This is a research study of two men, John R. Nigh in family number 1 and John R. Nigh in family number 2. The goal is to answer the “Question.” Are the John R. Nigh in family number 1 and the John R. Nigh in family number 2, the same man?
Family Number 1: [From James Clark, great grand nephew of Sarah Clark and Jeff Scott, great, great grandson of John R. Nigh and Sarah Clark]
In 1986, some 24 years ago, I launched an effort to trace my Clark ancestry. At that time, computers were very primitive (Atari) and the Internet was only a thought in Al Gore’s mind. I began the search as most others did, by visiting libraries, court houses, historical societies, state archives and any other place I thought I might find family information. Sometimes, I was even lucky enough to find a living relative who could help me. In one instance, I found the graveyard containing the graves of my great-great grandfather and some of his family in Owsley County, Kentucky. While visiting the graveyard, I learned that Fern Scott Smith and her husband maintained the graveyard.
I went to their nearby home, introduced my self and learned that Fern and I were cousins. Fern’s ancestor, Sarah Jane Clark, was the sister of my great grand father, Edward Clark. Fern told me how Sarah had married John R. Nigh, who was from Hagerstown, Maryland. That he had come to Owsley County about 1850 as a schoolteacher and had married Sarah in 1852. They had two children, Samuel V. Nigh and Tabitha Rebecca Nigh who had married William H. Scott, which was her line. She also told me that when the Civil War started, John R. Nigh went east and was never heard from again. The family had always presumed he was killed in the war.
Following my meeting with Fern, I traveled to Booneville, Kentucky, the county seat for Owsley County and looked for more information on my Clark family. While there, I found the marriage record of J. R. Nigh to Sarah J. Clark, which took place in Nov 1852. John was 33 and Sarah was 20, making the birth years about 1820 for John and 1832 for Sarah. I also visited the Booneville Public Library and found Samuel V. Nigh’s biography in “Kentucky: A History of the State” by William Henry Perrin, J. H. Battle & G. C. Kniffin, written in the 1880s, it reads in part. “Samuel V. Nigh, circuit and county court clerk of Owsley County, Ky., is a native of the same county, and was born February 14, 1853. His father, John R. Nigh, was born in Hagerstown, Md., and settled in Owsley County, Ky., in 1851, where he was engaged in school teaching until the outbreak of the late war, when he started East, and has never since been heard from; it is supposed he was killed in the war. His wife was Sarah J. (Clark) Nigh, a daughter of William and Tabitha (Evans) Clark, natives of Virginia, and residents of Owsley County….”[William Clark and Tabitha Evans were born in Kentucky, not Virginia].
I returned to my home in Tennessee and later reviewed the 1860 census for Owsley County at the McClung Historical Collection in Knoxville. I found that during the census, Sarah Nigh and her two children were living with her parents in Owsley County and that she was listed in the census as a widow. That indicated that John had left before the Civil War started. I never looked into his disappearance from that time until January 2010.
In December 2009, I became a member of Ancestry. After learning how to navigate their site, I was amazed at how far genealogy research had come. Now, one could have access to many records with nothing more than a keystroke on the computer.
One day I was looking over my Family Tree Maker file and came to John R. Nigh and Sarah J. Clark. After looking at his page, I noticed that I could initiate a web search, which I did. I ended up at the Comanche County, Texas web site. The site contained a letter from John R. Nigh written in Comanche County, dated 22 January 1878 and included a transcription by Donna Nigh Jones. She had also written an Introduction for the posting, which is as follows:
Family Number 2: [From Donna Nigh Jones, great granddaughter of John R. Nigh]
“John R. Nigh was born in Hagerstown, Maryland about 1832 to Samuel T. Nigh and Elizabeth Rench. The Nighs came to the United States from Holland or Germany. The story passed down through the family was that two brothers arrived from Holland with the name Neu pronounced Nigh. One brother decided to keep the spelling and change the pronunciation and the other kept the pronunciation and changed the spelling. What gives the story credibility is that a couple named Nigh visited my mother in the hospital at one time and told her that same story had been passed down through their family. John R. Nigh served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was a school teacher and a circuit preacher. He moved to Indiana and married Josephine Louisa Matthews Hinton. Louisa had been married to Asher Hinton in Kentucky and had several children. After her husband died, she moved back to Greencastle, Putnam County, Indiana. John and Louisa had three children, William Daniel Nigh, Margaret Inez Nigh, and Samuel Fowler Nigh (my grandfather). About 1875, John R. Nigh left on a trip west to find a place to move his family. He supported himself by teaching school along the way. The letter posted on this site is the last letter from John R. Nigh and the last time the family heard from him. Louisa, with her grown Hinton sons, finally moved her family to Newtonia, Newton County, Missouri. We would like very much to know what happened to John R. Nigh. Attempts were made, but relatives were told that the courthouse burned down with the records of that time.”
