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.
Jonathan Hiatt, 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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