Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Moses Eckles Nichols: Naming Patterns To the Rescue

Jean M. Hoffman, CGSM

Charles Nichols, born in 1817, arrived in Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky, as a young adult and soon married a daughter of the local wagon maker, Charles Eckles.1 Charles Nichols and Nancy Boyd Eckles were married by H. J. Perry on 12 March 1840.2 They probably were young adults in the 1840 household of her father.3

By 1850 Charles Nichols ran a blacksmith shop and was a Ruling Elder of the Georgetown Presbyterian Church with his father-in-law.4 The only information on his origins was a birthplace of New York in the 1850 and 1860 U.S. censuses.5 Nichols is a common surname and many lived in New York in 1820 when Charles was about three. Finding his birth family seemed a daunting task.

He and Nancy had eight children, six surviving when Charles died 2 November 1862.6 All the children had first and middle names that appear to honor family members. An exception was the youngest child, Daniel Y. Nichols. He was named for their minister, Daniel Young. The oldest son was Moses Eckles Nichols. As his mother’s father was Charles Eckles, his father’s father might be a Moses Nichols. When this finally occurred to me it changed the scope of the problem of the origins of Charles Nichols. Only two New York households in 1820 were headed by men named Moses Nichols. Both lived in New Windsor in Orange County. One had four males under age ten and could include Charles.7

I had not pursued this lead until a fellow club member mentioned an active Yahoo! Group run by the Orange County (New York) Genealogical Society. He also told me of a member who would look up probate records there. I joined the group and contacted Marty Irons, a kind and helpful researcher in New York.

Probate records include the estate of Moses Nichols, the will of his second wife Mary, and guardianship papers for their four orphaned sons, Aaron W., Robert J., Charles, and Moses Higby Nichols. Charles of Kentucky was indeed one of those sons. His guardian was his uncle Samuel Nichols.8 A genealogy focused on Humphrey Nichols of Newark, New Jersey, was published in 1917.9 Humphrey was the grandfather of Moses and Samuel of New Windsor. Charles isn’t named, but his ancestors in the Nichols line are covered. I later found a biography of the second son, Charles Boyd Nichols, in a Kentucky publication.10 He identified his father’s birthplace as Newburgh, a town near New Windsor in Orange County.

There is one problem still: Charles’s mother Mary. There is an unsourced online family tree that claims her maiden name is Mary Ann Wright, born 29 January 1780 in Orange County, New York.11 Her oldest son’s middle initial is W., lending some support to the claim. I’m still working on this puzzle. It is amazing that my friend and I, here in Ohio, each have a brickwall involving members of one church in Little Britain, a portion of the Town of New Windsor, New York.


1. Georgetown Cemetery (Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky), Nichols marker, photograph by author, 27 August 2008 (years of birth and death, name of wife and a daughter).
2. Marriage Register 1837–1863: item 218 (unpaginated), Scott County Clerk's Office, Georgetown, KY.
3. 1840 U.S. census, Scott County, Kentucky, George Town, p. 93 (stamped), line 12, Charles Eckles household; NARA microfilm M704, roll 123.
4. 1850 U.S. Census, Scott County, Kentucky, population schedule, District No. 2, p. 448, dwelling/family 33, Charles Nichols household; NARA microfilm M432, roll 218. Also William Henry Perrin, History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky (1882; reprint Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1979), 197.
5. 1860 U.S. Census, Scott County, Kentucky, pop. sch., District No. 2, Georgetown, post office Georgetown, page 788, dwelling 48, family 49, Chas. Nichols household; NARA microfilm M653, roll 394.
6. Nichols/Eckles family members’ marriages, births, and deaths; typescript apparently of records in a family Bible but without annotation. It was in the possession of, undoubtedly transcribed by, Elizabeth (McClintock) Nickell. Since her death owned by her grandson (address available).
7. 1820 U.S. census, Orange County, New York, pop. sch., Town of New Windsor, p. 479 (handwritten), p. 194 (stamped), line 18, Moses Nichols; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com: accessed 17 August 2009); citing NARA microfilm M33, roll 64.
8. Orange County, New York, Letters of Administration, E: 212, Moses Nichols entry, (1822), and Wills, H: 302-04, Mary Nichols will, (1827), and Letters of Guardianship, B: 197, Charles Nichols entry, (1831), Surrogate Court Clerk's Office, Goshen.
9. Frederic C. Torrey The Ancestors and Descendants of Humphrey Nichols of Newark, New Jersey, and of his Brothers and Sisters (Lakehurst, NJ: author, 1917), Google Books digital images (http://www.google.com : accessed 18 August 2009).
10. E. Polk Johnson A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians: The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities, Vol. 3 (Chicago - New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), Google Books digital images (http://www.google.com : accessed 16 August 2009), 1593.
11. “Soher Iversen Gammon Beal Carson Spalding Bevan,” online family tree, RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project (http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com : accessed 25 August 2009.)

originally published as a supplement to the December 2012 Bits & Bytes, newsletter of CAGG-CA, Volume 19.04-2.

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