Nimrod Headington, After the Gold Rush

Last week’s blog post was the final installment of Nimrod Headington’s 1852 journal, Trip to California. Nimrod was a young man in his mid-twenties when he returned from California.  What did Nimrod do after he returned from his gold rush adventure in 1853? What did he do the rest of his life?

Nimrod Headington (1827-1913)

Nimrod returned to his home and family in Ohio after sailing back from California. He had been away for nearly two years, away from his wife Mary Ann (McDonald) and two children, Charles and Thetis. Years later, in 1905, he made a copy of his California journal for his daughter Thetis.

Nimrod and his family moved to Jay County, Indiana, around 1853 and his wife died there 24 December 1855. She is buried in Liber Cemetery, Wayne Township.

Nimrod married Rebecca (Shank) Hawkins in Jay County, Indiana, on 15 September 1856. [1] Rebecca was previously married to Nathan Hawkins and had several children from her first marriage. Her husband Nathan died in 1853.

In 1860 Nimrod and Rebecca and their children resided in Wayne Township, Jay County, Indiana: Nimrod Headington, 35; Rebecca Headington, 41; Charles F Headington, 10; Thetis O Headington, 6; Hilinda H Hawkins, 17; Nancy AM Hawkins, 14; Rachael H Hawkins, 11; Sarah G Hawkins, 9; Nathan B Hawkins, 7; and John J Hawkins, 23. [2]

Nimrod fought for the Union in the Civil War and earned the rank of Colonel.

The Nimrod Headington family in 1870, where Nimrod and Rebecca operated the Headington House Hotel in Portland: Nimrod Headington, 43, Ohio; Rebecca Headington, 51, Pennsylvania; Charles Headington, 19, Ohio, clerk in drug store; Thetis O Headington, 16, Indiana; John J Hawkins, 32, Indiana, law student; Sarah G Hawkins, 19, Indiana; Nathan B Hawkins, 17, Indiana, clerk in store; Minnie Gillum, 3, Indiana; Isaac Silvernale, 25, Bavaria, dry goods merchant; Catharine Isenhart, 18, Indiana, servant; William H Hart, 23, Illinois, hardware merchant; Edward H Brown, 16, Ohio, clerk in hardware store; George Swisher, 18, Ohio, clerk in furniture store; Henry Ruth, 29, Ohio, photograph artist; and George Rush, 22, Tennessee, hostler. [3]

Nimrod’s second wife Rebecca (Shank) Headington died 1 April 1880 and is buried in Green Park Cemetery, Portland, Indiana.

Nimrod and his children in 1880: Nimrod, 53, widower, keeping hotel; Minnie, 13, daughter, at school; Maggie Senters, 24, servant; Sarah Mead, 19; servant; George Rush, 28, servant; Edward Murthey, 24, servant. [4]

Nimrod married Ruth Ann (Haines) Watson on 6 April 1881. Ruth was previously married to Joseph Watson. [5]

The Nimrod and Ruth in 1900: Nimrod Headington, 72, fire insurance agent; Ruth Headington, 69, living on Main Street in Portland. Ruth had not given birth to any children. [6]

Nimrod and Ruth in 1910: Nimrod, 82; Ruth, 79, residing on West Walnut Street in Portland. [7]

Nimrod Headington died of apoplexy in Portland on 7 January 1913, at the age of 85. He was buried in Green Park Cemetery, Portland, on 10 January. His death certificate indicates he was born in Knox County, Ohio, to Nicholas and Ruth (Philips) Headington, both of Maryland. [8]

Nimrod’s widow Ruth died 4 February 1915 at the age of 84. [9] Nimrod and Ruth did not have any children.

The following is Nimrod’s biographical sketch, published in 1901.

