Froom and Nichols - Family Notes

Peter Stahl Froom

Eli Froom

Emmer Darwin Nichols & Agnus Lawford

History of Colorado, Progressive Men of Colorado Articles:

... Emmer D Nichols

... J. J. Ross

... Gus Frost

... Lewis Ross

Helen G. Froom (Mrs. George W. Nichols)

George Washington Nichols

Autobiography of Roy E. Nichols

Peter Stahl Froom

Morn. North June 2 1898

P.S. Froom Suddenly Passes Away Yesterday Evening While Sitting in a chair

Died From Stroke or Apoplexy--He Was Among the First, Settlers in this City--Conducted a Grocery for Over Fifty years in the same Store.

Another of the early pioneers has gone to his final rest yesterday afternoon while sitting in his chair in his. homo on West Hurlbut avenue, Peter S. Froom suddenly fell forward to the floor where members of the family later found him In an unconscious condition. This was at 4 p.m. He lingered in an unconscious condition until 7:15 when his spirit took its flight to the great beyond. Physicians pronounced the cause of death as apoplexy. Last November he suffered a partial stroke of paralysis from which he never fully recovered but was able to get about by the aid of crutches. He was down town yesterday morning and on the street again in the afternoon apparently feeling as well as usual.

The following sketch of his life was taken from data furnished by himself upon his retirement from business several years ago after fifty years of active life tn the grocery business. He was born at St. Johns, Canada, in 1823. lie left home at tho age of 12 years and started in life for himself, working on a farm. Ilia life saw many vicissitudes. Leaving the farm after a few years ha became cook in a logging camp, leaving there for the tow path on the Erie canal, afterwards becoming steersman on a canal boat. He then returned to farming, which he followed for five yearn before moving to Belvidere in 1845.

The Pioneer Grocer.

He conducted the first grocery store in Belvidere when the city was a mere hamlet of wooden shanties away out on the frontier, He went overland to Chicago with a load of wheat, returning with his wagon load of groceries, with which to stock the first grocery store in Belvidere.

The wooden building still stands on North State street with the city scales in front of it.

There were then but four dwelling houses on the south side and three stores in the city, while outside was unbroken prairie stretching for miles on miles.

For half a century he delt out groceries over the same counter, from l846 to 1896. During his commercial career he erected three store buildings which still stand on State street. One is the building now occupied by D. Derthie as a meat market. [

The deceased was 75 years and 3 old. He was twice married, first to Miss Manda Strong in l849 and to Miss Eunice E. Albrlght in 1858. His widow and nine children mourn the departure of a husband and father.

The children, six boys and three girls, are as follows: George, of La Grange; Albert and Ambrose, of Chicago; John of Battle Creek, Mich., Henry, Reuben, Irene and Mary, of Belvidere; Mrs. A. E. Cooper, of Mexico City, Mexico. One brother, Eli Froom, lives in California.

The deceased experienced religion last December and has frequently since then expressed his great satisfaction in the step taken. The funeral will probably be held from his late residence Friday at 2 p.m.


Froom.-Fell asleep in Jesus, at his home in Belvidere Ill., June 1st., Peter S. Froom at the age of seventy-five years. All the family exept Lillie, were able to gather at the old home with a large company of kind neighbors, while the blessed and tangible comforts of the resurrection and life in Christ were spoken by Eld. Bartlett.

As Father was carried to his last resting place by his six sons, I appreciated as never before the mission of Christ on earth to bind up the brokenhearted and to comfort all that mourn.

John E. Froom

P. S. FROOM DEAD. Belvidere Standard June 2, 1898

One of the Early Settlers Passes Suddenly Away.

Last evening at 7 o'clock P. S. Froom passed away from earthly scenes at his home on West Hurlbut avenue. His death was caused by apoplexy, he falling from his chair in an unconscious

condition about three hours before his death.

The deceased was born in St. Johns, Canada, in 1823,. and came to Belvidere in 1845. He conducted the first grocery store here and carted his goods overland from Chicago. He remained in this business from 1846 to 1896, just fifty years. The deceased was twice married, first to Miss Manda Strong in 1849 and to Miss Eunice AJbright in 1858, The latter survives him with nine children. The children are: George of LaGrange, Albert and Ambrose of Chicago, John of Battle Creek, Mich., Henry, Reuben, Irene and Mary of Belvidere, Mrs. A. E. Cooper of Mexico City, Mexico. One brother, Eli Froom, lives in California.

The funeral services will be held Friday at 2 o'clock from the late home.




Came Here When the City Was a Hamlet Surrounded by Unbroken Prairies.- Sold Groceries In the Same Store for. Fifty Years-Retires From Active Business.

From Thursday's Daily.

When P. S, Froom turned his grocery business over to O. Beckington, there closed the active business career of one who has been a part of thc commercial life of Belvldere since its infancy, and who has seen the little wooden shanties of the business section of a frontier town give way to the handsome structures which now adornthe streets of a growing and progresive city.

Born In Canada in 1828, he left home at the ago of 12 years and started in life for himself working on a farm. His life saw many viccissitudes. Leaving the farm after a few years he became cook in a logging camp, leaving there for the tow path on the Erie Canal, afterward becoming steersman on a canal boat. He then returned to farming, which occupation he followed for five years before moving to Belvidere in l845.

