John Charles Nicholson.A publication of this nature exercises its most important function when it takes cognizance of the life and labors of those citizens who have risen to prominence and prosperity through their own well directed efforts and who have been of material value in furthering the advancement and development of the commonwealth. Mr. Nicholson is best known to the citizens of Kansas at large as a distinguished member of the bar and through his services to the state in the collection of claims against the federal government. To the citizens of Newton he is known as the one largely responsible for her present prosperitywho, when made president of her commercial club, secured from President Ripley of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railway a contract, under the terms of which the shops and divisions headquarters of that system located at Nickerson were brought to Newton. John C. Nicholson is a native of Indiana. He was born on his father's farm, near Portland Mills, Parke county, Jan. 2, 1862, son of David and Mary C. (Dickson) Nicholson. David Nicholson was born in the highlands of Scotland, a son of John Nicholsona shoemakerand his wife Margaret. [Transcriber's note: Margaret has been marked out in this volume and the name "Catherine" has been hand written into the margin.] In 1840 the family came to America, locating for a time in Pictou, Nova Scotia, later in Baltimore, Md., and in 1845 near Portland Mills, Parke county, Indiana. David Nicholson was engaged during many years of his life as a building contractor, was a boyhood friend of the Hon. Joseph G. Cannon, and built for the latter's mother the Cannon residence. In 1883 he came to Kansas and settled on a quarter-section near Newton. He later removed to Stafford and in 1895 retired from active cares and returned to Newton, where he now resides. He has been a lifelong Republican and has cast his vote for each Republican candidate for president from John C. Fremont to William H. Taft. On March 6, 1861, in Parke county, Indiana, he married Miss Mary C. Dickson, of Scottish ancestry, daughter of Rev. James Dickson, an associate Presbyterian minister, and they celebrated their golden wedding in 1911, surrounded by their children and grandchildren.
John C. Nicholson received his early educational discipline in the public schools of Parke county, Indiana. He was graduated in the Martinsville (Ind.) High School and completed a teacher's course in the Central Normal College at Danville, Ind. From 1882 to 1884 he was engaged in teaching in the schools of his native county, and on the removal of his parents to Kansas in 1883 continued that occupation in Harvey county. In 1887 he entered the law offices of Hon. Joseph W. Ady of Newton (later United States district attorney for Kansas), and took up the study of law. He was admitted to the bar in Newton Feb. 29, 1888, and formed a partnership with his preceptor under the firm style of Ady & Nicholson. Hon. Samuel R. Peters, member of Congress, being admitted to the partnership on July 1, 1890, the firm became Ady, Peters & Nicholson. On July 1, 1895, Mr. Ady was compelled to remove to Colorado for his health, when the firm became Peters & Nicholson and continued as such until the appointment of Mr. Nicholson as state agent, March 5, 1905. During his practice, which has covered a space of nearly twenty-five years, Mr. Nicholson has appeared in connection with the most important litigations in both the state and federal courts and has the distinction of being the only member of the Harvey county bar admitted to practice before the United States supreme court. He is especially fortified in his wide and comprehensive knowledge of the science of jurisprudence, is a man of strong character and powerful individuality, and in his arguments is logical and convincing. His practical activities have not been confined to the practice of law, however, as he has been the most potential force in commercial and civic development in Newton. In 1895 he was elected president of the Newton Commercial club. The city at that time was in the slough of despondency through the removal of the shops and division headquarters of the Santa Fe system, its population had been greatly depleted, and its commercial activities were dying. Through the efforts of Mr. Nicholson a committee was appointed and instructed to secure, if possible, the return to Newton of the Santa Fe shops and division headquarters which had been located at Nickerson. During a campaign lasting nearly four years and in which Mr. Nicholson spared neither time, energy nor his personal funds, this result was accomplished and he secured from President Ripley of the Santa Fe a contract, under the terms of which the return was made. The credit for this work rests with Mr. Nicholson and his committee, for it was their optimism, pluck, energy and logical handling of the matter which brought conviction to the railway officials