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Nesbit, Wilbur D. (Wilbur Dick), 1871-1927



  • Existence: 1871 - 1927

Wilbur Dick Nesbit was a mid-western poet, newspaper columnist, hu­morist, toast master and advertising pioneer.

The son of John Harvey (d. 1923) and Isabel (Fichthorne) Nesbit (d. 1921), he was born in Xenia, Ohio, September 16, 1871. He attended the public schools of Cedarville, Ohio, until 1888, then worked as a printer's devil before moving to Anderson, Indiana, and the Herald in 1889. After a stint as city editor of the Muncie News, he began his advertising career with an Indianapolis clothing firm, then held various jobs on the Indianapolis Journal.

From 1899 to 1902 he was a feature writer, using the pseudonym, "Josh Wink," for the Baltimore American. By 1903 he had moved to Chicago where he wrote the "A Line o' Type or Two" column and a Sunday page for the Chicago Tribune. He later wrote the "Innocent Bystander" column of the Chicago Evening Post. He contributed a page a week to a syndi­cate and his "Sermons in Song" poems appeared in many periodicals. He published over thirty books, mainly poetry, 1903-1929, including The Trail to Boyland (Indianapolis, 1904), The Land of Make-Believe and Other Christmas Poems (New York, 1907), A Friend or Two (Chicago, [1910]), Value of a Smile (Chicago,1913), I Sat in Lodge with You (Chicago, 1916) and The Paths of Long Ago (Chicago, 1926). He edited a book of toasts, The Loving Cup (Chicago, 1909, [7th ed.]), collaborated with the cartoonist C. A. Briggs in two books, and in 1927 published After Dinner Speeches and How to Make Them (Chicago). He composed innumerable mottoes and greeting card verses and song lyrics, including those for the successful musical comedy, "The Girl of My Dreams." He eulogized James Whitcomb Riley, whose homely and nostalgic style he emulated in his own verse. He was perhaps best known for his poem, "My Flag and Your Flag" which was published in 1917.

His literary work paralleled a career in advertising in Chicago, first with the Mahin Company in 1910, and later (c. 1916) with the Wm. H. Rankin Company as vice-president and copy staff supervisor. He wrote not only copy, but enthusuastic articles about advertising as a profession such as "The Human Appeal in Advertising". He also wrote First Principles in Advertising (New York, 1922). During World War I, he was midwest publicity director of the 3rd Liberty Loans cam­paign.

Nesbit took an active role in many clubs, civic and fraternal organizations, and was much in demand as a toast master and after­dinner speaker. He belonged to the Chicago Press Club, the Ohio Society, the Little Room, the Chicago Athletic Association (he edited the CAA's The Cherry Circle), the Arts Club, the Midday Club, the Cliff Dwellers, the Forty Club (a Bohemian dinner club of which he was president for 1908-1927), the Indiana Society, the University Club of Evanston, the Glenview Club, the Masons, and the Columbia (Indiana). For the Indiana Society, a congenial Chicago affiliation of prominent men of Hoosier birth and background, he compiled biographies of members in his book, Whose Hoosier (Indianapolis, 1912) wrote and acted in the society's programs, served as its "chief justice", and as president in 1923. As a member of the society, he was associated with George Ade, the writer and actor, and John T. Mccutcheon, political cartoonist of the Chicago Tribune. He was a 33° Mason and wrote poems and articles with Masonic themes.

Nesbit married Mary Lee (Mamie) Jenkins, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J. H. Jenkins of Shelbyville, Indiana, in 1899. Their first son, Richard, was born in 1901, in Baltimore, and their two other sons, Robert and Wilbur, in Evanston, where they lived first at 723 Colfax Street before building in 1914 a Tallmadge and Watson house at 2501 Sheridan Road. This house has since been moved twice and is now 2749 Euclid Park Place. Nesbit died suddenly on August 20, 1927. Mrs. Nesbit continued to live in Evanston until 1947. She died in East Orange, New Jersey, on Decem­ber 8, 1953, at age 78.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Wilbur Dick Nesbit (1871-1927) Papers, 1896-1948

Identifier: MS53
Abstract Wilbur Dick Nesbit was a midwestern American poet, newspaper columnist, humorist, toast master and advertising pioneer. His papers contain biographical material, correspondence, literary works, and photographs.
Dates: 1896-1948