Randolph County, Indiana
Nelson B. Hiatt
It can not be
other than interesting to note in the series of personal sketches appearing in
this memorial and biographical history and varying conditions that have
compassed those whose careers are outlined, and the effort has been made in
each case to throw well-focused light onto the individuality and to bring into
proper perspective the scheme of each character under consideration. Each man
who strives to fulfill his part in connection with human life and human
activities is deserving of recognition, whatever may be or have been the field
of his endeavor, and it is the function of works of this nature to perpetuate
for future generations an authentic record concerning those represented in its
pages, and the value of such publication is certain to be cumulative for all
time to come, showing forth the individual and specific accomplishments of
which generic history is ever engendered. One of the citizens
of a past generation in Randolph county who is eminently deserving of a
conspicuous place in the pages of the present work was the late Nelson B.
Hiatt, for more than three decades a well known and successful merchant and
business man of Ridgeville, and a citizen of honor and public-spirit who was highly
esteemed by a vast acquaintance. He was born in Jay county. Indiana. July 19,
1848, and was a son of Jonathan and Ruth Hiatt, whose family
consisted of fifteen children. The mother of our subject died when he was seven
years old and the father married a second time, but the last union was without
issue. Of the large family only one son and two daughters survive, namely: Lavina,
wife of Hamilton Heller, of Pennville, Jay county: he is a retired
farmer; twelve children were born to them: Ruth Anna married Charles
Briggs, a farmer in Jay county, and they have four children; Jasper C.,
of Indianapolis, is a widower and has four children.
mentioned above, devoted his life to farming. He was a native of North Carolina
from which state he came to Jay county, Indiana, when a young man and there
located on a farm. His death occurred at the age of seventy-two years.
Nelson B. Hiatt
grew up on the home farm in Jay county and there assisted with the general work
when a boy. He received his education in the common schools of that community,
also passing through Ridgeville college. When but a boy he determined upon a
career as merchant and he began in that field of endeavor at Pennville, in his
native county, where he remained four years, then moved to Ridgeville, and there
continued to operate a general store for a period of thirty-four years, or up
to the time of his death. He enjoyed a large and lucrative business with the
town and surrounding country, always carrying a well-selected stock of goods
which he sold at reasonable prices, and his honesty and courtesy won him the
good will and friendship of his hundreds of customers.
Mr. Hiatt was
married June 28, 1875, to Rebecca Janney, a daughter of Mahlon
and Frances S. (Taylor) Janney, whose family consisted of eleven
children, five of whom survive. Mr. Janney devoted his life to farming.
One daughter was
born to our subject and wife, Irma Frances, who married John
McFarland, of Ridgeville, who was a teacher for sixteen years, and who at
this writing is in charge of the store left by our subject. He has three
children, Frances E., born in 1902; Portia, born in 1905, and Joseph
Howard, born October, 1907. Our subject and wife also reared and educated Lillian
Smithson, daughter of Michael and Lavina Smithson. She was
born in 1886. Her parents died when she was three and one-half years of age and
she was taken by subject and wife. She taught school up to the time of her
marriage to Frank Mitchell, manager of the Ridgeville Telephone Co.
Mr. Hiatt was a charter member of the Congregational church at
Ridgeville. Politically, he was a Prohibitionist, and was active in temperance work.
He was city treasurer of Ridgeville four years, discharging the duties of the office
in a highly acceptable manner, He was one of the leading business men in this
section of Randolph county. He was vice-president of the First National Bank of
Ridgeville, which position he held from the time of its charter until his
death. He was perhaps at that time the oldest business man in Ridgeville. He
had a large, commodious home where his widow still lives. She holds a large
share of the stock in the above named bank and is a woman of no mean business
ability and has many winning characteristics which have made her popular with a
wide circle of friends.
Nelson B. Hiatt was summoned to his eternal rest on January 27, 1912,at the age of sixty-four years.
Contributed by Gina Richardson
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