Here is the transcription of the letter by Ms. Jones.
Comanche, Comanche Co., Tex
Jan. 22, 1878
I have stopped in this co. and gone to teaching. My health has improved and I am able to labor again, but my life is very little better than a beggar. I have no money and cannot get any just now, but I live in hope. I am in a much more convenient county here than McClennan Co. There is timber, water, rock, land and health here and plenty of land that can be bought form $1.50 to three dollars per acre. If you succeed in selling your land in Ky, I would advise you to invest your money in this part of Texas somewhere. You do not need my formal consent to sell the land. If you and the children agree to sell it and invest the money somewhere else, that is your business not mine. This country is not so rich as it is farther east, but it is rich enough and large bodies of it is covered with rock and can never be cultivated, which will always be a range for hogs and cattle. Three years ago this was the frontier. Now counties are organized 100 miles west of this, and heavy settlements. You may have some idea how fast this country is settling when I tell you that for 4 months at one toll bridge over the river Leon, there was an average of forty families per day and it only one of the bridges that are within ten mile of each other on the same stream besides the hundred other roads by which they are coming to the west. It looks strange to see deer and wolves in a county that votes 1600 votes, yet it is so here and in three years will double that the game is disappearing very fast and soon there will be none. There is buffalo 150 miles from here and most every family in this neighborhood has plenty of buffalo to do them. They take a team and wagon and go to buffalo range and kill them until they fill their wagons with meat and them come back and dry it like bacon. It keeps better than beef. I have been living on it for 4 weeks, and it is real good. I am glad that you have all determined to come to Texas, for here you can get good homes and cheap. I know I will not be with you long after you come, but it will be a satisfaction when I die to know that you have a home of your own. Now, if you can sell, let me know and I will pick out some land for you to look at when you come. Comanche is only 135 miles from Dallas, and there is no railroad any closer, but there will be a railroad through this country in a few years. The church and school is only a question of time. Every community gets one up as soon as they can to induce others to stop with them. Three years ago, here where there were only three families of 8 square, there are now 80 children and nearly every 150 acres has a family on it. God directs for our good. I know I can select 4 quarter sections in this country all together for you and the children of as good land as ever was with timber, water and rock, and it will not cost over $3 per acre. I am very much out of heart, but what is before me I must endure. I know it won’t be long until my time comes, and if I can do anything to help you to a home before I die, I will be glad. The winter here is mild, grass green and growing stock lives without feed, onions and lettuce will soon be fit to eat.
Direct your letter to Comanche, Comanche Co. Texas.
[Ms Jones later informed me the date of the letter should have been 1876, not 1878]
I found the above information to be very interesting, not only from a historical viewpoint but also for the following reasons. (1) The name, John R. Nigh. (2) From Hagerstown, Maryland. (3) Was a schoolteacher. (4) Soldier during the Civil War. (5) A connection to Kentucky.
I definitely wanted more information on this man, so I wrote to the Comanche County web site and asked to be put in touch with Ms. Jones. She soon responded to my request. Through her, I learned that some people had supposed her John R. Nigh to be the same John R. Nigh that had married Sarah Clark. Ms. Jones assured me that could not the case, and that she was tired of people accusing her great grandfather of being a bigamist.
I then began searching on Ancestry and found that Ms. Jones also was a member and had posted her Nigh family on Ancestry as a Public Member Tree. She had also posted the above letter on Ancestry as well as this additional comment.
