I was born at Troy, Geauga County, Ohio, November 30,
1843, the son of Alden J. Nash and Olive Poole Nash.
My parents lived in the Hotel which my father had built some
years before. He was proprietor of the Hotel and Post
Master as well. In those days envelopes were unknown
and letters were written and brought to the office.
The Post Master would fold the letter into compact form and
seal it with sealing wax.
In 1852, my father sold his property and removed his
family to the wilderness of Michigan, with an old-time
covered wagon, and a one-horse buggy for my mother and Aunt
Clarissa Waterman. We crossed Lake Erie from Cleveland
to Detroit and soon were on the way to our new Wonderland, a
new part of an unknown new world, a new life.
On we went, over logs, mud, rough roads, day after
day, with my precious loving sisters huddled close to my
sides for fear of being bounced over the sides of the
wagon-nowhere else to sleep, only in my arms. [These
would have been his sisters Eleanor Louisa b. 1847 and Mary
Elisabeth b.1849]. The days were long and each day
longer, it seemed; but wishing and knowing each day brought
us one day nearer the haven of rest and a home built in the
vast forest without an end, we pushed on.
The end came at last on November 2, and my long,
vigilant care and my tired arms found relief. We were
all happy and full of joy that the end had been reached.
But what a contrast it was - from the old Ohio homeland to a
log house in the deep woods of Michigan! It was like waking
from a dream.
My father had had a previous chance to purchase a 160
acres of heavy timbered farm with a double house and some
four or five acres cleared; and turned the horses, wagon,
and buggy in for payment. The man was to haul the
household goods, shipped by rail to Battle Creek, 60 miles
Our chosen future home was located at Bowne, Kent
County, Michigan where kindred and friends had come a year
or so before. Every house was built of logs, but homes
of happiness and love. The new town was established
four years before our arrival and the township was divided
into three school districts, two miles by six. The
first frame school house was built in my father's district,
a mile and a half away.
It was a footpath to a certain extent, through woods,
ever after to all my brothers and sisters in those pioneer
days. It was before shoes, cloaks, and overcoats came
into use. Cowhide shoes and boots were the only kind
to be had, and shawls and home-made clothing that mother
The winter meant hard work, to chop ten or fifteen
acres of heavy timber ready to burn - log and fence during
during the summer and fall season. Time rolled along
and hard labor kept apace. But what was the difference
as long as we were happy and full of contentment - plenty of
wild duck in the forest, deer , turkey, and smaller game in
But when the clash of war came, what a change
over our Country! The call for soldiers was heard by the
young. "Believe it or not," school scholars from the
ages of ten to eighteen left school in the North.
About a million left home and school, up to my age, near
eighteen. Government rolls tell the story. It
was hard to bid school mates, friends, and home folks good
With other school mates I enlisted in September 1861,
in the Second Michigan Cavalry, placed in the hospital at
Shiloh, then carried aboard a Hospital vessel, and then to
Cincinnati, Ohio. The sick and wounded were placed in
Hospitals and those who were able to be sent home were soon
on their way.
In time I arrived at the old log cabin to get the
loving care of loved ones, and it was a change much needed.
When cold weather came I regained my health. Through
the winter I assisted with the chores until March, when I
was taken with pneumonia. I was confined to bed.
I lost much flesh and my people and friends believed that I
had tuberculosis. I could see they were convinced that
my life was short.
However I kept a brave courage and told them all that
I must live to see the cruel war brought to an end.
With a poor, fleshless body I clung to life and my cough and
lung trouble lessened slowly and surely. I began to
gain strength, and to the amazement of all, including the
Physician, I rallied. I did a good winter's work.
In March, 1864, with two of my former school mates, I
enlisted the second time and with seven hundred other
recruits, was sent to the Army of the Potomac. We
arrived just at the closing of the Battle of the Wilderness
and were soon active service to the end of the War.
When the Armies had the Grand Review at the Capital,
Washington D.C. we were assigned to do duty at once, in all
parts of Washington and the District of Columbia. All
war material had to be sold at auction. We had to be
ready to repulse any attempt of the rescue of President
Lincoln's assassin. We were kept on duty until August
when we were in for our final discharge and muster out at
We were free once again and the old log house and
friends again had a blessed Reunion of happy hearts.
But there was sadness as well as joy for many homes had lost
a dear one. Tears and sighs were in many, many homes.
In June 1868, I married Mary E. Johnson, a
sister-in-law of my two oldest sisters, a triple - mixture
of fifteen children born thereafter.
I was advised by my Physician to change from hard farm
labor and take life with more ease. I moved to Ionia,
Michigan, and rented a hotel. Four years of that was enough.
My wife's health was failing and I sought a quiet life for
her. I accepted a position as Deputy Sheriff in a
prison a mile from the city. Mine was a busy, active
criminal duty from the start, day and night.
In 1883, my wife passed away, leaving a daughter of
fifteen and a son of nine. [Hattie Elda b. 1868 and Robert
Clyde b. 1873] My good mother, now a widow, came and kept
the home fires burning.
I was offered a position as keeper of the prison on
the hill, as it was called. Of the forty-two new officers
chosen by the warden, I am the last one living now. [This
was written when the author was ninety years old]. The
duties were much harder outside of the prison duty.
Bad convicts were plotting and scheming to make a get-away.
Quite often they succeeded and officers had a hunt for days
My life was threatened for my vigilence and close
watching, which came easy for I had learned criminal tactics
to a finish before. I was threatened with
assassination when a gang of fifteen plotted to get away.
The attempt was made in my shop. Being a good
swordsman, I met the attack of a heavy club of one of my
convicts, one of the leaders of the fifteen.
Though seriously hurt, I fought a good fight and won
with the help of some of my convicts. By the time the
alarm was sounded and officers were rushing to my aid, the
mutiny was quelled. The convict was placed in solitary
confinement for twenty-seven days, and when his time was
ended, I had him arrested and sent to [another] prison.
When he was released from there he returned with threats of
my life. The State took a hand and gave him Three
Hundred Dollars to get out of the State.
In the mean time, one of the gang had served his time
and came to Illinois and was soon behind bars in Joliet.
My bad man came to Joliet to lend his aid for a get-away,
and he too was soon behind bars. When he was released
from Joliet, he comitted his second murder and is now
serving a life sentence. So I think I am safe.
The Flu flew into the prison, and convicts and
officers were served alike. I, too, went to bed.
Our keeper passed away with it, and I had to take a three
month's vacation to recover my health; but it failed me and
I resigned and retired.
I soon came to Illinois where my sister lived, and my
daughter came to set herself in a dress shop. So my
son and I had to follow to be together again. I am
still taking life easy and with the smile of contentment and
a love that encircles my loved ones far and near.
Without malice and with a spirit of loving kindness, I
have let wordly cares pass out. In my old age my Book
of Memories is full of great events too numerous to tell.
I am taking life as happily as a weary one can.
Daniel Lorenzo Nash.