My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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BENONI NESBITT. Xenia is honored in being the dwelling-place of a man whose ability is recognized and whose character is established to the extent which is true of the Hon. Mr. Nesbitt. It is now forty-three years since he opened a law office in this city, since which time he has gained a high rank among the members of the bar in this vicinity and has demonstrated his understanding of legal lore, his skill in the management of causes, and his tact and acuteness as a pleader. He is one of the oldest attorneys in Greene County. He has held various positions of public responsibility, and had he been desirous of public life, might have held still more.

The father of our subject was Jacob Nesbitt, one of the pioneers of Greene County, who settled on Beaver Creek, in 1815 or 1816. Jacob Nesbitt was born in Washington County, Md., near the foot of North Mountain, in 1781. There he married Miss Catherine Tyler, who was born in Virginia about 1785. Some years after their marriage they drove to Ft. Pitt, now Pittsburg, whence the family household goods, farming utensils, etc., were taken by a flatboat to Cincinnati. The father with the horses came overland through Zanesville and Chillicothe to Cincinnati, where by a strange coincidence he arrived on the same day that that the flatboat did.

The family spent the first and probably the second year of their residence within this State on a farm on the Big Miami, near a village then called Colrain, in Hamilton County. Thence they removed to a farm now occupied by David Gray, seven miles northwest of Xenia, which was then almost a wilderness. There were but few settlers in this part of the county and but about six families within two or three miles of the Nesbitts, The father continued the improvements which had previously been begun, and by dint of energy and hard labor brought the three hundred acres which he occupied to an excellent state of productiveness, and it ranks to-day as one of the finest farms in the county. There the father lived until 1845 or 1846, when he retired from active life, sold his farm and removed to Xenia, then a town of twenty-five hundred inhabitants. The five sons and daughters who comprised the family of Mr. and Mrs. Nesbitt having married, the father and mother lived alone until the death of the mother in 1849, her decease having been occasioned by cholera. Soon afterward the father went to live with his daughter Elizabeth, wife of William Balentine, in Kenton, Hardin County, where he subsequently died about 1856. In politics he was a sterling Whig. He was a Deacon in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and for fifteen or twenty years had circuit preaching in his house, as there was no church edifice in the neighborhood.

The gentleman with whose name we introduce this sketch was born October 18, 1814, and was a babe in his mother’s arms when the family changed their residence to this county. Although there were no Indians in this vicinity at that time, game was abundant, from bear, deer and wolves down to the various classes of small game. His father was one of the prime movers in getting a subscription school located on his farm, and there the subject of this sketch obtained the greater part of his schooling. The school was held but three months in the year, but this length of time was sufficient when well spent to instill a desire for greater knowledge and lay a good foundation.

At the age of twenty-two years young Nesbitt left the parental roof, going to Springfield, where he embarked in a mercantile pursuit with his brother-in-law, John B. Carrick, who had married his eldest sister, Nancy. He also continued his reading and studying, adding to the knowledge which he had obtained in the school-room a considerable fund of information. He remained at Springfield until March, 1837, when he sold out his business interests and came to Xenia, where he has since resided. He engaged in merchandising here until 1843, when he sold and read law with R. F. Howard. In 1845, at Springfield, he was admitted to the bar, being examined at the same time with John Sherman and with him becoming a full-fledged lawyer.

In his early life, the Hon. Mr. Nesbitt was a Whig and on the disintegration of that party became a Republican. He wrote one of the first Republican platforms in the State of Ohio at a Congressional Convention at Xenia, which was adopted by it as well as by the surrounding counties. He has been a member of the State Board of Equalization for the landed property of this Senatorial District, and was Mayor of Xenia for many years, holding that office during the terrible cholera epidemic of 1849. He was a delegate to all the State conventions for about twenty years, when he was more actively engaged in political work. With these exceptions he has confined himself strictly to his law practice, which has been sufficient to demand all his energies and has afforded him a competence.

In August, 1864, Mr. Nesbitt was commissioned by President Lincoln a Captain of Cavalry, and assigned to the duty of Provost Marshal of the Seventh Congressional District, with headquarters at Columbus. He retained his official station until six months after the close of the war and sometime after the troops were mustered out of service, being the last Provost Marshal mustered out, and closing up all their business before he returned to his former home. The title which he then received is one by which he is familiarly known to this date.

At the home of the bride, January 16, 1839, Mr. Nesbitt was united in marriage with Mrs. Rachael B. Crosby, nee Maden, their union being blessed by the birth of six children, of whom three are still living. Their son, William B., volunteered four days after Ft. Sumter was fired on, becoming a private in the Twelfth Ohio Infantry, in which he served three years. He went to the field in May, participating in the memorable battles of the Second Bull Run, South Mountain and Antietam. After the second battle he was promoted for gallantry on the field, first becoming a Second and then a First Lieutenant. He was mustered out of the service in 1864, and soon after Gov. Brough tendered him the commission of Lieutenant-Colonel of the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth Ohio Infantry, which had enlisted for a year. With it he again went to the field, joining Thomas at Nashville and participating in the battle with Gen. Hood, one of the last contests of the war. At the end of the year he was mastered out and returned to his home. Shortly afterward, Secretary Stanton tendered him a Lieutenant’s commission in the regular army, and accepting, he was assigned to one of the new regiments, with which he served two years. Having married he then resigned, came to Xenia and went into the hardware and agricultural implement business, in which he is yet engaged.

Albert J., another of the surviving sons of Captain and Mrs. Nesbitt, resides in Dayton, and Walter L. is traveling for the Peninsular Stove Manufactory, in Minnesota and Dakota. The loving mother and faithful companion was removed from her loved ones by death in 1882, at the age of sixty-five years.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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