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Thomas Nichols

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There's no doubt that Thomas W. Nichols is Kevin's third great-grandfather. Thomas was born in Tennessee in 1826. He married Adeline Lucinda Coffman, who was also born in Tennessee the same year. They had six sons and one daughter:

  • James Allison Nichols was born in Tennessee in 1848, and married Laura Ann Williams. They had three daughters and one son.
  • William Smith Nichols was born in Tennessee on 01 Mar 1852. He married Mary Clarinda Wells, who was born on 09 Jan 1953 in Freestone, TX. They had seven sons and four daughters.
  • Kevin's ancestor Robert Franklin Nichols was born on 30 Jan 1857 in Benton, AR. He married Ama Perilla Galyean, born on 02 Aug 1865 in Benton, AR. They had seven sons and four daughters.
  • Andrew J. Nichols was born in 1861 in Benton, AR.
  • Calvin M. Nichols was born in 1862 in Benton, AR.
  • George Lafayette Nichols was born in 1864 in Benton, AR. He married Sarah A.
  • Sarah J. Nichols was born in 1866 in Benton, AR. She married a man named Wages.

THE THOMAS NICHOLS FAMILY "WAGON TRAIN TO ARKANSAS"

By Myrtle Nichols Noecker, granddaughter (Hiwasse, Arkansas)

Thomas Nichols was born in Tennessee on July 1, 1826, the son of Mr. and Mrs. (William) Walter Nichols. He married Lucinda Coffman, also of Tennessee, in 1849.

Thomas was a descendant of the Nichols brothers who came to America when England`s Old King George III ruled the colonies with an iron hand. He was of the "Green Mountain Boys" stock. Through the years Nichols men have enlisted in all the services. They were pioneers in America and made their way into the fertile valleys and moved westward across the country. The wagon train that brought the Nichols came from Tennessee near Nashville, in 1854-1855, passed over high rough mountains with great difficulty. The teams of mules, horses, and oxen strained to pull the load. At times the men would put shoulders to the wheel while women drove the teams. They would take turns with their men in driving the wagons and herding cattle they brought with them. They passed through gaps in the mountains and camped under the starry heavens, or sometimes under dark storm clouds. (They arrived in Arkansas sometime prior to 1857 as son Robert was born in Arkansas.)

The wagon train of which I write consisted of seven wagons. Those in the Nichols wagon included William Walter, the father, 4 sons and a daughter. The father died a few years afterward. Also in the convoy were the Oakes, Wrights, Buttrams, Misers, Shorts and Blevins. These families came for land that could be bought cheap or homesteaded, for springs that would furnish plenty of water for the families and livestock, timber with which to build them houses and they found what they sought.

Thomas Nichols homesteaded 160 acres east of Old Dikson and later bought more land in Benton County. After building (homes) of logs from the forest, the land was cleared of trees and brush and planted to corn and wheat. An abundance of wild turkeys, squirrels, rabbits, opossums and deer made it easy to get meat. Skins were of course, plentiful. Lucinda Nichols could make everything needed, so Thomas traded skins of the wild animals for other needs. Thomas built a log house and prided himself when it was completed. Chunks of red and white oak were cut in 16 to 18 inches in length and split into clapboards (a narrow tapered board used for siding). There were only a few families living within a radius of ten miles of their first home.

The controversy between the states over the slave question was getting hotter and hotter, and many were the hair-raising tales told of their experiences in those times. Lucinda would sit with Thomas and their friends, draw a stone pipe from the pocket of her full black skirt, and fill it with the home-grown and cured tobacco she carried in her pocket, and smoke. Thomas might begin to tell about the Indians that came across the Oklahoma line and rustled their cattle. They came at other times, begging and were never refused because Thomas said, "It is best to be friends with them". The nearest grist and flour mill was miles away; grease lamps and tallow candles supplied light at night and sleep was frequently disrupted by wolves howling in the near by woods.

Grandma Nichols made most of their clothes. The spinning wheel and loom were a necessity. Matches were a novelty and the big fireplace held coals covered with ashes, which were fanned into a blaze when heat was needed or cooking was to be done. On one occasion bushwhackers drove off all the hogs grandpa was fattening and made grandma catch all her geese and ducks, which they carried away, but not before having grandma cook a meal for them.

