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The Nicholls

The Laughery's a brief history
The Wilson of Fairchance
The Shaneyfelt's or the correct way to spell it would be Schoenfeld
The Crow's
The Nicholls
Photos of the families.
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The Nicholls boys seated are Homer John standing Norman and the father of the boys John Nicholls

The spelling of the page title is the correct way to spell my last name it was changed by my fathers dad John Nichols

Chapter 5


My father Homer Nichols spelled the same way as his father. He never talked much about his family background. Now that could have been because he was the baby in the family or he just never thought we wanted to hear about it. Little did I realize how interesting his side of the family was? Now believe me this will take some time close reading to understand the line because it is long and interesting.

The patriarch of the Nicholls family was a gentleman named Erasmus Nicholls born in 1767 in England, He died in 1852 and is buried in Scenery Hill Washington Co. PA. His wife was Margaret Hill born in 1771 in Hillsborough Washington Co. PA. She died in 1840. Her father was believed to be Asa Hill a Revolutionary soldier from Mass. He must of decided to stay in the area after the war. We know for sure that Erasmus owned a tract of land that adjoined Hillsboro Pa which is now called Scenery Hill. Think about this he arrived in Washington Co.. 10 years before the revolutionary war. We were still a colony under the control of the King of England. It is recorded in the History of Washington Country the Erasmus Nicholls was a Tavern Owner in the Village of Hillsboro in the 1790’s and that he paid his taxes on time. His one grandson Jesse Nicholls is mentioned in the J. H. Beers Co. 1893 “The History of Washington Co. Pa/ Series 6 Vol 4. Jesse is the son I believe of James Nicholls. They had 10 children named as follows and it should be noted the birth dates are taken from census records and are about dates but fairly close. The formula is to take the date of the census and look at the kid age and minus it from the census date and you get a good approximation. The children are:

James 1793 Erasumus 1803

William 1797 Nancy 1805

Eleanor 1798 Margaret 1807

Atkinson 1799 Stephen 1795 died 1881

Sarah Ann 1801 Elizabeth H Dec 22, 1796 Died March 9, 1844 Tenn.


William Nicholls was married to a women named Rebecca Smith from Hillsboro. I know her first name because she shows up in a 1880 census as living with William Nicholls father of John Nicholls , my grandfather. They had at least five son and one daughter because they are in Williams obituary.

1.William Nicholls

2. Thomas Nicholls Jefferson Greene County.

3. Christopher Nicholls Washington.

4. Mrs. William Murphy Uniontown

The Nicholls farm as it is known today I believe was originally the farm of Margarette Hill or at least from her family. I need to get the exact tax records on this to prove or disprove it. I do show a parcel of property on an old map I copied of Washington Co. That being said the property is located in Washington Co. off of Rt. 917 going in the direction of Orient PA. There was a school located on the property called the “Nicholls School” which burned down recently I hoped to get some old pictures of it from somebody over in that area. Somebody lives in the old farm house that is the original structure of the farm. Anyways of William Nicholls who was born on Sept. 23, 1835 and died in 1917. He was the fifth son of Mr. and Mrs. William & Rebecca Nicholls who were describe in the obituary as “Prosperous Farmers.” from Scenery Hill PA. William and his four brothers answered the call in 1861 enlisting in the Pennsylvania Volunteers known as the Ringold Cavalry. They all served until 1865. I have seen the muster out records and it does show his brother Thomas and Christopher present for the roll call but does list William as unable to be present due to illness. This would explain the newspaper stating in his obituary that his legs were frost bitten during the war and left him partially crippled.

