HON. GEORGE NICHOL. Still hale and hearty at the age of eighty- three and a familiar figure on the streets of Anderson and a daily visitor at the store whose business was founded and built up by him, Hon, George Nichol has a record as a soldier, business man, public spirited citizen and official, which places him among the most venerable and useful men of Madison County, Nearly sixty years of his life time has been spent within the limits of this County, and he is one of the few still living whose memory and intimate knowledge of business and local affairs goes back into the decade of the fifties, Anderson as a city of trade and industry has been fortunate in its possession of a fine body of citizenship, including men of ability and integrity to direct the large enterprises which have given this city distinction, among the larger cities of Indiana, and Hon. George Nichol during his long and varied career has been one of the most prominent of business builders and upholders of local prosperity.
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Born in Butler County, Ohio, January 14, 1830, George Nichol was a son of Thomas and Jane (Marshall) Nichol, and comes of an old and prominent American family, The family history is authentically traced back to the time of Edward the Confessor of England, during whose reign a member of the family came over from Normandy, and during subsequent generations the name, individual records, and the Nichol coat of arms are found in English annals, The founder of the American family was Francis Nichol, who was born in Enniskillen, Ireland, in 1737, and came to America, with his brother William, who afterwards served as a captain in the American army, They settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and in June, 1775, Francis Nichol enlisted in the patriot army. He was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant, and was taken prisoner at Quebec, December 31, 1775. Released in August, 1776, he later rose to the rank of brigadier general of the American forces. At the close of the war he was elected first United States marshal of eastern Pennsylvania, and died at Pottstown, February 13, 1812.
General Francis Nichol was the great-grandfather of Hon, George Nichol of Anderson. Grandfather Thomas Nichol, who was born near Belfast, Ireland, after coming to the United States settled on land on the Ohio side of the River Ohio, near Wheeling, West Virginia, but afterward moved to Butler County, Ohio, where he entered one hundred and sixty acres of land, and cleared off the woods with his ax. His children were Joseph, a soldier in the war of 1812: John; Thomas; George: Wells; Sarah A., who married Jesse Andrew; Mary, who married Mr. Marshall, and Martha, who married a Mr. Royce.
The father of Hon. George Nichol, Thomas Nichol, was born about 1803 in Belmont County, Ohio, and was about three years old when the family moved to Butler County, He received his education in the pioneer schools, and in Butler County married Jane Marshall, daughter of Gilbert and Mary (Taylor) Marshall, After the marriage the young couple settled on land in the woods, and eventually became owners of a fine farm of two hundred and forty acres, where the father spent the remainder of his life, He was a Jacksonian Democrat in politics, The children of Thomas and Jane were: William M., born in 1828; George; Mary; Joseph W.; Martha; Gilbert; Jennie; Frances; Catherine; John and Robert.
While a boy on the home farm in Butler County, George Nichol had only limited opportunities for acquiring an education, although they were probably the best to be obtained at that time and in that country, His early ambition was for a good education, and he secured it during a number of terms in the district schools, and one year at Farmers College, near Cincinnati, In 1852, when about twenty-two years of age, Mr. Nichol went to Keokuk, Iowa, and became clerk in a hardware store. From there in March, 1854, he came to Anderson, which was destined to he the city of his permanent residence, In Anderson he established himself in business on his own account as a hardware merchant, his associate being Amos J. King. From that year, nearly sixty years’ distant to the present time, the name of Nichol has been familiarly associated with the hardware trade in Anderson, Mr. Nichol retired a number of years ago, but his two sons, Thomas J. and George E., still carry on the enterprise, founded and made prosperous by their honored father. Thomas J. is president of the Nichol Hardware Company, and the younger son is also in the business.
Mr. Nichol had been in Anderson but a few years when the Civil war cast its Black shadow across the country and made the usual routine of existence and business an impossibility, He was one of the young men who went out from Anderson in September, 1861, as a private in the Forty-seventh Indiana Volunteers, and was soon afterwards appointed quartermaster of his regiment. At the end of his term in 1864 he returned home, after having participated in all the severe campaigns through which the Forty-seventh passed, He held the rank of first lieutenant in the army, His service as a soldier by no means ended Mr. Nichol’s participation in public affairs, and his has always been the part of the disinterested and unselfish worker for the general welfare, Mr. Nichol was one of the founders of the Republican party in this section of the country, and voted for its first presidential candidate, John C. Fremont, for Abraham Lincoln, and for every other Republican candidate to the present time, For his success in business and for his eminent public spirit, he has been honored with positions of trust in his community, He was a member of the first city council elected in Anderson, In 1870, he was elected on the Republican ticket to the office of County auditor, being the first Republican elected in the County to that important office, That was one of the notable campaigns, made so by his successful participation. His opponent was the late Neal C. McCullough. a man of acknowledged integrity and ability, and long prominent as a leader in public affairs, The County at that time was safely Democratic by six hundred majority, and the fact that Mr. Nichol overcame this margin was one of the highest compliments ever accorded to an individual in the political history of Madison County. He served as auditor from 1871 to 1875. In 1904, he was elected a member of the sixty-fourth General Assembly of Indiana, and in 1907 Governor Hanley appointed him a member of the board of trustees for the Indiana Epileptic Village at Newcastle, and his service in that capacity for four years until 1911 was his last important participation in large public affairs, For a number of years Mr. Nichol was chairman of the Republican Central Committee of Madison County, His name has been associated with nearly every enterprise having for its object the promotion of Anderson’s interest, and the development of the County. He was chosen president of the Anderson Board of Trade at the time of its organization, and served as long as the body was in existence, Though a man of liberal views in all matters, Mr. Nichol has long been a consistent member of the First Presbyterian Church of Anderson, He was a charter member of Major May Post of the Grand Army of the Republic at Anderson, and up to 1888 served as its quartermaster.
On December 4, 1855, in Anderson, Mr. Nichol married Harriet Robinson, who was born in Ripley County, Indiana, in 1835, a daughter of Josephus and Matilda Robinson, and a sister of the late Col. M. S. Robinson. Her father was born in Tennessee, educated himself in the law, and was a lawyer at Versailles and later at Greensburg, in Decatur County, Indiana, The two children born to Mr. and Mrs. Nichol were Thomas J., born September 15, 1856, and George E., born October 4, 1861, Thomas J. is now president of the Nichol Hardware Company, while George E. is vice president of the Citizens Bank of Anderson, Both sons are married and established in homes of their own at Anderson, The mother of these sons died May 25, 1896, On September 27, 1899, Mr. Nichol married Mrs. Mary Eglin, widow of Captain John F. Eglin, formerly of the Forty-seventh Indiana Regiment, Her death occurred September 24, 1908.