Early one morning the two boys, William Smith, and Allison were doing the chores while their mother prepared breakfast. They could hear guns firing at the McKissick Springs, on Spavinaw, just South of Hiwasse. This skirmish was one of twenty four hundred battles fought between the States. One of the most important was fought at Pea Ridge. I could go on and on relating truths about these battles that my grandfather and grandmother passed through, and of the days of hardship and starvation. These were indeed, hard depressing times. They lived on corn mush when they could get their corn to the mill. They parched their corn when they had no meal. In the summer they cooked wild greens. Salt was so scarce grandmother used to take up the dirt from the smokehouse floor to recover the salt where the meat had dripped. Sugar could seldom be bought and molasses was commonly used for sweetening. Farming was practically at a standstill as all physically fit men were fighting and the crops in the field were often destroyed. After Lee`s surrender everyone began over again, but were saddened by the assassination of their president, Lincoln. The whole nation went into mourning. Grandma had a beautiful black shawl she had brought from Tennessee eleven years before, carefully packed away and hidden from the bushwhackers. She brought it out to the front door and draped it over the side in memory of the beloved President. She said it was all she had with which to pay her respect.

The Thomas Nichols homestead was the scene of many family gatherings for many years after the war, when children and grandchildren would go there for picnics, and it left an unforgettable impression on the minds and in the hearts of all who attended. Grandpa said the bitterness and anger caused by the war was bad, but the Reconstruction days were bad also. For those living in the north or the south, there was much that was cruel and hard. There were many bright spots and deeds of kindness and heroism too that will live on forever, but, he said sorrowfully, the catastrophe of the whole ugly thing was that it divided families. Brother fought against brother, some for the north and some for the south. Grandma devoted her entire married life to the hardships and sacrifices required to rear her family of seven sons and one daughter. We, in our present homes can have no conception of their trials and tribulations. She had the same ambitions as mothers of today but the limitations were so very great. In those days there was no locking of doors against a tramps or thieves, but a wide-open welcome to whoever came. Often grandmother found her larder (pantry) empty because of her generous hospitality to passing strangers. She went miles across country when a cry of distress came, riding horseback when possible, walking if not, and with gentle hands soothed the patient, helped with the housework, and if the messenger of death came, she prepared the body for the grave. The latch-string hung out at grandpa`s home and at all other cabins. When grandma had any leisure time it was employed in making attractive quilts, Lindsey blankets, hanging baskets and fine embroideries. The hardships of grandmother`s days were beyond the comprehension of present day women. Stories of suffering during childbirth because there were very few doctors. God bless these pioneer women for providing the large families which were needed to conquer the wilderness, and soldiers to aid in preserving our nation. I say thanks to God, bless them for great mental and physical influence was given to us by parents such as they were, and this country owes a debt to them. They were not content to live always as homesteaders but endeavored in all ways to create an atmosphere of permanence and hospitality in their homes even though they lived in a wilderness.

An old deed in my possession, shows that grandfather bought 80 acres of land from John Droke on September 22, (1873). Attest Jo D. Dickson, M.C. Stagner. It reads, "Where as in pursuance of the Act of Congress approved Sept. 28, 1850, entitled "An act granting bounty land to certain officers and soldiers who have engaged in the military service of the United States". John Droke was a private in Captain Jones Company, 5th regiment, Virginia Militia, War of 1812. My (grandfather) bought this land for $500. It was deeded on March 1859, by James Buchanan, President of the U.S.A. to George Droke.

An old atlas in my possession made in 1903, shows that Thomas Nichols and his son A. J. Nichols owned this land. After the Frisco railroad was built the town of Dickson was renamed Hiwasse in memory of their pioneer homes in Tennessee by that Cherokee name. When Thomas and Lucinda had reared their families they moved from their home east of Hiwasse to this land and there is a two-story house standing on a part of it where grandmother and one of her sons died. Here "Uncle Thomas and Aunt Lucy" as they were lovingly called by their friends, lived. And on the morning of June 5, 1900, when the sun shone soft on the clean bare floor of her bedroom, grandma breathed her last. For hours before her death, grandpa set by her bedside with her hand in his. Her daughter, Mrs. Sarah Galyean, their sons James A. ,William S., John Frank, Monroe, and Jack Lafayette, and wives, gathered about in her room. She opened her eyes and said, "The Lord is my life and my salvation, of whom shall I be afraid?" The words of the Psalmist of old were like an armor around her heart.

Thomas Nichols, her husband, passed away in 1905.


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