George Riser was born in Germany but he and his family migrated to America and settled in a German speaking community in Ohio when he was a boy. He apprenticed as a shoemaker for 3 years and then worked as a journeyman shoemaker for another year. By the time he was 22 he owned his own shop.
He learned about the "Mormons" from an employee and was so curious, he packed up his wife and baby son and traveled to Nauvoo. After they arrived, the baby became very sick and Joseph Smith and Orson Hyde gave the baby a priesthood blessing and he was healed. This led George and Christiana to be baptized.
George sold his wagon and team of horses to purchase land & build a home and shop. He was known for making good quality shoes at inexpensive prices.
Later, the baby died but instead of blaming God, George & Christiana considered him to be the blessing that brought them into the church and their faith remained strong.
The making of shoes is quite a process: First, measure the foot.
Select a shoe-last that is closest in size
and attach it to the stand up "jack".
Cut a sole from a piece of cowhide
and tack it to the last.
Cut pieces of leather for the heel and the front part of the shoe,
and sew them together to make the "upper".
Soak the upper in water,
and stretch it over the last and innersole.
From left to right these pictures show:
1. Stretch the leather, tack it down and let it dry.
2. Poke holes with an awl, and sew with heavy flax thread.
3. Remove the tacks, cut an outer sole, glue, & tack with just a few tacks to bottom of sole.
4. Punch holes around sole with awl, insert a wooden peg in each hole & pound in.
Cut several outer heels with the heel stamp.
Attach with wooden pegs until at desired height, then add a final layer with glue and nails.
"Tussle" (remove) the finished shoe from the last with a pirate's hook.
Then start all over and make another one exactly like it. There was no left or right shoe. They could be rotated like tires on a car so they would wear longer.
If you wanted boots, the process was the same except the leather would be cut higher, after measuring the calf. These pieces were used to build up a form to the right size.
A pair of shoes at Riser Boot Shop cost $1.75. Boots cost $5.50. The average worker in Nauvoo earned about $1.00 per day.
George and Christianna left with the Saints to go west and he set up the first shoe making business there.