of the advantages of Newton as a division point and secured from the citizens of the city the concessions necessary to close the agreement. The Newton of todayone of the most progressive and prosperous cities of Kansaswas made so largely through this arrangement. On March 15, 1905, Mr. Nicholson was appointed by Governor Hoch the representative of the State of Kansas at the national capital in order to secure the settlement of various state claims against the federal government. In this capacity he secured the payment of $97,000 on Civil war claims, the same being interest and discount on bonds issued to secure funds to equip the volunteer regiments from Kansas in the Civil war; and $425,000, interest and discount on bonds issued to provide funds for the equipment of troops to repel the invasion of the state and for the suppression of Indian hostilitiesa total of over $500,000. He also secured for the State Agricultural College at Manhattan about 8,000 acres of public lands which the federal government had failed to turn over under the original grant of 1862. It is largely due to his efforts that the citizens of the state, and the members of the Grand Army of the Republic in particular, owe the passage of a bill by which an appropriation of $200,000 was made for the building of a memorial hall at the state capital. After the Grand Army of the Republic bill had failed in committee (session of 1909), Mr. Nicholson drew a new bill and, with the able coöperation of George W. Martin and W. A. Morgan, secured its passage, although near the end of the session. The building, now in course of erection, is to be the most beautiful structure architecturally in the state and an example of the best in modern fireproof construction. In the year 1911 Mr. Nicholson began the agitation of a good roads plan having for its object a perfect roadway from Winnipeg to the gulf, to be known as the Meridian road. Through his efforts an organization has been formed and every state and county from Winnipeg to the gulf in Texas has its state division organization and its local committees. The most progressive men in the several counties have enlisted in the good work and the preliminaries are well under way. It is proposed to expend a liberal amount per mile on the highway as a starter, and then to secure a further appropriation from the state and national governments for permanent construction and upkeep, making it a national highway. In furtherance of this project Mr. Nicholson is proceeding with the same enthusiasm, energy and keen business judgment which have marked his past successes. He is secretary of the organization and this last child of his brain is rapidly growing into lusty manhood. Mr. Nicholson is the owner of extensive commercial interests and valuable farm lands. For many years he has been president and half owner of the Electric Light & Power Company of Newton, of which his brother, James D. Nicholson, is secretary and treasurer. He is a director in the Arctic Ice Refrigerating Company of Wichita, also of the Ice Company of Enid, Okla., and the Chautauqua Oil & Gas Company of Kansas City, Kan. He is the secretary of the Consolidated Alfalfa Milling Company of Newton, a director in the Midland National Bank, of which he served as vice-president for several years, and he has been a director of the corporation since it was organized. His political allegiance has been given to the Republican party, and of his party and its policies he has ever been a consistent and active supporter. He has served as chairman and secretary of the Harvey county central committee. Mr. Nicholson was married on Oct. 10, 1891, to Miss Carrie C. Morse, daughter of the late Rev. G. C. Morse, founder of the First Congregational church of Emporia, and president of the first board of regents of the State Normal School at Emporia. Mrs. Nicholson was born in Emporia Jan. 3, 1864, and died March 23, 1899. She was a teacher, a woman of broad culture, and was exceedingly popular in the social and religious circles of Emporia and Newton, in which circles she was a leader. She is survived by a daughter, Mary Morse, born July 23, 1896. Since the marriage of her daughter Mrs. Morse has resided with Mr. Nicholson. On June 25, 1902, Mr. Nicholson married for his second wife Miss Ida M. Hodgdon, of Lyons, Kan. They are the parents of a daughter, Edith, born May 15, 1903. Mr. Nicholson is in all respects a high type of the conservative, unassuming American, diligent in his professional work and commercial affairs, and conscientious in all things. As a man among men, bearing his due share in connection with practical activities and responsibilities of a work-a-day world, he has been successful. His labor in the welfare of his home city and for Kansas justly entitles him to he numbered among her foremost citizens.Pages 1177-1180 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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