The Pioneer Grocer

He went overland to Chicago soon after this and returned with two wagon loads of groceries, with which he stocked the first grocery store in Belvidere, in a wooden building at tho present location of the business. There were then but four dwelling houses on the south side and three stores in the city, while outside was the unbroken prairie stretching for miles on miles, starred with the prairie flowers and the home of rarely molested, wild beasts.

For a half century he has dealt out goods over the same counter, from '46 to '96 being located in the same store. Business integrlty and industry have enabled. him to weather the many financial storms of that period and he retires from business with the respect of tho commercial world of which he has been a factor so long.

Mr. Froom is 73 years of age and has been twice married, first, to Miss Manda Strong in 1849 and to Miss Eunice E. Albright in 1858.

Return to top

Eli Froom

Belvidere Standard, April 9,1897

Death of a Pioneer

Another of the pioneers of Boone Co., Elijah Froom, was laid to rest Wednesday at 10 o'clock. He died at the age of 85 year, and as quietly as "one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant drcams." Since the death of his wife he had made his home with the widow of his stepson, Mrs. Cross one and one half miles east of town. The deceased came to Boone County in 1840 and was one of the oldest residents of this section. He left no family but two brothers survive him, P. S.. Froom, of this city, and another brother in California. Mr. Froom united with the First Baptist church forty-nine years ago, and Rev, J.A. Herrick, the pastor, conducted funeral services.

Return to top

Emmer Darwin Nichols & Agnus Lawford

My Dad always said that he thought they were from Grand Rapids. But maintained that he was not sure. Elsie Decker his sister kept telling me they were from Kent, Algoma, Mi. But you can bet that I will spend a lot of time checking it out.

My Aunt Elsie told me about how they traveled at night to N Y and then to Panama and across the Isthmus on mules and then to Fields Landing Ca. I know that they traveled from Fields Landing to Colorado as they are listed in the History of Colorado sometime in the 1880s. Emmer, Lew and Jay Ross were together on horseback when they arrived in Montrose with less than $2.50 cash, but later owned nice ranches that they had homesteaded.

From 1850 Census:

from Cannon TWP in Kent County Mi 16 Oct. 1850 Page 231

Josiah Nichols ____ age 35__ Male_ Farmer _from N. Y.

Sally Nichols______age 75__ Fem_________from Mass.

Harriet Nichols____age 30___ Fem. _______ from N. Y.

Lucretia Nichols___ age 28___ Fem._______from N. Y.

Eliza Nichols______age 23___ Fem._______from N. Y.

Josiah Nichols_____ age 79___Male No Occup_ from Vt.

I arrived at these names from information from my Aunt Elsie (Nichols) Decker. She seemed to know and have the best information on Emmer and his Parents.

But I am not absolutely sure of the above due to the fact that it does not show a marriage of Josiah and Anna Ross They were married in 1856 But Josiah's birth date is 15 Oct 1822 In I think Connecticut and died 24 Feb 1907 So his birth date is close. They have some new cd roms that are a lot more helpfull and I may be able to find out where the Older of the Josiah's came from. I did some research years ago and found a Sally Nichols that died indigent in Algoma, Mi.

I thought at the time that they may have abandoned her when they left Mi. for Calif. in about 1865 + or - a year or two. I had a record from Elsie in Calif. that they had left Mi. and Traveled by stage coach at night to New York and then by ship to Panama, then accross the Isthmus on mules and then by ship to Fields Landing Calif. Where Elsie said that Josiah had worked as a cowboy till the end on the civil war. I assume that they were dodging the conscription (draft) during the civil war.

Roy Nichols


I can remember some of the things that happened, that I got from my Aunt Elsie in California before she passed away. When I would catch a layover in LA while driving truck I would take the company pickup and go down to Bell Gardens, and spend the day with her. Boy she new so much about the old folks. I wish I had taken a tape recorder with me.

But I will do my best to remember some of the stories she related to me.

Also there is a book The History Of Colorado. That I copied some of the pages out of the book about Emmer Nichols, Jay & Lew Ross. About how they arrived in Montrose with only $2.50 cents in their pockets, and in later years they all owned nice farms that they had homesteaded on, and were now considered wealthy. But I will think about this and see what I can remember. So more later.

Wish my memory luck, and maybe I will drag out some of the stuff.


Agnus Maud Lawford: Came from Calcuta India via England. She was living in a Orphanage in Napa Valley California when Emmer met her he was working on some project? and Agnus was living near where he was working, that's how they met, But They were married in Montrose,Colo. Her father Edward Henry Acland Lawford was an attorney in San Fransisco and died there. As to why Agnus ended up in Napa Valley in an orphanage, I have no idea.

Emmer was supposed to be a very good carpenter and built bridges in Calif. before going to Colo. by horseback possibly in 1880-8 as I think they were in Montrose before the Meeker Massacer, He worked on the Gunnison tunnel that brought water from the Gunnison River to the Uncompaugre River so that they could raise crops there. He also built a number of houses in Montrose, 5, I think, and they are still standing and people are still living in them.

