Nathan Purse Bliss


1812 - December 5, 1886
Occupation: Farmer

Reference Number:
Submitter:  Gordon C. Nagle, Sr. 
2nd great-grandson



Nathan Purse BLISS was born in Western New York in 1812.  The names of his parents and siblings are not known.  There were two obituaries when he died in December 5, 1886. One written by his daughter Alice said he was born in Chautauqua County, New York on March 4, 1812; the other said he was born June 4, 1812 in Cattaraugus County, New York, and his Civil War records show he was born in Genesee, New York.  It is not known for sure when he moved west.  He is first found April 16, 1843 in LaPorte County, Indiana when he married Aberillah HAINES (daughter of James HAINES and Mary Polly PHILLIPS).  Aberillah was born September 7, 1822 in Ohio.

In early 1860, the family moved to Benton County, Iowa.  On September 6, 1862, at the age of 50 years, Nathan enlisted in the 37th Regiment, A Company, of the Iowa Volunteers.  The Secretary of War had obtained special authority to organize one regiment, composed of men who were over 45 yrs and in good physical condition.  From the date of its organization, the 37th Regiment was known as the "Graybeard Regiment".  It was understood that it would be assigned to "guard and garrison" duty, and was not to be put into active service in the field - except in the event of an emergency. Its greatest loss and suffering was from disease.  A great many of the men were over the age of sixty years, quite a number were between seventy and eighty, and one had reached the age of eighty.  The regiment was disbanded May 24, 1865 at Davenport, Iowa.


In 1872 Nathan received a Nebraska land grant and moved to the St Claire Valley, Antelope County, Nebraska. 


The article below is from the History of Antelope County Nebraska 1868-1883, by A.J. Leach, December 1909. 

 Because of the spring rains, the trees were probably cut in the spring of 1871 when the rivers were high. Then, when they decided to float the logs down the river on July 5th, the river had gone down. 

In an early day, before the native groves along the Elkhorn and its tributaries had been stripped of their best timbers, a very fine grove of cottonwood saw timber was standing on the south half of section 20, of Neligh township, adjacent to what is now the city of Neligh.  This was on state land, and, as stated in Chapter VI, timber found on state or government land was in those days considered common property.  A party of nine men from St Clair Valley and vicinity, consisting of Peter S. Balliett, Jonas J. Irish, Orson Fields, Orville Fields, W.W. Wilkinson, N.P. Bliss, Sidney Frink, J.H. Eickhoff, and Peter T. Wilkinson, arranged to cut this timber, believing that they could form it into rafts and easily float it down the Elkhorn to Bennett's saw-mill.  Mr. Bennett agreed to do the sawing for one half the lumber, and money being a scarce article in those days, it was thought that each one of the party would come into possession of a nice lot of lumber without expending any money.  W.W. Wilkinson and N.P. Bliss were to do the team work, and the others were to cut the logs.


About July 1, 1871, they had the logs all cut and ready to float, but being about out of rations they arranged to go home, attend the fourth of July celebration to be held on section 7, Burnett township, and return with supplies on the 5th.  On their return, the river had fallen about 18", and was still going down.  Rafting was impossible.  They therefore determined to float the logs down singly, using the teams when necessary to roll them off the sand bars.  On reaching the mill, which was done after a vast amount of labor, Mr. Bennett declined to saw the logs on account the great amount of sand lodged in the bark, which he claimed, would ruin his saw.  It was agreed that the owners should remove the bark from the logs, and for this labor they should be entitled to the slabs.  To this all agreed except J.J. Irish, who declared he didn't want any slabs.  The others barked the logs, the sawing was done, and each one of the nine men received two wagon loads of good lumber for his share, and eight of the party received each his share of slabs besides.


Nathan died December 5, 1886 on his homestead south of Oakdale, Antelope County, Nebraska.

The following obituary is from the Oakdale Journal, dated December 10, 1886. 




BLISS - Sunday Dec 5th at his residence seven miles south of Oakdale, of congestion of the lungs, Mr N.P. Bliss at the age of 74 yrs, 6 months, and 1 day.  Mr Bliss was born in Cattaragus County, New York, in the year 1812, where he resided for the period of seventeen years and then moved to LaPorte County, Indiana.  Here he was united in marriage on the 16th day of April, 1843 to Aberillah Haynes, and resided at that place for thirty-one years.  Thence he moved to Marion county, Iowa, where he resided until he took up his residence in Antelope county.  Although about fifty years of age, when the cannon belched forth its threatening around Fort Sumpter, Mr Bliss responded to his country's call.  Leaving his wife and babes behind he consecrated his gray hairs to the service of his country and its honor.  Mr Bliss belonged to the Iowa company known as the Gray Beards.  On his return from the war, where he served with patriotic zeal for twenty-seven months, he greeted his wife, children and friends, and again became a hero in facing the trials and privations of a frontier life to avail himself of the homestead law, and carve out for himself a home in which to spend his declining days.  Since he has lived in Antelope county he suffered alike the privations and pleasures of the frontiersman.  His life has been an open record and its every page can be scanned and not a blot found.  His life has been that of an honorable and respected citizen.  Having passed the mile-stone of his three score and ten he found that he must calmly await the summons that was to usher him into eternity.  On the Saturday prior to his death he mounted his horse and visited a married daughter.  On Sunday morning at daylight he awakened in extreme agony and pain.  He aroused his wife who called to her son in another room, who only reached his bedside in time to see him die.  Ten minutes only elapsed from the time he awakened until he went into that sleep from which none awaken.  The funeral services were conducted in St Clair and the body laid to rest in the Oakdale cemetery.  The family have the sympathy of the entire community in their affliction.


