Nineteenth century immigrants to Kansas often brought with them heirlooms that had been passed down in their families. Many such objects have found their way into museum collections, including this early baby carriage.
The story of this unique baby carriage begins in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where it was made in 1811, half a century before Kansas became a state. George Geiger was just a baby when his father, John, designed the carriage for his son.
John Geiger had been apprenticed to a carriage maker as a young man. While he later became a successful merchant, John never forgot his skills in carriage making. When George was born, John designed the baby carriage in the style of stage coaches then in use, with a heavy body and a substantial canvas-covered top. Most of the work was done by a more experienced carriage maker, but John made the wheels.
The following description is from the Topeka Capital, April 23, 1927:
"As in large models, each wheel was constructed of five curved wooden segments apiece, bound by iron tires. The sides of the coach are more than sufficient height to keep the baby in; the body about 2 ½ feet long and 15 inches wide, and the whole standing 3 feet high. It has strong iron springs and wide leather thorobraces on which the body rests, making it ride very easily. Some of the original tan paint and black trimming still remain. Altho it is somewhat cumbersome, there always were sturdy Dutch girls to pull it in those days and it was the center of many a frolic among older children of the neighborhood. During the centenary celebration of Harrisburg many years later it had a prominent place in the procession."
George Geiger eventually left Pennsylvania, coming to Kansas via Ohio. He lived in Ellsworth for a short time and Topeka for much longer before dying in the latter city 1885. The carriage passed to his daughter, Malvina Geiger Lord, who presented it to the Kansas Museum of History.
Entry: Baby Carriage
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: November 1999
Date Modified: December 2014
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.