“I have been searching for many years, would hit a roadblock and quit for a while. I found some serious connections recently, but I'm bothered by erroneous information others put out. My great grandfather John R. Nigh, born in Hagerstown about 1834 did not marry Sarah Clark in Owsley, KY. Marriage records show that John R. Nigh to have been born in Virginia in 1819. Hear ye, hear ye, all who have that information wrong, please fix it.”
Below is a synopsis of the research data pertaining to the “Question.” Everyone who reads this data will have to draw his or her own conclusion.
The first step in the quest to answer the question at the beginning of this work was to explore all avenues available on Ancestry. A review of Ms. Jones Public Member Tree disclosed the date of birth of John R. Nigh as about 1832. The birth data for his parents and siblings were reported as Samuel T. Nigh, 1758; Elizabeth Rench, 1796; Margaret C. Nigh, 1823; Elizabeth M. Nigh, 1825; Daniel R. Nigh, 1829 and Theresa R. Nigh, 1837. No marriage information was listed for the marriage of John R. Nigh to Josephine Hinton other than an approximate date in Indiana. In addition, Ms. Jones was using the military record of a Civil War soldier as a reference to establish residence in Kentucky for John R. Nigh. A cursory review of that record disclosed a John R. Nigh, had enlisted as a Private in Company B of the 11th Kentucky Cavalry on 16 July 1862.
Since Ms. Jones had provided the parents and siblings for John R. Nigh, census records were reviewed for that family and disclosed the following: [Samuel Nigh’s monument in Hagerstown, Maryland lists his date of birth as 22 September 1789, not 1758]
Review of the 1840 Census Records:
Samuel Nigh in Hagerstown, Maryland, reported to be the father of John R. Nigh by Ms. Jones, of family number 2. Listed below are the names of the parents and children placed in brackets to correspond with the dates of birth as listed on Ms. Jones family tree? The John R. Nigh of family number 1 fits into the 15 to 20 age group.
1 male 10 to 15 [Daniel R. Nigh, born 1829]
2 males 15 to 20 [John R. Nigh, born about 1820 and an unknown male]
1 male 60 to 70 [Samuel T. Nigh, born 1758]
1 female under 5 [Theresa Nigh, born 1837]
2 females 15 to 20 [Margaret Nigh, born 1823 and Elizabeth Nigh, born 1825]
1 female 40 to 50 [Elizabeth Rench, born 1796]
This census seems to indicate the date of birth of the John R. Nigh in family number 1 could very well be the son of Samuel Nigh and Elizabeth Rench. One additional small clue is that the John R. Nigh in family number 1, named his son Samuel. [Although census records are extremely helpful to genealogy research, experience has proven the data contained on a census record is sometimes incorrect. However, since the information given to the census taker in this case is no doubt from a family member, it is much more reliable]
Review of the 1850 Census Records:
Samuel Nigh is living in Hagerstown, Maryland. [John’s father]
Saml Neigh, age 61 born about 1789 in PA.
Elizabeth Neigh, age 54, born about 1796 in MD.
Mary E. Neigh, age 24, born about 1826 in PA.
Danl Neigh, age 21, born about 1892 in PA.
Terreasa Neigh, age 13, born about 1837 in MD.
Elizabeth Garaham, age 60, born about 1790 in PA. [Possible relative]
[Hagerstown, Maryland is situated very close to Franklin County, Pennsylvania]
No record found for the two males, age 15 to 20, that were in the 1840 census.
No record found for a John R. Nigh [exact spelling] in the 1850 census records.
A John Nigh was found in Virginia but he was a newborn.
A John R. Neys, age 30 [born about 1820], born in Maryland and 38-year-old Peyton Weldon are living on the farm of Thomas and Sarah Weldon in District 2, Harrison County, Kentucky. Both John and Peyton are schoolteachers. [The John R. Nigh in family number 1 and family number 2 were both reported to be teachers].
Following the review of the 1850 census records, an attempt was made to locate any record in Harrison County, Kentucky, which might further identify the John R. Neys who was a teacher in the 1850 census. We were extremely lucky to make contact with Mr. Philip Naff, Staff Writer and Webmaster of the Harrison County Historical Society at Cynthiana, Kentucky. It just so happened that he was working on marriages in Harrison County, and he immediately responded with the following marriage data.
