Samuel Nichols, ancestor of the pioneer Lake County family, was born in Norwalk, Conn. in January, 1758, and died in December 1849, at the age of 92.
He moved from Connecticut soon after the American Revolution to Rensselaerville, New York. He entered the Army at the beginning of the war, at the age of 16, and served for seven years and five months before being honorably discharged by General Washington himself. During the battle of Monmouth, Samuel received a musket ball in the leg and carried it with him for 72 years.
The following was written about Sam: "He was a man of extraordinary vigor and energy, having scarcely ever known what it was to be sick . He was a faithful son of liberty in his youth, a good citizen and father during his manhood, and a devout Christian for 50 years."
Samuel first married Hannah Resseguie, a French Huegonot who was born in Ridgefield, New York, in 1757, and died at Fenner, Madison County, New York, in 1827. Their twelve children were Samuel 1779, Lucinda 1781, Annis 1783, Hannah 1785, Henry 1787, Clarissa 1787, Harry 1789, Abraham 1792, William 1795, Polly 1797, Matilda 1799, and Harvey 1802.
Their son William was born May 14, 1795, and died July 6, 1881. In 1813 he married Nancy Randall, daughter of David and Subrina (Ferry) Randall, at Sulivan, New York. Nancy died in March, 1825, and in September, 1826, William married Huldah Kelsey, daughter of Reuben and Grace (Weed) Kelsey. Huldah died in Perryville, New York, after which William married for a third time to Catherine Storms.
William evidently lived in New York all his life and was a shoemaker. His four children were: Hannah Subrina 1814, Abram R. 1816, Horatio Nelson Rice 1818, and Caroline B. 1819.
William's two sons, Abram and Horatio, worked on their fathers' farm and attended the district schools. When Abram was 19 and Horatio 18, they had a strong desire to see the great and growing West. They set out on their own, and reached LaPorte, Ind., in June, 1836, where they remained until the fall, when they traveled west again and came to Lake County.
Their first claim was in what is now the eastern part of Lowell, but before they could file it, someone beat them to it. They returned to the Lowell area and purchased a claim from a pioneer by the name of Nolan, who had come to the area two years before. The claim, which included a large part of the future site of the town of Lowell, was purchased for $250. Pioneer Nolan moved farther west.
In May, 1837, the two brothers moved onto their claim, and though they were only 19 and 20, some history books say they were known as the "old bachelors." The cabin they bought, according to the family history, was where the Lowell Post Office now stands at the patriotic sounding address of Washington and Liberty streets.
The bachelor life was short for Abram, who in March 1840 married Samantha Eliza Fuller, daughter of James and Lydia Fuller, who came from New Hampshire in 1838.
The children were: Horatio James 1841, Albert Lafayette 1842, Benjamin Franklin 1845, Archibald William 1848, and Abram Resseguie 1851. All were born in Lowell. Abram passed away at his home in Lowell in September, 1852.
Abram's oldest son, named Horatio J. after his uncle, was born Jan. 4, 1841. As the eldest, he became the main support of his widowed mother, working to keep the farm an home. He married Sarah Elizabeth Wheeler on Mar. 23, 1862. She was the daughter of Hiram and Elvira Wheeler, and was born in Barnston, Canada, in 1845. Sarah had come to Lake County with her widowed mother and family in 1852.
Horatio J. became a well-known buyer and seller of livestock. Before the railroad came thru Lowell in 1882, he drove cattle to the Hartsdale Station near Schererville for shipment to Chicago by rail.
He owned the triangle-shaped piece of land between Commercial Ave. and Washington St., and being very interested in getting the railroad to come to Lowell, gave that land to the railroad, which built a watchman's shanty there.
William James Nichols, son of Wheeler Nichols and grandson of Horatio J. Nichols, told us of Horatio J. dealing in livestock and about selling the land to the railroad. "Bill" also told us that his father, Wheeler, sent meat to Chicago on the train. He would ride the train caboose and return with the money, bringing along the Chicago newspaper, the first from that city to be delivered in Lowell.
