Biography of Elkanah Nickerson



Berrien County

Online Biographies


Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

ELKANAH NICKERSON was born Nov. 13, 1806, in Harwich, Barnstable Co., Mass., and was one of a family of ten children, of whom five sons and one daughter survive. The parents and the ancestry, as far as it can be traced, claim Massachusetts as their native land. Mr. Nickerson's parents were married in 1803. His father, besides being a farmer, was a tanner and currier, and a licensed minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. When Mr. Nickerson was fourteen years of age he left home, and went to sea as cook with his uncle, his father holding his earnings until he became of age. At the age of twenty two he had reached the position of captain. He sailed for about thirty six years, visiting many of the important seaports of the world. Jan. 29, 1829, when in his twenty third year, he married Miss Hannah Doan, daughter of Benjamin and Hannah Doan, she being one of a family of nine children; her parents were natives of Massachusetts. To Mr. and Mrs. Nickerson were born six children, as follows: Hannah D., born Dec. 4, 1829; Adelia, born Sept. 21, 1833; Zemira D., born Nov. 17, 1838; Elkanah, born Feb. 1, 1843; Arthur H., born Aug. 2, 1849, drowned from the steamer "St. Joseph," Aug. 13, 1867; Angeline, died at birth, March 8, 1858. During the years Mr. Nickerson was sailing, his wife remained most of the time ashore, taking a voyage with him occasionally, however. In 1856, having abandoned a seafaring life, Mr. Nickerson entered the mercantile business in New York City. In 1860 he chartered a vessel at New York for Chicago, placing his son-in-law, Capt. Robbins, in command. The vessel went ashore in a gale, at a place known as Grand Mere. Mr. Niekerson, who came out to look after it, visited St. Joseph and purchased twenty acres of wild land in what is now Lincoln township, and settled his son upon it. Mr. Nickerson remained East visiting this place occasionally, with his wife and daughter, and making various purchases of property until 1867, when he sold his home in Massachusetts, closed up his business, moved to Michigan, and settled where he now resides, the locality, even at that date, being in the midst of a dense forest. The homestead, finely improved, now consists of sixty acres, although Mr. Nickerson is the owner of various parcels of land in other localities, in all three hundred acres. He has been greatly interested in fruit raising. His daughter, now Mrs. Wisner, has, with her two sons, taken charge of the place since the death of Mrs. Nickerson, which occurred April 20, 1863. Mrs. Wisner's first husband, Mr. Kelley, who was also a seacaptain, died Aug. 5, 1862, of yellow fever, contracted in a voyage to the West Indies. Mr. Nickerson's educational advantages were limited, consisting only of the facilities afforded by the district schools, which he attended until he went to sea, and then voyaging summers and attending school winters. Beginning when he was nineteen years of age, be taught three winter terms, and steadily increased his own fund of knowledge. He was always opposed to slavery, and took a stand against it when such a step was very unpopular. In 1856 and 1857 he represented his town in the Massachusetts Legislature. Politically he is a strong Republican, though never taking an active part in any political canvass. He is a member of no religious organization, but is a believer in the " True Spiritualism." He at present occupies the position of director of the First National Bank of St. Joseph.

History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
D. W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincoff & Co., Philadelphia.

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