Mr. Nighbert is a Virginian by birth. He is of German and English descent. His grandfather emigrated from Germany to America before the Revolutionary war, and settled in Virginia, where he married a lady who was born in England. His father was born in Virginia, October 27th, 1789; in the year 1810 he married Nancy Albright, who was born in Virginia in May, 1795. Nathaniel A. Nighbert was the youngest of nine children by this marriage, and was born in Bottetourt county, Virginia, September 29th, 1827. The family moved from Virginia in 1834 to Claiborne county, East Tennessee, where they lived six years, and in the fall of 1840 came on to Illinois, settling in Scottville township. His mother had died on the 9th of June, 1831, when he was less than four years old. His father in February, 1832, married as his second wife Sarah Dorothy, but had no children by this second marriage. His father died in the fall of 1865.
His birthplace was a rough and rocky part of Virginia, and his boyhood days in East Tennessee were spent in Powell's Valley near the Cumberland Mountains, a rough and broken country interspersed, however, with fertile and productive valleys. During the six years the family lived in Tennessee he acquired the greater part of his education attending a subscription school held in an old log school-house. the teacher was as old-fashioned as the building, and a hickory rod about four feet long seemed to be an indispensable adjunct to the successful running of the school, and was brought in frequent requisition. He was thirteen years old when he came to Macoupin county, and from that time on he went to school but little, but worked out by the month, and gave his wages to his father. In the spring of 1850 he went to California, paying the firm of Ballenger & Mitchell fifty dollars for the privilege of going along and assisting with a drove of cattle. He left home on the 23d of March, drove the cattle across the plains, standing guard nights, and reached California August 10th. After a stay of five months in the mining regions, he started for home again, reaching Macoupin county in exactly a year from the time he set out. Though his experience at mining was short, he was more than ordinarily successful, and brought home about one thousand dollars, nearly all of which he made the last two months of his stay. September 11th, 1851, he married Margaret A. Crum, a native of Morgan county, and daughter of Gordon Crum, an old settler of the township.
The money he brought from California he invested in land, purchasing 100 acres in section 4, Barr township, at eleven dollars an acre. After farming on that section five years, he sold his land, and bought another farm in section 35, Scottville township, where he resided till 1874, when he moved to his present farm in Barr township. He owns 648 acres of land, eighty of which lies in Scottville township. He has had seven children: George Gordon, James David, Joseph W., Louis S., Ada b., and Erasmus M.; Ella, the fifth child, died when an infant.
In his politics Mr. Nighbert was a member of the old whig party, and cast his first vote for president for General Taylor in 1848. When the whig party went into a state of dissolution, he became a republican, and has since supported that party, though he has not been a strict party man, and has felt himself free in local elections to vote for the best man for the office. He has never followed anything but farming, and has been content to lead the quiet life of a private citizen. He has commanded the respect of every one who has known him for his personal honesty and integrity, and has been a liberal,, enterprising and progressive citizen.