Marriage Record – Family number 2:
Josephine Louisa Matthews, born abt.1834, from Harrison County, Kentucky, married Asher Hinton, born abt.1832 from Scott County, Kentucky. They were married in Harrison County on 1 Jul 1852. [Scott and Harrison Counties border each other and are north west of Owsley County]
Asher Hinton died at the age of 27 in 1859, which was about the time John R. Nigh, from family number 1, leaves his family in Owsley County and is never heard from again. It is possible that John R. Nigh knew Josephine Matthews while he was in Harrison County, either through his teaching or through being a minister, or both. She would have been 16 years of age, when John was teaching in 1850.
On 17 November 1865, John R. Nigh obtained a marriage license in Harrison County, Kentucky. He was married to Mrs. Josephine L. Hinton two days later on November 19th. He signed the license (versus putting an "X" on it). His surety, the man who signed the marriage bond with him, was James L. Moore, who put his "X" on the document. At the time, John R. Nigh lived in Harrison County, was 43 years old, [born about 1822] and his marriage to Mrs. Hinton was his second marriage. He was a schoolteacher. John R. Nigh was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. So was his father. His mother was born in Washington County, Maryland. [This marriage record goes a long way in establishing that this is the same John R. Nigh who married Sarah Clark in 1852. The age of the groom and that it was his second marriage stand out. This information is more reliable because it came directly from John and not from someone else]
At the time of the marriage Mrs. Josephine L. Hinton was living in Harrison County, was 32 years old, and this marriage to John R. Nigh was also her second marriage. She was born in Harrison County, Kentucky, as was her father. Her mother was born in Virginia.
No other remarks were made except to say that they were married at the residence of Josephine L. Hinton. This information comes from pages 88 & 89 of the record book entitled “Marriage Book Jun-1865 to Jan-1867.” [John R. Nigh is the only Nigh listed in the first one hundred years of marriage records for the county (1794-1893). No persons named Ney or Nye were found in the marriage records. [Comment and record information provided by Philip Naff, Staff Writer and Webmaster, Harrison County Historical Society]
Copies of the above referenced marriage records were obtained from the Harrison County Clerk in April 2010. Review of page 88 of the Marriage Bond, disclosed that not only had John R. Nigh signed his name to the document, certifying that all of the information provided was correct to the best of his knowledge, he had actually written the entries himself. There is no doubt he knew his age was entered as 43 and that it was his second marriage.
Marriage Record – Family number 1:
A current review of the marriage record between John R. Nigh and Sarah J. Clark in Owsley County, Kentucky disclosed J. R. Nigh, married Sarah J. Clark in Owsley County, Kentucky in November 1852. The record lists his age at 33 [born about 1820], in Virginia and Sarah as 20 [born about 1832], in Kentucky. The marriage was recorded in a marriage log at the county clerk’s office with many other marriages of the same year. Neither the bride nor the groom, were required to sign the log.
In 1852 there could be two sources of marriage records in Kentucky. Those created by the Sutton Law in the 1850s and 1870s and those kept by the local court clerk, since the founding of each county. The Sutton Law marriage records were kept in record books with columns for the names of bride and groom, their ages, birthplaces, residences, etc. The county court clerk records usually are full page affairs, one or two pages per couple, with a bond, license, certificate, etc. [Courtesy of Philip Naff, Staff Writer and Webmaster, Harrison County Historical Society]
Efforts to obtain the more inclusive record mentioned above were unsuccessful. The Rebel Army and subsequent burning of the courthouse in Owsley County destroyed many of their records.
The census records and marriage records clearly show the John R. Nigh in both family number 1 and in family number 2, were born about 1820, not about 1832, as reported by Ms. Jones.
Family number 1 is of the opinion that the John R. Neys in the 1850 Harrison County, Kentucky census, is in fact, John R. Nigh, born about 1820. Information provided to a census taker is usually provided by the head of the household. In the case of John R, Neys, he was not a family member and could have been at work or away from the house when the census was taken. His birth date could have been reported as an approximate and the place of birth given as, “He is from Maryland.” How the name is spelled, is completely up to the person taking the census. In some instances census records will show different information on the same person, from census to census.
