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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
(Not At All) Wordless Wednesday -- Joseph Nichols (1823-1912)
I know this is supposed to be wordless but umm......I'm never wordless! Ask anyone who knows me and they're likely to say they wish I'd learn to be. Hah!
Look at the intensity on the face of the man to the right. He is my ancestor Joseph Nichols, born in what is now Greenbriar County, WV on 20 Oct 1823. By the age of 8 he'd made his way with his parents and siblings to Crawford County, IL. He eventually met and married Delinda Jane Plymell -- who is rumored to be half Wyandot, but that's another story! -- on 24 Dec 1844.
Now on 7 Nov 1831, Joseph's father John had purchased 40 acres (the SW 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of Sec 2, T6N, R12W) in Robinson Township in Crawford County. By the April term of 1849, though, John had died. His lands were due to be divvied up in 1/7 increments to his heirs -- his daughters Lucinda (the wife of John Guinn), Mary (the wife of Wiley Emmons), Levisa (the wife of Abel Mann), and Eliza Jane (the wife of George Hartwell); his granddaughter Eliza Ann (infant daughter of Reuben Nichols, deceased), and his sons Merritt and Joseph. This division never happened, though, because the court's commissioners decided that the lands were "so circumstanced that a division thereof cannot be made without manifest prejudice to the proprietors thereof."
It was decided by the Court that the land would be sold at public venue by James H. Steel as commissioner, the sale being at the courthouse door in the town of Robinson. This was done on 9 June 1849 and Joseph purchased the entire 40 acres at the sale for $249, with an initial $88 up front at the time of sale. The rest was to be paid by June 1850.
I know this because I have in my possession the original handwritten deeds of these sales, as well as an abstract that Joseph's daughter Missouri (my g-g-aunt) had drawn up in 1933.
Joseph and Delinda settled on the 40-acre spread in Robinson Township and built a house there. He and Delinda lived on the property the rest of their lives. The couple had three children: Eliza Ursula (who married James Swan,) Jane (who died at a week old) and Missouri Ann (who never married.)
Delinda died on 3 Jun 1889 and was buried at the New Hebron Cemetery in LaMotte Township in Crawford County. Joseph never remarried and lived with his daughter Missouri, his other surviving daughter Eliza Ursula -- who'd become a widow after losing her husband James Swan after less than three years of marriage -- and Eliza's daughter Estella Jane. Estella was my g-grandmother and eventually married Frederick Leone Browning.
Joseph died of pneumonia on 12 Jan 1912 and was buried beside his wife.
My family still owns this land today. My father has 5 acres of it and plans to deed it to me in the coming years. I played there when I was a child. We have an Illinois Sesquicentennial Farm sign on the property. I'm proud of that. Although I live in Texas, my heart belongs to the acres that Joseph Nichols bought, farmed, and nurtured. It's in my blood. Land can call to your soul and say, "Here is your home." For me, this is the land that calls.
Take a look at that face again. I cropped the photo -- the tintype that this snippet comes from is a 5x7 sheet. The detail is incredible. Every wrinkle on his eyelids and face can be seen, the hairs in his beard stand out clearly, and the expression in his eyes is both tired and intense. When I hold the tintype up I swear Joseph is about to step off the sheet. I found this tintype buried in a box in my grandmother's storage shed that we cleaned out a few years ago. It had been in the brutal Texas heat for over 5 years. I am amazed that it shows almost no damage whatsoever from the elements. Needless to say, I have it in archival quality storage now.
It's one of my most favorite shots.