A. F. Nisbet

Company E, 40th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

This letter is written by Andrew F. Nisbet to his family in Mt. Erie, Illinois in 1861 shortly after he joined the Union army with others from this farm community. He joined what was to become Company E, 40th Illinois Volunteers along with his brother-in-law James Mayes, and Mayes’ son, Frank Mayes. A.F. Nisbet became ill while in the Paducah, Kentucky encampment, and resigned just a month after enlisting. James Mayes was killed in the battle at Shiloh.

Jefferson Barik[Barracks]  August the 12

         Dear Wife and childrain

I take his oper tunity to answer you

that you sent by Mays I was glad to here

from you and was was glad that Tilda

was better an the rest was well I am in

toleable helth at present and hope these

fiew lines may find you all enjoying

the same blesing I wrote to you from

Camp Butler but at that time I did

not know that we would leav thare

so soon we left on Sunday morning

and came to sent Louis that night and

then we took a boat and came here we

got her on Monday at twelve o clock and

picht our tents while it was raining

I did not expect that we would be sent

to the enemys land till we was driled and

armed but we are here a mong them wexp [we expect?]

to draw our arms and unaforms in a fiew

days and then let them come and we will give

the best we have got thare was one man shot by

a trator yesterday in a quarter of a mile of our camp

and he died instantly


he is under gard and I expect he will be shot

and I now he diserves it thare is a bout fifteen

thousand troops here now and coming all the

time we expect to moove South shortly but we cant

tell we are in for victory or death that is our

moto and if I fall I still hope and pray this

glorious union may Stand if it was not for the

love I have for this union I would not be her no

nothin els in this world could enduse me to

leave you and come out and lay on the grou[nd]

and expose my self the way we will expect to be

I may neve Sea you a gain but if fall I feel

Satisfyed that I will die in a just caus thare

fore I am determend to put my trust in god

I think I can be a soaldie[r] and serv god two and

I want you to pray for me and I know you

will and if we never meat in this world

I hope we may meat in heven when we will

part no more a soldiers life is a hard life to

live but we must be contented our government

must be sustaind while I am writing

thar has a dispatch com for two rgments

to march imediatly to springfield & to Hians [Hines?]

assistace him and McCullock is fiting

now they [marcht] of[f] chearfully I have just bin

down to the rive to sea them go on board

and now I am going to finish my leter

while I can look out sea thousands of soldiers

around me and some are driling and some are


another the boyes is all well and i hope we

we will remane well for we have a pore[?] way to

takcare of a sick man just in cloth tents

So we dred sicknes mor than we do the cecession

devels because I hate them as bad and if we

are permited to ever git back thare it wont do

for som people to talk the way they have dun

if they doe it wont [be] wholesome for them

when we com throe decater and all a long

the road the wimin an chilaran come out

an cheared us and bid us god spead of tain with

tears in thare eyes it [made] me think of home

and my own dear famil[y] and I coul not help

criing but when we landed at St. Louis thare

wa no chearing thare was no ster in the city

evry thing was still

I cant tell when I will git to come home but

if we don’t have to leave her[e] for three weaks I thin[k]

I will git to com hom on a furlo in a bout three we

ks and maby sooner but if we have to leave

here befor I come I cant tell when I will come

         I want to sea you very bad and I want you to rite

to me every weak and let me know all about how

you are giting a long and whether youar provi

ded for or not I now you are lonesome but I

want [you] to try to be content and if yo nead any thing

let me know it tell Father I want him to write

to me an Jim and Dick they have a beter chan[ce]

than I have to write I seting now on my blanket

writin we have no chears here

tell the childrain paw will come back an sea

them a gain and be good childrain and obey

your mah So I must close & it is time to

perade when you write direct your leters

to Jefferson Barik, Mo. Colonel Hines rig

ment care of Cap Ulm

                                give my best respects

to all the friends and tel them to write

Ever remains you affectionate hosband

                                    AF Nisbet


Text transcribed by Briggs Nisbet (great great great granddaughter of A.F. Nisbet)

Wayne County Press

Fairfield, Illinois

Thursday, August 17, 1911

Life Sketch of A Good Man.

A Tribute to the Character of Andrew F. Nisbet, of Mt. Erie.

Andrew F. Nisbet was born Sept. 4th, 1827; died July 29th, 1911, aged 83 years, 10 months and 25 days.

He was a son of Alexander and Dorcas Ramsey Nisbet, who on the night before Christmas 1818 camped at the foot of the hill where Mt. Erie now stands, and on Christmas day they with five others selected homes near this place.  This was the first settlement of white people in the township, and was made about one and one-half miles west of where Mt. Erie now stands, and after two years the Nisbet family moved about three-fourths of a mile east of this place.

Here the subject of this obituary was born and lived until manhood, helping his father to open up a farm in this new wild country. His school advantages consisted of an occasional subscription school from which he obtained a fair business education.  After his majority he purchased a home for himself about one mile northeast of his father’s home, and on Dec. 16th, 1849, was united in marriage to Miss Jane Blakely, daughter of Mathew and Jane Bl[e]akely. To this union were born three children, two of whom, John Wesley Nisbet and Mary Jane Vandaveer still survive.

At a protracted meeting in the summer of 1851 held by Rev. James T. Johnson in a grove called at that time the Ake grove now owned by Mrs. Mary E. Porterfield, Brother Nisbet

was happily and powerfuly converted and with his companion joined the M.E. church, and ever remained loyal and faithful.  Its doctrines, rules and usages to him needed no

apologies. Without criticism he accepted all the discipline. The Episcopacy, its presiding elder control, its itinerary, with its probationary and full membership, class leader and class meetings, with all its official regulations were to his liking. In fact he was a thorough Methodist.