Emmer and Gus Frost (a cousin) Imported a saw mill from Cuba and put it on 25 Mesa near Montrose.

The Old house that us kids were born in was built of sawed lumber from that old saw mill, I think that they used the old slabs that they could not sell to build the house. The foundation was made from big rocks and then they laid some big logs on the rocks and built the house on top of the rocks, At least it started to settle while we were living there. Emmer also got in to the bee business, I don't know why or how. Emmer and Agnus owned and probably built the Olathe Greenhouse just South of Olathe for Quite a few years. Which they ran for a number of years. Emmer homesteaded the old house down by the river and proved out on it I think in 3 years. He then homesteaded the 160 acres where the house was, then another 120 acres south of the first 160. They later moved to California, Where Emmer Died on 21 May 1921, Agnus died in California also on 7 Apr. 1928.

There was an Uncle Will Lawford that also died in San Francisco and is buried there.

I just got invited out to dinner so will send more later.

Uncle Roy


Edward Henry Acland Lawford and Ann Amelia Kayes were married in Calcutta, India (as you know.) Edward fell into ill health (maybe malaria or tuberculosis) and after consulting physicians in India and England he was advised to live in California for his health. (Personally, the San Francisco area seems much like England so why there??)

Then when Edward died Ann Amelia was not able to support herself and the five children. The children were given to foster families and (apparently according to Agnes Lawford's history) orphanages. There was much discussion among the children and their children about why the Lawfords in England didn't help out as they were rumored to have plenty of money.

Roberta Freeman


Return to top

History of Colorado - Emmer D Nichols, J. J. Ross, Gus Frost, Lewis Ross

Articles from History of Colorado (1917 +/-)

p. 68


Emmer D. Nichols, a farmer and apiarist of Montrose County, was born in Michigan on the 25th of March, 1855. His father, Josiah Nichols, was a native of Connecticut and in early life went to Michigan, in which state he wedded Anna A Ross, who was born in New York. They became the parents of three sons, all of whom are yet living. In 1864 Josiah Nichols removed with his family to Humboldt county, California, locating on a farm where both he and his wife passed away.

At the time of the removal Emmer D. Nichols was a lad of but nine years and was reared on the Pacific coast. In 1882 he came to Montrose county, Colorado, and took up his abode upon a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, upon which he resided until 1898 but retained the ownership of the property until 1906, when he sold the place. He took up a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres, of which he improved and cultivates forty acres, and is now engaged in general farming, bringing his fields under a high state of cutivation. He has also made a specialty of bee culture and now has over three hundred stands of bees. He has come to be regarded as one of the leading apiarists of the valley, thoroughly understanding the care of bees in every particular and the honey production which his hives yield makes the business a very profitable one.

In 1884, Mr. Nichols was united in marriage to Miss Maud Lawford, who was born in Calcutta, India, a daughter of Edward A. and Amelia A. (Keyes) Lawford, who were natives of England. The father was colonel in the English army and was on duty in India at the time of the birth of his daughter. In 1872 he came to America and settled in California, where both he and his wife passed away. In their family were five children, of whom two are now living. To Mr. and Mrs. Nichols have been born five children. Alice V., born December 2, 1885, is the wife of Andrew A. Woods, a farmer of Montrose county. George W., born February 22, 1888, is serving with the United States Army in France. Harry L., born January 28, 1888, is now engaged in the creamery business in Montrose. Elsie Anna, born January 30, 1896, is the wife of M. E. Decker, of Montrose county, Colorado. Irva Maud, born September 30, 1899 is still at home.

Return to top

Pg 82


Gus A. Frost, devoting his attention to farming and stock raising in Montrose county, was born in West Virginia on the 11th of April, 1852, a son of Amos K. and Elizabeth C. (Butler) Frost. The father was a native of Ohio and the mother of Nashville, Tennesee, and they were married in the latter state. They took up theie abode in West Virginia, where they lived for a few years, and afterward removed to Missouri, where they resided for eight years, In 1865 they crossed the plains with ox teams, traveling in that way to Denver. Soon afterward they settled on a ranch near Longmont, Colorado, where they lived for four years, and then they took up their abode upon a farm about fifty miles south of Denver, where the father devoted his attention to general agricultural pursuits and stock raising for several years. Eventually he established a home in Colorado Springs, where both he and his wife passed away. In their family were five children, three of whom are living: Mrs. Laura M. Staggs, who is now seventy-five years of age and makes her home in California; Gus of this review; and Mrs. Elizabeth Bolland who is now in Chicago.