The following obituary was written by his daughter Alice BLISS FIELDS, and was printed in the Neligh Nebraska "Republican", Wednesday, December 15, 1886.  The date of death should be December 5, 1886.


Died: - November 5, 1886 at his home at St Clair, Antelope County, Nebraska,  Nathan P. Bliss of "catarrh of the lungs".  His death was little expected, although he has been feeble for some time.  He died without anyone's knowing what his last thoughts were. He was apparently in better health Saturday than for some time.  Sunday morning at five o'clock he made a slight noise - before anyone could get to him, he was gone.  Born in Chautauqua County, New York, March 4, 1812.  Moved to Indiana and lived a frontier life for several years.  He then moved with his family to Iowa while the state was yet young.  When the Rebellion broke out, he enlisted in the 37th Iowa Gray Beards.  He was honorably discharged and soon came west to try his fortune once more on the frontier.  He lived in St Clair for fourteen years and died on his old claim; was honored and respected by all who knew him.  He leaves a wife and six children all grown and married, with the exception of one, who is widely known.  We hope all may tender their deepest and most sincere sympathies to the lone widow and son, who have no one to lean on their great bereavement.



20167         Marion Elisha, born 03/22/1844, LaPorte County, Indiana, died 12/19/1898, St Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.  He married 1st Lucinda ROBBINS 04/19/1871 at Benton County, Iowa she died 09/1880 at Antelope County, Nebraska. No known children from the 1st marriage.  His 2nd marriage was to Josephine WILCOX WINANS.  Children from his 2nd marriage, Sylvia, John William, and Marie Fannie BLISS SWARTZ.


~~~~~     George W, born 11/10/1846, LaPorte County, Indiana, died 09/23/1876, Oakdale, Antelope County, Nebraska.  Information shows that he was married, the name is not known.


20170         Amanda Clarinda, born 10/09/1848, LaPorte County, Indiana, October 9, 1933, Milton-Freewater, Umatilla County, Oregon.  Married 1st Peter S BALLIETT, 08/20/1871 at Benton County, Iowa, 2nd David M WILKINSON, 09/15/1878 at Antelope County, Nebraska.  Children from 1st marriage, Rockford (Rock) Lowell, Hattie Mattie, John Lloyd.  2nd marriage, Jennie (June Mathilda) WILKINSON SEXTON, Minnie WILKINSON CUTLIP, Frank A, Emma Jane WILKINSON EDGAR, Bessie W WILKINSON TALLEY TREANOR.


~~~~~         Alice G, born 04/03/1854, LaPorte County, Indiana, died 02/12/1931, Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho.  She married Orville L FIELDS 02/01/1874 at Antelope County, Nebraska.  In the summer of 1873, Alice taught the 1st school (district #2) in the St Clair Valley, Antelope County.  When she died she was living with her daughter Cora in Lewiston.  Children: Oscar, Leonard, Charles E, Cora E FIELDS THOMAS.


~~~~~         Thomas, 01/02/1858, LaPorte County, Indiana, died before 1860.


20168         James Joseph, (twin of Josephine) born 02/19/1859, LaPorte County, Indiana, died 04/10/1942, Oakdale, Antelope County, Nebraska.  02/10/1887 married Phoebe Marie PEETS at Oakdale.  Children, Felecia, Jennie, Johnnie N, Harry N, Elsie Viola, Edith Mae, Leroy C, William Edward, and Dellis James.


20169         Josephine Mary, (twin of James) born 02/19/1859, LaPorte County, Indiana, died 1895, Battle Creek, Madison County, Nebraska.  She married John MURPHY 07/14/1878 at Oakdale.  Children, Maurice D and James.


~~~~~         Alta Jane, born 07/21/1862, Taylor Township, Benton County, Iowa, died after 1930, Boone County, Nebraska.  .  She married George N HOLTON, 04/07/1883 at St Claire Valley, Antelope County, Nebraska.  Children: Cora HOLTON MUSINGER, Raymond, Lloyd, Grace HOLTON BURNS, Mattie HOLTON HENDRICKS, Jessie, Ruth, and Rhoda (possibly a twin of Ruth).