Review of the 1860 Census and additional records:
Sarah Nigh was listed as a widow. She and her two children are living with her parents in Owsley County. No death record was found for John R. Nigh in Owsley County.
Josephine Hinton was listed as a widow. She and her children are living in Scott County, Kentucky with 60 year old, Nancy Hinton. [Possibly a relative]
John R. Nye, age 27 [born about 1833], in Kentucky is living with the family of Chris and Jonnah Musselman in Grant County, Kentucky. Chris is a farmer and John R. Nye is a schoolteacher. [My estimate is that he is probably the same John R. Neys who was in Harrison County in 1850. The age in 1860 is a problem, and so is the birthplace, listed as Kentucky. The age is more of a problem, but one never knows who answered the door to tell the census taker what was what. As John R. Nye wasn't a relation, no one may have known how old he was. That his birthplace was given as Kentucky might be a problem in the same vein. It may be a case of a lazy census taker who put down everybody as a local. Sometimes one sees page after page of census records where everybody was born in Kentucky, and it seems against the odds for so many in a row to have been born in Kentucky. I have seen where someone who was born out-of-state was correctly recorded in one census, born in Kentucky in the next, and then correctly reported again in the third one. [Record and opinion provided by Philip Naff, Staff Writer and Webmaster, Harrison County Historical Society]
Additional marriage records:
John R. Nigh, Minister, performs the marriage of John M. McKinley to Missouri A, Hance on 21 January 1861. Doc. #5392. Harrison County Marriages.
John R. Nigh, Minister, performs the marriage of David C. Rulon to Margaret A. Brooks on 12 March 1861. Doc. #5414. Harrison County Marriages.
John R. Nigh, Minister, performs the marriage of Jesse Morris to Nancy M. Rulon on 7 April 1864. Doc. #5634. Harrison County Marriages.
John R. Nigh, Minister, performs the marriage of Lewis Austin to Nancy Jane Morris on 2 November 1864. Doc. #5665. Harrison County Marriages.
John R. Nigh, Minister, performs the marriage of James S. Kinman to Elizabeth P. Dungan on 9 May 1865. Doc. #5706. Harrison County Marriages.
John R. Nigh, Minister, performs the marriage of Randolph Cramer to Mary E. Dunn on 6 February 1866. Doc. #5789. Harrison County Marriages.
Jno. R. Nigh, Minister, performs the marriage of Taylor Switzer to Rebecca New on 27 February 1866. Doc. #5798. Harrison County Marriages.
John R. Nigh, Minister, performs the marriage of William H. Highlander to Zylpha Dunn on 20 December 1866. Doc. #5893. Harrison County Marriages.
[Above marriage record information provided by Philip Naff, Staff Writer and Webmaster, Harrison County Historical Society]
Jeff Scott, of family number 1 obtained copies of the muster rolls for the John R. Nigh, who enlisted in Company B of the 11th Kentucky Cavalry on 16 July 1862. The muster rolls show the enlistment took place in Grant County, Kentucky. The enlistment record remarks were “Within the lines of the enemy.” Subsequent muster rolls for Company B, list John R. Nigh as absent without leave, never showing up, or having deserted. The final muster roll, dated 17 July 1865 at Louisville, Kentucky for John R. Nigh, lists him as being “Enrolled but never mustered in or served.” [Grant County, is the same county where the John R. Nye, above, was living in the 1860 census]
The original muster in and muster out rolls do not
any further information upon John R. Nigh. At the end of the
roll (dated 17 July 1865) there is a list of 28 soldiers, with Nigh
of them. This listing is headed with the notation "The following named
are borne upon the muster in rolls of the company but were never
mustered in or
served with the company. Many behind enemy lines at the time of
and never returned." This company was mustered into service
around the time of the
summer 1862 raid of Confederate General John H. Morgan, and there were many areas of Central Kentucky (including Grant County) that had little or no Union control. Instead these areas were "over run with Rebel recruiters and recruits." (From a July 1862 telegram describing the Carroll, Owen, Gallatin, and Grant County areas). From the notation on the muster out roll, it is possible that Nigh could not report to muster due to these Confederate units operating in his area. [Record information and comment provided by Brandon K. Slone, Military Historian, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs]
Review of the 1870 Census and additional records:
No record found in the 1870 Census for John R. Nigh. [There were some named John Nigh, found in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland, but none were teachers or preachers]
No record found in the 1870 Census for Josephine Nigh or any her children, including those with the surname of Hinton.