Gus A. Frost was a lad of but thirteen years when the family made the long and arduous trip across the plains to this state and his education was therefore acquired in part in the schools of Colorado. After reaching his majority he engaged in mining in San Juan county, Devoting his attention to gold and silver mining. He afterward became wuperintendant of a mine and later he operated a sawmill in the Montrose valley. In 1881 he took up a homestead in Montrose county and resided thereon for fifteen years. His first home was one of the typical log cabins of that period, covered with a roof of poles and dirt, with a dirt floor and a board door, from which hung the latch-string, indicating the hospitality of the inmates of the little home. After occupying that pioneer dwelling for a decade Mr. Frost built a fine modern residence. At a later period he sold that farm and for several years traveled, making a trip during that time to Cuba and New Mexico. He afterward again invested in farm land in the county, becoming the owner of one hundred and sixty acres, constituting his present place of residence. This he has since greatly improved. It is now all under crops and at the same time he is making a specialty of the raising of cattle and sheep, having fifty head of fine Holstein cattle upon his place and between eleven and fifteen hundred head of sheep. He is regarded as one of the leading stockmen of his district and the management of his business affairs is shown in the substantial success whiuch has rewarded his labors. He is also a director of the First National Baank of Montrose.

On the 28th fo October, 1880, Mr. Frost was married to Miss Nettie Ross, as sister of Jay J. Ross, mentioned elsewher in this work. Their Marriage was celebrated in California and they came direct to Colorado. In 1874 Mr. Frost had gone to the Golden State, where he lived for five years, and it was during that period that he met and married his wife. They have become the parents of four children: Eugene E., deceased: Ethel, the wife ofRichard M. O'Rourke, a miner of Honduras, Central America, by whom she has tow children;Hazel L., Who is the wife of Charles A. W. Gordon, a merchant of Montrose, while Mrs. Gordon has for twelve years been bookkeeper in the Fiirst National Bank of Montrose; and Augusta, deceased.

Mr. and Mrs. Frost attend the Congregational church and he belongs to the Independant Order of Odd Fellows, in which he has filled all the cahirs in the local lodge. He also has membership with the Masons and with the Woodmen of the World. In politics he is a stalwart democrat but not a politician in the sense of office seeking. He has sevred, however, on the school board for a number of years and the cause of education finds in him a stalwart supporter and friend. He is a self-made man and, morover, is numbered among Colorado's pioneers. Everything that he possesses has been aquired since he made is start in the business world here. He saw some Indian fighting in the early days, between 1865 and 1869, in Colorado and Wyoming and knows the entire story of indian warfare and treachery. Since his marriage he has made his home in Colorado and has worked diligently and earnestly for the success which is now his. He is today the owner of an excellant ranch property, highly improved and equipped with all the conveniences and accessories of model ranch life of the present day. What he has undertaken he has accomplished and his persistency of purpose has been the basic element of his growing prosperity.

Return to top

p. 374


Jay J. Ross is busily engaged in farming and stock raising in Montrose county, being now the owner of what in known as the Hawthorne Farm. It is an attractive and valuable property which he has brought under a high state of cultivation carrying on its development along the most progressive and scientific lines. Mr. Ross is a native of Michigan. He was born February 25, 1858, of the marriage of M. E. and Elenor (Watkins) Ross, who were natives of the state of New York, whence they removed to Michigan in early life and were there married. The father took up the occupation of farming in that state, in which he resided until 1864, when he removed with his family to California, and there he passed away in July 1875. His wife later made her home with her son, Jay J. Ross, and died at his home in 1905. They had a family of nine children, eight of whom are yet living.

Jay J. Ross was a little lad of but six years at the time of the removal of the family to California, so that his education was aquired in the schools of that state. Following his father's death he took charge of the home farm, having previously assisted through vacation periods in the cultivation on development of the fields. He continued upon the home farm until November, 1880, when he came to Montrose county, Colorado, and settled upon the place which he now owns and occupies. Here he has lived contiuously for thirty-nine years and he has today a valuable place of two hundred and eighty acres, all under the ditch and now splendedly improved. He has wrought a marked transformation in the appearance of that farm. His first house was a log cabin with pole and dirt roof and a dirt floor. He worked diligently and persistantly to gain a start and as the years passed brought his land more and more largely under cultivation, so that anually he was able to garner good crops. He is today not only one of the most successful agriculturists of his section bust is also the President of the Montrose Fruit and Produce Association and president of the Live Stock & Supply Company, these offices being an indication of his high standign in the business circles of the community.

Mr. Ross has been married twice. In 1887 he wedded Miss Grace Eby and to them was born three children, Myrtle, Eby and Nelda. The wife and mother passed away in 1903 and in 1905 Mr. Ross was married to Miss Myrtle Bryant, a native of Arkansas and a daughter of H. F. and Louise (Boaz) Bryant, who are still living. Mr and Mrs. Ross have become parents of three children, Helen Gladys, and Bernice B. and Beatrice, twins. The last named, however, is deceased.

Fraternally Mr. Ross is connected with the Knights of Pythias. He votes with the democratic party and has filled some local offices, having served as road overseer for a number of years and alos as a member of the school board. He is truly a self-made man and is today one of the prosperous residents of the valley. His success has all been aquired since he came to this district, where he arrived with but two dollars and a half in his pocket. As the years have passed prosperity has attended his labors and he is now able to enjoy all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life. While he has carefully an profitably conducted his business affairs, he has mantained a deep interest in the public welfare and has long been a recogn........

