Editor’s note: Students in Sara Olding’s Senior English classes at Sidney High School partnered with the Shelby County Historical Society to explore the stories of early residents and visionaries of Sidney, Ohio. Turning their research into writing, they spent time “Learning About Legacy.”
SIDNEY — Beneath a large pillar of a headstone in Graceland Cemetery lays a legendcapta. And, almost everyone that goes by that headstone has no idea the greatness laid to rest at their feet. Capt. Edmund Elgin Nutt was both a war hero and a visionary. In 1837 Shelby County was gifted this hard nosed, stubborn, battle ready man. He had two younger brothers who were also Shelby County natives and together they fought, prospered, and made history.
Nutt was married to Arvesta Vandemark and together they had six children. An accomplished Civil War captain, Nutt was a member of the 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). From there he started as private then was promoted to sergeant, then to first lieutenant, and eventually to captain. Nutt was the head of several successful campaigns against the Confederates. On July 21, 1864, the Battle of Atlanta took place and the 20th OVI endured and suppressed the enemy Confederate siege. Capt. Nutt played a decisive role in the 20th OVI winning the battle. On July 22, the day after the Battle of Atlanta started, he led two successful charges and then organized the holding of Bald Hill. Because of Nutt’s acts, he was one of thirteen soldiers to earn the Medal of Honor for Combat Excellence in the Battle of Atlanta.
Many of the journals kept by Nutt during the Battle of Atlanta account for a lot of what we know about it today. He was able to have the foresight to record history while it was in the making. In addition to serving in the military, Nutt was also an accomplished businessman. His two brothers owned and operated grain warehouses in Sidney. When Nutt returned from his military duties he helped run his brothers’ businesses until he eventually took over all together. He owned and kept these businesses afloat, in addition to being quite politically active. Nutt served as commander of the Neal Post 62 Grand Army of the Republic as elected in the 29th Annual Meeting of the Ohio Department in Canton. He served as president of the 20th OVI organization. Nutt even ran for senator in 1897.
If there was something Nutt wanted to do, he would do it. Capt. Nutt’s death in 1911 at 73 was the only thing that could retire his service to the Shelby County region. As a recent graduate of Sidney High and a resident, researching Edmund Nutt was a bit of an adventure. I discovered so many facts and interesting things about my hometown that I otherwise would not have known. I have unknowingly walked by Capt. Nutt’s grave a number of times in my life. I never once thought about the lives that were lived beneath each headstone. As it turns out, we have a lot to be proud of in Sidney. We just need to take the time to learn about it.
The writer is the son of Mark and Laura Carlson. A 2018 graduate of Sidney High School, he leaves in September for basic training with the United States Air Force.