Robert A. Nisbet Jr.
This treatise was started from family records in the possession of my father, Robert A. Nisbet Sr. Additional information has been provided by my cousin Robert Porter Nisbet, my aunt Ruth Nisbet and numerous other family members over the last few years. My uncle, George Porter Nisbet, kept considerable notes on the Nisbet genealogy, and this work is founded on those notes. This essay is dedicated to the memory of George Porter Nisbet who took the time and interest to preserve the basis of what is presented here.
There is evidence that we can now trace our part of the Nisbet line back to Murdock Nisbet (1470-1558) of Hardhill Scotland. "Nisbet Narrations", as collected by the late Newton Alexander Nisbet, Crayton Printing Co., Charlotte, NC, 1961 contains our Nisbet story in Scotland (p. 323-330). Robert A. Nisbet Sr. (my father) contributed some family information to this book (page 410). A connection was made between the Allen Nisbet covered in "Nisbet Narrations" and materials obtained from the Fulton County Historical Society (Pennsylvania), as well as "A Genealogy of the Nesbit, Ross, Porter, and Taggart Families of Pennsylvania" by Mrs. Blanche T. Hartman which was privately published in Pittsburgh, PA in 1929.
Cemetery and census records from Indiana County, Pennsylvania show that Alexander Nisbet, and not William W. Nisbet, was the father of William Alexander Nisbet. This contradicts our family records, but the evidence is good. Cemetery records also confirm that James and Ann Nisbet were Alexander's parents. This information helped trace back the Nisbet history to Alexander Nisbet in Fulton County (previously Bedford County) in the 1770s.
It should be noted that the spelling of Nisbet has also been Nesbit. Most documentation refers to Nesbit rather than Nisbet for our family line in the 1700 and 1800's in America. The two portraits of a minister and wife shown on page two belonged to Emma and Amalia Nisbet, and are supposed to be portraits of early Nisbets.
My cousin, Robert Porter Nisbet, recently attended a genealogy seminar. The presenter advised researchers to be wary of genealogical stories which begin "Three brothers and a sister come to America from Ireland (or Scotland) in ..." It appears that many such stories circulate with doubtful validity. This was exactly the kind of information which we have on the Nisbets in America from William Fulton Nisbet. This information is now superseded by other sources. Robert has organized a number of genealogical volumes which cover the Nisbets, Porters, Stewarts, etc. We exchange information, and our names, dates, and relationships should match in almost all cases.
The writing style varies greatly due to the variety of sources that were combined. Personal autobiographies, as well as biographies by brothers, sisters, or a mate, were left intact. Other sources include newspaper articles, historical records, death certificates, and obituaries. I have visited the National Archives, and found various Nisbet families in the census information including Alexander Nisbet (1830, 1840), Mary Nesbit (1850), William Alexander Nisbet (1870, 1880, 1900, 1910), Edward A. Nisbet (1900, 1910), Solomon Brinker (1860, 1870) and George Porter (1880, 1900, 1910). The Military archives also contained interesting pension information about William Alexander Nisbet for his service in the Civil War.
This manuscript was created with WordPerfect and Ventura Publisher version 1.1. Photographs were scanned with a Dest or Logitech hand scanner. Charts were generated from the Family Ties Version 1.19 programmed by Computer Services of Provo, Utah. This version creates nice pedigree outline charts and family group charts, but does not create descendant charts after picking a person some generations in the past. This program is no longer supported and is NOT recommended to others.
Additional expansion of biographies and photographs are always appreciated. The early history is open to debate and is not (and probably never will be) completely clear. At some point I plan to publish this history more professionally, particularly with better reproduction on the photographs. I would like to thank my sister Debbie, and friends Mary Jo Devito and Andrea Satin for their editing efforts. Please send additions or corrections to:
Robert Alexander Nisbet Jr.
10101 S.W. 55th Avenue
Portland, OR 97219, USA
(503) 244-3971 (h)
The Nisbet family can be traced to the twelfth century. "Alexander Nisbet's Heraldic Plates," published in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1892, includes good information on early Nisbets from Scotland (Alexander was born in Edinburgh in April of 1657). The following excerpt is taken from that reference:
Nisbet first occurs in the public records as a place name in the early part of the twelfth century, when the lands situated in the parish of Edrom and county of Berwick were in possession of the earls of Dunbar and March. Cospatrick, the second earl who lived in the reigns of Alexander I (1107 - 1124), and David I (1124 - 1153), granted to the monastery of Coldingham the town lands of Nesebite, a grant confirmed by King David on 17th September, 1139. William de Nesebite was witness to a confirmation of the town lands of Nesbite granted to the priory of Coldingham by Patrick, fifth earl of Dunbar, who lived in the reigns of William the Lion (1165 - 1214) and Alexander II (1214 - 1249). Robert of Nesbit was witness to a charter granted by Robert, son of Alexander of Lundin, to the Abbey of Melrose, in the reign of King Alexander II (1214 - 1249).
Nisbets appear to have remained in the Border counties for several generations, but later some Nisbets were in other parts of Scotland. There were Nisbets in Sweden in the 16th century. Among the outstanding Nisbets were the well-known heraldic author William Nisbet and James Nisbet, the translator of the New Testament into Scots.
Lands in the possession of Nisbets included both East and West Nisbet, however the East Nisbet land was lost early. The "land of the Nisbets" is southeast of Edinburgh around the towns of Duns and Melrose, with the town of Nisbet another 15 miles southeast of Melrose. A noted Nisbet castle referred to as the Nisbet House is south of Duns, Berwickshire, near the banks of the Blackaddr River (see photograph). A thorough description of this property and Nisbets in Scotland was written by Robert Chancellor Nesbitt in chapter IV of "Nisbet of that Ilk" (1941). This chapter was updated for the publication "Nisbet House, The Ancestral Home of the Nisbets" published by the Nesbitt/Nisbet Society.
The property includes about two hundred acres and was originally a border stronghold. The original castle was built before 1093. It was demolished and replaced by the current Nisbet House circa 1630. The west tower was added in 1774. This Nisbet property was lost by Sir Alexander Nisbet centuries ago and has not been in Nisbet hands since. When visiting a map shop in Edinburgh in 1994 a map of Bewickshire from 1654 shows a W. Nifbet, with a building symbol south of Duns, a Nifbethill south of that, and E. Nifbet to the east. Before visiting the castle one might want to contact the Nesbitt/Nisbet Society for information about getting inside.
It appears that our Nisbet line in America may be traced back as far as Murdock Nisbet of Hardhill, Scotland, b. 1470, d. 1558. Murdock translated the Bible from the Gaelic into Scots, and was one of the "Nisbets of Greenholme". Nisbet Narrations" by Newton Alexander Nisbet, 1961 (p. 323-330) outlines the early Nisbets in Scotland and America. This source states:
Murdock Nisbet, Hardhill Scotland b. 1470, d. 1558 had son as, Alexander Neisbet, he has son as, James Neisbet, b. 1602 of Lanarkshire, Scotland. He had 2 sons as James Nisbet and Captain John Nisbet
Considerable information can be found on Captain John Nisbet. The following was found in a volume in the main library in Edinburgh, during a visit in 1994, the title of which now escapes me (my apologies).
Nisbet, John (1627-1685) covenanter, born about 1627, the son of James Nisbet of Hardhill, in the parish of Loudoun, Ayrshire. On attaining manhood he took service as a soldier on the continent. Returning to Scotland in 1650 he witnessed the coronation of Charles II at Scone, and took the covenants. Shortly afterwards he married Margaret Law and settled at Hardhill as a farmer.
