Dr. Thomas Nichol


May 6, 1805 - October 27, 1890


Story by Philip George Parsons, written June 16, 1970



"Dr. Thomas Nichol, fourteenth child of John and Ann Nichol, born May 6, 1805, at 'Stone Tavern' on National Pike, four miles west of Bridgeport, Ohio, graduated at Jefferson College, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, class of 1825; attended medical school and began practice of medicine in West Liberty, West Virginia, then in St. Clairsville, Ohio, and other towns in easter Ohio; married Sarah Finley Patterson, June 3, 1830. In 1847 moved to Iowa, on a farm near Oskaloosa; resided in Mahaska County, Iowa for over twenty-six years.

Photo, taken by Amy & Ray Tillotson, October 1971, of "Old Stone Tavern" - 4 miles west of Bridgeport, and on Highway 40. John Nichol built the larger part in 1804-05 and finished it in 1812. So, Dr. Thomas Nichol was born here in 1805
They spent the later part of their lives with their eldest daughter, Susan Leavitt, on a farm near Barrett, Kansas, where they died, Mr. Nichol in 1890, aged 85 years. Mrs. Nichol survived him seven years, dying in 1897, aged 89 years. They had twelve children, five dying in infancy."

According to family tradition, about the time the sixth child was born, Dr. Nichol was offered a position as doctor for the railroad. The railroad was laying tracks through Belmont County, up across northern Ohio and down on an angle through Butler County. It took about two years to lay these tracks and Dr. Nichol and family lived in a covered wagon and moved as the track workers moved with the railroad.

One night in the rainy season he camped under a large tree. It was night and the rain was coming hard and they were close to a creek. Dr. Nichol was awakened and thought he hear a voice say, "Move your wagon quickly to high ground." He jumped out of the wagon, hitched his team and moved up the hill. He Hadn't got to the top of the hill when he heard a clap of thunder, and lightning struck the tree under which he had camped. The tree fell across the creek, causing quite a pond, and had not Dr. Nichol moved his wagon, the tree might have crushed the wagon and probably some of the family would have lost their lives. Dr. Nichol was always an ardent Presbyterian, devout and serious in his views.

Sometimes Susan would go with her father as nurse and he trained her carefully especially in child care. In later years, it was sometimes Margaret who was her father's right hand man. Both Susan and Margaret spent part of their married lives at Barrett, so it is not surprising that Dr. Nichol and his wife moved to Barrett, to the farm home of Susan two years before he passed away on the night of October 27th, 1890.

It is recorded in the Oskaloosa Herald, the first meeting of the Mahaska Agricultural Society, on March 15, 1852, that Dr. Nichol was one of six composing the first Board of Management of the first Fair which was held in Oskaloosa the 23rd of October, 1852. Dr. Nichol took a prominent part in preparing premiums and arranging various agricultural exhibits. For years he took a great interest in the County Fair.

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