I believe a brief history of the 22 Cavalry should be in order because they were and are still recognized in history as serving in 72 campaign during the war. The Eighty Fifth Infantry was made up of several units. The Ringold Cavalry was one of them. They had 5 companies from the Washington Co. area under the command of Capt. George T. Works. He commanded the Keystone which was formed on Oct. 2, 1861 and there were two independent companies under the command of Capts. Harvey H. Young and M. W. Mitchener, organized in Oct and Sept. of 1862. The Washington Cavalry under Capt. A. J. Greenfield was organized at Wheeling Va. In Aug.. 19, 1861 and the Lafayette cavalry was organized at the same place Nov. 6, 1862. Capt. Alex V. Smith was the commander. The two companies that were formed in Wheeling West Virginia were the first into the field. William Nicholls and his brothers were part of this unit. Although not at the battle of Gettysburg they joined in the pursuit of Lee and were engaged at Petersburg, Lexington and Moorefield in the early part of 1864. There was one unit of the Eight Fifth that only had a six month enlistment. They were under the command of Maj. Marrow and they were used to guard the Susquehanna near Harrisburg and picketed the roads leading into the Cumberland Valley. In mid June of 1864 the troops were near Martinsburg WV. Where they received horses and guns and also more drilling and military training. During their stay there they were engaged at Martinsburh, Maryland heights, and Snicker’s gap.

Joining General Torbert’s forces they were engaged at Sheridan’s campaign in the valley . They were also active at Kernstown where it displayed great steadiness and gallantry. They then went on to fight at Opequan and Berryville met with considerable loses at Charlestown. It was at the battle of Halltown that Maj. Mayers was severely wounded. While most of the Regiment was in the field fighting a small detachment was left behind I Cumberland MD under Maj. Work. They were keep busy also fighting in the campaigns at New Market and aiding in the decisive defeat of McCausland’s forces at Moorefield subsequent to the burning of Chambersburg. After the two Units joined at Hagerstown the regiment joined Gen. Averell’s forces and was actively engaged at Martinsburg, Bunker Hill, Stephenson’s depot and Martinsburg and were in what was described as a brilliant cavalry charge that routed the enemy at the Opequan where the enemy captured a battery and 80 men. They again fought at Fisher’s Hill and Brown’s gp and Weyer’s cave, where it is said the Ringold Cavalry made a charge that saved the entire division train. It lost severely in this campaign. Maj. Work and Adjt. Isenberg being severely wounded . They fought bravely at Cedar Creek again where it lost heavily and returned to Martinsburg where it encamped for the winter. It is here that I believe my Grandfather was severely frostbitten which left him crippled for life. Most of the men were mustered out o July 19, 1865. That is as brief as history as I can give on the 22 Ringold Cavalry there is a entire book written on their campaigns and war records if you care to get it and read it. I tried and believe me it is rather dry and repetitious. You can look up most of the battle on the inter- net and read more about each campaign if you like. Needless to say we should be proud not only of our Great-Great-Grandfather but his four brothers that went in with him. By the was they enlisted in Beallsville Pa.

I do know that he was Chief of Police of West Brownsville at one time because I remember seeing a newspaper clipping where he went to City Council asking for Billy Club for himself and his men stating he was tired of braking up fight with his fist. I also have a copy of the minutes of the Council meeting where he was elected Police Commissioner which was in April of 1894. The minutes also show that he hired Chris and John Nicholls to watch the lock-up as they called it when they had prisoner in it. I can’t find the newspaper paper article where he ask for the Billy Clubs but I do have the minutes of the special meeting of the council where he went of ask for them. It appears that there had been a riot of some type in town that day and it took a lot of men and strength to break it up. Brownsville was having trouble at the same time with bar fights and after much research I found out why. Cox’s Army was in town on it famous march on Washington for their military benefits. The trouble was they thought they wouldn’t be charged at the toll house on Rt. 40 for using it but they were and they camped out there refusing to pay it. So a lot of the Army were in town raising cane and having fun.

I have attached a copy of the minutes of the meeting which his application to the Boro of West Brownsville for the position of Street Commissioner for the sum of a $1.50 a day appears. His application was accepted on April 6, 1896. He did show some nepotism because he did hire his son Christopher from time to time.


William Nicholls married July 3, 1859 to Miss Amanda Wilkens of West Brownsville. An the 1840 census show a John Wilkins in Bridgeport who I think might have been her grandfather since he was considered one of the early settlers of Brownsville. There is an Ann Wilkens who taught at the Bridgeport Academy. An 1870 census show the following children of William and Amanda. The census also shows that Williams mother I’m guessing on this named Rebecca was living with them at that time and she was 89.

Rachel Washington Co

Emma Washington Co.

Christopher Nicholls Washington Co.