After the restoration he took an active and prominent part in the struggles of the covenanters for religious and civil liberty. He refused to countenance the curates and attended the ministrations of the outed ministers, renewed the covenants at Lanark in 1666, and was one of the small band who published the declarations of the Societies at Rutherglen, Glasgow and Sanquhar. He fought at Pentland 28 November 1666 till covered with wounds, he fell down and was stripped and left for dead upon the field. At nightfall however he crept away unobserved, and lived to take part in the engagements at Durmlog 1 June 1679 and Bothwell Bridge 22 June 1679, where he held the rank of Captain. For this he was denounced as a rebel and forfeited three thousand merks (165l sterling) being offered for his head.
In November 1685 he was surprised with three others, at a place called Midland, in the parish of Fenwick, Ayrshire, his captor being a cousin of his own, Lieutenant Nisbet. His companions were instantly shot, but for the sake of the reward he was spared and, being brought to Edinburgh, was tried and condemned to death. He was executed at the Grassmarket there on 4 December 1685 following in the fifty-eighth year of his age. His wife predeceased him in December 1683. They had several children, but only three sons survived him - Alexander, Hugh, and James, the last, Sargeant Nisbet, being the author of a diary, chiefly of his own religious experiences, in which he relates a number of incidents respecting his parents.
Other notes on Captain John Nisbet include that he married Margaret Law in 1651. They had six children including Hugh, James, Alexander, John, Allen, and one daughter who died as a child. His brother James was executed in 1684 in Glasgow, Scotland for his religious belief. James had a son, John, who was also executed in 1683 in Kilmarnock, Scotland.
As of 1994 the location where the executions took place in the Grassmarket, Edinburgh is marked by a plaque and a large circular platform. The plaque reads in part, this memorial recalls the men and women, nobles and plain folk, ministers, soldiers, and others, who were executed at this place, and else in Scotland between 1661 and 1688 for their adherance to the reformed religion and to the covenants. It also includes the name of John Nisbet, who was executed along with Edward Marshall on Dec. 4, 1685. Around the outside of the circular platform it reads, on this spot many martyrs and covenanters died for the protestant faith.
Hugh Nisbet, b. 1664, the oldest child of John (1627-1685) went to Ireland in 1685. He settled in Loughbrickland, near Killyeagh, County Down. He had four sons and two daughters, including John Maxwell Nesbitt. The children all came to America in 1754. (Nisbet Narrations", p. 408).
James Nisbet (1667-1728), son of Captain John Nisbet, married Agnes Woodburn. He wrote a book titled "The Life of the Persecuted" about his father and was the Governor of Edinburgh Castle. Captain John Nisbet's son Alexander was born in 1671. He married and had a son Will. John Nisbet was another son of Captain John Nisbet, and notes of him in "Nisbet Narrations" are hard to find.
Allen Nisbet was another son of Captain John Nisbet. There is some suggestion that he
joined his brother Hugh in Ireland ("Nisbet Narrations" p. 414). Other notes say
he died in Roxburghshire, Scotland in 1720. Allen had five sons including Allen b. 1700,
John b. 1702, Thomas, James b. 1704, and Alexander. James and Alexander lived and died in
Scotland. The three other sons Allen, John, and Thomas all came to America and settled in
Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, circa 1725-1728 (Nisbet Narrations" p. 326).
Please note that "The Nesbitt Family Status Report" by Charles W. Clutz, Fulton
County Historical Society (F.C.H.S.), 1977 (p. 5) shows James Nesbit and Anges Woodburn of
Edinburgh, Scotland being the parents of these five sons, not Allen.
I now believe that the first of our Nisbet line to set foot in America included Allen, John, and Thomas Nesbit circa 1725-1728. One source states that John Nesbit came to America in 1725 with his mother and married a Miss McDowell, who came on the ship with him ("Nisbet/Nesbitt Notes" by John Pratt Nesbit). This source goes on to quote records of Chester County, PA (Pennsylvania) in the Historical Library of Philadelphia., PA where it is stated that John, Alexander, Thomas, Allen, and James Nesbit landed at Chester, PA in 1728. It notes that Allen and John settled in Hopewell Township, Cumberland County, Alexander in Lancaster County, Thomas in Franklin County, and James in York County, PA. This would appear to contradict Nisbet Narrations, which states that James and Alexander never came to America.
Another account describes, "Alexander, John, James, Allen, and Thomas Nesbit, some of whom crossed the seas and settled in Penn's land about 1728. This little band landed at New Castle-upon-Delaware, whence its members spread into many counties of Pennsylvania" ("A Genealogy of the Nesbit, Ross, Porter, and Taggart Families of Pennsylvania" by Mrs. Blanche T. Hartman, Pittsburgh, Pa, 1929, p. 9).
One source, "The Nesbitt Family Status Report" by Clutz, Fulton, states that Thomas was the son of John. In addition, Hartman states that William and Thomas, probably sons of John Nesbit, the farmer, settled in Antrim Township (p. 9). Newton Alexander Nisbet in "Nisbet Narrations" p. 324-328, contains extensive Nisbet family notes showing that John and Thomas were brothers, both sons of Allen Nisbet.
Three sources state that Thomas Nesbit had a son William born in either 1734 ("Nisbet Research" Family Tree, 1987 F.C.H.S.), 1736 ("Nisbet Narrations" p. 330, and "Notes on the Thomas Nisbet (Nesbit) Family of Cumberland County", or 1750 ("The Nesbitt Family Status Report" p. 5-6). The 1734 and 1736 birth dates would seem very close to be the grand son of John Nesbit, born in 1702. Although the evidence seems split, I tend to believe that John and Thomas were brothers.
John Nesbit was a farmer, and was taxed in Lancaster, now Cumberland County in 1733
John Nesbit, settled in Hopewell Township, Cumberland County, on Conedogwinet Creek, near
Newville. This is twenty-five miles west of present day Harrisburg.
Thomas Nesbit, son of Allen Nisbet, settled in Antrim Township, Cumberland County and was on the tax lists from 1751 through 1782. A warrant for 279 acres was issued in 1762, and a patent was granted in 1769. He kept several horses and cows. This area became Franklin County when it was created from Cumberland County in 1784.
Thomas married Jean Finne, sister of Alexander Finne (Finney), possibly before 1734, but the date is uncertain. (Sloan notes and Fulton county Nisbet chart). They had six children, including William, Alexander, Mary, Frances, Susannah, and Martha ("Nisbet Narrations" p. 328, and "Notes on the Thomas Nisbet (Nesbit) Family of Cumberland County, Penna").
Thomas Nisbet died prior to April 25, 1783. Thomas's wife Jean was dead by this time, possibly dying in 1781. On April 27, 1783 lands formerly owned by Thomas Nisbet in Antrim Twp, Franklin County, were released to William Nisbet by the heirs of William Nisbet.
Daughter Mary married Hugh McKee of Cumberland County prior to 1783. Martha married James Dixon (Dickson?) of Cumberland County prior to 1783. Susannah married James McKee of Cumberland County prior to 1783. Frances Nisbet married William Sloan (son of William Sloan and Ann Means) prior to 1783 and moved to Bedford County.
William Nisbet was born in either 1734, 1736, or 1750. His father deeded him 150 1/2
acres in 1770. He married Mary Elizabeth Irwin by 1772. Together they had eight children.
William served in the Revolutionary War under the First Call of Oct. 1777 and as a private
from 1780-1782 under Capt. John Woods (Penna Arch 5th Ser. Vol 6 p. 76, 92, 104, 138, 522,
576, 583, 623). Tax records from 1779, 1780, and 1782 show him keeping 3-6 horses, 4-10
cows, and one Negro. He died in 1809 in Preble County, Ohio.