Return to Top


from Progressive Men of Western Colorado

p. 280


From his boyhood Lewis E. Ross, a prominent and progressive stock man and farmer of Montrose county, living eight miles northwest of the county seat, has dwelt on the western frontier and been familiar with its various phases of life, its trials and toils, its difficulties and privations, its wild freedom and wealth of opportunity. He was born in 1856 at Cedar Springs, Michigan, and is the son of Moses and Eleanor (Watkins) Ross. The father was a native of New York and in his young manhood settled in Ionia county, Michigan, where he worked at his trade as a shingle weaver until 1864, then moved his family to California by the Atlantic and the isthmus route, and in that state was successfully engaged in farming in Humboldt and Solano counties until his death in 1875, at the age of forty-six. He was a son of Joshua and Hannah (Rounds) Ross, the former a native of Vermont who settled in New York and there married, then moved to Ionia county, Michigan, in the early days of its history. The mother of Lewis E. Ross was a native of England who came to the United States with her parents when she was three years old. She died on January 14, 1905, at her son's residence. She was the mother of nine children, Lewis being the second. When he was eight years old he removed from his native state to California with the rest of the family, and there grew to manhood. When his father died he was nineteen years old and at once took charge of the farm and aided his mother to rear the younger children. About the age of twenty-five he left California and came to Colorado, and at Silverton followed mining four months. He then settled in the Uncompahgre valley, then a part of Gunnison county, Montrose not having been though of as yet. He took up one hundred and sixty acres of land by pre-emption and has since purchased one hundred and twenty acres additional, and has improved the place with care and labor, bringing it from savage wilderness to its present highly fertile condition and furnished with commodious and comfortable buildings of every kind needed for the proper management fo the extensive farming and stock business he conducts there. In due time after his location in this region Mr. Ross saw the need of a new county organization and began the agitation that ended in the formation of Montrose county, circulating among the people a petition praying the legislature to authorize the division. Since then he has been an active worker for the interests of the county, and as he is a firm believer in the principles of the Democratic party his public acts have been mostly in the support of its candidates and an active participation in its primary elections and conventions, at which he is a familiar figure and an earnest worker. Until seven years ago he was in partnership with his brother J. J. Ross in farming and the stock business, but since then he has been alone. He has as a feature of interest on his farm fine colonies of bees and produces quantities of the most delicious honey. In 1892 Mr. Ross was married to Miss May Dohl, a native of Norway, the daughter fo Lewis Dohl, an esteemed citizen of Montrose where he settled in 1886. Three children have blessed the Ross household, Leila, Myrtle and Wilna. Mr. Ross takes an active and serviceable part in all works of improvement in his neighborhood, and his counsel and assistance is much sought and highly valued. He is now a member of the board which has in charge the Gunnison water project.

Return to top


Montrose Daily Press

Mrs. George (Helen Genevieve) Nichols died Saturday about 8:15 a.m. at her home, 215 South Fifth St. in Montrose. t

Helen Genevieve Froom was born May 7, 1888 in Chicago, Ill., and was the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Albert E. Froom. She came to the Montrose area in in 1907 and resided in the Bostwich park community until 1909, when she returned to Chicago.

On March 11, 1922, She was I married in Chicago to George Nichols. The couple lived either in or near Olathe from 1922 until 1960, when they moved to Montrose; While livig inOlathe, they operated an apartment house for a number of years.

In addition to her husband Mrs. Nichols is survived by two daughters and one son Mrs. Lois Smith, Longview, Wash.; Paul Brant Nichols, Salt Lake City, Utah; Mrs. Rose Irene McWilliams, Holyoke. There are grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Also surviving are a brother Albert Froom, Portland, Ore.; ,Miss May Katherine Froom and Mrs. Marguerite Myers, Tampa, Fla.

A member of the United Presbyterianbyterian church. Mrs. Nichols sang in the choir as long as her health permitted. She also was affiliated with the American Legion auxilliary.

Services will be conducted by Lloyd McMillan of the Christian Church Tuesday at 10 a.m. from the United Presbyterian Church in Montrose. Interment in Grand View Cemetery will be directed by the Moutrose Funeral Home.

Return to top


Montrose Daily Press, Monday, December 20, 1976

Services for George W. Nichols, who died Friday in the Veterans Hospital at Grand Junction, will be conducted by the Rev. J. R. Patton Tuesday at 2 p.m. from the United Presbyterian Church, of which he was a member.

Interment in Grand View Cemetery will be directed by Kinsey's Montrose Funeral Home. Graveside Military Honors will be accorded by Montrose American Legion Post No. 73.

A life-long resident of Western Colorado, George Washington Nichols was born Feb. 22, 1888, at Olathe, the son of Emmer Darwin and Agnes Maude (Lawford) Nichols. His father was born in Michigan and traveled to California by way of stagecoach to New York, by ship to Panama, across the Isthmus on mules, and then by ship to Fields Landing, Calif. He was taught the ship building trade by his father, then came to Montrose by horseback about 1882. Here he was engaged in farming and construction work.

George Washington Nichols, the second of five children, was reared in Montrose County and graduated from Montrose Schools June 15, 1906. He was employed as a farmer, surveyor, ditch rider and bee keeper, prior to enlisting in the United States Army in 1917. He served in France during World War I with the 39th Engineers.