Mr. John Nicholls Merrittstown (this is Homer’s dad)

William at his death left 30 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. He is buried in the Bridgeport Cemetery in Brownville along with his wife.


His wife Amanda was born June 9, 1840 and died the age of 81 in the year 1921. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Wilkins who were among the first settlers of Brownsville. Amanda left 32 grandchildren, 29 great grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren.

My grandfather was John Nicholls who was born in 1867 and he married Mariah M. Crow on May 29, 1893 my birthday. Mariah was born in 1870 in Nicholson Twp Fayette Co the daughter of Isaac B Crow and Dililah Clemmer Crow. The Bible I have in my custody was given to John and Mariah by her parents in 1894. I’ll get into the Crow’s later suffice to say Grandma Marianna had four brothers and five sister’s. John and Mariah had 10 children. They were as follows:

1.John b Sept 3, 1897 d Jan 30 1986

Sp Unknown

1. Emanuel (Luke) Nichols b. Feb. 4, 1921 d. April 1975

Sp Mona Slater b. March 1, 1908 d. 1993 married Jan. 8, 1962

1. Ronald Nichols b. May 19, 1940

SP Colleen Keliher b. Oct. 4, 1940

1. Darlene b. Dec 18, 1967

2.Ethel Nicholls Stulanseck

Sp George Stulanseck  

3.Joseph 1925 died 1966

4.Norman b.1894 d. Mat 1966

Sp  Ethel Mamie Daniels

      1. Mrs. William Ballint

      2. Norman B Junior b 1912 d. 30 Jun 1944 in the service of his country in the European Campaign.


5.Rella born 1892 died 1929 had 4 children Rella is buried in the Holy Rosary Church Cemetery in Republic

1.Nellie McCann

Sp Bruce McCann

1. Rella McCann Booze

Sp Jerry Booze

2.Merle Nicholls was married twice once to Alpha Lorraine Hardwick they had on child . B. Feb. 22 1899 d. march 1985

1.Richard (Dickie) Nichols b. May 1941 married Mary Gleuge on Dec. 27, 1965 two children.

1. Matthew Andrew b. May 7, 1975 m. Kristen Cnossen on Apr 7, 2001

1. Elisabeth Karen May 18, 2008

2. Nicole Elizabeth b. April 9, 1978 m. Ryan Water May 10, 2001

Sp Emma Nichols second spouse b.

1. Mary Ann Nichols (Phillips) Adopted

3 Louisa Maurity

4.Angelo Maurity

6.Violet (May) Shimko b May 1, 1912

Sp John Shimko had 8 children

1. Delores Erdly

Sp ------ Erdly



2. Frank (Jetters)

3. Kathryn Williams





4. Lila

5. Joseph James

6. John

7. Rose Maria b April 4, 1944

Sp Shaffer

1. Todd Kirk b Feb 29, 19666

8. Ralph

7. Margaret was married but died young I have no idea who her husband was.

8. Emma (Hodgson) Nicholls

Sp Hodgson

9. Mildred

10. Homer Nichols b. March 7, 1916 d. Nov. 28, 2001

Sp Nellie Laughery b. April 4, 1915 d. d June 10, 1993

1. Allen Nichols

2. Carol Vargas

3. Patrick Nichols

4. Patricia Liston

5. Donald Nichols

6. Daryl Nichols

Most of the children listed grew up on the in various area. I had originally thought that they were mostly raised on a farm in Luzerne Twp. Near Ironsburg Pa but when going through the Bible I found some documentation that proved this to be wrong. Example in 1909 they lived in Fredericktown PA because I have a receipt for a years subscription to “Washington Record”. This is an important fact because it proves to me that they were literate enough to spend $3.00 which in those days was a lot of money for a newspaper to read daily. From Fredericktown it looks like they moved to Thompson No2. Again this is because I have a postcard from Joe dated that year. Now in 1924 there is a card from a Chaplin to Grandma Nicholls. He was from the U. S.S. Colorado and this must have been a ship Norm served on because Joe and John were in the Army and my Dad was on the Henry A Wiley.