Alexander was the son of Thomas Nisbet of Cumberland County. He was probably born in the 1730s. Alexander Nisbet moved west a short distance to "The Great Cove", Air Township, Bedford County Pennsylvania in 1760. He purchased a land warrant in 1767, but the Quit Rent is stated to begin in 1760, indicating his probable date of settlement. This part of Bedford County was separated into Fulton County in 1850. The History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Penn, 1884 makes reference to Alexander Nisbet. In the Air Township section, (p. 635) it states, "Five miles south of this is a tract granted by propriety warrant to William Sloan and "Alexander Nisbet", June 11, 1767, which is still in possession of the descendants of the warrantees." This land was south of McConnellsburg. The tax rolls of 1773 show Alexander Nesbit and William Sloan. On page 668 is stated, "Early pioneers in Air Township included Sloan... indirectly, the Gibsons and the Coyles are represented by the Kendalls, Alexander Nesbit by John Peoples and the Nelsons and the Conrads..."
Alexander Nisbet married a woman named Jean ("Notes on the Thomas Nisbet (Nesbit) Family of Cumberland County, Penna" (p. 2) & "Nisbet Narrations" (p. 328). Alexander and Jean had six children including Thomas (b. 1764), Martha (b. 1767), James (b. 1772), Alexander (b. 1776), Mary (Polly Susan) (b. 1776), and another unnamed child (George P. Nisbet letter to Newton A. Nisbet, 1961 from William F. Nisbet letter 1891). "Nisbet Narrations" lists the children as Thomas, Martha, James, Alexander, Mary and Susannah, a very similar group of names. This latter list matches the will records exactly.
Son Thomas Nisbet married Agnes Boals and son Alexander Nisbet married Rebecca Gibson (1806), both in the Presbyterian Church, Mercersburg, PA. Martha Nisbet married James Baird and Mary Nisbet married John Baird. James Nisbet married Ann Sloan (all from "Notes on the Thomas Nisbet (Nesbit) Family of Cumberland County, Penna").
Susannah (1775/76-1855) married James Peoples (1774-1859) in the same church in June 1806. The History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Penn, 1884 refers to John Peoples Sr. (p. 639) who purchased two hundred acres of land from Alexander Nesbit on or after 1802. This purchase may have been from Alexander's son Alexander, since Alexander Nesbit Sr., died in 1777. John People's son, James, married Susan Nesbit in 1804, which is close to the other reference of 1806. Susannah and James had a son James in 1809 who resided on the old 500 acre farm all his days. Susannah and James are buried in the Big Spring graveyard, four miles south of McConnellsburg.
Alexander Nisbet died when his family was still young in 1777 (will proven on Jan. 9, 1778 in Bedford County, Deed book 1, p. 21). The will lists brothers William and Hugh McKee (brother-in-law), and that Alexander was a son of Thomas and Jean Nisbet. Tax records show widow Jean Nisbet owning 150 acres, two horses, and four cows in 1779, adding four sheep in 1783.
Alexander and Jean are probably buried in the Big Springs cemetery, Knauf farm, approximately four miles south of McConnellsburg, where many early settlers were buried. The "Nesbitt Family Status Report" (p. 8) states "There are no markers but both William (Sloan) and Frances (Nisbet, sister to Alexander) are believed buried in the Big Springs cemetery... Only field stones used for markers, initials only used and many times not even that. Believe earliest Nesbits buried there." James Nisbet (1772 - 18?? )
Alexander Nisbet's son James (b. 1772) was a saddler (one who makes, repairs or sells saddles and other furnishings for horses) in McConnellsburg, on the turnpike to Pittsburgh ("The Nesbitt Family Status Report"). "Nisbet Narrations" states that James Nisbet married Ann Sloan (p. 328). In addition, the "Notes on Thomas Nesbit" states that James married Ann Sloan (probably in Bedford County).
James and Ann had three children, James Noble, William, and Alexander (b. 1799) according to the family notes of William Fulton Nisbet. No reference is made to James's wife. "The Nesbitt Family Status Report" suggests a possible forth son, Peter (p. 3). The tombstone inscription of son Alexander Nisbet of Blairsville, PA lists Alexander as the son of James and Ann.
"The Nesbitt Family Status Report" states that James owned a number of properties including a one hundred acre farm where he lived in 1823. His sister Susannah and brother Alexander were married in the Presbyterian Church in Mercersburg, Bedford County. The 1790 census of Bedford County lists no Nisbets or Nesbits. The 1800 census lists no James Nesbits in the county, but a James Nisbot, which could be him. The 1810 and 1820 census lists a James Nesbet in Air Township, Bedford County.
James and Ann's son William had a son William Fulton Nisbet who lived in Yonkers, New York (source of early history). Contrary to the family records, son Alexander did not have a son William W. Nisbet. Alexander did have four children, Isabella Ann, James, Mary Jane, and William Alexander Nisbet. Alexander's brother, James Noble, may have had a son William W. Nisbet. The 1850 Census for Indiana County, Pennsylvania lists a James Nesbet, age 42, a merchant, with an eleven year old son, William W. This William W. Nisbet most likely served in the Civil War.
James evidently decided to leave McConnellsburg around 1825 for the borough of
Blairsville, Indiana County, PA, when the canal from the Susquehanna to the Ohio was just
being completed ("The Nesbitt Family Status Report" p. 3). James's son James
Nobile and Alexander also moved to the Blairsville area at this time and started careers
as merchants. "The Nesbitt Family Status Report" states that James appears in
the census in Poland Township, Trumbull County, Ohio (now Mahoning County). This reference
believes that James took up farming in this area in 1831. No will or estate administration
has been found for James.
Alexander Nisbet was born in Pennsylvania in 1799, the son of James and Ann Sloan Nisbet. Evidence suggests that Alexander was born and grew up in Bedford County. In or before 1826 Alexander, his father James (and wife Ann?) and his brother James Noble moved to Indiana County. J.N. Nesbett is listed as one of seven teachers on the roll of the Presbyterian Sunday School for 1826/27 "History of Indiana County" (Arms & White, published by Caldwell, 1880, p. 355). This places the family in Indiana County at this early date.
Blairsville was laid out in 1818 when it became known that a turnpike would be built across the site. It was incorporated into a borough in 1825. In 1829 the Pennsylvania Canal was completed from Pittsburgh as far as Blairsville. A 1829 canal boat trip was described, saying "We ran safely, landed that night in Blairsville, sold boards to Nobile Nesbitt, to be delivered at Livermore." (Stewart, 1913).
"The History of Indiana County", Arms and White, p. 432, states that the first merchant on the site of the village of Saltsburg, Indiana County, was Alexander Nesbit, whose location dates from about 1828. Saltsburg was a small town about ten miles down the Conemaugh River from Blairsville. After a short period Alexander sold the business and moved to Blairsville. The Blairsville Record and Conemaugh Reporter carried an advertisement dated Oct. 29, 1829 for "Fall and Winter Goods" by J. Noble Nisbet & Co. and A. Nisbet & Co.
Arms & White (p. 357) lists a J.N. Nesbit as Burgess of Blairsville in 1831 and Alexander Nisbet as assistant burgess in 1832. Arms & White (p. 349) and another "History of Indiana County" by Stewart (1913, p.463) states that the first gristmill in Blairsville was purchased by Nobile and his brother, Alexander Nesbit, in 1833. They ran the grist mill and carding machine, as well as a large store, which compared to any of the later mercantile houses of the borough. The mill had three runs of stone, and was well patronized. It was destroyed by an explosion, which killed a boy. The old foundation can still be seen, about one hundred yards below the lower Graff store , Arms and White p. 349.
