Biography of James Nickels, Sr.
James Nickels, Sr. was born about 1782 in Virginia. He died September 1869 near Big Moccasin Creek in Scott Co., VA. He was the son of Matthias Nickels, Sr. and Elizabeth Allen. Since his father was a member of the Washington Co., VA militia, James probably traveled with him during drills, as was the custom at the time. Some of these drills were conducted near Mendota, VA. The old road leading from Mendota across the mountain toward Russell Co., VA presents a panoramic view of the valleys and farm lands below. This may have enticed him to locate there after his marriage to Jane Matney on January 13, 1803.
The earliest personal property tax list for Russell Co., VA that includes James Nickels is in 1806. On January 29, 1814, he purchased 75 acres of land from Charles Kilgore. The land was located on Moccasin Ridge near the waters of Copper Creek. At that time, the land lay in Russell Co., VA. Later that year, this land was included in the newly-formed county of Scott. James acquired a total of 1,100 acres of land during his lifetime, all of which was located in the vicinity of his original purchase.
James Nickels was received by experience at Copper Creek Baptist Church on October 18, 1818. His wife, Jane, was received on July 16, 1825. They remained members until February 20, 1836. The church pastor was Rev. Robert "Robin" Kilgore.
According to The History of Scott County by Robert M. Addington, one of James' occupations was that of pump-making. He, along with Samuel Francis, George Proffitt, and James Proffitt, were instrumental in developing the water system for the Estillville Water Company. (Estillville is now known as Gate City.) James was qualified for Justice of the Peace in August 1821. He qualified for Commissioner of Revenue for the south district of Scott Co., VA in September 1830.
As mentioned earlier, James married Jane Matney on January 13, 1803. This marriage was recorded in Washington Co., VA and was performed by Nicholas Reagan. Jane was born about 1785 and died before 1855 in Pattonsville, Scott Co., VA. She was the daughter of Walter and Mary "Polly" Matney.
Jane (Matney) Nickels filed for divorce in Scott Co., VA and the case was presented to the court on April 10, 1839. According to the court documents, she and James had been separated since October 11, 1837. The divorce was granted and Jane subsequently lived with her oldest child, William Henderson Nickels. She never remarried.
James Nickels, Sr. married Serena Jaynes on June 12, 1855 in Scott Co., VA. Serena was born about 1812 and died September 11, 1888 in Scott Co., VA. She was the daughter of Thomas and Mary (Stapleton) Jaynes.
The final resting place of James Nickels, Sr. is not known. However, he may be buried on a portion of his land near New Hope Church which contains a small graveyard known as the Nickels Cemetery.
James Nickels, Sr. and Jane Matney had nine children:
1. William Henderson Nickels, Sr. was born December 18, 1804 in Washington Co., VA and died November 9, 1865 in Pattonsville, Scott Co., VA. He operated a general mercantile in Nickelsville, VA and later in Pattonsville. He married first Rebecca Evans on February 4, 1830 in Scott Co., VA; second Charlotte Lyons Lovel on May 7, 1855 in Scott Co., VA.
2. James Nickels, Jr. was born September 15, 1807 in Russell Co., VA and died near Nickelsville on December 19, 1895. His primary occupation was farmer. He married Frances "Fannie" Godsey on on January 7, 1828 in Scott Co., VA.
3. Cinderella "Cindy" Nickels was born about 1809 in Russell Co., VA and died in 1877 in Wise Co., VA. She married James Hiram Kilgore on September 2, 1830 in Scott Co., VA.
4. Walter H. Nickels was born September 27, 1811 in Russell Co., VA and died September 10, 1867 near Bristol, VA/TN. He was postmaster at Cornville (now Nickelsville), VA and was a partner in the mercantile business with his brother, William. After the partnership was dissolved, Walter moved to Bristol where he purchased the Exchange Hotel and renamed it "The Nickels House." He married Jane Kilgore on January 23, 1836 in Scott Co., VA.
5. Allen Nickels was born about 1812 in Russell Co., VA and died June 11, 1879 on his homeplace near his father's property in Scott Co., VA. He was a farmer and wagonmaster by trade. He transported goods for his brother's store in both Nickelsville and Pattonsville. Allen married Lucinda Salyer on June 2, 1832 in Scott Co., VA.
6. Elizabeth Nickels was born about 1816 in Scott Co., VA and died before 1880 in Wise Co., VA. She married Samuel Courtney on January 11, 1837 in Scott Co., VA.
7. Brooks Nickels was born February 7, 1817 in Scott Co., VA and died July 28, 1872 at his home near Big Moccasin Creek in Scott Co., VA. He was a blacksmith by trade. Tradition states that he drew up plans and helped build New Hope Church. He married first Elizabeth Kilgore on December 8, 1837 in Scott Co., VA; second Sarah Ann Gardner on July 24, 1866 in Scott Co., VA.
8. Mary "Polly" Nickels was born July 1, 1819 in Scott Co., VA and died May 10, 1899 in Wise Co., VA. She married James Peter Kilgore on December 4, 1837 in Scott Co., VA.
9. Mathias Nickels was born December 1, 1820 in Scott Co., VA and died near Coeburn in Wise Co., VA on June 17, 1902. He worked for his brother, William, at both the Nickelsville and Pattonsville stores. He married Louisa D. Harmon on August 6, 1846 in Scott Co., VA.
James Nickels, Sr. and Serena Jaynes had nine children:
1. James Jaynes/Nickels was born about 1838 in Scott Co., VA. He was living in the household with Serena Jaynes in 1850. He is not listed on the 1860 census of Scott Co., VA with the rest of his family nor is he mentioned in James Nickels, Sr.'s will.
2. Mary Ann Nickels was born March 1840 in Scott Co., VA and died after 1920. She married Pleasant J. Steffey on June 2, 1858 in Scott Co., VA.
3. Lucinda C. Nickels was born December 5, 1846 in Scott Co., VA and died December 15, 1889 in Scott Co., VA. She married John W. Renfro on August 22, 1864 in Scott Co., VA.
4. Hannah Elizabeth Nickels was born October 1847 in Scott Co., VA and died in Pike Co., KY in 1929. She married John Wesley Steffey on May 2, 1866 in Scott Co., VA.
5. George Washington Nickels, Sr. was born February 1850 in Scott Co., VA and died after 1920 near Dungannon in Scott Co., VA. He served in Co. C, 64th VA Mounted Infantry during the Civil War. He married first Delilah Stapleton on May 12, 1869 in Scott Co., VA; second Canzadia "Ada" Swain in 1905; third Mary Hammonds in 1919.
6. Matilda Jane Nickels was born March 1852 in Scott Co., VA and died in 1909 in Nickelsville, Scott Co., VA. She married James Dean on October 28, 1875 in Scott Co., VA.
7. Dulaney J. Nickels was born about 1853 in Scott Co., VA and died after 1896. She married Eli S. Salyer on May 11, 1869 in Scott Co., VA. They divorced on October 10, 1871. They re-married on October 18, 1887 and divorced again in 1896.
8. Boenerges "Doc" Nickels was born January 1854 in Scott Co., VA and died in Pike Co., KY on December 22, 1913. He married Mary Ellen Moore in 1878.
9. Martha Nickels was born about 1855 in Scott Co., VA and died before 1910. She married Patton Ramey on January 14, 1892 in Scott Co., VA.