Josephine Nigh received a letter from John R. Nigh, dated 22 January 1876, from Comanche, Texas. [Full text copy of the is letter set forth above]
Sarah Nigh is 36 years old, listed as a widow and is living with her mother, Tabitha Clark in Booneville, Kentucky. Sarah’s children, Samuel and Tabitha, are also living in the home. Sarah’s father, William Clark was the Provost Marshal of Owsley County and was murdered by Morgan’s Raiders in June 1864. Sarah and her mother moved into Booneville to be closer to her two brothers, Colonel Andrew H. Clark and Captain Henry J. Clark, who both had survived the war.
Review of the 1880 Census and other records:
No record of John R. Nigh was found in the census.
Sarah J. Nigh is 48 years old and listed as a widow, living in Owsley County, Kentucky. Her son, Samuel is living with her. Also living in the home is her daughter Tabitha and her husband, William Scott and their baby son Charlie. William and his brother-in-law, Samuel Nigh are farming. The birthplace for the father of Samuel and Tabitha is listed as Kentucky. Sarah dies in 1889 in Owsley County, Kentucky and is buried in the Clark – Scott Cemetery on the farm where they lived.
Louisa Nigh is 45 years old and listed as a widow, living in Newtonia, Missouri. Her children, Samuel F. Nigh, Maggie Nigh, James Hinton and Lavina Hinton are living with her. The birthplace for the father of Samuel F. Nigh and Maggie Nigh is listed as Pennsylvania. Living next door to Louisa, is Richard Hinton and his family who are farming.
Texas General Land Office on-line files, Austin, Texas:
(1.) 12 March 1884, McLennan County, Texas: John R. Nigh was the original grantee for 160 acres of land in McLennan County, Texas. Abstract number 687, (University and Asylum Lands), file number 000227. Patentee, Thomas M. West, patent number 615, vol. 5. [In his 1878 letter to Louisa from Comanche, Texas, John mentions having been in McLennan County, Texas]
(2.) 6 December 1884, Montague County (Fannin Preemption), Texas: J. W. Nigh was the patentee and original Grantee for 156.60 acres of land. Abstract number 985, file number 002178, patent number 498, patent vol. 16.
(3.) No date, Clay County (Fannin Preemption), Texas: J. R. Nigh was the original grantee for 160 acres, file number 002071, abstract number 799.
(4.) No date, no county (Robertson Script), Texas: John R. Nigh was the original grantee, file number 001759.
Texas General Land Office, Austin, Texas:
Copies of the above referenced files were requested and received in May 2010. Review of the files disclosed the following:
(1.) August 24, 1875, McLennan County, Texas. John R. Nigh applies to purchase 160 acres of land known as the SW ¼ of section 18, located in McLennan County. Abstract number 687. Nigh agreed to pay to the Treasurer of the State of Texas, the sum of $288.00 with ten per cent interest annually. Signed John R. Nigh. The land was sold on November 5, 1875 to Thomas M. West for $90.00 in hand. Signed John R. Nigh. [The signature appears to match the John R. Nigh signature on the 1865 Harrison County Marriage Bond]
(2.) November 27, 1878, Montague County, Texas. John W. Nigh applied for 160 acres of vacant public land as a bona fide settler. His witnesses were Hugh Whisenant and G. A. Turner. After a period of three years the application was approved on October 17, 1881. Signed J. W. Nigh. [The signature does not match the John R. Nigh signature on the 1865 Harrison County Marriage Bond]
(3.) June 19, 1878, Clay County, Texas. John R. Nigh applied for 160 acres of vacant public land located about 22 miles, N 42 W from the town of Henrietta, Texas. His witnesses were J. R. Bland and J. R. Kendall who declared that John R. Nigh is a bona fide settler and as the head of a family is entitled to 160 acres of land. Signed John R. Nigh. [The signature appears to match the John R. Nigh signature on the 1865 Harrison County Marriage Bond]
(4.) The no date, no county (Robertson Script), Texas file was an error at the General Land Office in Austin, Texas. File number 001759 did not apply to John R. Nigh.