Stewart lists the Nesbits as some of the early business men of Blairsville. The 1837 directory of Blairsville lists Alexander Nesbit as a merchant, and J. N. Nesbit as managing a steam flouring mill, spinning, carding and cassinet factory. The Indiana Register, Feb. 3, 1841 announced that the assignees of A. Nisbet offered for sale "A Large Three Story Brick Steam Mill". The Indiana Democrat & Farmers & Mechanics Weekly Advertiser on July 6, 1842 reported that J. Noble Nesbit received 84 votes in a military election for brigade inspector, but was unsuccessful.
Alexander married Mary McKelvey circa 1829. Mary was born in Ireland in 1796. Mary's parents, Edward McKelvey and Isabella Henderson, emigrated from Ireland to America sometime after Mary's birth, possibly in 1797. Alexander and Mary had four children, Isabella Ann (b. 1829 - died nine months later), James (b. 1831), Mary Jane (b. 1833), and William Alexander (b. 1835).
Alexander Nisbet died in 1849, leaving his widow Mary. The 1850 census shows Mary as a single parent employed as a merchant in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. Besides the three children the census shows Isabella McKelvey (89 years old), Jane McKelvey (51 years old), and Isabella Hart (15 years old) living with the family. Isabella McKelvey is shown as born in Ireland.
My Uncle George Nisbet's family records state that William W. Nisbet, not Alexander Nisbet, was the father of William A. Nisbet. My research has convinced me that Alexander was his father. First, William Alexander Nisbet's death certificate lists his father as Alex Nisbet. Second, the 1830 and 1840 census records do not show a William W. Nisbet living in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. The census does show a Alexander Nisbet with the right family size and ages in Indiana County for these years. Lastly, cemetery records from the old Blairsville cemetery show Alexander Nisbet and Mary McKelvey buried together, with Mary's parents close by. The dates from the cemetery all match census and other records. Cemetery information states that Alexander Nisbet was the son of James and Ann Nisbet.
During a visit to Blairsville in 1993, the fate of the Old Blairsville Cemetery was determined. The Old Blairsville Cemetery was located catercorner to the Hebron Lutheran Church on North Liberty St. and one block from Campbell Street. During the 1950's the city council decided to removed the head stones and turn the cemetery into a playground. Ruth Miller of the Blairsville Historical Society does not believe that any bodies were removed, just the head stones. Even today you can look into the woods beyond the play ground and find several head stones lying flat on the ground. It is unfortunate that this historic graveyard met this fate.
It is not known where Alexander's brother, James Noble Nisbet, is buried. He is not listed for the Old Blairsville Cemetery or in Indiana County records of the current Blairsville Cemetery. I was not able to review the current Blairsville Cemetery records due to an uncooperative caretaker. It is quite likely that James Noble Nisbet moved out of Blairsville later in his life.
Alexander and Mary Nisbet's eldest son James married a woman whose name is not known. They had two daughters, Matilda and Anna. Anna married a Mr. Kennedy of Burlington, Iowa.
Mary Jane Nisbet married Solomon Brinker of Greensburg, PA. During the 1860s they lived in Unity Township just east of Greensburg. Solomon and Mary were farmers. Mary and Solomon had four children, including Mary Elizabeth (b. 1860), Edwin or Edward A. (b. 1862), Jane M. Brinker (nicknamed Jennie, b. 1864), and William Nisbet Brinker (1866- 1912). Mary Elizabeth married Oliver P. Long, and Jane married Charles C. Hileman, a prominent banker of Greensburg. Edwin married Eva Goehring. William Nisbet Brinker married Emma A. Thomas, and became an important businessman in Greensburg in the men's furnishings and clothing business.
Mary Jane Nisbet died in 1869 from unknown causes. The 1870 census shows Solomon as a
farmer with $10,000 in real estate, his four children, and James McKelvy, age 68, born in
Ireland. A Brinker family tree showing ancestors and additional descendants was compiled
by Wesley Robinson of Greensburg, PA in 1970.
William was the third child of Alexander Nisbet and Mary McKelvey, and was born in Blairsville, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. He had an older brother James (b. 1831) and an older sister Mary (b. 1833). When William A. was only fourteen years old his father died, and when he was seventeen his mother died also.
William attended a college in Blairsville (boys seminary). He moved out of Blairsville and ran a small store in Natrona, PA. After selling the store he manufactured vinegar at the homestead farm of Phillapena Stieren Brackenridge. Later he manufactured chemicals with Dr. Edward Stieren who was patentee of the process. One of these was potassium bromide, made from waste waters from the Natrona Salt Manufacturing Co. Herman and Phillipena Stieren, and William were principals in this remunerative chemical concern.
He served as a soldier in the Union Army in the Civil War with the Pennsylvania volunteers, Company B, 133rd regiment. He enlisted on August 1, 1862 at Johnstown, at the age of twenty-seven. William attained the rank of Corporal and was detached to serve as a clerk in division headquarters for much of his service. He was discharged May 23, 1863 in Harrisburg, six weeks before the major battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
William and Louisa Stieren were married December 3, 1867 in Harrison Township, Allegheny County, PA. They had four children, Edward (b. 1871), William (b. 1872), Benjamin (b. 1873), and Amalia (b. 1878). They also adopted Emma Barbara Knapp, who was born in 1867.
William was a member of the Republican party. Both he and his wife were both members of the Lutheran church. Eventually Herman Stieren went to Texas and William surrendered his interests in the chemical business. William moved to Pittsburgh from Natrona in 1890. He and Louisa were divorced around this time. Louisa lived with the family of her son Edward in the year 1900. She later moved to Oakland, California to live with her son William. She died in Oakland in 1911.
William hired a pension attorney in 1896 to qualify for a Civil War pension as a partial invalid. Several doctors wrote statements as to his poor health. William was 5 feet 8 1/2 - 9 inches tall, with blue eyes and brown hair. He is described as short of breath, having a rheumatic condition, weighing 225 to 235 lbs, with cramping of the limbs, swollen hands, heart trouble, and a waddling walk. One doctor wrote,
"he has always been more or less short of breath due to asthmatic trouble, which precludes him from walking rapidly or to ascend stairs without great care and often stopping for breath. I would exclude him from even the remotest possibility of performing manual labor...it would not be worth 15 cents a day. He could not handle a pick or shovel two minutes without danger of dropping dead" (1897 and 1898).
His obese condition started as early as 1892. Whether William was really this out of shape and sick or whether it was part of a scam for a Civil War pension we will never know. On one pension application William listed his occupation as school teacher.
William lived alone during his last years, boarding at the Ramsey Hotel at 112 Diamond Street, Pittsburgh. He sold life insurance for the Preferred Accident Insurance Co. His pension went from $6 a month in 1903 to $22.50 a month in November of 1912. He wrote several page long handwritten letters to the pension office in October 1912. William died of heart failure on January 1, 1913. The date is documented in his Civil War pension file.
The Pittsburgh Gazette Times lists a Henry Nesbit death notice on January 3, 1913, saying he was 77 years old, and to be buried in the St. Claire Cemetery, Greensburg, PA. This was actually William, with Henry being a nickname. He was buried with the Brinker family (his sister Mary Jane was the first wife of Solomon Brinker). Both his birth dates and death dates differ from previous family information. He filled in his birth date himself for his Civil War pension, and the 1835 date is consistent with census information.
Emma was the adopted daughter of William Alexander and Louisa Nisbet. She retained her original last name. The 1880 census shows that her mother was born in Pennsylvania, and lists Emma as a servant. Emma moved to southern California at some point and lived there the rest of her life. Robert and Jean Nisbet helped her to get a cataract operation in 1944 which permitted her to see during her declining years.