On March 11,1922, Mr. Nichols was married at Chicago, Ill. to Genevieve Froom, who died July 19, 1969. The couple, moved to Olathe in 1939, then in 1959 located at Montrose. They owned and operated an apartment house in Olathe before moving to Montrose.

Mr. Nichols is survived by two daughters and two sons: Mrs.Lois Smith, Long View, Wash.; Paul Brant and Roy Earl Nichols, both of Salt Lake City, Utah; Mrs. Rose Irene McWilliams, Holyoke; 14 grandchildren; 12 great grandchildren; one sister, Mrs. Elsie Anna Decker, South Gate, Calif., as well as other relatives, including a cousin, Mrs. Laura McKinnon, Montrose.

Mr. Nichols Was best known for his bee keeping business. He had removed numerous swarms from homes in the area. He had served as Montrose County bee inspector for many Years and had held other positions related to the bee business. He retired at the age of 80.

He was a charter member of Olathe American Legion Post No. 24 and later was affiliated with Montrose Post No. 73. He also was a member of the Last Squad, and had been active in the Farmers Union.

During his early years, he had owned 18 Model T Fords as well as several Indian motorcycles to one he added a side-car; which e used during his employment as a ditch rider.

Return to top

Autobiography of Roy E. Nichols

Yuma, Arizona

June 2000

In Dec. 1980 I had started this Autobiography while living in Salt Lake City, Ut. Now that I am retired from driving a dumb old truck and living the good life as a senior citizen with nothing to do I have decided to give this biography thing another go. Being retired doesn't mean I have nothing to do though as I repair and restore old Antique furniture, then I repair old wind up clocks and I also collect them. Don't make a lot of money but I'm supposed to be having a good ol' time. I also became addicted to the computer so it makes it a lot easer to do all this typing that I am not very good at anyway .

Maxine and I go to a lot of the yard sales and we think that we are doing ok. We have furnished an old mobile home completely from yard sale treasures. OK now it's time to get to work coping the stuff I wrote 20 Years ago.

I was born on a farm, 4 miles south of Olathe, Colo. On Feb. 18th 1926. In an old farm house my Grand father Emmer Darwin Nichols had built. It was in Montrose County RR1 Box 78.My father George Washington Nichols was born in Olathe Feb 22 1888. He was born on the same day as our first US president.Thats the reason for his name but he never did like it and always signed his name Geo. W. Nichols My Mother Helen Genevieve Froom Was born in Belvedere Illinois May 7, 1888.

My Grand Father Emmer built the old farm house in about 1875. It was the first house built of sawed lumber in Gunnison County but later became Montrose County. He and an old gentleman name of Gus Frost had imported a saw mill from Cuba and had it shipped to California Mesa where they had it set up. They built the farm house out of the slabs that they could not sell. Really was not that bad a home the floor sunk and the roof leaked, but we had a walk in cellar and running water at the kitchen sink and in the bath room, also a flush toilet. Dad hauled the water for drinking from Olathe but they just ran ditch water in the other cistern As they had built 2 cisterns.

I don't remember much of my early life until about the first grade. I ran around with Ross Lund a cousin (related to the Ross Family) I can remember once when we got in a fight and I tried to drown him in the Uncompaghre River but he survived. We went to school with the Ross's had to ride horses as Dad wouldn't let us walk as we wore out our shoes. When I was growing up it was right in the middle of the great depression and lots of people did not have that much money for food. Dad was a bee keeper and traded honey for flour. But we really did not suffer very much as we had a big garden, lots of live stock, and chickens and ducks.(I still don't like to eat ducks). Mom could sew and make most all of our clothes, and Dad repaired our shoes with an old cobbler kit the he bought from Montgomery Wards. Mom Canned meat and all the vegetables from the garden.

I can remember going out with an old double barrel 12 gauge shot gun shooting pheasants, there was plenty of them, shells were only a nickel each and I was careful not to waste any of them I had an old fox terrier dog to help me root out the birds. I also used to sharpen the Jaws on small traps, then stake them down to the strawberry patch. I would put a nice red berry on top of the trigger. I did this about mid afternoon and then at dusk we would go out and pick up the birds. I used several traps. They were for trapping prairiedog and Muskrats Then when the pheasants pecked the berry the trap would catch them on the neck. They usually hopped around till they pulled there heads off. Mom made me skin them. Then she fried them and we just ate them Mmmm good.

One day I shot a skunk and brought it home and skinned it. Whooee what a smell. I then stretched the hide on stretchers that I had made for stretching Muskrat hides. The school teacher made me sit in the back of the room cause I smelled so bad. But next year my Mom traded the hide for a years subs. to Cappers Farmer weekly. About the 7th grade we got to wear pants with a belt instead of the bib overalls. Boy was I happy I could now act like a cowboy instead of a farmer. (Boy I hated those bib overalls)

We went to Frost school it was school #1 and District # 1, There were just 2 rooms and each room only held 24 kids It had an old coal stove and us kids had to go out and get the coal out of the coal shed. We only had 2 horses, one named tricks and the other black Beauty. Lois and Paul Rode on beauty and Rose and I rode on Tricks she was an old trick horse from the rodeo days. Dad bought her at a sale. It was kind of nice to ride the horses in the winter time as the horse's heat helped us to keep warm. It was a four mile ride to the school and we were tickled when we got to walk instead of riding horseback.

