Early Pioneer Days in Texas
Capt. A. J. Nicholson
Captain Nicholson was born in 1831 and emigrated to Texas from Arkansas in 1837, with his father, six brothers and two sisters. One of these sisters Martha P. Nicholson was the mother of the compiler of this book. She married my father, W. B. Allen, in 1838.
Captain Nicholson was a brave, active and fearless Indian fighter, and had many an encounter with the ferocious wild beasts. In 1848, December 20th, he married Miss T. C. Parishin [sic, Parish] , (born 1832). From this union there were born seven children, four girls and three boys. All grew to mature age, except one, who died in infancy. The Captain followed as a vocation the life of a stock raiser and farmer, and was very successful. When the call of Sam Houston was made for volunteers to deliver Texas from the Mexican yoke he enlisted and served with honor and distinction in the war, making many a hard, forced march, and hazarding his life in the effort to establish freedom, liberty and independence in Texas, the homeland land of the free and home of the brave. He fought at Monterey, Buena Vista and San Jacinto, in bloody battles, shooting in such rapid succession that the barrel of his gun was always hot. His disposition was to be humorous and jolly, and the camp-fire enjoyed his mirth, and the company was thrilled with laughter by his joviality, and the relation of merry anecdotes. General Santa Anna, the Mexican general, learned to fear the cowboy warwhoops of our Texas cowboys when going to battle the cry, "Remember the Alamo," "Remember Goliad," was always fresh. They never forgot how brave David Crockett and the brave heroes of the Alamo were slain by the cruel Santa Anna and his hosts. Nor did they forget the noble Fannin, whose name our county bears.
Capt. Nicholson was hospitable and charitable. No needy person was ever turned away who applied to him for help. His delight in helping those with whom h'e had to do, and many a heart and hand found life easier because of his good offices. God blessed and prospered him in basket and store, and he gave of his abundance, both in means and service. When the Civil War broke out he volunteered and enlisted in Colonel Young's llth Texas Regiment, as captain; served honorably and well, was badly wounded in the Elkhorn engagement and taken prisoner for a considerable time ; finally exchanged and came home to recuperate. He afterwards joined Col. Bowlins' regiment and served to the close of the war. After the war and the cause he espoused being a lost one, he himself penniless, his negroes set free, and his stock gone, but he did not lose heart, and proceeded to regain, as thousands of others did, his lost fortunes. His cheering, encouraging ways and his voice is now stilled.
He sleeps in the beautiful grove where oft he chased the fleet-footed deer in the days of long ago. Here beneath the crumbling clods sleeps one of nature's true noblemen. There is sorrow in the old homestead, there is grief in the quiet community where he dwelt, there is regret to the utmost bounds of his acquaintance.
His death was a bitter blow to those who loved him, and they were many. Illness had deprived him of a consciousness of the presence of his loved ones, who, like shadows, lingered at the couch of death, and with a tenderness whose every touch was a prayer of love, ministered to the last wishes of the dying man. He had passed through life's vernal spring, through golden summer and russet autumn, into winter and its deep snows, yet not by the calendars can such a life be measured. His life is longest whose memory is thickest set with scenes sweet to dwell upon when daylight fades and the last rays of sunset crown the hills in glory, and for Capt. Nicholson there was a retrospection studded with a gem for every passing day. He was happiest when contributing to the happiness of his fellow-man. Poverty, ne'er plead before him in vain; those who knew him best tell of the heavy demands made on his charity in pioneer days, but never of an instance when he refused to share his bounty with the needy. The distressed sought him and found a friend in adversity's hour ; the sorrowing came and found a balm for every ill.
He has passed away; nature's vital chord was disengaged and he sleeps ; it is appointed unto all once to die, and in turn we take our place in death's silent chamber. But memory does not fade, and there is a sorrow for loved ones that time cannot root from the heart. The love that survives the tomb is the noblest attribute of the soul. When the overwhelming mist of grief is lulled into the gentle tear of recollection, the convulsive agonies over the ruins of all we most loved are softened away into meditation of all that it was in the days of its loveliness. There is a voice from the tomb that is sweeter than song, a remembrance of the dead to which we turn even from the charm of living.
Reminiscences of A. J. Nicholson
Captain A. J. Nicholson was a member of the legislative body at Austin in 1861 that passed the ordinance of secession; and backing his faith by his works, was one of the first to volunteer when war was decided on, and was in continuous service till the surrender except when incapacitated by a wound received at the battle of Pea Ridge in 1862.
A member of his old company recently remarked that the Captain was always a just and impartial man and if he had to decide a question of anything like equal merits between a relative or intimate friend and a comparative stranger, the decision would always be made in favor of the stranger. This was to avoid the imputation of favoritism or partiality. This trait of his character was fully illustrated in his first race for the Legislature as representative for Fannin County. It was back in the '50s and he made the race as a Democrat, and was opposed by Col. Bob Taylor, of Bonham, the Whig candidate. The parties were about equally divided and the result doubtful till the last. On the day of election a voter, not knowing to whom he was speaking, asked Nicholson to assist him in making out his ticket. The request was complied with, and the voter's choice of candidates were left on the ticket till they came to representative. The voter on being told of the nature of the two candidates, remarked: "I am not acquainted with either of the candidates, and will leave the selection to you if you have any choice." "All right," replied Nicholson , "I will leave Taylor 's name on the ticket," and scratching his own name off completed the ticket. When the returns were all in Taylor was elected by three votes.
Years afterwards these two were again pitted against each other for the same office, when Nicholson easily won the race.
Capt. A. J. Nicholson came to Texas with his parents in 1837, stopping in Lamar County. One year later his father moved to this county, settling near Meade Springs, at the spot now known as the Stephen 's place. Captain Nicholson served six years in the State Legislature, and was often urged to seek other and more lucrative positions, but he positively refused to do so, preferring the quiet life of his farm. His last illness was long and severe, death resulting from paralysis of the brain.