On April 5th, 1854, occurred the death of his companion, and on October 1st, 1857, he was married to Elizabeth D. Massey, his now bereft wife, daughter of Rev. James Massey, a consecrated and powerful minister of the gospel and pastor of Mt. Erie circuit at that time.  To this union three children were born; Tillie E., Mattie, and Minnie V., of whom the latter, only, survives with her bereaved mother. In 1856 he moved from his farm to Mt. Erie engaging with his brother-in-law, James T. Price, in the mercantile business, which partnership continued until 1877 when he brought his partner’s interest and continued the business with his son, J. W. Nisbet, until the infirmities of age caused his retirement.

On the 4th day of August, 1861, he, with the Mt. Erie part of what was afterwards Company E, 40th Regiment Ill. Volunteer Infantry, left his home to be mustered into the volunteer service for the suppression of the rebellion, and was soon after commissioned first lieutenant of his company.  In a few weeks he was taken severely ill and reluctantly resigned his commission at Paducah, Ky., and was honorably discharged and later recovered his normal health.

On the 1st day of October, 1907, Brother and Sister Nisbet celebrated their golden wedding at their home with many friends present which was a most enjoyable occasion to all, and pastor and relatives and old neighbors expressed their appreciation by loving words and gifts of love.

He was a member of Mt. Erie lodge 331, A.F. & A.M., also a member of James Mayes’ Post, No. 480, Dept. of Ill., G.A.R. [Note: the Post is named for James Mayes who was killed at the battle of Shiloh] For many years he was custodian of Mt. Erie township school funds, and was Mt. Erie’s representative several terms in the supervisors’ court. We will miss him in the home, the church, and the lodges. His voice and influence have always been for good, and we have had him with us so long in kindly association that our loss is only measured by his eternal gain. Rest in Heaven! with humble submission we bow to the call. He was the last member of a large family, father, mother, brothers and sisters, all having preceeded him to the better world. Of his own family he leaves his wife and three children, Mrs. Mary J. Vandaveer, J.W. and Minnie V. Nisbet, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

He bore his last illness patiently and uncomplainingly expressing gratitude to those who cared for him as long as consciousness lasted. Among these was his niece, Miss Jennie Mayes, a trained nurse of St. Louis, who came to the home as soon as she learned of his serious condition and whose tender constant care for him was evidence of the esteem in which his relatives held him.

In an editorial after a visit of Mr. Nisbet to the office in his 80th year, Mr. W.M. Goudy, editor of the Wayne County Press, and a close friend of the deceased says, “His name in the section in which he lives is the synonym of honor and integrity.

 “A.F. Nisbet, for many years a large merchant at Mt. Erie, in which section his name is the synonym of honor and integrity, was a Fairfield visitor Tuesday and share a little of his time with his friends, among whom his visits are a source of great pleasure and inspiration. Mr. Nisbet is now in his eightieth year, and while erect in stature and as clear of mind and memory as twenty years ago, we regretted to learn that his strength is not as great as his appearanace would indicate. His daughter, Miss Minnie, who has for many years enjoyed her summers at Manitou, Colo., was during the past summer not able to make her annual western trip, having been in feeble health since last February. For something like forty years following the war Mr. Nisbet was a large merchant at Mt. Erie, and was very active and close in his application to his business, often putting in many more hours per day than the present-day merchant’s physical strength will warrant. Then he thought nothing of a trip to Fairfield or Clay City on horseback, and his mount is to this day one of the noteworthy topics discussed by those who knew him in those days. He was always a lover of good horseflesh, particularly a good saddle horse, and the exhilarating exercise obtained  from a dash upon a spirited steed, was one of his chief sources of delight. In this he perhaps had but few equals in his younger days. Such men as Mr. Nisbet have left the stamp of their manhood upon the communities in which they have lived to a much greater extent than is usually recognized. Wayne county has been blessed with many magnificent characters among the men of his generation, but without disparagement to any of these grand old heroes and forefathers, many of whom the writer classes among his sincere friends, none, we believe, is held in higher esteem than “Andy” Nisbet, as he is familiarly called. Let us hope that among the younger generation there are men, now in active life, who will ripen and mature as these men have done and will leave an impress as wholesome and good as some who have gone before.”

The relatives from a distance were J.W. Nisbet and wife [Rose Lockwood], of Noble; H.W.[Hugh Willard, son of J.W.] Nisbet and son., Morton, of St. Louis; Mrs. Lizzie Mayes, Frank and Nellie Mayes, of Albion; T.A. Bleakely, of Fairfield. Others U.S. Staley, W. M. Daubs and Amos Holman, of Fairfield, and Charles Palmer and wife, of Noble.

Funeral services were conducted at the M.E. church, of which the deceased was a loyal and honored member for many years, by Rev. W. Huntsberry assisted by Rev. G.O. Wagoner, pastor, and Rev. Amos Carlin, of Lebanon, Ill., before a large and sympathetic concourse of people who showed by their presence the high esteem in which he was held in this community.


Whereas, In the providence of Almighty God, in whose hands are the issues of life and death, our worthy brother, A.F. Nisbet, has been called to his reward.

Whereas, True and sincere sympathy always gives the darkest cloud of sorrow a silver lining. Therefore be it

Resolved, That the brethren of Mt. Erie lodge, No. 381, A.F. & A.M., do hereby tender our brother’s family such sympathy, be it further

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be presented to the family our worthy brother as a token of sympathy and respect, that the same be spread upon the records and also published in each of the papers of our county.

Paul Campbell,

J.M. Weddle,

D.C. Berg,


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