When my mother's father died she got a pretty good sum from his estate as he was a Dr. in Chicago. And about the same time my dad got a pension from being in the world war 1. I can remember my dad waiting almost half a day a t the mail box with his gun for his pension money. It was a half mile from the house (on the old Graveled road Hwy 50).

Then with all this extra money the folks bought the old Hersum house in Olathe and we got to move to town, Population about 600. At this time I had to go the Olathe Grade school. Gosh there was almost 40 kids in the 8th grade. And of course I got in a lot of fights being an outsider, even got in a fight with Louise Eads, not sure who won, her or me.

I managed to graduate and then on to Olathe High School.

My dad still had all of the bee's and we were running nearly 800 stands (hives) of them. Dad was the County Bee Inspector so we got around most of the county checking on the other bee yards. We spent most of our summers working with dad in the Bee's so we didn't have a lot of time to get in trouble. Honey at that time sold for only$2.50 for a 60lb can. After doing the extracting of the honey. I got to go to school and they took my pants off and ran them up the flag pole. It didn't take me long to get them back on. Didn't pay to be a freshman in those days. We only had 2 subjects to study one was agriculture and the other one was the same thing. But I did learn how to type. I think I flunked Math and English but did well enough in Band and Ag. To pass. I played football and at the games they always took me out just before the half so I could play in the band and then it was back to put on my football suit and back in the game. We had a pretty good football team and managed to make it into the state tournaments just about every year. We manage to bring home our share of the trophies. I went out for wrestling and boxing, but did not do much in them. As my big thing was to play my Baritone horn. I got pretty good on it and managed to get a few highly superior awards at several of the music contests.

After high school I joined the Navy. Had to go in the reserves due to a back injury that I got playing football in high school. They classified me as on a minority cruise but still in the reserves. I had my Mom send my Baritone horn up to Farragut Naval Training station in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Where I took the test to go to the Naval Academy Schools of music in Washington D C. After I passed the test the Chief told me that I wouldn't like it there so I had him flunk me and decided to just go to sea. But I managed to end up at the West Coast Sound School in San Diego Calif. Then after 12 weeks of school it was off to San Francisco to wait for a new ship still being built. We had to go and live on the Beach (in Town) to get used to how every thing worked in the sound room

Sonar was the means of tracking enemy subs. I had joined the Navy on June 3, 1943 was at boot camp for 15 weeks and then after a 10 day leave it was off to San Diego then after sound school it was off to Frisco. The new ship that I was assigned to was the USS Yarnall DD 541 A 2100 class Destroyer. Now a Sonar man 3rd class petty officer.

After 5 weeks of shake down cruise we then shipped out to the Pacific Theater where we joined Admiral Bill Halsey's third Fleet. They were in the process of island hopping on the way to Japan. Attempting to regain some of the Island that the US had lost to the Japs. I was in the following engagements Eniewetok, Pelieu, Saipan & Tinian. Guam I was out on the flying bridge Bridge with the Captain when we both heard someone holler help. The Skipper stopped the ship and we managed to get the American soldier on board he had been hiding from the Japs for nearly 5 years. Gosh he just laid on the deck and cried. It must have been a terrible ordeal for him. We had to transfer him to the USS Missouri (Halsey's Ship) the next day We had locked him in the pea coat locker over night till his Identity was proved . We had to use the Pea Coat Locker as we did no have a brig. It was amazing how healthy he was after living on fruit and bugs for 4 years.

Then it was off to the first and second battle of the Philippine Sea. My ship had shot down numerous planes and we had helped sink a jap battleship US planes had done most of the work and we just had to go in and finish the Battleship off but it got under way and started shooting at us. (Gad there I was on the Helm with no place to hide except a 1/4 inch wall of aluminum) but they were a bad shot or else we were lucky cause we never got hit. One night we were on radar picket duty 25 miles from the rest of the fleet when the fleet changed course and we didn't know it Jap planes were really after us and we shot down quite a bunch of them, we ran out of explosive shell and ended up shooting star shells at them. But we made it. Then we were sent to Iwo Jima, but on the way we were rammed by another Destroyer and It took the whole bow off they then towed us backward to a dry dock in Ulithi Attoll we then got 30 days leave and 4 days travel time. I returned to Olathe and they thought that I was a hero, dances, shows, gas, movies and most of the booze we drank was free. I had one hell of a time. I think the whole town was tickled pink when I left. I ran across Bill Brown he was Bonnie Smith's ol' boy friend. He asked me to look Bonnie up as she was in San Diego and that was where I was going for a refresher course at the sound school. Well of course I agreed to look her up. I didn't know anybody in San Diego so why not. Little did he know that we would be married on the 15th of Feb. 1945. I was only 19 and I was supposed to be 20 in Calif. to get married so my folks came down on the bus for the wedding and then I told them that they would have to sign the certificate due to my age so I could get married. The San Diego Union found out about it and we got a big write up in the paper about how I had pulled a fast one on my folks as I did not tell them I was not old enough when I had them come down. We were married in the First Presbyterian Church by a reverend Radcliff. They were having Choir Practice so we had a had a real nice time with the songs and the wedding march. The only ones besides my folks and Ed and Elsie Decker my Aunt and Uncle was a bunch of drunken sailors. We had a one night honeymoon and then it was off to seas at the sound school for some anti submarine work. Boy did I have a hangover. We managed to spend a couple week ends together and then it was off to Frisco to get another ship I got to live on subsistence again and we lived it up on the beach. We found a room just out side of Bethlehem Steel ship yards where my ship was being fitted out We rented the room and had to share it with another couple, Howard Higgons and his wife. The new ship was the USS Lofberg DD759 which we changed the name and called it the golfball After another short shake down we got a 15 day leave, and I took Bonnie back to Provo Ut. To live with her folks. After the leave we again shipped out for the Pacific and were in Honolulu when the war ended. They sent us to Tokyo where we all got just one leave there. Then they sent us to Waka Yama a small fishing village where we were to keep all of there boats from going out to sea to fish. They were so hungry that we used to sneak food over and give it to them. As they had very few boats and no fuel so we had to spend most our time on Shore Patrol duty and I hated it. So I arranged a job in the bake shop so I could get out of the shore patrol duty. I did manage to trade 4 packs of cigarette's for 7 yards of pure silk and I got a Noritake hand painted plate for another pack of butts. Cost was 5 cents.

