Placer County








            William Nicholls, Jr., is a prominent citizen of Dutch Flat and a member of the banking firm of W. & P. Nicholls, of that town.  Mr. Nicholls was born in St. Austell, Cornwall, England, November 5, 1850.  His ancestors were English people and were engaged in mining and farming.  His father, Philip Nicholls, was born in England and came to California in 1852, arriving in San Francisco June 19.  From San Francisco he went to Placerville, where he engaged in placer mining, and later was thus occupied at Georgetown and Forest City, meeting with gratifying success.  A partnership was formed with his brother William, and they bought gold and carried it to San Francisco, taking upon themselves the risk of being murdered or robbed in crossing the mountains, which were wild and unsettled.  They packed their gold upon mules and were well armed.  By taking a different route than was expected they managed to escape highwaymen as a rule.  However, they were occasionally attacked, but, fighting desperately for their lives and treasures, which sometimes was worth one hundred thousand dollars, were victorious in these struggles.  In 1860 the brothers came to Dutch Flat to reside and established the private banking business, which they continued until both passed away.  The business is now conducted by the sons, under the same firm name, thus perpetuating the memory of their honored parents.  Our subject’s father died January 25, 1886, aged fifty-nine years; his uncle died April 23, 1877.

            Mr. Nicholls was educated in England and came to San Francisco December 25, 1866.  From the latter place he went to Dutch Flat and became connected with his father’s banking business.  In later years, in addition to his banking interests, Mr. Nicholls has been engaged in the development of mines and is the owner of much valuable mining property, among which is the Polar Star, near Dutch Flat, which he is operating with a force of from twenty-five to thirty men.  He is also the owner of large tracts of timber and farm lands.

            Fraternally he is identified with the I. O. O. F., which order he joined April 9, 1873, being a member of Olive Lodge, No. 81, Dutch Flat.  He has passed all the chairs in both branches of the order and has been a trustee of his lodge for twenty years.  As a district deputy grand master he has served for seven years.  Becoming a member of Auburn Encampment January 3, 1879, he has filled all its offices; has been a member of the grand lodge since May, 1878.  He had the honor of being the grand warden of the grand lodge, and in May, 1900, was elected deputy grand master, without opposition.  Mr. Nicholls received the sublime degree of a Master Mason in Fort Lodge, No. 1528, Newquay, Cornwall, England, in 1889, and is now a member of Nevada Lodge, No. 13, Nevada City.  He is also a member of Nevada Chapter, No. 6, R. A. M., and of Nevada Commandery, No. 6, K. T.  He and his wife are members of Placer Chapter, No. 49, O. E. S.  Politically he is an active member of the Republican Party.

            Mr. Nicholls was married, in 1876, to Minerva VanDolah, a native of the town of Andrew, Iowa, and of Dutch ancestry.  Her people were early settlers in Illinois and removed to Iowa in its early days, her father being a soldier in the wars with the Indians.  Mr. and Mrs. Nicholls have four children:  George VanDolah, Arthur Wallace, Anna May and William Clyde.  They have a pleasant home at Dutch Flat and the family is well known and has hosts of friends.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 341-342. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




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