According to his obituary, "during the Civil War Nathaniel took part in the battles of Fishers Hill, Cedar Creek, and the Battle of Five Forks which caused the fall of Richmond. For a time he was brigade bugler for Brigadier General Henry Capehart and took part in the charge which followed Sheridan's immortal ride." According to an article published Nov 3 in an unknown year, Nathaniel Sisson claimed his "cease firing" bugle call ended the fighting at Appomatox on April 9, 1865. He was then an 18-year-old under the command of General George A. Custer (who achieved lasting fame as the commander who was later killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn). When two Confederate officers appeared under a flag of truce, Nathaniel blew a call halting the advancing Federal cavalry, thus ending the war it was said. After the war he founded the Sisson Loan and Title Company at Maryville, Missouri. According to a United Press story at the time of his death, "by a curious coincidence [Nathaniel] made the acquaintance of H.P. Childress, the Confederate bugler credited with blowing the call halting the war for the South. The two became bosom companions. When the [First] World War ended, they grabbed their bugles from the wall and in their old Blue and Gray uniforms danced down the street arm in arm celebrating the Armistice." John D. Sisson wrote April 12, 2000, that "For almost 10 years now I have threatened to look up the Appomattox Bugle which is supposed to reside in the archives of West Point. I talked with Dr. Browe, Historian of West Point and he immediately provided me with an 8 x 10 photo of the bugle with which Nathaniel Sisson played the last bugle call of the Civil War at Appomattox. He also offered to send me a couple of newsclippings about the event. I will make the photo available for our archives as well as the clippings."
Nathaniel served in the 92nd Ohio Infantry and the 2nd West Virginia Cavalry. He came to Nodaway County in 1865. Nat's military marker in Miriam Cemetery reads: Trumpeter, Co. A, W. Va. Vol. Cav. Eight stories printed in the Maryville (MO) Democrat Forum from May 11 to June 29, 1911, were later credited to Nat.
May 11, 1911, Maryville Democrat Forum:
A Pioneer's Story
I shall endeavor to the best of my ability to give a short history of the early settlement of Maryville and Nodaway County. My observation reaches back only to the 15th day of May, 1865. On arriving in St. Louis at an earlier date, I took the train on what was then called the Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad that being the only railroad leading to St. Joseph at that time. It was what we would call a mixed train, as near as I can remember. There were five freight cars and four passenger coaches, and a poor makeshift at that.
There were but little accomodations on the road; the emigration had not yet started for the west and the roadbed was in a horrible condition. As you are aware, it was just at the close of the contest (Civil War) which had waged for four long years. Each had contested for the supremacy of every foot of ground within the great state of commonwealth of Missouri.
It seemed to me that the Confederates had an especial grudge against the old Hannibal road. People living in that age will bear in mind that railroads, ships, and steamboats were propelled by steam made from burning wood instead of coal as now. The road ran almost exclusively through wooded country. The wood was cut from timber, hauled and corded along the right-of-way of both sides of the road and when the engineer needed wood he would stop the train and fill the tender, and in order to make but little delay we would volunteer to carry the wood to the tender. It seemed to me that many miles of cordwood had been burned but had been hastily replaced. All of those long racks of wood were guarded by squads of men to keep the bushwhackers which infested that region from carrying on their nefarious work. Nearly every bridge and culvert on the road seemed to have been destroyed and hastily and only temporarily replaced. The cars ran so slow at times that I could walk behind on the ties and keep up with the train. I think it took us two days and one night to reach St. Joseph.
On the morning of May 14, the conductor came through the car that I was on and called out, "St. Joseph." I acknowledge I was considerably worried (wearied?), more from loss of sleep than exertion, as you can readily perceive that an old hard bench with the momentum of the car swaying from side to side of the track would be a little monotonous. I got off at the old Patee depot and went from there to the old Patee Hotel and got my breakfast. By that time, I had begun to feel the pangs of hunger. I feel sure to this day that I gave that breakfast table justice that morning. I did not take in St. Joseph that morning, as I could see but little town there at the time. That evening I took the train to Savannah in Andrew County, that being the terminus of the road at that time, also for several years afterward. I stayed all night that night at a hotel kept by a man by the name of Richards, on the south side of the public square.