I had a bunch of glory ribbons but never put much stock in them although we did get a unit commendation For action in the Philippine encounter. While on the Yarnell. It was worded (For duty beyond the call and our attention to duty left nothing to be desired)

I got off the Lofberg in Japan and come back to the states on the USS Saratoga and got discharged at camp Shoemaker on Dec. 22 1945 and I made it home to Prove for Christmas. After Christmas I went to work at yellow Cab as a driver. Didn't make very much money but we didn't owe any body as we rented and apartment for $16.00 a month.

It was just 2 rooms but it was all we could find 178 E 5th South. Paul Michael was born there. And so was Sharon. We finally found another place at 39 So 7 west. And from there we moved to Orem and from there we moved to Clearfield Ut. And then back to Farmington Ut. We were living in Farmington when Cathy was born at the Utah valley Hospital in Provo. From Farmington we moved to Montrose Colorado where we were hoping to get on Dad s old farm, but it didn't work out. So I went to work at Carrington Chevrolet but didn't like the boss so I just up and quit and went to driving truck in an old International West Coaster. For Harry Hawks, I hauled gas, lumber, and livestock, and sometime heavy equipment. Paid better than being a mechanic at the Chev garage. But I eventually quit him and moved to Durango Colo. And went to work for Boyd Richner

Hauling Soda Ash out of Wyoming and Sulfuric Acid out of Garfield Ut. But I ended up

running the night shift in the shop in Durango. But you know me I again quit and went to

work for Pacific Inter-Mountain Express in the shop in Salt Lake City. And after I got laid off I got mad and went to work for W S Hatch in Woods Cross Ut. Hauled acid, soda ash and Road oil. But Hatch did not honor the teamster contract so we voted to go out on strike. But knowing me I hurried down to Garret freight Lines and hired out as a line driver (over the road). And I had to pull a trip that night to Pocatello Id. They never even gave me a road test.

I managed to hang on to this job from Aug 1961 to Feb 1988 when I took out my retirement and started drawing my pension. I was only 62 at this time and had to wait until I was 65 to get on Medicare.

Following are excerpts of interesting items that I neglected to add at the time I wrote the above autobiography: I also worked for Geneva Transportation at night while I worked at Telluride Ford in Prove Ut. One night a co-worker named Vern Pulley and I Hooked the coil wire on George Jakemans Oldsmobile to a wire seat cushon. Then when his car would not start, we volunteered to give him a push. He slammed on the brakes after the first push and said that sparks were coming out of his fingers when he tried to turn off the ignition key. But Vern and I convinced him that he was mistaken and we again gave him a push with the pickup. He just ran off the road in a ditch and was he mad, said that sparks were biting him all over. Vern and I could not stop laughing. But George took it pretty good. And we had to pull his car out of the ditch.

Paul, Dad, and I had to work in those darn Bee's all summer long and then had to stay home from school at times to get the honey extracted. I bought an old 34 Dodge truck and used it to haul Potatoes, and Onions from the fields, Gas was only 12 cents a Gallon, and they paid all of 3 cents a bag for hauling them. I used to give those city boy's a free nickel coke to help me load the produce as they wanted to work out more and get stronger. So they could be better football players. The Ag. Class always went out to castrated live stock for the farmers and we were tickled to get out of School.

Some of the trade's I worked at and taught my self include, Photography not just the picture taking, I taught myself to develop the film and print my own pictures. Then I worked as a carpenter, (self employed) Added several rooms on to mobile homes in Yuma. Truck Driver 37 Years, Diesel and Gas mechanic, Screen printing and Graphic art's, tile laying, sewing, roofer, Cab driver, clock repairing, Plumber, Electrician, antique restoration, even for dealers, upholstering, Painted houses, install siding, brick layer, and even fooled around at the computer.

More to follow later.

Return to top