Document 1: Marriage Bond, Harrison County, Kentucky, 1865.
Document 2: Marriage Bond, Harrison County, Kentucky, 1865.
Document 3: Purchase of land in McLennan County, Texas, August 1875.
Document 4: Sale of land in McLennan County, Texas, November 1875.
Document 5: Application for 160 acres as settler in Clay County, Texas, June 1878.
Notice that the above document is dated almost two and one half years following his January 1876 letter to his wife wherein he stated. “I am very much out of heart, but what is before me I must endure. I know it won’t be long until my time comes,…..”
Greer County Clerk’s Office, Mangum, Oklahoma:
(1.) John McCleariu and his wife deeded to J. R. Nigh on February 1, 1889, filed in book 2, pages 178 – 179.
(2.) J. R. Nigh deeded to J. R. McMahan on July 23, 1889, filed in book 2, page 211.
(3.) J. R. Nigh deeded to Josiah McCleariu on May 31, 1890, filed in book 2, page
(4.) J. R. Nigh deeded to A. W. Short on May 31, 1890, filed in book 2, page 280.
[Efforts to locate the deed documents for the above transactions were unsuccessful. The pages in the only book 2 at the clerk’s office did not match the above page numbers. Information provided by Sonja Wallace, Greer County Clerk]
Greer County Oklahoma, The Plain Dealer – 1898:
“John R. Nigh asked to show why his purchase entry should not be cancelled—April 30, 1898. Prior to March 16, 1896 bona fide occupant and has continuously occupancy since 1892. Built fence 2 ½ miles long. Residence is 2 miles from land. He is a minister and had no permanent home. The government replied, As Mr. Nigh does not reside upon the land he is not qualified under section I, but will be allowed under section II. He will be allowed 30 days to show cause why his cash receipt #1067 should not be cancelled. Land Commissioners.”
Review of the 1900 Census and additional records:
John Nigh, age 78, born March 1822 in Pennsylvania, who was widowed, was living in Mangum, Greer County, Oklahoma. He was a boarder in the home of a family named Johnson. His occupation was listed as a Clergyman. The birthplace of both of his parents was also listed as Pennsylvania. [This John Nigh was not listed with a middle initial but that does not mean he did not have one. John R. Nigh was born about 1822 in Pennsylvania and so was his father. He seems very likely to be the same person in the census. There were no other persons found in Greer County on any census record named Nigh, Neys or Nye]
Josephine Nigh is 66 years old, a widow, living with her son, 25-year-old Samuel F. Nigh, a farmer in Newtonia, Missouri. Her daughter, Lavina T. Hinton, age 44 is also living in the home.
Josephine dies in 1908 in Missouri. [Provided by Ms. Jones, family number 2]
Neither Josephine nor Sarah ever re-married. The children of each of these two Kentucky women went on to have good and decent lives.
From Oklahoma Historical Society’s Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History:
“From 1860 to 1896 Greer County was part of Texas. On March 16, 1896, a U.S. Supreme Court decision made Old Greer County part of Oklahoma Territory. In the 1860s and 1870s the Kiowa and Comanche used the area as a hunting ground…
From a History of the Public Schools in Mangum, Oklahoma: by Tom Johnson.
“The first institution of learning was organized in 1888 as a subscription school with Professor John R. Nigh as teacher. The class room was a dugout located on the lot where Wright’s Storage building now stands. Soap boxes, barrels, rude benches, and barbed wire spools served for desks and seats. A large fireplace provided heat for the occupants. The school term lasted only three or four months. There were thirteen pupils who attended school…The teacher’s salary was low, the average salary was thirty dollars per month, but the “Professor” enjoyed the hospitality of his school patrons, for then it was considered quite an honor to have the schoolmaster as a guest in the home; therefore, he managed to make ends meet in spite of the meager salary.” [This John R. Nigh is no doubt the same John Nigh, listed in the above Greer County census of 1900]
Greer County Oklahoma, The Plain Dealer – 1901:
“Greer County Sunday School Convention and Picnic to be held July 10, 11 at Mangum. Those on the Program are: Rev. W. C. Banks…Rev J. R. Nigh…Communities taking part were Mangum, Lowder, Altus, Granite, Elk View, Mt. Zion, Deer Creek, Union, Navajoe and Bethel.”