The ten children of Horatio J. and Sarah Nichols again show how the pioneer families were connected. Etta died as a small child; Edna L. married William E. Bruce, son of John and Caroline Bruce; Albert L. married Amma Pinkerton, daughter of James and Sarah Pinkerton, and Albert L. was the father of Sarah Fern, who married Isaac Tuttle; Laura married Seigal Hayden, son of Edgar Hayden; Wheeler J. married Cora Jane Davis, daughter of Albert and Ann (Bryant) Davis; Jessie married Charles Hoshaw; Sadie, born 1877; Elva Pearl became the wife of Emil Ruge; Horatio Calhoun Nichols married Leona B. Flynn; and Huron O., born 1890.
Horatio Nelson Rice Nichols, the younger of the two early pioneer Nichols brothers who came to Lowell in 1836, married Phoebe Eliza Kenyon, daughter of John and Louisa Kenyon, early settlers of Pleasant Grove, northeast of Lowell. A letter from Connecticut had this address in 1841: "John C. Kenyon, South Township, Bryant Settlement, (Pleasant Grove), Lake County, Indiana."
The children of Horatio Nelson Rice Nichols were: William Calvin, born in 1845, and married to Mary Gragg in 1871; Irvin Lester, born 1847, died 1879; Hannah Louisa, who married Mortimer Gragg in 1869; Ella Medora, born in 1853, who married Cyrus Dickinson in 1873; Alma Eliza born in 1859 and married to Edson Foster in 1876; and Charles Elmer, born in 1861 married to Edna May Smith in 1888.
In January, 1895, Horatio and Phoebe celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
The following was taken from an old 'Lowell Tribune': "Their descendants have populated the Lowell community with people who possess the sterling qualities of these earliest of Lowell pioneers."
At the time of the death of Horatio's wife, Pheobe, in 1912, the 'Lowell Tribune' wrote: "Mrs. Nichols suffered all the hardships of pioneer life and lived to see this country develop from a wilderness to one of the most prosperous settlements in the State of Indiana. She was a woman of more than ordinary ability; being a great reader, she conversed intelligently on current topics of the day. She was a woman of strong personality and lived up to her convictions. It was a pleasure to know her and she will be sadly missed."
Acting as pallbearers at her funeral were her grandsons, George L. Foster, Harry Foster, Ernest Dickinson, Carl Gragg and William H. Nichols, and a great grandson, Bryl C. Grant.
Horatio Nelson Rice Nichols died in Lowell in 1897.
We have taken some data for this month's column from the Nichols Family Book, compiled in 1905 by William Calvin Nichols, father of Gracia Belle Nichols who married early Lowell businessman Thomas Grant in 1893.
Alma, the daughter of Horatio who married Edson Foster, was the mother of George L. Foster, a prominent Lowell banker remembered by many.
Son Charles Elmer, born in 1861, became a Lowell businessman at the age of 19 as a dealer in hay and grain. In 1886, he left to do the same business in Chicago for a short time, followed by a few years as a dealer in Crown Point, before returning to Lowell in 1891. He bought and sold hay, grain and seeds for many years in Lowell. His name is still on one of the buildings at the old Nichols Elevator just east of the present post office in Lowell.
Like their ancestor Samuel Nichols, who fought in the American Revolution, many of the Nichols' family served in the military. Samuel, his son, served in the War of 1812 and was in command of a Company. Moses Rice, the husband of Lucinda Nichols Rice, also served in the War of 1812. Albert Lafayette Nichols enlisted in the Army in 1862, was a member of Co. A, 73rd Regiment, Indiana Voluntary Infantry, and died at Nashville the same year.
Benjamin Franklin Nichols enlisted in the Army in 1863 with the 128th Indiana Infantry, Archibald William Nichols enlisted in the Army in 1864 with the 5th Indiana Cavalry, and William Calvin Nichols joined the Army in 1864 with Co. C, 138th Regiment, Indiana Infantry.
Abram and Horatio, the two "old bachelors" and early pioneers of our area, left quite a history.