Biography of Robert Nesbitt



Van Buren County

Online Biographies


Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

This gentleman, whose portrait appears above, was born near Belfast, Ireland, March 18, 1810, and emigrated to the United States in the spring of 1826, arriving in Plattsburgh, N. Y., on the 4th of May, and remained there six months. He then proceeded to Ann Arbor, Mich., and settled near that place March 23, 1827, and began work at the mill-wright’s trade. In the fall of 1829 he removed to Kalamazoo County, and while there assisted in building the first saw-mill in the county. He took charge of the mill as sawyer, and prepared and sent to Kalamazoo the first load of lumber ever received there. In the spring of 1835 he located the first land entered in Hamilton township, Van Buren Co., settled upon it, and has since made it his home. His entry included three eighty. acre lots in the midst of a dense forest, and this has been transformed into his present excellent and finely improved farm. In 1871 Mr. Nesbitt erected the residence he now occupies,—one of the finest in the county. He has been the owner of three thousand acres of land, his farm consisting at present of four hundred and sixty acres. Soon after his location be began cutting the valuable timber on his place, manufacturing it into lumber, and shipping it in various directions. The first cargo of walnut lumber ever shipped around Cape Horn to California was furnished by Mr. Nesbitt, he being secured on it by real estate until returns were made. Five saw-mills were built and worn out by him in the manufacture of lumber, aside from a steam saw-mill in Allegan County.

Mr. Nesbitt has been twice married. His first wife was Miss Masia Comley, daughter of John Comley. to whom he was married Dec. 1, 1836, and who bore him four children,— Mary, Elizabeth, George, and Masia; of these but two are now living. Mrs. Nesbitt died October 6, 1857; and on the 18th of September, 1858, he was married to Mrs. S. L. Griffin, by whom he has also had four children,—Robert, Minnie, Nellie, and Dora; two of the number fell before the sickle of the great reaper, Death. Mr. Nesbitt is a well known advocate of the doctrine of Spiritualism, and has devoted more than thirty years of his life to an investigation of the subject. He is a firm believer in the ministrations and manifestations of departed friends, and frequent meetings of those interested in the study of the doctrine are held at his house, and largely attended; prominent mediums from this and other States being often present.

Mr. Nesbitt, in summing up in December, 1879, said
“At this time I run one saw-mill and a grist mill, beside a large farm, well stocked; am now in my seventieth year. I superintend all my own business, having but one son, who ‘paddles his own canoe.’ My health is good, my spirits light. I walk several miles every day looking after my business.” Mr. Nesbitt’s qualities have made him a leader in many things, and his integrity, through his long business career, has won for him the confidence of those with whom he has associated. He has made many friends, and his home is a place of hospitality and generous entertainment. His anecdotes Of the days of pioneer life are ever interesting, and no man was better fitted than he for the duties of such a life. He is one of the few landmarks of a swiftly passing generation, and is

“Only waiting till the shadows
Are a little longer grown,”

when he will join the innumerable throng of those who have gone before.

Mr. Nesbitt’s father, George Nesbitt, emigrated to the United States in 1830, and purchased two thousand one hundred acres of land in Kalamazoo Co., Mich. He was engaged during his life in agricultural pursuits, and died July 22, 1843. The parents of Mrs. Robert Nesbitt came to "the States” about 1851, from Durham Co., Out., Canada (where Mrs. Nesbitt was born Oct. 23, 1825), and settled in Breedsville, Van Buren Co., Mich. Her mother died in 1865, and her father in 1872.

History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
D. W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincoff & Co., Philadelphia.

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