John D. Geoghagen was a tough Irishmen. He had to be to survive the horrors of the Civil War prison camp at Andersonville, GA.
Geoghagen (pronounced Gay-gun), who was to become one of Clark County’s first state representatives after statehood, was born in Galway, Ireland, in 1843 and emigrated to New York City in 1846. He enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War and quickly earned an officer’s commission.
Geoghagen saw a lot of action before he was taken prisoner and sent to the infamous prison camp where hundreds of his compatriots were beaten and starved to death or died of disease.
After the war, Geoghagen came west and fought Indians in the Modoc and Nez Perce campaigns. He settled in Vancouver in 1879.
Described as a solid-looking man with a full beard, he operated flour, feed and grocery businesses in Vancouver and served as justice of the peace. In 1889, at the age of 46, Geoghagen joined L.B. Clough, S.S. Cook and Amos F. Shaw in Clark County’s first legislative delegation.