Edward was born in a building on Grant Street in Pittsburgh, PA, the first son of William A. and Louisa Nisbet. His pregnant mother had come there the night before on a mule-drawn canal boat from Tarentum, PA down the Allegheny River. Edward was the oldest of William Alexander's four children and went to work at an early age. He did not go to college or marry until the other four children had the money needed to complete their education. He took courses and scored the highest in his class on the exams to become a C.P.A. Accounting became his principal occupation. Edward worked out of an office in the Vandergrif building on Forth Street.
In 1906 he married Caroline Virginia Porter, and together they had two boys, George Porter Nisbet (b. 1908), and Robert Alexander Nisbet (b. 1911). Virginia Gates Bull (niece to Edward) remembers Edward A. Nisbet as a stern, strict father. He had high expectations of the boys. He treated Virginia completely different. Edward always had a treat (candy, toy) for Virginia in his pocket, which he called the fairy pocket. After Lindbergh made his flight Virginia ran into him after Sunday school and Ed told her to reach into the fairy pocket. He had gotten her a medallion that had been printed with Lindbergh's flight across it.
He spoke German fluently, a byproduct of his German heritage on his Mother's side. Edward was not a particularly athletic man and stood about 5 feet 10 inches tall. He was very protective of his boys, and did not let them have roller skates or a tennis racket for fear of them getting hurt. Sometimes Edward would play street baseball with his sons. The kids were amused by the awkward way he had of running. He talked about it, but didn't often take vacations or go fishing. Edward wrote the following letter to his son Robert in 1920:
Shreveport, La. Feb 12, 1920
My dear Bob,
Well dear little pal, dad was awfully glad to get your nice letter, but sorry that your report was not as good as George's. Am glad you were promoted. The box of arrowheads and petrified wood I am sending are for you and George and Dad, the three good pals. We will study about these things and the Indians who lived here and in other parts of the United States. Won't that be fun? I hope your teacher gets well soon. Then you must be good to her so that she does not get sick again. Take good care of Mama and try to help her all you can. The dollar I enclose is for you because you were promoted. Tell Mama to put it away for you. With dearest love for all, I am,
Yours ever lovingly, Daddie
Edward was the family photographer. He had a Kodak with bellows. Excellent with his hands, he liked to tinker in his basement workshop. He was a good story teller and always had a story to fit the moment. After dinner they would pass around a wooden nut bowl full of nuts with a nut cracker, and tell stories. The families of Edward Nisbet and William Gates (married to the two Porter sisters) were very close. They spent every holiday together, alternating whose house they celebrated at. He briefly tried his hand at oil wildcatting near Laredo, Texas, going for four to six weeks at a time. He never did get a big strike and gave it up. Edward continued as a C.P.A. and became the owner of the Invincible Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturing Co. located in Canal Dover, Ohio (now Dover, Ohio). It is unknown whether the company still exists. It made large cleaners for industrial and hotel use.
Edward didn't like doctors and didn't know he had diabetes. One night in late October 1929 he and Caroline were on their way back from seeing the lights at the top of the inclined plane for the 50th Anniversary of the invention of the electric light bulb. Caroline was driving (Edward never did have the patience to drive) and dropped Edward off at the house while she went to park a block away. When she returned he had had a heart attack. He was taken to the hospital and was recuperating. The doctors found his diabetic condition and instructed him how to inject insulin. Within a short time he had a second heart attack and died. He was only 58 when he died of diabetes and angina pectoralis. Edward wrote the following letter to his son George when George was away at College in 1929:
At Home, October 13, 1929 My Dear George,
Ever since receiving your last letter I have been very busy during the day and very tired at night. I thank you, George, for your sympathy for me in the loss of my brother, your Uncle Will; it was a great shock to me, pal, even though Uncle Will and I had seen each other and written each other seldom during the past few years. Still he was my brother! George, a brother is the closest relative a man has and there is a certain "tie that binds" which it is hard to explain. Uncle Will's death brings back to me so many recollections of our boyhood days together. It all goes to make one realize that one should do more for one's loved ones than one has been doing. I felt the same way when each of my parents were taken. Life to a young person seems long and really unending, but it is "so" short after all. I know Aunt Agnes will be glad to hear from you, as also Aunt Mella and Aunt Emma. The two aunties and Uncle Ben and Aunt Jane went to Oakland for the funeral services. We had telegraphed flowers. Aunt Mella wrote us that the flowers had been beautiful; also that Uncle Will had a host of friends. He belonged to the Masonic Blue Lodge and consistory. There were 82 floral pieces in all. This shows how well he was thought of. He really died of acute indigestion, brought on by eating such food at a party as he had abstained from eating for months. This goes to show again, pal, that more people have died from overeating or wrongly eating than from starvation.
Mother and I have read with interest the studies you are carrying in your schedule. It's a pretty hard schedule and all right if you have not included more than you can handle successfully and without injury to your health. You, of course, have gone into these matters with your instructors and we therefore conclude that you are making no mistake. You know that mother and I are so interested in everything pertaining to our boys and that our prayers are with you always.
We are always glad to hear from you and Bob and follow you throughout each day in our thoughts. God bless you both and keep you in our constant prayers. Mother joins me in deepest love for you both. Ever lovingly,
P.S. It will be interesting to you to know that I have included recently as "Invincible" users, (5 H.P. machines), Carnegie Steel Co., Pittsburgh Steel Co., and the National Tube Co. Not so bad? Eh! Wot?
Caroline was born on Easter Sunday in Oil City, Pennsylvania, the daughter of George Porter and Kate Rose Thropp. Caroline went to Allegheny College in Meadville, PA and then the school of Home Economics of Drexel College in Philadelphia, PA. She practiced elocution (public speaking) and gave "readings and recitations of very great satisfaction to a large number of people at Allegheny College and audiences in Meadville." One program included The Legend of the Organ Builder, Spinning Song, and Grandma at the Masquerade.
She was a teacher of elocution at the Meadville Conservatory of Music. She went to Temple to learn Domestic Science. Later she headed the school of Home Economics at the Lillian Massey School in Toronto, Canada. She married Edward A. Nisbet in November, 1906.
In 1917 she traveled west to see the National Parks, without Edward or her two boys. The following is a letter she wrote to Edward while at the Yellowstone Park Hotel. She signed the letter "Ginger", evidently a nickname between her and Ed.
Yellowstone Lake Hotel
August 24th, 1917
After being thoroughly fed up on geysers, enough to last me a good part of my natural life, I am tonight very tired and sleepy. We have been doing "Yellowstone" by auto and it is a splendid way, going over the new Cody road opened last year, and in many places following the old stage road. Yellowstone does not compare in beauty to Glacier Park, in fact they cannot be compared, as they are so different--the former a beautiful surprise at every turn, such magnificent mountain scenery, while Yellowstone, excepting of course, the wonderful canyons Yellowstone and Shoshone, is curious, queer, and uncanny.
It seems as if Nature had had a regular tantrum here, and completely overturned her abode. So much of the ground seems to be the roof of a mighty furnace--while below is heard all kinds of rumblings and hisses, which is given vent in boiling mud pools, escaping steam, and the geysers. One truly has to watch his step, for if they stray out of the narrow path, may find herself in a pool of boiling water or at the bottom of a great natural oven. Much of the formation is changing too. Yesterday morning a geyser was pointed out, which was new that morning, and some formerly active have ceased their activities.
We have been riding uncovered autos or walking over these curiosities since Tuesday morning being in the hot sun all day and now our noses and faces in general are a rich cerise. Tomorrow comes our last ride, of 86 miles back to Cody. There the final roasting and browning will take place, and we will be literally "done to a turn".
