The Brillion News were resonating with the stories, not the facts,” Geiger said. “Then I started telling stories and would dribble in historical facts.”
Geiger says that his wife and the newspaper readers pushed him to bring the Homesteaders' Hope to the next level with the book.
The style of the book is narrative nonfiction, with Geiger telling history. “I, as the author, narrate what was going on at the time,” Geiger said.
Geiger says stories from a century ago where people died and farmers started to pasteurize milk are important.
“There were decisions that were made 100 years ago that still apply to today as well, and we forget that history sometimes,” Geiger said.
“There are decisions that were made that we forget why they were made, and they were darn good decisions,” Geiger continues. “If we would understand them, we might spend a little more time on the horizon than debating the current.”
Geiger says he aimed to write the book so that the reader gets invested in the characters.
Pictures help tell the stories, too.
“Without some of these pictures you almost think some of these stories are ridiculous,” Geiger said.
Please see the complete version of this story in the March 25, 2021 print edition of The Brillion News. More information about Geiger's book, how to order and see him at an upcoming book signing is available at coreygeiger.com.