Elizabeth O. (Austin) Gibson (1825-1904)
Central City, Merrick County, Nebraska
Mrs. Gibson was a Civil War nurse. Her government-issue stone reads “Elizabeth O.Gibson, U. S. Army Nurse.” The report of Central City WRC Corps Buford #29 for Memorial Day 1906 stated “Mrs. Dr. Gibson, an army nurse, is buried in the cemetery,”and that “One Army nurse’s grave was decorated” in 1910. The Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs in 1984 included her in their list of all deceased veterans in Merrick county. Though a practicing physician she evidently went into the Civil War as a nurse. Her being assigned to the Western Dept. seems to indicate that she went through the Sanitary Commission. She served four years in hospitals in St. Louis, Missiouri and Madison, Wisconsin, and came out with broken health.
Elizabeth O. Austin was born July 9, 1825 in Vergennes, Vermont. Her son was born April 1843, when she was just under 18, in North Collin, Erie County, New York state. By 1861 she was a practicing physician in Cincinnati, Ohio. Later she and her son were in Appleton, Wisconsin. She was there at least 14 years. Her son came to Central City, Nebraska in 1902, and it seems safe to assume she came then too. They were Quakers, or more properly, Friends. The Friends had established Nebraska Central College in Central City in 1899. The next two paragraphs are from her obituary, word-for-word:
“At the opening of the Civil War, in 1861, she was a practicing physician in Cincinnati, O. When the call for volunteer nurses came, she at once responded, and was assigned to the Western Dept. at St. Louis, Mo. Here she served as nurse and matron in the “Sixth St.Hospital” and “Jefferson Barracks” two years. Twice during this period she went to the front – Pittsburg Landing and Vicksburg, each time bringing back a boat load of several hundred wounded soldiers. The last two years of the war she served as matron in chargeof Harney Hospital, Madison, Wis. She had charge of 800 beds, and as she had taken the chemical course in college, she had the hardest kind of service in surgical wards. In fact, she went to war a strong hearty woman of thirty-six years, and came out at forty with broken, permanently impaired health.
“Since the War, she has let as active a life as her health would permit. She was a member of the National Nurse’s Association and its Chaplain for one year. She was Chaplain of the Wisconsin State Encampment one year, and was for fourteen years Chaplain of the W. R.C. of Eggleston Post, Appleton, Wis. Patriotism was the ruling passion of her long, eventful life.”
The Central City WRC corps added: “In sister Gibson we lose a member of unusual worth. Though frail in body for many years, her voice was ever ready to proclaim her love for her country and her ever increasing faith in God’s goodness and mercy.” She was also a member of Women’s Christian Termperence Union.
She had one son, Wilfred D. Gibson, a teacher for more than 40 years, who lived on the College Section near Central City. He is buried to his mother’s right, and his stone reads: Wilfred D. Gibson, Co. E, 138 Ohio, U. S. Inf.
Elizabeth O. Gibson died May 6, 1904, age almost 79, and is buried in Central City Cemetery, Central City, Nebraska.
In November 6, 1923, a Daughters of Union Veterans tent was organized in Central City and was named Elizabeth O. Gibson Tent No.14. It disbanded in 1952-53. The 1978 DUV Department History did not have much information on this tent but did state that Elizabeth O. Gibson was a nurse at the 5th Street Hospital, St. Louis, Mo. during the Civil War, and fellow nurses were Mrs. Colfax, Miss Addie E. Johnson, and Miss Plummer.
– WRC Department Annual Convention Journals: 1907 24th, page 86. 1911 28th, page59.
– NEGenWeb: List of all deceased veterans in Merrick County, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 1984.
– Central City Cemetery: telephone call.
– Obituaries: Central City Republican, May 14, 1904. Also April 17, 1921 for Wilfred D.Gibson and July 9, 1931 for his wife. Obtained from the Merrick County Historical Museum courtesy of Nancy B. Johnson, Historian- Research Consultant.
– A Short History of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 and The Nebraska Department, about 1978, by The Nebraska Department Bicentennial Committee.