Today we saw a queer geyser, the fish one, right down by the edge of the lake (a large natural cauldron of boiling water where a fisherman might catch his fish and cook it without leaving his place. The government forbade the practice though. They have stringent regulations trying to protect the park from tourists damaging the natural wonders and protect the game. It is a wonderful place to fish.
Last night we saw fifteen bears. Tell George mother not only saw the three bears, mother, father, and little bear, but all their cousins and aunts and uncles. We saw eight larger grizzlies and four little ones and three little black bears. They are quite tame, although people are not allowed to go too near the grizzlies. Tonight we saw eight black bears, four little cubs. Two are regular pets and come right up on the hotel porch to beg. I have some great stories to tell the boys about them when I get home next week. The weather has been warm during the day but cool in the evenings. The 6th of Jan. there was 50 feet of snow on the Cody road which had to be tunneled out and the temp goes down to 57 below zero.
I have had all mail forwarded to Cody so expect to get your letters tomorrow night.
It is hard to get mail when travelling through the park. We leave for Denver tomorrow so
will write you from there or Cody. I shall be so glad to hear from you all- for I miss you
very much. All out of paper so must say good night but love to all Daddy and the boys.
Virginia was a marvelous cook and a very nice person. She would sit down and do all the mending when visiting her son George's home. In her later years she became very hard of hearing. She also became very careful with her money.
One time she was traveling in a horse and buggy with her father, George Porter, in western Pennsylvania among the oil fields. The horse picked up its ears, got nervous and hard to control. For the first time, a loud automobile came chugging on by them. Caroline often said that she probably lived in the period of most development and technological change in America, including the inventions of the telephone, wireless radio, television, transcontinental travel, steamships, modern airplanes, oil and steel industries, space travel etc. Son Robert Sr. says she was a great mom.
After Caroline's husband Edward died in 1929 she continued to live in Pittsburgh. Her sister, Katherine Virginia, was also widowed in 1935. They lived together in Pittsburgh for twenty years or more. Caroline eventually started getting quite deaf, and her sister was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The two of them moved to Montclair, New Jersey where they shared an apartment close to Virginia Bull, daughter of Katherine Virginia. Katherine died in 1961, and Caroline lived with her son George in Vermont, and sometimes with her son Robert in Connecticut until the time she died in 1965.
William was the son of William Alexander Nisbet, and brother to Benjamin and Edward. He moved from Pennsylvania with his wife Agnes Wieland to Oakland, California. He worked for a redwood lumber business (Union Lumber Co.) in San Francisco, and had a good head for figures. He used to take the ferry over to San Francisco every weekday for years. He had two sons, Fred and Paul.
Agnes Wieland had an older brother Charles and an Aunt and Uncle Charles and Anna Bollman, who at one time lived in Hanover, Germany. Charles was a descendant of Justus Erick Bollman. Justus was born in Hanover and was educated in medicine. According to two magazine articles from 1899 and 1950 Justus was involved with an unsuccessful attempt to free the French patriot Lafayette from a prison in Austria in 1794. He came to America in 1796 and settled in Philadelphia. At times he returned to Europe, including a trip to Austria in 1815.
Very little is known about Frederick, who was born in Pittsburgh in 1901. Sometime after his birth the family moved to Oakland, California. Fred married Lillian Yuill in Oakland in 1925, and they had one child together, Ruth, born in 1927. It is unknown what occupation Fred had during his life. He died in 1958, and it is believed that Lillian died sometime in the 1960s.
Their daughter Ruth married Charles Chapman in 1947. They had three children Janet, Charlene, and Susan. Ruth later broke up with Charles, and moved out of California and cannot be found at this time.
Paul was the son of William Henry Nisbet and Agnes Wieland, and was born in the family home on Dolores Ave. in Oakland, California. Paul decided he was going to marry his childhood neighbor, Mariam (Mimi) Heino, when he was fourteen. They married when he was twenty and she eighteen in 1930. Paul had to work during the depression and never got the opportunity to go to college. Paul was a good athlete in his prime and played a good game of tennis.
In 1933 they had a son Walter, who would be there only child. As a young couple Paul and Mimi seasonally ran a coffee house at the Nowona Hotel in Yosemite National Park, where Paul could enjoy his love of golf. They later moved to Santa Monica and lived in the Arcadia Terrace area known as Muscle Beach. He worked in plant engineering for North American Rockwell producing the P51 Mustang fighter during World War II. Their family also lived at Pacific Palisades during this time. Paul won landscaping awards for his yard there. After the War the family moved to Garberville, on the Redwood highway several hours drive north of San Francisco. Paul worked as a golf pro and at various construction activities. He would sometimes play 36 holes of golf a day. Paul was artistic and enjoyed woodworking. He liked to fish, but often was not too successful at it.
In 1950 the family moved back to Santa Monica where Paul resumed working for North American Rockwell as a plant engineer. He was a heavy smoker but had almost quit smoking by 1952. In 1954 he had a heart attack and died at the age of forty-four.
Walter was born in Santa Monica, California. He attended high school in Garberville and at University High School in the Westwood Village area near U.C.L.A. He knew his bride to be, Shirley Batchelor, in first grade, and again in high school. Walter worked after high school, and when Shirley finished school they decided to get married (without parental consent). They were told that Las Vegas was such a place, so off they went, but found out when they got there that they needed consent. After some wrangling they got telegrams from their parents and were married in June 1952.
They had an apartment at the Palisades and Walter worked in physical therapy at the Cabot-Kaiser Polio Institute. In April of 1953 Walter joined the Army and was sent to basic training at Fort Ord. He and Shirley were lucky enough to find a place to stay in Carmel during this time. Walter was sent to Korea for eighteen months to teach physical therapy in Korean hospitals. When he got back his father Paul had died and his first son Michael had been born.
In 1955 Walter went to work for the Mar-Quart Corporation, an aerospace corporation, working with sandblasting boiler-plate engines. He also started college in mechanical engineering, studying at Pierce College and U.C.L.A. He later worked in engineering field service and marketing up until 1963.
With the metallurgy background he gained at Mar-Quart, he went to work for the International Protected Metals Co. specializing in piping protection. They made perma-pipe, a preinsulated pipe. He worked on the Alaskan oil pipeline project during this time. During 1980-1986 he worked and lived near Chicago, Illinois.
Walter and Shirley returned to San Juan Capistrano, California where Walter works as a consultant in the preinsulated piping business. He likes to fish (fresh and salt water), hunt ducks and doves, do yard work, and play tennis up to five times a week with Shirley.
Walter and Shirley have three children, Michael, Thomas, and Lori Lynn. Michael works with architectural finishing such as doors and cabinets and is a part time minister. He and his wife Marsha live in Rhode Island with their three children Jason, Daniel, and Nicole Lynn. Their second son Tom works as a painting contractor in Rodondo Beach, California. He and his wife Michelle have two children Crystal Lynn and Lisa Michelle. There third child, Lori Lynn is married to Patrick Bailey and lives in northwest Illinois. They raise and train quarter and show horses there. They have no children.
Ben was the third son of William A. Nisbet and Louisa Stieren. Much of the following comes from a biography in the History of Idaho, p. 722. At the age of 17 he entered upon a practical apprenticeship in the office of one of the leading architects of Pittsburgh. After being thus engaged for a period of six years he entered the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. There he completed a course in theoretical and practical architecture and fully fortified himself for the work of his chosen profession. He graduated from the university as a member of the architectural class of 1898. For the ensuing five years he was engaged in the independent practice of his profession in Pittsburgh, where he remained until 1903, when he established his home and business headquarters in Boise, Idaho.
