All About Emma

Emma Wagner Giesy

By all accounts, Emma Wagner Giesy was one of the most independent minded members of the Aurora Colony—-not just among the women but also among the men.  Acclaimed author Jane Kirkpatrick has fictionalized Emma’s story in a trilogy of books, with the third book’s publication coinciding with this exhibit.  Research has indicated that, in Emma’s case at least, fiction does not stray far from truth.

Formerly of the Harmony Society

A member of the prominent Wagner family, Emma’s father had been one of the leading members of and later dissidents against the rule of George Rapp at his Harmony Society in Pennsylvania.

A Scout on the Oregon Trail

Emma married Christian Giesy, the eldest of fifteen Giesy siblings, and a man who projected the most public voice in support of Dr. Keil’s formation of a Christian Communal Society.  When Christian was selected as one of the nine scouts who were to pick out the new communal site in the West, Emma insisted on being the tenth.  She crossed the Oregon Trail with the scouts while pregnant, and gave birth to Andrew Jackson Giesy at Fort Steilacoom in October of 1853.

A Life Examined

Without giving away the details of her story, (we don’t want to ruin the story for you book buyers!) the tension of Emma’s life will be examined through documents and a rich supply of artifacts that capture the significance of her life and those of her relatives.  In many ways, when Emma was actively involved in the colony life, it was often “All About Emma”—or at least she was never far from the center of action.