The big news at Columbia Cemetery this Memorial Day from my point of view at least was Nathan Love’s new tombstone.
“The grave of Nathan Love of Pleasant Township, a Confederate soldier, who died recently, was decorated by a committee from the Geo. P. Taylor Post G.A.R. in Columbia,” reads a clipping from an unidentified Chariton newspaper dated June 6, 1888.
Just about 122 years later, good folks from Columbia still are tending his grave. Sadly, my cousin Dorothy Love Hall, Nathan’s great-granddaughter, didn’t live to hear about the new tombstone. She died two years ago at age 88. But that’s the way life (and death) goes.
I know that John Pierce aided by the late Duane Bingaman launched the process that led to the tombstone more than 20 years ago. Others were involved in carrying it to completion, but I’m not sure who they were --- so perhaps someone will tell me.
Nathan is not a relative of mine, but his son, Alpheus Elkanah Love, married my great-aunt, Laura Prentiss, and although both died before I was born they were favorites of my mother and so I heard a great deal about them, and about the Love family in general as I grew up. After Aunt Laura’s death in 1944, my grandparents absorbed the contents of her tiny Columbia home into their English Township farmhouse because her sons by then were living in Montana and California and had little interest in moving keepsakes west. That’s why Uncle Al’s and Aunt Laura’s dining room chairs are grouped around my kitchen table --- still in use. In fact, I’m sitting on one of them right now.
Although Nathan is buried in the Columbia Cemetery, in Marion County, he and his family had lived in Lucas County’s Pleasant Township, just south of the county line, since 1872 --- a beautiful area of woods, hills and deep creek valleys that must have reminded the Loves of their North Carolina home. A good place to live, but not necessarily a profitable place to farm.
One of the barriers faced by those attempting to acquire a Confederate States of America tombstone for Nathan was the fact that some records of the Confederacy list him as a deserter, although that seems to have been a misunderstanding. It took a good many years to sort those misunderstandings out.
Even his year of birth is uncertain. Confederate records show that he gave his age as 33 when he enlisted March 4, 1862, at Greensboro, N.C., in Co. B., 45th North Carolina Infantry. That suggests a birth year of 1829.
Love family Bible records, transcribed by my grandfather, however, state that he was 61 when he died on March 27, 1887. That suggests a birth year of 1826, the date inscribed on the new tombstone, based upon the Bible record. I have a felling he really may have been a year or two older.
Cheryl Meyers of Huntsville, Arkansas, a Love family researcher who helped my cousin, Dorothy, in her own research, summarized Nathan’s complicated service record in a letter to me dated July 1995.
In that letter, she wrote that official records outlined Private Nathan Love’s service as follows:
“Born in Surry County (North Carolina) and resided in Guilford County where he was by occupation a farmer prior to enlisting in Guilford County at age 33, March 4, 1862. Present and accounted for until captured at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on or about July 4-5, 1863, after he was left behind as a nurse for the wounded. Transferred to Davids Island, New York Harbor, on or about July 17, 1863. Paroled and transferred to City Point, Virginia, where he was received on September 8, 1863, for exchange. Reported absent on furlough through February, 1864. Failed to return to duty and was listed as a deserter in May-October, 1864. Paroled at Greensboro on May 16, 1865.”
Family history, according to Cheryl’s account, added these details to the outline provided by official records:
“Nathan fought in the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where over 20,000 southern troops were either injured or killed. He was left behind during the retreat to help the many injured troops. He was then taken prisoner and while a prisoner he contracted typhoid fever. Was exchanged for northern prisoners with the warning that if he was ever captured again he would be executed on the spot. He was sent home to recuperate, after the long trek home from Virginia. He apparently took longer than anticipated to overcome the typhoid fever.”
The Love family remained in North Carolina for a couple of years after the war ended, but about 1870, Nathan and his eldest son, Joel, set out to find a new home for the family in Iowa. North Carolina like much of the South was in economic and social turmoil after the war and plenty of inexpensive land representing the chance for a fresh start was available in Iowa. And so the Loves prepared to more on.
Nathan had married Asenath Licena Lowder, daughter of Joel and Didema (Laxton) Lowder, on Dec. 21, 1843, in Guilford County. While the Loves remained in Guilford County, the Lowders --- including the remainder of their children, Nelson, Sarah (married in Lucas County Samuel Payne), John, Milton, Elizabeth and Martha, set out for Iowa during the late 1840s, becoming some of the earliest settlers in Cedar Township, Lucas County.
Nelson Lowder, who died in January of 1850, was the first to be buried in what is now Bethel Cemetery, east of Chariton; and his estate was the first to enter probate in Lucas County.
So when Nathan and Joel Love set out from North Carolina in late 1869 or very early in 1870, they headed for Lucas County, too, and acquired a farm in Pleasant Township, just north of Cedar.
Nathan and Licena Love had produced a family of at least six children while living in North Carolina --- Frances Emeline, Mary J. (died young in North Carolina), Joel P., Alpheus Elkanah, Lenora Velma and Marion S. (who also died young in North Carolina).
Nathan and Joel Love sent word during 1872 to Licena that their new home in Iowa was ready, and she sold out in North Carolina and brought Uncle Al and his two surviving sisters north.
Here is the account of that trip included in Uncle Al’s obituary (he died at Columbia on Nov. 5, 1934):
“He (Uncle Al) and his mother and two sisters came to Iowa in 1872, coming as far as Indianapolis, Ind., in a wagon, then by train to Melrose, Iowa, and walked most of the way from there to a place south of Columbia where his father and older brother had established a home, having come two years previous.”
Of the four surviving children of Nathan and Licena, Uncle Al was the only one to remain in southern Iowa. He married my great-aunt, Laura Prentiss, at Columbia on July 7, 1873, and they lived near or in Columbia all their lives. There were five children, Johnny Nelson, who lived only a year and probably is buried near his grandfather Nathan at Columbia; sons Byron, Walter and Eugene, who moved west; and Alma (Clouse/Linn), who died in childbirth during 1922 and is buried at Columbia with her parents.
The two daughters were school teachers who moved to western Iowa and married there.
Frances Emeline married M.Jacob Klutts on 20 January 1876 in Harrison County, where they lived, produced a family of six children, and died. She died 17 March 1931 in Harrison County and is buried there in the Magnolia Cemetery.
Lenora Velma married Will Maule March 20, 1886, also in Harrison County, and they produced a family of seven childen there before moving west to Payette, Idaho, in the fall of 1902, where she died on Jan. 14, 1922.
Joel P. Love, the elder son in the family, did not marry. He homesteaded in Stanley County, South Dakota, where he lived until 1912 when he was badly injured when his team ran away with him. The Maules brought him to Payette, Idaho, and cared for him until June 17, 1914, when he died. He is buried with the Maules at Riverside Cemetery in Payette.
Following Nathan’s death in 1887, Licena moved to Harrison County to live with her daughters. She died there on Aug. 12, 1895, and his buried in the Magnolia Cemetery near her daughter, Frances Emeline.
And that fairly well summarizes what I know about Nathan Love and his kinfolk --- except for one minor detail. According to his enlistment records, Nathan was five-foot-five-inches tall --- small by today’s standards, but by no means unusual then. We sometimes forget that we’ve generally grown taller (and heavier) as the last century passed.
We were talking about that Saturday as I led a tour of the Stephens House --- how low the counters were, how far below us the surface of the old cast iron cookstove. That height probably would have seemed just right to Nathan and Licena --- gone now for more than a century, but by no means forgotten