Story of Ernest Nicholas by Edith Nicklos (1970)
The original family account of Ernest Nicholas as written down by Edith Nicklos, youngest daughter of Charles Nicklos. It is perserved in two forms. A hand written note and a typed history. Both accounts tell a similar tale with some slight differences
The Typed Account
Charles Nicklos’ father came from Saxe Coburg, Germany and settled in Rochester, New York. He married Elenora Brown. They had two children, Fredrick and Charles. Fredrick was seven years older than Charles. Their mother died when Charles was only a few years old, his father remarried, and when the war of States was on Fredrick enlisted as a drummer boy and was never heard from again. In the meantime, the father died and the step-mother remarried. Conditions were very bad during the war years so they moved to Canada.n
The Handwritten Note (hard to read in spots)
G. Grandfather Charles Nicklos born Nov. 3rd, 1854(?) in Rochester New York. His Father came from Coberg Saxony, his wife was Isabella. Two son’s were born Fredrich and Charles – Fredrich was lost in the war of the States. Grandfather Nicklos remarried, and after several years died, and his wife who had three daughters by a [unreadable line] previous marriage moved to London, Ont., Canada found at that time was very sense in the U.S.A when G. Nicklos was 25 years old he married Jessie McDowell daughter of Isabella and John McDowell.
Story of Ernest Nicholas by Gordon Remington (1990)
Gordon Nicholas commissioned Gordon Remington to do further research on Ernest Nicholas. Remington put together an amazing account from a wide variety of sources before the internet was widely available. The entire research makes for compelling reading.
Gordon Remington found that Ernest, wife Charlotte (Zieryacks), and their two year old son Frederick arrived in America from Bremen Germany on the ship Hiram that arrived in New York on 8 June 1850. They settled in Rochester, New York where Charles (baptised as “Johann Christian”) was born on 5 Nov 1853. Charlotte died soon thereafter. Around 1858 Ernest remarried Eleanor (who usually went by Laura) Braun (or Brown). In 1859, a daughter, Anna, was born. Frederick disappears after 1860, although Remington found an intriguing 1860 census entry for a Fredk C Nichols, age 12, residing at the House of Refuge. Then in mid 1860’s the family moved to London, Ontario, where another daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1867. At this point (the 1871 Canadian Census) Ernest went by the name of Hans. The author finished by speculating that Ernest probably died as Hans Nicholi, buried on 16 Jun 1871 as noted in St. Paul’s Anglican Church cemetery records.
Story of Ernest Nicholas by Bob Schwartz (2105)
The evidence continues to suggest that Frederick was not part of the Civil War, but rather was committed to Western House of Refuge, a institution for delinquent boys. For example, the fabulous fultonhistory.com newspaper repository has an interesting article from “The Rochester NY Union & Advertiser”, 31 Mar 1862:
This morning at 11 o’clock the prisoners convicted at the present term of the Court of Sessions were brought up and sentenced as follows. In but few instances had the prisoners anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced against them. Some of them declared their innocence even after they had pleaded guilty to the indictments found against them:
Frederick Nicholas, burglary, House of Refuge.
None of the current evidence is sufficient to pinpoint Frederick’s fate. Records for the Western House of Refuge and additional newspaper accounts have survived. So it is hopeful that we might still find an answer.
Elenora (Braun) Nicholas
Laura (Braun) Nicholas was the stepmother of Charles. London Ontario city directories show Laura Nicholas, a widow of Hans, living with Charles in 1875 and living on her own in 1877 as Mrs. Laura Nichol. Then, in 1878, there is a marriage record for the widow Lora Brown marrying Otto Brunner. Otto was a cooper who immigrated to Canada around 1871 from Switzerland. There was an age difference between Laura (b. 1832) and Otto (b. 1846) which may account for varying ages given by Laura in the many following documents. Laura likely arrived through New Orleans around 1855. She was also likely born in Bavaria to Frank and Catherine (Weber) Braun.
You can follow their trail though the Canadian censuses in 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911. By 1881, Otto and Laura were living with Toronto, Ontario. Laura died in 1912, while Otto died in 1919. Most interesting are the children listed for Otto and Laura. The 1871 Census referenced by Gordon Remington suggested that Charles had two half-sisters, Anna and Elizabeth. On the 1881 census, Anna is missing due to her marriage. Elizabeth is present, age 14, but there is also two additional daughters. Rosie, age 12 and Minnie, age 10. Later in 1901, we see an additional daughter, Hilda, age 10.
Both Otto and Laura were Roman Catholic with all their daughters raised within the Catholic church (as opposed to Ernest, Frederick and Charles who were Protestant). Most of the Toronto transplants can be found buried in Mount Hope Catholic cemetery.