Colonel Nimrod Headington was born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, in 1827, and has lived in Portland, Indiana, since 1853. In September, 1861, he, with James W. Campbell, raised a company for the war of the Rebellion, which was assigned to the Thirty-fourth Indiana Infantry, and on its organization he was elected first lieutenant, and a year and a half later promoted to captain, his commission bearing date April 10, 1863. He was later commissioned major of his regiment, and January 3, 1865, lieutenant-colonel. He was mustered out February 21, 1866, his entire time of service being four years and five months. Colonel Headington participated in the battle of Baker’s Creek, or Champion Hills, where he was in command of his company, which lost seventeen men, killed and wounded, the entire division losing fifteen hundred men. Then followed the siege of Vicksburg, in which his regiment took an important part, and after the fall of Vicksburg moved on Fort Jackson, and thence to New Orleans, and participated in the Tesch campaign in Louisiana. Soon after this campaign they were sent via New Orleans to Matagorda Bay, and thence up the Rio Grande River four hundred miles to Ringgold Barracks, where their last duty was performed. Colonel Headington had many narrow escapes from rebel bullets during his long term of service, but his health became impaired, and for number of years following his discharge he was a continual sufferer from the effects of his army service.

In 1870 the Colonel built the Headington House, which he conducted twelve years. He was appointed postmaster in 1878, and served seven years. The faithfulness with which he discharged his duties as postmaster is indicated by the fact that at the end of his service his accounts were examined and it was found that he was indebted to the department nine cents, for the payment of which he holds a receipt. He is now engaged in the real estate and insurance business. In 1857 and 1858 he was surveyor of Jay County. Politically the Colonel is a Republican. He was reared a Democrat, but the firing on the nation’s flag at Fort Sumter changed his politics.

Colonel Headington was first married November 6, 1849, to Mary McDonald, by whom he had two children: Charles F., who is a member of the firm of Cartwright & Headington, and Thetis O., now the widow of the late Charles T. Tate. The mother died January 24, 1855. He was again married in September, 1858, [sic] to Rebecca Hawkins, who died April 1, 1880. His present wife was Mrs. Ruth A. Watson, daughter of William Haines. [10]

Soon I will post Nimrod’s complete journal on a static page on Karen’s Chatt, so it will be easier to read in its entirety.

[1] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” Vol. B:269, Nimrod Headington & Rebecca Hawkins, 14 Dec 1856; ( : viewed 22 Jul 2020)

[2] 1860 U.S. Census, Wayne, Jay, Indiana, p.147, dwelling, family, Nimrod Headington; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 25 Jun 2008).

[3] 1870 U.S. Census, Wayne, Jay, Indiana, p.187, dwelling 221, 220, Nimrod Headington; digital image by subscription, (  : viewed 9 Jun 2008).

[4] 1880 U.S. Census, Portland, Jay, Indiana, ED 155, p.424C, dwelling & family 29, Nimrod Headington; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 22 Jul 2020).

[5] “Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” Vol. E:165, Nimrod Headington & Ruth A Watson, 6 Apr 1881; ( : viewed 22 Jul 2020).

[6] 1900 U.S. Census, Portland, Jay, Indiana, ED 74, p.6, dwelling & family 148, Nimrod Headington; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 22 Jul 2020).

[7] 1910 U.S. Census, Portland Ward 1, Jay, Indiana, ED 80, p.3A, dwelling 65, family 66, Nimrod Headington; digital image by subscription, ( : viewed 22 Jul 2020).

[8] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011, Year 1913, roll 9, Nimrod Headington, 7 Jan 1913; digital image by subscription,

[9] Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899-2011, Year 1910-1919, roll 9, Ruth A Headington, 4 Feb 1915; digital image by subscription,

[10] Biographical Memoirs of Jay County, Indiana, (Chicago:  B.F. Bowen Co., Publishers, 1901), 300-1.


    • Virginia Britten on July 24, 2020 at 2:15 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you for this finishing touch to the story. After I read the last installment, I said to myself, ” I wonder what happened after he returned to his family.” and now I know!. Thanks.

    1. You are welcome! Glad you enjoyed it and thank you for writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.