In Boise Ben found ample scope for successful work of an important order, and his success was on parity with his recognized talent. During his first five years of his residence in Boise Ben was associated with the firm of Tourtelotte & Hunnewell. While with this concern he prepared and developed drawings and designs for the new state capitol, the Overland building, and the Catholic cathedral in Boise, all accepted and built.
In 1909 he was associated in partnership with Frank Henry Paradice, under the firm name of Nisbet & Paradice. They had a well appointed office in suite 601-4 Empire building, with the most modern facilities for handling all departments of their work as architects and building supervisors. They designed and built the building where their office was located as well as many other business and public buildings. The firm also designed attractive residences in Boise and other parts of the state.
Ben was progressive and liberal as a citizen and a staunch supporter of the Republican Party. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects. Both Ben and his wife Jane were valued adherents of the First Presbyterian church of Boise. On November 2, 1903 he married Miss Jane Patterson in Pittsburgh, and they had three children the second of which, Dorothy Ruth died within one year. Two boys include Jack Benjamin and Donald Frank. The attractive family home was at 811 Twenty-fifth Street.
In 1914 the family moved to Twin Falls, and in 1918 to Buhl, Idaho. They purchased forty acres and farmed sugar beets, alphalfa, and lettuce. Farming could not support the family, and they moved to Los Angles where Ben worked as an architect. Ben had progressively worse arthritis, and finally died of a heart attack.
Jack was the son of Benjamin Nisbet. Jack went to Occidental College to study to be a Presbyterian minister. After two years of study Jack had to quit because of his father's failing health, and he went to work at the Carnation Creamery. He spent four or five years working for Carnation. During this time he enjoyed deep sea fishing out of San Diego, bringing back a load of yellow-tail and halibut. Upon leaving Carnation Jack became a court clerk for Elsworth Meyer, Superior Court Judge for the City of Los Angeles where he worked for many years. He was a patient man.
He married Grace Hill about a week before his brother Don also got married. They lived in various places around Los Angeles, eventually moved to Arcadia, southeast of Pasadena. Grace was a substitute school teacher. They adopted three children, and took care of many foster children on a temporary basis. While Jack and Don lived in the same general area of Los Angeles, they didn't spend much time together or communicate much due to the demands of family, etc. Jack and Grace were fairly religious Presbyterians. Grace was the peacemaker in the family.
Jack retired around 1966 or 1967 and they moved to Leisure World at Laguna Beach. After some time they couldn't take care of themselves very well and they moved to a Methodist retirement home at Mission Beach near San Diego. They lived there until Jack passed away. He died with Alzheimers disease. Grace died on September 25, 1988.
Don was born on August 28, 1910 in Boise, Idaho, the second son of Ben Nisbet. The following is Don's autobiography written in July, 1987. The family moved to Twin Falls when I was about four years old with mother, father, and my brother Jack (four years older than me). When about eight years old our family moved to Buhl, Idaho, about 25 miles from Twin Falls. About this time mother had surgery. She and Jack traveled to Long Beach, California to recuperate.
My dad and I, with help, built a small home on our forty acres right across from the city line in Buhl. I attended grammar school in Buhl and Jack attended intermediate school. My dad raised sugar beets on the forty acres and switched to alfalfa. He was an architect and built the school I went to. He was conned into raising lettuce, five acres, for an outfit that promised to buy all he could raise, but due to railroad rates and other factors, he lost his shirt.
With mother and Jack back from California, and the architect business going to the dogs, our parents decided to go to Los Angeles and draw plans for buildings, residential and business. Lloyd Mason worked for Dad in Buhl and preceded us to California. He wrote that there was work in L.A. and even gave names of well established architects. My dad did not have enough money to get railroad fare so got a job on a freight train as an attendant, riding in the caboose and watching for vandalism, "hot boxes", and hoboes. We had two aunts - Mella and Emma - who lived in Inglewood, a suburb of L.A. about fifteen miles west and south, with whom he stayed till the rest of the family arrived.
Ben got a job with Henry Carleton Newton who had an architectural office at 5th and Figueroa and employed several other professional men. As it turned out he was a captain in the California National Guard - "the Los Angeles Own", and I later enlisted there and for a time reported to him. Dad had arthritis and it became increasingly worse to the point where he started using a cane then, after a while, one crutch then two. I went to Hyde Park Grammar School and Jack went to Manual Arts High School. In 1924 I started in Manual Arts just as Jack graduated. I graduated from Manual in 1928 - winter class. Jack had worked at the Carnation Dairy for two years then started in at Occidental College in Eagle Rock to study for the ministry. This is a Presbyterian seminary.
About this time, after completing one semester of post-grad work, I made all plans to start a dental career and entered S.C. Dental School. This was short-lived because dad got worse and I quit my education to get a job to help support the family. Again Lloyd Mason entered into the picture. He had quit the architectural business and was working for what was then the Southern California Telephone Company. He introduced me to Paul Johnson, General Plant Manager and I put in my application. This was the beginning of the depression and I felt that I had little chance of getting on. I went back to the employment office at 433 S. Olive every week for three months and finally was told that I must really want that job and was hired and sent to the 60th St. garage as a Cable Splicer's helper. This lasted two years and just as I was to be promoted to splicer, I was told that they were laying off and I had a choice - be fired or go inside the Hollywood office as a Line Assigner. I was making twenty dollars a week. I gladly went inside - and loved it.
About this time I joined the National Guard - 160th Infantry "Los Angeles Own". I tried to get into Officers Candidates School to become commissioned as an Officer but was rejected because of flat feet. I decided to go another route and applied for the Army Correspondence Courses receiving my commission as Second Lieutenant in 1935. I was hazed and made a member of Tau Alpha Phi, a non-scholastic fraternity, composed of fellows who were ROTC Officers in high school. I made many friends here with whom I related the rest of my life; my brother-in-law, Ray Barkley, Ann's husband was one of these.
I met Gladys and Ann through the fraternity about 1934 or later marrying Gladys on April 10th, 1936. I still worked for the telephone company and about 1937 or 1938 Jack went to work as a court clerk in the Superior Courts of Los Angeles County. Gladys and I lived in a court on West Blvd. In about four months we moved to 6403 Sixth Ave, about two blocks from Dave and Rosa, Gladys' parents and about five blocks from mine. Donna was born on March 4th, 1937 at the Lutheran Hospital on Hope St. and her doctor was Dr. Allan Ross. Barbara came along on December 7th, 1938 when we lived on Ave. 46 in Eagle Rock. It was while we lived here that we made arrangements to build our first house at 1331 No. Fairview, Burbank; cost $3250 ! We moved in in 1939. I still worked in Hollywood, 1429 N. Gower across from Columbia Studios where we saw Jean Harlow and the others in Gower Gulch. Pearl Harbor day was December 7, 1941 and I received notice to report for duty with the 159th Infantry at San Francisco on January 15th 1942. I requested a transfer to the Signal Corps (at this time I had 14 years with the telephone company) and within four weeks it went through. I was assigned to the 54th Signal Batallion., and went through all of WWII with them. My first station was Pomona, only forty miles from home, so I got to see the family about every other weekend. We convoyed to Watsonville, 100 miles north and on the ocean. From there I was sent with two enlisted men as an advance party to Fort Hamilton, New York. In two weeks we were on our way to Reykjavik, Iceland. We disembarked on August 14th after zig-zagging across the Atlantic for 14 days. After two weeks in Reykjavik I reported to Akureyri on the north coast as the Signal Officer. It was here that I received my promotion to captain.
I spent two long years in Iceland then left for England and was stationed as Westminster. We were too late to cross the channel on D Day, June 6th, but crossed on August 1st. We crossed France in a convoy staying all night in Paris in front of the Opera House. The next day we drove to Epernay and were housed in a large school. Epernay was our base until VE day which ocurred while we were in Weisel on the Rhine. Of course, many nights were spent in commandeered homes.