Now the town or patch it is address to is Hillcoke PA and I have never heard of it so I’ll to look it up. But the date coincides with the dates they were suppose to live in Arensburg so maybe this was where they got there mail. Here again is another example of my grandmothers name being spelled wrong. Even her children spelled her name wrong. Joe in the postcard spelled his mother’s name Maria instead of Mariah.

They did eventually end up in Arensburg because of a tax receipt I have. This is in

Fayette Co near Masontown on the Monongahela River. As a matter of fact the house that they lived in as I understand it from my dad was located right on the ferry landing at East Riverside. I know my grandmother went to the Hopewell Church. Need to check and see if any of the kids were baptized or married there. Joe and John both went into the service at an early age. John served in World War I and Joe served in WW II liked my dad. I believe Norman did also.

Ethel was married to George . They had no children and she lived in Vest 5 all her life. Joe and his wife I don’t know her name lived in New York for a while and he owned two restaurants there. I don’t know when he moved back but I do know that he had a chicken farm in Greensburg for a while. John I have to find more about. Mildred is the one I think that never got married and had Parkinson Disease. May was married to John Shimko to whom she had eight (8) children. She also lived in Vest most of her life. John died young and May married Joe Kronk. She is buried in Greene County Cemetery.

Rella was married once before and I don’t know her first husband’s name. She had two children by that husband and they were the cousins we called Uncle Merle and Aunt Nellie. She remarried a man named Maurity with whom she had two children, Louisa and Angelo. Rella, rumor has it was disowned by the family for marring a man of Italian heritage. This was not uncommon in the early days of this country. Like the Irish the Italian’s were thought to be of a lower class and by Rella marring this guy it was almost like getting married to another race. One other factor is she might have turned Catholic since she is buried in the Holy Rosary Church Cemetery in Republic. To get buried in that cemetery you have to be Catholic. She died very young at the age of 37 of heart complication in a Pittsburgh hospital.

Norman was married and lived in St Clairsville Ohio where we are told he was at one time a coal miner and later servered in law enforcement. Norman must of lived there a long time because it’s listed as his resident in Rella’s obituary in 1927. Norman wife was named Ethel. He married her when she was sixteen and he was 25. He lived in the same house with her mother and step dad in St Clairsville in 1930. In the 1930 census they had two children a son named Norman Jr. and who was 9 years old at the time and one daughter. Her name was Evelyn. She was three at the time of the 1930 census. There was a large family living in the Maruie house including some boarders. I’m guessing on the spelling of the last name because it is really hard to make out on the census form and I will have to get the marriage license to check her maiden name. I know her step-father ’s name was Daniel and he was born in Italy. Her mothers name was Elizabeth. My guess is this is an Italian family and Elizabeth was a widow when Daniel married her because all the children are listed as Step children. I want to remind everyone that Normans’ sister Rella was disowned for marring a Catholic and Italian.

One interesting thing happened one time when I was on my way home from college one weekend and I use to drive through St. Clairsville Ohio. Having heard my Dad talk about his brother Norman who lived in St. Clairsville I stopped in a local bar to get a refreshing beer because it was really hot and I had no air conditioner in my little Volkswagen. It was early afternoon and there was only two other patrons in the bar at the time so I spoke up and ask did either of them ever hear of Norman Nichols. Well it nearly caused a big fight. One guy was going to kill me because Norm evidently had arrested him at one time and he swore he would get even with him. Why me? The owner of the bar came out and made the guy quite down and leave me alone and spoke highly of Norm. I left in one piece.

There is a story that Margaret husband beat her one night and left her on the porch in the winter . She died of exposure. I can find no evidence to prove or disprove this story. Margaret was married to a man named Homer Bennett who was much older then her she was 16 and he was 23 and they lived with Mariah and John Nicholls in the house in Luzerne Twp in 1930 according to the census. One other strange fact comes out of the 1920 and 1930 census is that my father Homer Nichols was not as old as we thought he was. He had always said he was born in 1916 but according to the 1930 census he was 13 years old which would make his birth year 1917. The same goes for the 1920 it records that his age was 2 and one half years. Again that would make 1917 his birth year.


Let me say this before I go on, researching the Nichols family has been the hardest for me. There are no records and the ones that are living have bad memories. I’ve had better luck with the older generations .

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