James William Nickens, born in Ireland, came to the United States about 1825. He settled in western Tennessee, married and had two sons (James William Jr. and Matthew) and two daughters (Sarah and Martha). His daughter, Martha, died in childhood. His daughter, Sarah, married John Clark and had four children: Belle, William, Addie, and George. Sarah and John moved their family to southeast Texas near Jasper.
James William Nickens, Jr. (born 1827) married Jane Frances “Fanny” Bass. They had three sons: Jasper Newton (born 1849), James Midas, and Matthew. The family moved to southern Illinois in 1851. There Fanny died and James William, Jr. married her sister, Doretha. They had no children. He served in Company C of the 120th Illinois Infantry Volunteers from August, 1862, to 2 November 1863. He fought in the Battle of Vicksburg. He died of an illness in Washington General Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee and is buried in the National Cemetery in Memphis.
Jasper Newton Nickens came to Texas about 1874, stopping at Duck Creek. He was a boot maker and harness maker by trade and made most of the boots for his community and surrounding towns. He would walk to Dallas to get leather for the boots and carry it home on his back.
In 1882, Jasper N. Nickens married Nancy Ann Russell, who had come to Texas from Carthage, Missouri, when she was 13. She came with the Stemmons family, who had been her neighbors in Missouri. They n•aveled by wagon, but Ann walked most of the way. She joined her father, John Russell, who had come to Texas after her mother died.
Two railroads, the MKT and the Santa Fe, were built and the town of Duck Creek was moved to Embree. Later it was moved to the intersection of the railroads and renamed Garland.
Jasper Nickens farmed 150 acres at the corner of present-day Forest Lane and Shiloh Road. He later was joined in the farm operation by his son, William Hillen Nickens. Jasper died 8 May 1925. Jasper and Ann were the parents of six daughters and one son, all born near Garland, Texas. They were:
Bessie Ann, born 1 November 1883, died 23 June 1973. She was the traveler of the family, having been in all the states except Vermont and Alaska. She also traveled to Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. An unmarried schoolteacher, she taught in Arlington, Grapevine, Brownsville, and Garland. The 1918 Dallas City Directory lists her as a teacher at the Cumberland Hill School in Dallas where she taught more than 40 years. Grace Newton, born 11 October 1885, died 16 September 1958, never married.
William Hillen, born 2 September 1887, died 9 November 1965, married Ethel Mae Minor on 31 October 1912. They had four children.
• Mary Alice, born 18 July 1889, died in 1970, married Enoch Wesley Brooks 19 December 1909. They had four boys.
• Fannie Elvira, born 19 October 1891, died 23 February 1973, married (1) John F. Smith on 26 March 1921. They had one child who only lived a short time. After the death of Mr. Smith, she married (2) Fred Barnhardt on 16 September 1961.
• Llewellyn Mae, born 12 August 1894, died 14 February 1982, married (1) Roy Bynum on 19 October 1916. They had three children. After his death, she married (2) Roy Giggleman on 18 October 1967.
• Lennie Russell, born 17 November 1898, married Everett Eugene Morgan on 3 January 1916. They had five children.
James Midas Nickens, brother of Jasper Newton and Matthew, was born 6 October 1851 in Illinois and died 19 March 1940 in Dallas. His first wife was Nancy Chalky Keene, who died 27 May 1883. Their son, Clarence Winford Nickens, was born 28 July 1881 and died 24 January 1937. He was gassed in World War I and was paralyzed for many years. He and his father are both buried in Garland Memorial Cemetery. After his first wife died, James Midas Nickens married her sister, Elvira Keene Moore, who was born 1 November 1882 and died 2 March 1933. They had three children: Clarence Earle, Nora (who died at age 5) and Frank Adair Nickens.
Matthew Nickens was born 6 March 1853 in Illinois. He died 2 January 1927. He married Nancy Alice Province. They came to Texas in a covered wagon with their four children. They settled on a large farm in the Centerville Community. A reminder of that farm is a road called “Nickens Road. ” Their children were: Jimmie Albert, Minnie Maud, Dennis Newton, and Cora May.
Photo: Jasper Nickens family, 1906: Front, L to R, Lennie, Jasper, Ann & Lou. Back, Grace, Bessie, Hillen, Mary & Fannie.
By Minor Nickens for Dallas County Pioneer Association‘s Proud Heritage, Volume II.