I left the European Theater of Operations (ETO) about August 5th, 1945. After spending a few days and nights in Southern France I traveled to Casablanca and took charge of some troops. I then flew to Miami on the Green Ticket, a chartered Pan Am four engine plane. The Green Ticket was a program to bring home several thousand troops. I was placed in charge of the land transportation by train to San Pedro by way of the south - Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, then California. We were mustered out (separated for the officers) from Fort MacArthur. Here I met Gladys, Donna, and Barbara. What a happy reunion after nearly four years!! I received orders to go to the South Pacific because VJ Day had not yet arrived. Luckily those orders were soon rescinded and I went back to work for the telephone company in October. You might think that life went on from there. It did, but you don't erase four years of Army life and regimentation over night.
I was made supervisor in the Hollywood office then sent to 740 S. Olive to work in the personnel office. After two years I was sent to San Fernando Valley in the Plant Department.
Having turned in a petition to join the Masons in 1946, I was initiated and raised to Master Mason in early 1946. I worked and helped in the lodge work and was placed in the line. I was installed Masster of Alexander Graham Bell Lodge #595 in 1956.
I joined the Los Angeles Scottish Rite in 1959 and immediately got in to the Camp Guard of the 32nd degree. Besides taking parts in this degree, I had parts in eighteen or nineteen other degrees. Doctor Phillips, our family dentist, signed my petition to join the Al Malaikah Shrine and in 1962 I "trod the hot sands" in a Las Vegas ceremonial and became a Shriner. Doc Phillips took my petition for Old West Shrine Club and I worked for almost every president as entertainment chairman until I was elected president in 1975. In that same year while the Shrine Club was in Las Vegas in a ceremonial, I received my Red Hat in Long Beach. This is called the Knights Commander Court of Honor, or KCCH. I worked as Degree Master in the 20th degree then in 1985 was asked to be Degree Master of the 4th to 14th degrees, inclusive, by Venerable Master Bob LaRose. This assignment has continued through 1987.
Donna met Ray Hammond in 1955 and they were married in December. Ray was in the Marines and was sent to Hawaii shortly after. Donna followed him within eight months. In 1956 Judy was born in the Navy hospital in Caaorona. Ray soon returned from duty in Hawaii and theyu bought a home in La Puente. Barbara was still at home but after graduation she started to work.
Getting back in chronological order, I retired from the Pacific Telephone Company in February 1971 with 42 years of service. The affair was held at the Nob Hill Restaurant in Van Nuys with some 150 people, active and retired, in attendance. I was in charge of Coin Box installation from the Ventura County line to Burbank, and had a crew of seven. I enjoyed the work very much and relinquished my job to Scotty Drysdale, father of Baseballer Don Drysdale, from whom I took it over some seven years before. He left the job because he couldn't get along with his boss - Jack? ... I can't think of his name. It turned out that one of my best friends and hunting buddies, Fred Miner, was also retiring just a couple days apart. We attended each others retirement party. Incidentally, he remarried after retirement to a lovely young woman, his third marriage, had two strokes, and died within two months after retirement. He left a beautiful daughter from his second wife - Edna - and his widow Florence.
Gladys and I had made plans to travel after I retired. We bought a twenty-seven foot long Santa Fe Travel Trailer and started packing. Our first trip was an extended trip around our own United States and was to include first our daughter Barbara and family in Denver. Next Gladys had relatives in Kansas...about fifteen. Then on through Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee - more relatives -, Florida to see some property we had purchased sight unseen, then up the Atlantic Seaboard to South and North Carolinas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., then to Pennsylvania to see some of my relatives, Bernita and Charlie Scarem. Charley had died some few months before. Even though we had our trailer, she insisted we sleep in the house. We continued to Niagara Falls as Bernita's guest, then on to the Dakota Badlands, "Four Presidents" and to Yellowstone, Salt Lake, and home - 3 1/2 months of the road. Thanks to LaVonne next door, we always got our mail, paid our bills and were assured of safety at our house.
In 1976 we took a trip to the Orient including Japan and Hawaii. In 1977 we went to the Caribbean, a Shrine trip. During 1978 we took a 54 day trip to Mexico and Central America to the Yucatan Peninsula and all the ancient ruins. We also visited British Honduras. This was a travel trailer trip for us and there were 74 other RV'S including motor homes, trailers, and whatever. We learned about the Green Angels of Mexico - wonderful - and how to cope.
In 1979 we left the U.S. for Hawaii. We spent two weeks on the big island, Hawaii, in the big Army Camp. We then traveled to Oahu for one week at Barbers' Point, then one week at the Windward side of the island at the Air Force Camp. We had put in our reservations for Class "A" transportation to New Zealand but after one month in Hawaii we had only risen to number 89 on the list. We took housing at three hotels but as our number was only 29 we started looking at our bankroll and decided to take commercial transportation to New Zealand.
This we did on "Air New Zealand" and arrived in Christchurch the second day (international dateline). We met Marlene and kids at the airport and spent the next four months in New Zealand staying with relatives except for one night at the Glowworm caves and one night at Milford Sound. We left for America on government transportation from Christchurch. After one night in Honolulu, to give the crew one nights rest, we arrived at Travis Air Force Base the next day then by PSA, home the same day. This was the most wonderful vacation we ever experienced.
In 1980 we took a trip to the Caribbean with Al Malaikah Shrine. Gladys won a $550 raffle. She had gone to bed and I had to get her out of bed to collect the money. I believe Jack and Annetta Kinyoun were with us on this trip. We made another trip to the Caribbean this time going through the Panama Canal. Sister Ann was with us on this trip. In 1981 we made the trans-Canada trip by train stopping at Banff and Glacier National Parks, on through Calgary and debarking in Quebec. After two days and nights we flew home.
The travel trailer we drove around the U.S. in in 1972 we sold in 1980. We went in with Donna and Ray and purchased a Midland 27 foot Motorhome in 1980 and only used it a few times. One week at Lake Powell and a few short trips around the L.A. area.
Gladys became sick on February 1st, 1983 and hospitalization showed a brain tumor. Surgery was performed but after radium treatments and chemotherapy treatments she went to a sanitarium and passed away on May 23rd. Her passing away left a big hole in my life, and in the lives of her children, grandchildren, and great-grand-children. But time is a healer. Stella and I were married on June 6th 1984. We lived in the two houses for over a year finally selling the one on Chandler Blvd in September 1986. We took a trip to the Hawaiian Islands in 1985 on the S.S. Constitution visiting all five islands. In 1986 we visited Greece, the Greek Islands, and the Holy Land. Our trip was just six weeks before the famous escapade when a cruise was captured outside of Athens, hostages held and one man in a wheelchair thrown in the ocean to die. We have a trip planned in October of 1987 going down the Mississippi on the Mississippi Queen from St. Paul to St. Louis, then on the Delta Queen from St. Louis to New Orleans. Being relieved from some of our fraternal duties, Don and Stella traveled more in the late 1980's and 1990's.
Don passed away on Christmas day, 1999. He caught a virus and he ended up in the hospital. The virus attacked his lungs, already weakened from emphazyma and asthma. He was unable to overcome the virus attack, and just could not breathe. He was 89 years old.
Amalia "Mella" Nisbet (1878 - 1938)
Mella, the daughter of William Alexander Nisbet and Louisa Stieren, moved to the Los Angeles, California area. She worked as a secretary in a real estate office. She lived on West Pimento St. in Inglewood with her sister Emma B. Knapp. She died of complications of diabetes. Don Nisbet says Mella was "sharp, a card."