Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 158] In every community there are men who have finished their part in the arduous labors of daily life; they are usually men who have struggled against adverse circumstances and who have overcome the obstacles to success, reaching the calm only after severe and exhausting effort. They command the veneration and respect of younger generations. Such a man and such a character is Nathaniel Nye of Hazel Dell. He was born on the old Nye homestead where Ellwood City is now located, April 29, 1835. His parents were Thomas and Pernina (Pettit) Nye.

At that early day there was little opportunity for educational advantages, so at the age of seventeen Mr. Nye began to learn blacksmithing. Besides working at his trade, he carried on farming at the homestead, a part of which fell to him by inheritance. Securing two acres of land from Andrew C. Cole in Hazel Dell, Mr. Nye built a house, and made his home there for a time; he then sold that property and bought the J. H. Marshall residence, which he enlarged and altered considerably to suit his purposes. In 1891, Mr. Nye built a barn and voting hall. He also invested in the Nye store, and rented it to tenants until 1897, when he bought the entire stock of goods, and it has since been conducted under his supervision and management. In company with his son, Frank H. Nye,, our subject bought the Daniel Cole farm as a speculation, laid it out into lots, one hundred in all, each 150 feet in depth with fifty feet frontage; this venture was very successful and brought in good returns to the heads of it. While Mr. Nye has retired from active participation in business affairs, he is still interested in real estate and makes an occasional sale that is well worth his time.

Mr. Nye is a member in good standing of the lodge at Ellwood City, F. & A. M. He first became a Mason in New Brighton, Pa., and from there was transferred successively to Rochester and Ellwood City, becoming popular, and well liked in every lodge, as he is of a genial disposition. As a person of enterprise and energy, Mr. Nye is certainly one of the men best fitted to carry out the aggressive principles of his party in the political arena, where he is arrayed on the side of Democracy. He is very much interested in educational matters, and has advanced theories along those lines.

Mr. Nye in uniting himself with a life-companion made a most fitting choice of his wife, a lady of excellent family, whose history is fully outlined in the biography of John Marshall, con- tained elsewhere in this Book of Biographies. Mrs. Rebecca Jane (Marshall) Nye, daughter of the Mr. Marshall mentioned above, has been all that a good and faithful wife ever is to a devoted husband, and outside of the family circle she has won many dear friends by her unfailing courtesy and kindliness of manner. In the years of their wedded life children came to the household, and were welcomed and carefully and conscientiously trained. The history of the oldest son, George B., appears detached in a separate narrative in this book, and we will not take the time here to refer to his prosperous career; suffice it to say that he is an honor to his parents, and one of the best citizens of Ellwood City. Frank H. is a merchant of large business ability and excellent standing in the trade. Charlie M. is engaged in commercial pursuits. He married Abbie Hannon, and they have a son, John H., and a daughter, Bertha M. Harry E., while acting as fireman on the railroad, met his death in an accident at the age of twenty-one. Freddie H. lived five years, and then was called home by his Heavenly Father. William W. passed away at eighteen months, Ralph E. was taken a short time after he had passed his second birthday, and Myrtle C.'s life terminated before the end of her third year.

The family is highly thought of in all parts of the township, and everywhere throughout the county, where they are known, their worth and many excellent qualities are appreciated. The young people are fully capable of maintaining the high standard set for them, and give promise of doing so.

Our subject's grandparents, Andrew Rose and Rachel (McDonald) Nye, came to this section of the State from Philadelphia, and after living for some little time at Peter's Creek removed to Lawrence County, where they received a patent for four hundred acres of new land. They built thereon in 1793 a log-house near the site of the Presbyterian Church, and lived many years to prosper and to delight in their splendid family of children. Andrew Nye was born Jan. 6, 1750, and died March 1, 1821, and his wife entered this life Nov. 10, 1760, and departed it Dec. 16, 1847. Their children were: Richard, born Nov. 1, 1776: Eleanor, Dec. 25, 1777; Catherine, March 5, 1780; Nancy, Nov. 9, 1781; John, Oct. 2, 1783; Michael, Oct. 2, 1785; Hannah, July 21, 1787; Jordan M., March 10, 1789; Mary, Feb. 12, 1791; Margaret, July 13, 1792; Susan, Feb. 27, 1795; Andrew R., Dec. 22, 1797; Dan, March 19, 1800; and Thomas, the father of our subject, Aug. 30, 1802.

Thomas Nye, the youngest of a family of fourteen, farmed with his father, and labored at agricultural pursuits all his life. On April 10, 1828, Mr. Nye was united in the bonds of matrimony with Pernina Pettit, who was born Nov. 15, 1804. The Nyes lived in the true pioneer days, when there was plenty of game for the obtaining of it, and the settlers' cabins were few and far between. They worked hard at clearing their land, and succeeded admirably in wresting a sustenance and a comfortable livelihood from the soil. Their children were: Dan, born Feb. 10, 1829, whose sketch is found elsewhere in this book; Alvah and Avery, twins, Jan. 25, 1830; Aaron, Jan. 26, 1835; and Nathaniel, our subject. Mrs. Nye laid down her duties and closed her eyes on life on July 10, 1836. After the lapse of several years, our subject's father contracted a second matrimonial alliance with Mrs. Eliza McElwain, whose maiden name was Miller. By this union five more children were added to the family: Jordan M., born Nov. 7, 1847; Pernina, Nov. 27, 1849; Hannah, Nov. 23, 1852; Nancy, Aug. 11, 1854; and Celia, Aug. 16, 1857. Mr. Nye held various township offices, that were tendered to him by his townspeople. He owned 130 acres of land, but little dreamed that his meadows one day would furnish building sites for many comfortable and happy homes. Our subject's grandfather, Andrew, lived in a log-house, where the residence of brick and frame now stands, and when he made his settlement there were only two families in the vicinity for miles and miles, and they were the Renyons and Hazens. Mrs. Nye was often left in the log-house with the children when her husband went to work, and quite frequently was she forced to fire a rifle off, to frighten off the wolves, who were prowling about, and prevent them from molesting the place.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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