Mangum Oklahoma Star, August 25, 1904:
“Rev. Nigh old time pioneer school teacher and later preacher. He died last year at 80 years [about 1823 birth date] and was laid to rest in a graveyard near Granite. Many of the early time pioneer children went to school to him seventeen years ago. (1887).”
“Rev. or Prof. Nigh as he was better known, possessed a striking presence and personality. Aside from his venerable appearance he was a man of fine intellectual attainments and for nearly a quarter of a century he had devoted these attainments to the intellectual and moral betterments of the people of the frontier. He, having followed the outworks of civilization from Henrietta to Vernon and to Greer County. He was a native of Pennsylvania and rode the first train that ever ran over the Baltimore and Ohio railway.” [Henrietta and Vernon are towns in Texas, located just south of Greer County on the old cattle trail]
“For a number of years before his death he devoted his time to the ministry of the Baptist church which now makes it fitting that that church should take the initiative in the laudable enterprise or erecting a monument in a measure befitting the work he did.”
Review of cemeteries in Greer County, Oklahoma:
Review disclosed the gravesite of J. R. Nigh in the Rock Cemetery, west of Granite, Oklahoma. The grave is located on row 11 S and the dates on the monument are 1815 – 1904.
This discovery further helps to show the John Nigh in the Greer County census of 1900, had the middle initial R. The 1815 birth year vs. the 1822 birth year in the census is a problem, but again, we do not know who provided the information to the census taker or the stonecutter. Notice the above information from the Mangum Oklahoma Star; August 25, 1904 reported John R. Nigh died last year, indicating the death to be in 1903 at the age of 80. That puts his birth year at about 1823.
Review of all other cemeteries in Greer County disclosed no other persons with the name of Nigh, Neys or Nye.
The date and place of birth problem:
The Nigh to Clark marriage, of 1852, shows John’s age to be 33 [born about 1820], in Virginia. [John did not sign this marriage record].
The Nigh to Hinton marriage record, of 1865, shows John’s age to be 43 [born about 1822], in Pennsylvania. This record was signed by John, which indicates that he had read the document and that he knew what it contained. [Not only did he read the document, it appears all of the entries were made by John’s hand. There is no doubt that this John R. Nigh is the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Nigh of Hagerstown, Maryland and that he was born about 1822, not 1832]
Conclusion of Family number 1:
Both James and Jeff believe the research is compelling, especially in view of the comparison of the signatures on the marriage bond to the signatures on the land records in Texas, that John R. Nigh in family number 1 and John R. Nigh in family number 2 are the same man.
On his marriage license to the Widow Hinton, John states the marriage to be his second. It would appear that John went to Owsley County in 1850 as a teacher and met Sarah Clark. She became pregnant and John may have been forced to marry her. John kept in touch with friends in Harrison County and as soon as he learned of the death of Asher Hinton in 1859, he told Sarah he was going back east. Instead, he returned to Harrison County and probably told the Widow Hinton that he had divorced Sarah. This would have compelled him to state on the marriage license, that it was his second marriage.
This investigation has not covered every possible source in searching for the definitive answer to the question at the beginning of this work. The answer probably never will be answered to everyone’s satisfaction because of human error in preparing official records. The John R. Nigh of family number 1 and family number 2 has not been proven to be the same man without the shadow of a doubt.
Conclusion of Family number 2:
Ms Jones has not responded to requests for her comments, since the discovery of the signatures of John R. Nigh on the Texas land transactions.
If there is but one John R. Nigh, then the question now is, why did he abandon his two wives and their children? We could offer an explanation of why John abandoned his first family but why he would abandon two families is difficult to explain.
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