Clarinda Rose Nicholson stated at the age of 100 that the hardest thing to endure throughout her 10x10 years was to watch her three sons, the youngest only 15, shoulder their muskets and go off to the Civil War. One of those three was Elihu Nicholson, one of our two soldiers featured this week receiving a new government stone for his part in that war. We also are featuring his son, James F. Nicholson who was a soldier in the Spanish-American War. Oddly, all three of Clarinda’s sons who went off to fight for the North died in the same year, two just hours apart and all two years before their mother who was hale and hearty up to the very last weeks of her life.
There was incorrect information about James F. on findagrave as he was confused with his uncle, Elihu’s brother, James F. Nicholson. James F. Nicholson in the Oak Hill Grant Avenue cemetery is the son and was not in the Civil War as was originally noted on findagrave but served in the Spanish American war. He was a Christmas baby, born eight days before in 1869 and passed away in December as well, Dec 9, 1910. The Civil War soldier, James F., Elihu’s brother, is buried in Illinois. Just a warning on grabbing information, check it out, please!
Although we know more about Elihu than our usual soldier, there is still so much to be discovered, especially in relation to conflicting information. For one, was he a Corporal or a Sargent? His original tombstone said Cpl. Elihu Nicholson Co B 10th Ind Inf. Thus, Kim Hancock and Suzi Petrey ordered the replacement stone to say the same. Also, seeing that regiment would be enough to confuse most as he was also in Co. E, of the 150th. The obituary for Elihu states that he served in Co E as a 1st Sgt.
It is certain James F. Nicholson was born in Crawfordsville, but a bit iffy as to where Elihu was born. A source says Ohio. This is not correct. Others say Indiana. Well that’s for certain but it is a bit in question whether it was in Liberty in Union County where his parents Joseph and Clarinda first came to Indiana or just north of Crawfordsville where they settled here. Elihu was born the 1st day of October in 1840. In an overview of his mother’s life it stated the family came to Crawfordsville in October 1840. So, that sounds as if he was born in Liberty and then toward the latter part of the month came here. Or, they came on the first day and the trip started her labor. None of his several obituaries give a specific place, only Indiana.
He was one of seven children to grow to adulthood, but all-in-all, the family totaled eleven children for Joseph and Clarinda. Joseph was one of the best-known blacksmiths in this area in the early days when there were a few houses, mainly all built of logs. Joseph taught those children strong work ethics. Clarinda was no slouch, either as she was a widow for almost three decades, her two youngest yet to leave the house when he passed away in 1872. Her weaving in not only the more common wool, but her expertise in the coveted silk brought many customers to her door.
The whole Nicholson family was close and remained so to their dying days, literally. Living near each other in the Crawfordsville area, part of them moved in 1895 by wagon train to what became known as Fitzgerald, GA. An interesting concept, the area of the old Andersonville prison was developed into a sort of retirement home for both North then South soldiers quickly joining in. The concept was drawn-up and promoted by an Indianapolis pension lawyer, Philander Fitzgerald who had served at age 11 as a drummer boy in the Civil War. Oddly, I found no proof to that but it was written in several places, just no government docs appeared in several tries. At any rate, he helped many soldiers collect pensions from the war, wrote a newspaper called the American Tribune for them and in that promoted (get away from the winters of the north, rich soils, fruit trees, free education for 9-months duration) his new village. At least Samuel and Elihu with most of their family members were some of the first to appear there. In December of 1896, the town was incorporated and Elihu elected as one of the officials. When he returned back to Crawfordsville about 10 years later, his brother stayed.
Such mystique around the deaths of most of their family members. Those two brothers died within hours of each other, Elihu’s family receiving a telegram from Samuel’s family saying he had passed and a like telegram going south. Just two months later, their brother, Joseph was killed by a train while hauling logs. James F. would die of heat exhaustion a couple of years after his mother and the remaining Nicholson son who was not in any war (William “Mac”Kindrick) and was also killed by a train, along with his wife in 1932.
Most of these men were teamsters, but Elihu was an auctioneer and people person, so was likely an asset in the town of Fitzgerald. Certainly, it is an exciting twist to one of our Etched In Stone Soldiers and we hope that now, with replacement stones that Elihu and his son, James Frank Nicholson RIP. As another note, Kim Hancock and Suzi Petrey ordered their stones matching but as you can see one is granite and the other marble, the marble being the prettier but the granite will last much longer b/c of acid rain damage and chipping, but no matter what, we’re happy to (finally) get these two “etched in stone!”
Over the coming weeks and months I will write these columns highlighting each new stone. Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. And she writes Around the County, which appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County. One by One: Etched in Stone is her latest offering and will appear periodically on Mondays in The Paper.