Thursday, July 28, 2011

Eugenius Aristides Nisbet (1803-1871), Eugenius Wilson Davis (1832-1925)

                                                                              Portrait courtesy of Find-a-Grave.

    A U.S. Representative from Georgia and member of that state's supreme court, the uniquely named Eugenius Aristides Nisbet was born on December 7, 1803 in Greene County, the son of James and Penelope Cooper Nisbet. As a youth Eugenius attended the Powleton Academy in Hancock County and later went on to attend the University of Georgia at Athens, graduating from there in 1821. Following his graduation, he began the study of law in Litchfield, Connecticut and after returning home applied to the Georgia state legislature to admit him to the state bar by a special action (as he was under 21 years of age). The legislature would grant Nisbet's request and soon afterward commenced the practice of law at Madison, Georgia.
  In 1824 Nisbet married Amanda Melvin Fitzgerald Battle, with whom he had twelve children over twenty-three years time. Three years after his marriage, Nisbet was elected to the Georgia State House of Representatives, serving until 1830. In the last year of his assembly term, Nisbet was elected to his first term in the state senate and would serve a total of seven years in that body.
   Eugenius A. Nisbet removed to Macon, Georgia in 1836, and in that same year launched a candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives. He would lose that election but made a second congressional run in 1838, this time winning with a total of 31,841 votes. Nisbet would win reelection to the House in March of 1841 and served until October 12th of that year, when he resigned, citing "a growing distaste of political life."

                                                          Nisbet after his congressional service.

   After his resignation from Congress, Nisbet returned to the practice of law and in 1845 was named as one of the first three judges on the newly established Georgia State Supreme Court. His judicial service concluded in 1853 and at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 sided with the Confederacy. Nisbet became a member of Georgia's secession convention, and is remarked as having "drew the original resolutions dissolving the state of Georgia with the American Union". He would briefly serve in the Confederate Provisional legislature and in 1861  launched a campaign for Governor of Georgia, being defeated by incumbent Governor (and later Senator) Joseph Emerson Brown (1821-1894), garnering 32,802 votes to Brown's 46, 493.
   In one of his last acts of public service, Nisbet served as a trustee of his Alma mater (the University of Georgia at Athens) from 1864 until his death in Macon, Georgia on March 18, 1871. He was preceded in death by his wife Amanda, who had died aged 60 in May 1865. Both were interred at the Rose Hill Cemetery, located in Macon, Georgia.

   In a short addendum to this article, in December 2011 another politician was discovered that has the given name Eugenius. That man is Eugenius Wilson Davis, an Indiana resident who served two terms in his state's house of representatives from La Porte County.
   Davis was born in Monongalia County, West Virginia on December 20, 1832, being the son of Caleb and Sarah Wagner Davis. The Davis family removed to Indiana in the year following his birth, and here young Eugenius attended school in a log cabin during the wintertime. He would spend his adolescence studying to become a teacher, as well as working on the family farm. Davis's teaching career would extend into the 1850s and over the course of his life grew to be a very prominent landowner in Indiana, and at the time of his death is recorded as being the owner of several hundred acres of land in Galena Township.
   Davis married in LaPorte County in 1853 to Betsey Ann Barnes (1835-1918), a native of Onondaga County, New York. The couple were wed for over sixty years and had three children born to their union, Arthur C. (killed in a woodworking accident in 1896), Frances E. (birthdate unknown), and a child that died in infancy.
   It was in 1881 that Davis first entered the field of politics, winning election to the Indiana State House of Representatives. He served two terms in the state house, the last of which concluded in 1885. Following his time in state government, Davis became active in banking, and in 1915 was named as the President of the LaPorte Savings Bank. He served as its head until his retirement in 1919 at age 87. Eugenius Davis enjoyed his retirement for nearly six more years, dying at age 92 on April 22, 1925,  He was survived by his wife Betsey and was later interred at the Pine Lake Cemetery in LaPorte.

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