Anna Nicholas remained in London Ontario where she married Samuel Thomas Dunlop in 1877. Unlike her mother and sisters, she never relocated to Toronto, and may have drifted apart from the rest of the family. The Dunlop’s had five children (Edgar, Frederick, Oscar, Laura and Earl), but only Edgar had any grandchildren. Anna is clearly the daughter of Ernest as shown by her marriage record:
On 22 Mar 1877 at St Andrews in City (London), Middlesex Co, ONT, Samuel Dunlop, 22, residing London East, a Presbyterian, a potter, born London to Samuel Dunlop and Jane Wilson, married Annie Nicolas, 19, a Presbyterian, residing London East, born US to Earnest Nicolas & Nora Brown. Witnesses James Mills & Georgena Murray of London.
and by the detailed inscription on her gravestone:
ANNIE NICHOLES / BELOVED WIFE OF / SAMUEL T. DUNLOP / born in Rochester, N.Y. / DIED IN LONDON ONT. / AUGUST 26, 1939
Elizabeth Eleanor Nicholas
Elizabeth Eleanor Nicholas took Otto’s surname of Brunner. She never married, and ran a little dry goods store with her sister Hilda. Her exact birth date changed a lot over the years to make her progressively younger. Born 1867 in 1871-1891 census; born 1876 in 1901-1911 census. It may be because she used Otto Brunner as her father, and the family wanted her age to make sense.
Sophia Maria Nicholas
She went by “Minnie” and also went by her stepfather’s surname of Brunner. However, she is the daughter of Ernest Nicholas given the following Catholic church baptism record found in London Ontario:
Baptized: Sophia born two weeks ago of the lawful marriage of John Nicholas and Laura Brown. Sponsor Sophia Bush. Oct. 8th 1870 W.J. White
She married Frederick Lester Wynne, and they had one child, Elma, who lived to the ripe old age of 98 years. Dying on 17 Jul 1968, her obituary reported 4 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 5 great-great-grandchildren. Undoubtedly, there are descendants to be found.
Mary Rose Nicholas
Known as Rose or Rosie, she married William F Smith in 1901. They had three children: Russell, Doreen and Hilda Smith. William’s Obituary indicates 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Her connection to Ernest is based on her marriage record. Note the reference to a Rochester birth and father name of Ernest N Brunner. Neither statement is correct, but it points to Ernest being the father.
On 9 Jun 1901 in Toronto, York, ONT, William F Smith, 26, a book binder, resident of Toronto, b. SCT to William Smith and Barbara Faicherie married Rose Brunner, 28, b. Rochester, to Ernest N Brunner and Helena Brown. RC service witnessed by Lizzie Brunner and George Somers of Toronto.
Her exact birth date is really hard to pinpoint: 1769 from the 1881 census, 1771 from the 1891 census, 23 Mar 1878 in 1901, and Mar 1873 in 1911. The 1878 date is probably a transcription error for 1873, so the birth date ranges from 1769 to 1873. Still, some questions remain given that she and Minnie are missing from the 1871 census and given that Nicholas potentially died in 1871.
So what does all this information about step-relatives tell us about Ernest Nicholas, our direct ancestor? A few additional documents have been located since Gordon Remington’s 1990 research.
|1857 Rochester City Directory||Nicholas, Ernest, blacksmith, h corner Baden and Hanover|
|1871 Ontario death record||Hans Nichols, age 58, a laborer, affiliated with Ch of England, born Germany died on 15 Jun 1871 in London Middlesex ON of a natural death. Informant John Wilson, hotel keeper on Hamilton Road.|
|1871 London Ontario City Directory||Nichols —, blacksmith, Simcoe|
|1873 London Ontario City Directory||Nichols —, blacksmith, Simcoe north side, bet Waterloo and Wellington|
We can state with confidence that Ernest Nicholas was father of two boys (Frederick, Charles) by Charlotte Zieryacks and father of four daughters (Anna, Elizabeth, Minnie and Rose) by Laura Braun. He died before 1875, likely on 15 Jun 1871 as Hans Nichols died per Ontario records. After the move to London, Ontario, he primarily used the name of Hans over Ernest, suggesting that Ernest had a middle name Johannes which shortens to Hans in German and John in English.
There is still information left to find. First, no German birth record has yet been located for either Ernest or Charlotte. Many records have come online, but Coberg is still not well represented. Second, the fate of Frederick Nicholas remains a mystery. Third, it would be fun to contact other descendants of Ernest to see what they know. Given the large number of aliases for Ernest Nicholas, continued research will be an ongoing challenge.