Hamilton Nighswonger Sr.

My GGGGGrandfather Hamilton Nighswonger Sr. was born in 1784, Fort Henry, Wheeling West Va. Our ancestors emigrated from Langnau, Bern, Switzerland in the early 1700’s. He was probably named after his uncle, Hamilton Kerr. His mother, Jane Kerr‘s, brother. His father, Peter, fought in the last battle of the Revolutionary war at the siege of Fort Henry. Around 1788 they moved to Fort Harmar, Marietta, Oh. He continued in his occupation as a Ranger, hunter/spy. He hunted for food, protected the fort and it’s occupants, tracked and kept tabs on the Indians. In 1793 they moved down the Ohio river to Miegs county Ohio. He planted over 200 peach trees and built a distillery to make whiskey and peach brandy.

In 1809 Hamilton married Ann Nancy Vandeventer, Washington county Ohio. Hamilton Jr. was born 1814.

In 1823 the Nighswonger’s and Vandeventer’s moved initially to Gallatin county Illinois, near Shawneetown. Peter died there in 1834.

In 1826 Hamilton moved to the Brown county bluffs, later named Versailles. He died there in 1855 as did his son Hamilton Jr. in 1862. Both buried in Versailles South side cemetery. Only Jr. and wife, Mary Bullard, have marker (in far right hand corner).

William Hamilton Sr. was born March 14th, 1842. Wife Fannie VonKington.
William Hamilton Jr. was born 1873.

In 1883 the family moved to Kansas and then participated in the Cherokee run settling in Woodward, Ok.

A letter written to my Grandfather from his Uncle Edward. He was the last generation in my line born in Versailles, Il.

Woodward Okla Jan 1st 59

Dear Lester,

As we are snow bound, will try and answer your letter asking about our ancestors. Mostly what I know is what I have heard and try to remember. But first you was wrong about us coming from Indiana. All of us children was born on the same farm that our father was born on except Fannie who was born in Anthony Kansas. August the 26th 1883. The rest of us was born in Illinois Brown county close to the little town called Versailles. And my birthday is tomorrow the second of January, and I was born in 1879. So tomorrow is my Eightieth Birthday. And as we came to Anthony Kansas in April 1883 I was too young to remember much. But I remember being on the train and starting and the lights in Kansas City and according to my memory. The only wagon emigration was from Anthony to Avilla Kansas in the spring of 1885 and from Kansas to Oklahoma in October of 1893. Now according to a book, History of Brown co. Illinois my Great Grandfather Hamilton Nighswonger and his brother in law Cornelius Van Deventer emigrated from Marietta Ohio to Illinois about 1820. They floated down the Ohio river they had two big poplar canoe’s lashed together and planked on the top with all their belongings on it. They first stopped at Cairo Illinois but there was some weed that grew there that the cows eat. that the milk made the people sick so they moved up the Illinois river as far as Brown county. My Grandfather also Hamilton Nighswonger was a cooper by trade. Made barrels, as everything was packed in barrels them days.When I was a boy most everything was shipped in barrels. My Grandfather was born in 1810. I don’t know the date. My father (William Hamilton Sr.)was born March 14th 1842. and died in February 1911. my grandfather died in 1860. My Grandmother was named Mary Bullard. She visited us once in Kansas about 1890 and died soon after. She was born in Virginia but I don’t know what year she was born or died. Now about the wagon ____ I remember the trip very well from Anthony to Comanche Co. About the only thing special I remember was crossing the Medicine lodge river as it had been only about a year before that a heavy rain and flood caught a lot of campers there and drowned several so of course I remembered that. But the trip to Okla I remember every detail of that. My job was taking turn about with Roy and driving the cows. There was three wagons. Your father and my father drove and the other wagon was a neighbor of ours in Kansas that took a load for us. There was no trouble. We had two rivers to cross, the Cimarron and North Canadian but no water to give us trouble we was two nights over on the road, but the weather was nice but it was warm when we got to our home but the greatest thing that happened to Roy and myself, was the fact that we had arrived and I was 14 and Roy almost three years younger, and that there was no school. Lots of game of all kinds we had a gun a piece and there was a river right by our house that had never been fished and not much work that we could do as we was too small. Certainly it was a boy heaven on earth.

Your Uncle Ed

For additional information contact: Mark Nighswonger