After yesterday's biography of Mississippi native Servetus L. Crockett, we journey North to Ohio to profile Arius Nye, a prominent citizen of both Muskingum and Washington County. Nye served as a member of both houses of the Ohio legislature and also served stints as Prosecuting Attorney and Presiding Judge of Washington County.
Arius Nye was born in Campus Maritus (a fortification located in what is now Marietta, Ohio) on December 27, 1792. Arius was the fourth of twelve children born to Ichabod Nye (1763-1840) and his wife Minerva. Arius's oddly named younger brother (Anselm Tupper Nye, 1797-1881) also became a noted businessman and politician, serving as Mayor of Marietta on a number of occasions.
It is recorded in the 1903 work the Nye Family of America, that Arius received his education at the Campus Maritus fortification and later studied in common schools near the Marietta area. As a youngster, he was sent by his father to the town of Springfield (near modern-day Zanesville) in Muskingum County to work in a mercantile store. Barely into his twenties, Nye was named as a director of the Muskingum Bank in the settlement of Putnam and shortly thereafter went into business with his father in a firm called "I. and A. Nye".
During his residence in Muskingum County, Arius Nye was admitted to the Ohio bar in the late 1810s and also married here in 1815. He and his wife (Rowena Millicent Spencer) would go on to have eight children, who are listed as follows: Arius Spencer (born 1816), Benjamin Tupper (1818-1878), Dudley Selden (born 1820), William Spencer (born 1823), Frances Rowena (1826-1890), George (born 1828), Harriett (born 1834) and Virginia Sophia (1837-1865). Arius's wife Rowena died in 1842 and five years later he remarried to Ms. Carolina Marie Sisson (1814-1901) and had three more children: Haile Collins Tupper (born 1850), Minerva Tupper (born 1853) and lastly, Theodore Sedgwick (born 1854).
Nye removed from Muskingum County to the town of Gallopolis in 1822 and shortly thereafter moved back to Marietta, where he established a law practice. During his early Marietta residency, Nye was cashier and President of the Bank of Marietta and was later a trustee of the Marietta College. In 1827 he was elected to his first term in the Ohio State House of Representatives (representing Washington County) and was reelected to this body in 1828 and 1840. A roster from the legislative sessions in which Nye served has been provided below.
In the year following his second term in the legislature, Arius Nye was elected as Prosecuting Attorney of Washington County. He served in this post until 1840, and in addition to his decade of service in this office, Nye was elected to the Ohio State Senate in 1831 and 1832.
The first few years of the 1840s proved to be quiet ones for Nye, and it wasn't until 1847 that he returned to public life. In that year he was named as Presiding Judge for a district that comprised six Ohio counties (Athens, Gallia, Lawrence, Meigs, Morgan, and Washington.) It is noted in the Nye Family of America that "to reach the county seats he was compelled to ride horseback" and because of the arduous nature of the judgeship, Nye only served three years in this post.
Arius Nye died at age 72 in Marietta on July 27, 1865. It is remarked in the earlier mentioned work that at the time of his decease, Nye "maintained a wider celebrity than any other man living in Marietta." Arius, his first wife Rowena, and his younger brother Anselm are buried in the Mound Cemetery, located in Marietta. Caroline Sisson Nye (Arius's second wife) died aged 87 in 1901 and was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery, also located in Marietta.
The rare portrait of Arius Nye shown above was discovered in the first volume of the Genealogy of the Nye Family, published in 1907.