Saturday, March 26, 2016

His Mother Nancy (Hibbs) Nosler Dies: The Diary of James Milo Nosler

James Milo Nosler (1843-1886), my 3rd great uncle who kept a diary for many years, was born in Putnam County, Indiana.  When he was six his parents took him out to Iowa to visit an older brother, and soon after the family moved out to Iowa by 1850.  A few weeks before his 11th birthday his mother, Nancy Hibbs (1800-1854) died of illness on a trip back from an extended visit to family and friends in Putnam County, Indiana.

In the fall of 1853 my parents (M) sisters [Syotha Caroline, Mary, and Emily], Will [William Nosler, my 2nd great grandfather], and myself made an overland trip to Indiana where we remained during the winter visiting our old neighbors and relatives.  Early in the spring we started back  and just in the edge of Ill. mother and Emily were both taken sick, and we stopped with a man by the name of Landreth in the middle of an 18 mile prairie.

I am still struggling to discover where this was exactly.  I'm assuming somewhere on the road in eastern Illinois along a route to Springfield, as he mentions that after his mother died they buried her on the "Springfield road" in Smigton(?), but I don't find a Smigton. It is not clear to me what route they were taking, as I would have expected Edgar or Coles counties to be where they would have gone through if they were going toward Springfield, that is), but maybe they took a more southern route, as the only men with last name Landreth that I could find in the 1855 Illinois Census were in Clay County (toward the bottom of the map).  Also, in the BLM records I find a Wells Landreth in neighboring Effingham County who bought land in 1853, just the year before.  Maybe the family went from Green Castle to Terre Haute, and then due south to Vincennes and across into Illinois?

On the other hand, even though I don't find Landreth men in the Clark County area in that time period, it did run along a route from Green Castle to Terre Haute to Vandalia, there is a *Livingston*  east of Marshall, Clark, Illinois, on a modern map along that route (maybe the person transcribing the diary mistook the L for an S?--that might make sense).  And it is just inside Illinois, as James said. But it doesn't satisfy the "middle of an 18 miles prairie" description.

For a while I had her dying possibly near Gordon, Crawford County, Illinois, as that is also on the border of Illinois and Indiana, and has a Landreth man there by 1860, but it doesn't seem like a logical place they would have traveled through.

It is also possible that James didn't give an entirely accurate location, since I don't think he was overly familiar with Illinois at any point in his life.

If anyone else can figure this out, that would be great!  I'd love to know where my ancestress is buried.

I am assuming somewhere between Greencastle, Putnam, Indiana (right) and Springfield (circled left) is where they stopped and where Nancy is buried.  I have looked up Landreth (and other spelling variations) in the 1855 Illinois Census and found men of that name only in Clay county (toward the bottom) and also land records indicate a man in neighboring Effingham.  From the 1856 Map of Illinois.

After an illness of about two weeks, I was left motherless on the 12 day of April 1854.  Two or three days before she died, (her mind had been wandering for some time), when she was noticed looking very attentive at me.  Caroline [Syotha Caroline Nosler, b 1829] asked her if she knew who it was.  She said, "Is it Jimmy?" Answer, "Yes," "Well then Jimmy bring me a drink," and these were the last words she ever spoke to me.  I can remember how these words filled my young heart with joy, for I thought it an indication of my mother's recovery.  
She was buried near a little town by the name of Smigton (?) [possibly Livingston, Clark County, Illinois], seven miles west of Landrettis (?) on the Springfield road. 
After a few days travel, Emily [Emily Ellin Nosler, 1833-1888] was taken worse, and had to lay over another week, but at last we got back to the old mill [in Jefferson Township, Polk County, Iowa, on Beaver Creek, just northwest of Des Moines, for an image of the general area see this post], father had disposed of all his land and sold the mill to Jno. Nosler [likely son John Houston Nosler, 1831-1907] and Samle Kent, but during the summer he bought one third of the mill back and Bird Voweland [Bird Vowell, who was daughter Mary Nosler's husband, not sure why James sometimes puts Voweland instead of Vowell??] bought Hunt's share [Hunt was the last name of James' soon-to-be brother-in-law, Benjamin Hunt, so likely either him or a near relative], rented his farm in Jasper county and moved up.  Bird did not buy though until the summer of "55".  

© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.


  1. Perhaps a silly question, but how were they traveling? No train yet, right? By their own wagon? Some kind of public coaches? Surely not walking with a donkey ..... I would be interested to hear your thoughts on that. It would be an interesting post.

    1. Not a silly question at all. There were railroads by the time the Noslers went back to Putnam county, and I would think they would have taken them, but I just don't know. There would have been two 53-year-old parents, who were fairly well off financially, and they took three daughters (24, 23, and 20), and their youngest boys (13 and 10) to stay with relatives for what must have been about 6 months total. You'd think that would be a lot of people and possibly stuff to haul around, and they could probably afford to use the train.

      But then I wonder why Nancy wasn't shipped home on a train after she died (I'm assuming that was done back then), so maybe they were on wagon??

  2. Bodies were not always shipped home, I think. Even embalmed, its a long hot trip on a train perhaps, maybe even in April. A few members of my family died away from home and were buried there, but not that long ago. Kind of a mystery, really.