George David then and also now a resident of Maryville was running a hack line from Maryville to Savannah. I found where he boarded and called on him. I secured a ride in his hack from Savannah to Maryville. A few miles out from Savannah, we came to what they then called, "Bennett's Lane." It was then about four miles long, fenced on each side with rails made from nearby timber and which was quite numerous around Savannah in those early days.
In all of my travels I could not recall another piece of road similar. Seemingly a short time before there had been no bottom to the road. It seemed to me that at every wagon's length, a team had been mired in the mud and had used the rails from each side of the road to pry their wagons out and had not taken much pains in replacing after using them. Some were buried in the mud, which made it very undesirable and unsafe to drive over. All of the goods from Maryville and even as far north as Clarinda, Iowa, were hauled over that road and it was the only highway by which SOuthern Iowa could reach Savannah and St. Joseph. I often wonder if I was sane in passing through the Bennett Lane. The old hack rocked from side to side like a ship upon the ocean tide.
The only house that I can now recall was the Bennett house, after which the lane was named. John Riggin lived at the north end of the lane on the east side of the road and kept a road house or tavern. He was not very well prepared to keep many boarders, but he did the best he could. In those days people could put up with very little and no grumbling.
We came to the prairie. Many times as far as the eye could reach, the wide prairies were without a house or cultivated field. Their wealth untouched by the farmer or husbandman, they seemed to be given over to wild grass and herds of cattle. Many deer were here at that time but a few years previous buffalo and elk had roamed over the prairie in this seciton of the country. I doubt if at this late date many of the traces of the buffalo could be found. They seemed to select the highest point on the prairie so as to detect their enemies at a greater distance. Nothing was ever known to grow where their wallows were.
At noon, we reached Sixteen-Mile house where we stopped for dinner, that being the first house since leaving John Riggins. After eating dinner and changing horses, we started for Maryville. Just before we reached White Cloud, we came to a house standing on the west side of the road and a barn on the east side. I learned that it belonged to a Mrs. Weaver, mother of Clark Weaver, now a resident of Maryville. After crossing White Cloud creek, we came to a little log cabin with two rooms. Cana Baker, formerly of this city, kept a store and the postoffice, if my memory serves me right. I forgot to state that the Sixteen-Mile house was kept by a lady by the name of Mary Wood, aunt of George Davis. She was the sister of George Davis' mother. She had one daughter named Tilly, whom many old settlers will remember. I forgot to state that there was only an ill provided bridge where we crossed the White Cloud creek. (End of Nat Sisson's first story)
The Savannah Road, with few variations from the old wagon and stage road, became Highway 71, and today it passes Bennett Lane Cemetery.
From book "Missouri," pp. 339-340:
"After the war Mr. Sisson attended school in Ohio and on July 31, 1866, started alone for the West, arriving in the little village of Maryville in Northwest Missouri August 6, 1866. Here he taught school, followed the trade of cabinet maker, and while county road and bridge commissioner studied surveying and civil engineering. In 1871 he was employed by an engineering firm in Saint joseph and for two years superintended bridge building, a work that took him over an extensive territory. His masterpiece was a wooden toll bridge over the Brazos River in Texas, which had a single span of 266 feet in length.
On April 13, 1875, Mr. Sisson became associated with Albert P. Morehouse, later governor of Missouri, in the real estate and abstract business, and two years later Mr. Sisson prepared and had copyrighted an original system of abstract books. He at the same time prepared a lithograph map known as the Centennial Map of Nodaway County. The firm was first Morehouse, Sisson & Company, and after three years became Morehouse & Sisson. Fourteen years later Mr. Sisson bought out the interest of Governor Morehouse and continued the business alone until 1896, when he took in his son Paul as a partner in the firm of N. Sisson & Son, handling real estate, loans and abstracts. In December 1904, the Sisson Loan & Title Company was incorporated, and since that date Mr. Sisson has been president, though for a number of yearshe has been practically retired from business.
For a number of years he was one of the leading men of influence in the Republication party of Northwest Missouri. He was at one time nominated for Congress, making the race in 1882, and in 1892 was Republican candidate for the General Assembly. He has filled a number of positions in the local government, being a former president of the Maryville School Board and was a member of the Board of Directors of the old Maryville Seminary and later a member and chairman of the Northwest Normal Committee which raised subscriptions and performed all the preliminary work required to bring to Maryville the Northwest Missouri State Teachers' College. mr. Sisson has given much time to the promotion of patriotic organizations. He is a member of the Lincoln Farm Association, which bought the farm home where Lincoln was born."